You’ve been working hard lately. Taking double shifts at the Apple store every chance you get, sacrificing your weekends and social life to the point where friends and family barely recognize you. Everyone thinks you’re crazy, but they don’t understand that you are driven by a singular goal that means more than any communal bond could ever offer — you want to buy a fresh pair of retro Jordan IIIs.
Most sneakerheads would openly weep at the idea of someone actually playing basketball in their new Jordans, but you’re different. The “BALL IS LIFE” tattoo on your back says it all. You’re the best in your city and you know, deep in your heart, that your jumper is wet enough to warrant a pair of $850 sneakers.
After four months of enduring stupid questions about the iPhone 6, you finally got them. It was time to hit the gym that had the best run in town. It was you, your Jordan IIIs and and a newly found self-confidence that you had never experienced before. As you walked onto the hardwood floor, you knew your life was about to change, but you never could have predicted how that change would happen.
Your first few games were incredible. Every shot you took fell like dew off a palm branch into the awaiting basket. Your movement could be the subject of epic poetry. Just as you felt like you were deepest into “the zone”, a stranger appeared. In a sweater vest. He looked out onto the court and said “I got next”.
The stranger had a quiet confidence about him. As he watched you dominate the opposition, he was the only onlooker to never show a hint of emotion. It bothered you. Your game was art, and this man – dressed like a European soccer coach or something – offered no appreciation. Frustrated at game’s end, you didn’t bother to rehydrate, you offered the man a icy glare, tossed the rock his way and said “Check ball, bruh. 1-on-1.” It would be the biggest mistake of your life.
It only took three possessions for the newcomer – who one of the other players whispered was called “Pep” – to reach deep into your body and collect your very soul. The man was the Reaper incarnate. A metaphysical entity whose handles defied physics. After going up 2-0 with ease, “Pep” had grown visibly bored. Though your game was to 11, he decided that it was time to finish you. Looking down at his Reebok Question mids, he smiled for the first time, before hitting you with the nastiest crossover since Iverson shook Jordan and made him reconsider baseball.
The speed of his crossover rattled your body with such violent ferocity that it readjusted that crick in your neck and sent one of those Jordan IIIs you worked so hard for flying across the gym. As your knees buckled and you felt the gravity of shame pull you to the floor, time itself slowed down. You watched that Jordan (the left one) divorce itself from your foot, as if it knew it was too beautiful to be associated with this kind of humiliation. And though you were watching the physical embodiment of your dreams reject you, you understood that shoe’s decision. It deserved better than what you could offer it right now.
Just when you thought you had reached the height of your indignity, the vested stranger turns, glares down at your crumpled body, still lying on the cold hardwood in shame, and without so much as a smirk, says “I get buckets” – in Catalan. You had no retort, other than tears. As you made your way to your feet, the wanderer was trying a scarf around his neck in the most intricate pattern. He nodded and raised his arms to applaud spectators as he left the gym – never to be seen again.