ALL IT TAKES IS ALL YOU'VE GOT
By Colin Winnette
I have a little brother. We put the bats in a bag. He’s good out there, but he also likes spilling juice in a circle between second and third base for no reason. We have a flattop roof, and it never snows. We sit up there and hit balls sometimes, and we put on lots of sunscreen, because I’m a good older brother.
You might think I was sad about something to meet me. But it’s not like that, really. My brother’s got this mole behind his left knee. It looks like a pitcher’s mound. It’s why he’s good out there. Not because he’s got some magical power, but because he has a reason to believe in himself.
Dad’s like not a baseball fan at all.
Mom’s the best.
You ever get a dog pile? It’s where your whole entire family gets on top of you and squishes you into the carpet or the grass. You can’t hardly breathe in there. You can’t really see much. You kind of start to panic.
I threw up running sprints one time. Just stopped and popped in front of Joe, who is someone we get pizza with sometimes. I can eat a whole pizza. I’m not even kidding. I could die eating pizza. I mean, I could eat it until I die, or it could be the last thing I eat before I die. I don’t even care.
This one time this guy stopped me and told me I had big balls. He gripped my wrist and like held me and looked at me and told me I had big balls under there. Like “under there,” is how he said it. I fucking killed that guy. It was incredibly aggressive.
I hold my brother in my armpit sometimes and he plays along. Then he starts struggling to breathe so I let him go.
I take tests super seriously. I study pretty hard and I’m super quiet when I’m filling in the bubbles. I do it slow. I don’t push all that hard. I know there is a difference between what your mind does and what your body does. This one time, I bit my brother and it left this gory bruise, like his arm was rotting off. He kept showing it to me like I could make it go away.
I get so amped sometimes. I like totally flip out.
I don’t think I could ever really kill anybody, like for real. I’m just not that kind of guy.
Have you ever tasted a Coors Light? It is absolutely the worst. I like India Pale Ales. They are incredibly flavorful and good. They get you crazy. Most people don’t know how to tell when they’re drunk. I just look at the ceiling, and if it takes me a second to notice I’m looking at the ceiling, then I know I’m drunk. It’s foolproof. I was doing that and my dad was like, What are you doing with your head, you idiot?
I’m pretty good at history because that’s all remembering things. If you try hard and really pay attention, you can remember enough to get by. I look around at all the people who can’t even get by and I’m like you idiots are totally screwed.
The worst thing that could happen would be if my brother got hurt playing. He’s not like special or important on the field or anything, but he really gets after it. I think he’s just as crazy as me but he can channel it into the game. That’s what this woman at school told me, that I needed to channel how crazy I get into something like studying. But I am already really good at tests so I think I’m totally screwed.
There are always beers in the shed with the equipment. We put the bats in the bag and the bag in the shed and there are the beers, just waiting. It is always Coors Light. We never drink them anymore, but we see them because they’re there. Someone keeps them stocked.
There are always these rocks in the grass too. Like someone is throwing them over the fence. Big football-sized rocks, like from the quarry.
Mom says I will be good with girls some day because I am confident. Women like that. I’m a little weird too, which she says can’t hurt. She’s always like, You should get a tattoo. I mean, when you’re older.
I watch a lot of movies. In every movie someone’s missing something or can’t stop thinking about something. I think a lot about my brother and my mom and my dad. But they’re all pretty good, mostly. I mean, I have high hopes for them.
I think that one day I will move away and then after a little while I will move back, because I really like that it doesn’t snow here.
My dad’s like, You know who’s a good baseball team? The Mets. They’re a good baseball team. It’s like he read the answer in a book. I tell him, you know who’s good? My brother’s pretty good. And he says, Oh yeah, I’m not saying it like that.
The worst part is knowing you can’t not have done something. Like it just sits there like a football-sized rock and you can see how you’re doing it and you can see yourself maybe not doing it, but only one of the things is 100% real.
Then you can’t see something good without feeling like you’re wasting something of your own. Like someone slides into place and you think maybe I could have done that, like maybe that could have been me. Like a kid splits his mitt on something accidental, or takes a spill and just gets up, all bloody and sweaty, and goes right back into squatting and waiting and shifting around like everything’s still happening and nothing ever changed.
Colin Winnette is the author of several books. He lives in San Francisco.