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birthday) – and I admired the sheer diversity of skill and all

the things he could do. But envy him I did not: the settled

life for some, the gypsy life for others. The Hat’s progress

through life was steady, no hairpin bends. He could

probably have understood if El had abandoned sport to

devote himself to his family, or his business, or another

sport, to science, to something “serious”, but El went off

into space (which they say has a blackness we don’t have

here on earth) and thereby sinned against balanced

priorities The Hat saw as sacrosanct.

“At your age I was into everything, swimming, track and

field... I even played the trumpet – and took my son to the

nursery! You guys, though, don’t seem interested in

anything.” The Hat saw things clearly, but he was looking

up from ground level, his only perspective, so how was he

going to understand that rhinoceros on El’s chest? The guy

was into everything, but everything interested him only to

the extent that he could make it, or press it, or complete it,

otherwise he saw nothing and just passed by. That’s the

way it always is, but we wanted more, to go from rags to

riches on a jet engine. We wanted the big time. Achilles

rushes into the river and finishes off the Trojans right there

in the water – till there are so many corpses, they dam the

river and it pleads, “I cannot flow! Kill them in the fields,”

but Achilles shrugs, as if he holds the world in his fist. We

understood that, but we were just sad guys who couldn’t

make it into orbit. So screw everything! We would watch

the leprous society around us go to hell in a handcart.