Comrade

Comrade: (n) a companion who shares one’s activities

In the English language, many words get tangled up with each other and are perceived to be synonyms when they actually are not at all–and funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
when distinction is made, their purpose is more powerful.

May I show you what I mean?

Here are five words that are sheltered under the larger house of “friend”:

  • Teammate
  • Acquaintance
  • Fellow-traveler
  • Family
  • Comrade

In concluding this essay, I will give you definitions for each word so you can distinguish one from the other:

Teammate: someone who is on a team with you, who is focusing on his or her part in the game and demanding that you do the same.

Acquaintance: an individual who exchanges smiles and greetings with you in a casual, pleasant way, because no conflict has challenged the depth of the affection.

Fellow-traveler: the human beings we meet every day who, like us, deserve a seat on the bus and should never be told to go to the rear.

Family: folks you share genetics with, Thanksgiving with, embarrassments with and who also, unfortunately, may be prejudiced one way or another because they know you too well.

Comrade: Of all the patrons lined up at the bar in all the beer joints of the world, this is the person who has decided he or she wants to stand next to you and will fight for the privilege of that proximity.

 

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Basketball

Basketball: (n) a game played between two teams of five players in which goals are scored by throwing a ball through a netted hoopDictionary B

I was the fattest kid in my class.

It is a distinction without appreciation.

But I liked basketball.

I started playing it when I was seven years old with another kid who ended up being a champion at hoops. So I was fairly good–especially for a fat boy.

But I did not look like a basketball player. This was troublesome to folks–because talent needs more than ability. It requires a “look.”

Basketball players are meant to be tall and skinny.

I was 5 foot 11in every direction.

So when I joined the team there was a chuckle and a cynical ripple among my peers. When I competed, there was some amusement.

And when I made the first string, there were those who were astounded that there was nobody to beat me out, and grown-ups who thought I might run up and down the court and have a heart attack.

It’s been this way for me in everything in my life:

  • I am not an attractive man, so some of my friends thought I would never procure a woman.
  • I have short, stubby fingers, so most people thought it would be impossible for me to play piano.
  • I never went to college, so how do I have the audacity to compose and write?

More often than not, we require the “look” of basketball along with the skill.

And as fans, we often are not satisfied unless all the visuals are present … to accompany the slam dunk.

 

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