Shooting Hoops in the Highest Court in the Land

I grew up in a household were most visitors were involved in novels, movies, music, or really cool science. Tennis and astrophysics, they do go well together. One of my father’s younger friends was James Grady, the author of Six Days of the Condor, which later became a movie staring Robert Redford (“3 Days of the Condor”).

Jim showed up at our house in a silver Porsche 911. He said he picked the car by dropping his fisted hand on cars (tall cowboy of a fellow then living in DC). He was the first person that said: “More RPMs” and “More Speed” to me – lessons that have followed me for 40+ years. Why not!

During a university break, I visited his DC apartment. We did shit and the kinda shit we could get away with in the 1980s. So kids, don’t think you can pull this off after 9/11 or Jan 6th. The rules have all changed. My friend was doing time as an investigative reporter on the “DC beat.”

Me, college kid.

Him, guy who just sold a novel to be movie.

We – played like kids calling DC a playground.

He had access to things that I never could have later done even with all of my cool government IDs and clearance levels. We went off to one of these famous buildings. Remember that scene in the movie “Dave” where an usher is guiding people through the White House saying “Follow me, Walk this way”. Well, we blitz past that group until I made eye contact with the usher/guide. I waved and winked. She started with “Hey back in line.” Then pivoted to “Wait, huh?” Then “What are you doing here.” Me with my supercool backstage/all-access pass. She was a classmate with a summer job saying: “walk this way.”

I got to out-cool a cool kid from university. Not bad.

When we went to the Supreme Court building, we skipped the front door and even the formal court room, I think. We did go to the basketball court which is on the story above the court room. We grabbed basketballs and made a few hoops (and likely bricked a few too, not one of my sports).

Had there been scouting badge for “shooting hoops in the highest court in the land”, we both would have earned it that day.

Under the law, I qualified as an adult and Jim certainly did too. But we two ran around the District like bouncy teenagers. If we couldn’t get the cool-kid all access pass, we just hacked our way in.

Lives happen. Family explode. The child me ran and ran for decades.

In a moment of boldness, I suggested that the publisher contact Jim to provide us a blurb and/or review of the novel “The Little Ambulance War of Winchester County”.  I gave them other names too. A few authors and a few others in the entertainment industry.

The publisher’s team wrote me saying: “Hey nobody knows you.”

Yes, that’s a thing to read. I turn over a list of 10 or 15 people who had been friends or whatever through my life and the publisher hears crickets. Ok, it is true. Living on a 100 acre farm/forest in Vermont, I go months seeing no more than 10 people in person. The UPS guy, the mail lady Jill, the counter staff at the local farmer’s coop, the young guy who runs the tractor repair shop, my neighbor to the west (1 miles door-to-door, but only when she’s in VT) and my neighbor to the south. I run out of fingers before people.

Very hermit like.

I tell the publishing team, “go ahead and unmask me”. That’s me! Layers on layers of masks. A pen-name, layered on a maiden name both obscuring my birth name.

Boom… We got yeses.

I got a yes. I got a yes from a man I was once friends with 40 years ago. We both have a daughter name Rachel in Brooklyn. I win the Rachel contest though because my Rachel’s girlfriend is also Rachel. So that counts for 2, no?

We are both writing. We both have families. We both have lived great lives. And as the crest of my 60th birthday, we reconnected. At first, I whooped like child dancing in my house. I have one more friend. Then we exchanged email and his kindness. That’s when the tears came.

I have thought of Jim nearly anytime I hear a song from Bruce Springsteen’s album “Nebraska”

And shouldn’t they. Should tears come for a little visit when friendship is restored.