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Charlie Hatton
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#16. I last played basketball when I was sixteen years old.

Okay, so most of you don't know that I'm six feet, three inches tall. Or that I attained most of that height early in life, prompting everybody and their frickin' cousin to push me toward hoops. You probably also don't know that all of my friends played ball, watched ball, and generally went all googly-eyed over basketball at a tender age, or that our local university was moderately successful with its hoop program around that time. All of which is to say that basketball was not something I could easily avoid.

But you need to know one other thing to appreciate my opinion on the subject.

I absolutely, positively, so help me Hannah, no question, suck major rosy-cheeked ass at basketball.

I mean, I'm bad. And you know how 'bad' sometimes means 'good'? Well, not this time, brothers and sisters. This time, 'bad' means 'more likely to hurt myself than contribute in any meaningful way'. Which is exactly what happened the last time I played, and precisely why 'the last time I played' is now half a lifetime ago.

I'll tell you how it happened. I showed up at the local YMCA, hoping to play racquetball -- my game of choice at the time -- with a friend of mine. But we hadn't reserved a court, and they were all taken. To kill time, we moseyed over to watch pick-up hoops in another gym. By that time of my life, I liked to watch ball -- I had even picked out favorite college and pro teams -- but I knew that I had no business actually playing the game. So of course, that's what I ended up doing.

See, the guys in the gym were just about to start a four-on-four fullcourt game. When my friend and I showed up, they recruited us to fill out the teams, despite my best efforts to run the hell away. To make matters worse, I wound up on the 'skins' side. 'Hey, everybody, look at that skinny white topless kid with no game. What a tool!' Beautiful.

So, anyway, long story short, I ended up making one decent play in twenty minutes worth of court time, and got a badly dislocated left shoulder for my troubles. For you morbid sicko bastards interested in the gory details, you can hop over to #88, the worst physical pain I've ever experienced. Heartless bastards.

Suffice to say, I never played again. Now, I'm no quitter. When there's any chance of improvement, I tend to stay with something, and ride out the shittiness until I start showing a glimmer of promise. Sometimes at that point, I chuck all the hard work out the window and tell myself that I could have kept getting better, and really been a star, but not before. And sometimes, I stick with something and really do get pretty okay at it. (Or, as in the case of golf, I stick with it, and feed off the occasional glimmer, knowing in my heart of hearts that I'll always pretty much -- but not completely! -- suck major ass.)

But once in a great while, I'm so bad at something that it's not even enjoyable to try and get better. Basketball is squarely in that camp. I would play, reluctantly, and try to generally stay out of the way. But I could see, when I made my first real honest-to-God play, and it led to having a major limb completely dislodged from its home, that the game was not for me. It was a sign, and it told me that the risk-reward proposition for this particular activity wasn't nearly worth the headaches, not to mention the physical therapy.

And I haven't looked back. Or raised my left arm much, either, for that matter. Damn you, basketball!

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