Best Time of His Life

Through the neon haze he sits alone at the end of the bar snacking on pretzels and nursing a light beer. Everyone knows his name, though no one sits with him. He watches the game, the bartender, the guys playing pool, the college girls who ignore him, and then he orders another beer.

The girls remind him of his dance with Darla Pinkerton, his date at the prom. His eyes twinkle when he reminisces to the bartender: “Darla Pinkerton was a looker in those days, you know, before she had those kids and got married to that idiot. Look at what she coulda had.” He chuckles and takes another sip.

He still wears a t-shirt from the local high school and looks for someone else to hear his tales. The barkeep has already heard these stories, stories about how he caught the winning pass or made the last second shot to beat the rival high school. “That play won us the championship. Don’t get better than that. Best time of my life.” He smiles with sadness, finishes his beer, and orders “just one more” that again turns into three.

This modern day Miniver Cheevy is all too common in my town. Just about every tavern, saloon, or bar hosts this pathetic figure. I feel sympathy for the poor guy every time. He peaked at 18 and nothing will top his high school sports memories, not his job, his marriage, or his kids. It’s all too common here.

Each year I see a few kids in my classes who seem to be heading down this same path, and I often just don’t know what to do to stop it. Many of our sports “stars” in our valley get a shot at a small college to continue playing sports, but the stories come back that the Jones kid “wouldn’t quit the pot” or “couldn’t put down the beer” and so on. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s our sports tradition.


5 thoughts on “Best Time of His Life

  1. Clix

    Two of my favorite ’80s songs are “Glory Days” and “Allentown.” Either (or both!) of them could have been written about my current students.


  2. drpezz Post author

    I hesitated using the phrase “glory days” because of Springsteen but then left it in; maybe it’s appropriate. “Allentown” might’ve been a bit tougher to slide in there. 🙂

  3. ET

    Very sad. This has to be tough to see in class. I see students every day wasting time in class, satisfied with low grades, with no goals and no desire to reach above themselves for something greater.

    Thanks for your post on my blog. Fairness and compassion have always been two things my dad (and mom) has taught me – almost to a fault.

  4. Betty

    I have run into a few of the popular kids from our high school over the years and have noticed that life wasn’t easy for them once they left the protected walls of the school. When I was in school, the same people were popular year after year, and there was a kind of hero worship from the rest of us. It all seems silly now.

  5. John Spencer

    It’s interesting how our system sets students up for this, with sports leagues beginning at age three and summer camps and specialized individual coaching. Then the adults throw every ounce of energy and offer students a shot at fame. When it fizzles, they seize it with just as much energy as they placed in the original hype. Like the paparrazi, they offer no help to a fallen “star” and instead use him as an example of why drugs are bad or the big city can ruin a person. And that’s just it. He’s been used from age 3 and even when he can’t make it anymore, they continue to use him.


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