Behold The Coach, In Sorrow, Unemployed

Dramatis Persona
The Coach

A press conference. A podium with microphones mounted on it. Periodic flashbulbs.


(He enters. Cameras flash.) All right, everybody, let's just get going. You people know what I've come here to probably say. This should all come as all as no surprise. The phrase, of course, you are familiar with. It was a "building year," this last year was.  We suffered some losses, sure, we suffered some, last season, and we've had to start out all over, in a fashion; we've had to come at this thing as if it were some kind of a— and you folks in the press will have to tell me if this is a pleonasm— a new beginning. We made some changes here and there and here and we made these, mainly, mostly, with the fans in mind, because we wanted the fans to be happy, in our minds we wanted the fans to love us. And I think they should be happy, I think they should love us. Listen, last year was not the easiest year. The plan was it would be for building, for rebuilding, for replacing what was lost, replenishing what was gone. Our strategy was, in theory, to betray that which had become merely habit, to betray our very very fear, that thing which has in theory kept us alive, that thing which says to us: Don't cross the street without looking everywhere in the world first; Don't speak your mind and certainly never your heart. That fear which keeps you from calling, from calling out into the game night, from dropping to your weakened knees and screaming from the bottom to the top of your burning smoking lungs: "Jesus please! Could somebody just—. Christ! I am going to die, to drop dead, some slow-news Saturday, an off-season Monday, so much not yet done, good-bye, forever, as I die an unremarked and 'He-did-not-look-so-calm' death. I don't know what color pants go with what color shirt. I don't know what I go with. I don't know the meaning of my own bleeping heart. My personality is killing me. Would somebody please just please help me and everybody live!" (He pauses.) That is what this year was. We had to look hard at a few things and, surprise surprise, we found that they looked hard back. But I think we have to be happy. We broke a few attendance records. We sold a few hot dogs. We played some ball, and got some sun. It was the life, it really was, and, granted, this was not the greatest year, no, I guess it was really kind of a shambles.

I had no idea how hard hard was until this year came around. My God, Jesus, so hard. Nights, whole nights, weeks of nights, in a row. I bet I walked a thousand miles on my street alone. I came home and went out, walking. My eyes running, me thinking of the Dark Lady of my own incompetent sonnets, me saying hardly just above my breath, "I remember you. I almost completely remember you. In the year since you, there hasn't been anything but ashes and paperwork. A year of cigarettes and minor car crashes. And I will never love any thing or body again. And I am not young and handsome. And I could not coach a gallon of water out of a paper bag."  (He pauses.)

So you see, I've had my doubts. I've had what you people call Personal Problems. But I tried. To run things different. With a little elegance, a new uniform, with some sense of calm amidst the— I don't know, you tell me, you lived through it, too. What was this year, what happened?  Who, or—. Christ Jesus Christ Christ Christ. (He directs the question halfway toward a person in the audience.)  What was it? What did you feel this year? Of what would you be speaking, if were you standing here, this year, speaking of the last?  And did any one of us have what he would call a winning season? And what would that look like? And could someone tell me, while we're at it, when is High School over, when comes High School to its high-schoolish end?  Because I really don't understand when the seriousness is supposed to start. And I am so filled with wanting, I so crave to know, to know a little, to be sure, just a little anything, a fact, a meaning, a song or jingle. A lullaby, to be put to bed by, to sleep, to sleep off my life. A gentle anthem— a bluenosed tribute to the old man at the helm. (He pauses.) It was a real hell of a hell of a time, this year. What's that saying? About the penguin?  And the fifty-yard dash?  Well, that's exactly what it was. A trying time. A building year. An endless gorgeous endless loss. Which now is now over. And we have how many more left left to us to lose? (A pause.)

Now, I know you guys in the press are going to have a field day with some of the things I've said up here today. And I know you're probably thinking: "Something seems to have kind of crushed the fire this guy had when we hired him." Or: "Could someone in this red-eyed poet-souled state ever win the division and go on to seize the brass ring, what with the distraction of his heart-broken relation to a fragile lass of a woman of a girl, who can not even say with any authority what her own last name is?" Well, I'll tell you, because I came here to tell you a few things. I came here to feel the burn from your flashbulbs, and to speak a few things— my losing heart included. And the answer is, I don't know. I don't know if I can lead anyone to victory, or even lead anyone anywhere. I don't know if my plan is a good one, or even if I have one.

You have to let me turn my season-worn face toward our record-breaking American heaven, to the stadium blue air overhead of the world, and let me say, you've got to please let me declaim, and I quote: (He pauses.) I don't know. In general. And, in particular, in particular. But I do know that someone has to be everywhere. And I am the one who is standing here now, before all of you who are sitting there, there. I am the one in the position I am in. I see a man bowed like Atlas under the weight of his whistle. I see him smoking himself blind, poring over blank pieces of paper. I am that man. I lived as that man through this last year, past. And I think I should be happy. I think we should all be very terribly proud and happy, and happy and afraid, and afraid and thrilled, really, to death at the upcoming year and all of the life it will naturally contain.

This is my feeling.

We have time for one question.

(Cameras flash. Blackout.)