Ex-Basketball Player

Is it wrong to do what you like when you grow up?


Ex-Basketball Player

by John Updike

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,
Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off
Before it has a chance to go two blocks,
At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage
Is on the corner facing west, and there,
Most days, you’ll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out.
Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps—
Five on a side, the old bubble-head style,
Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.
One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes
An E and O. And one is squat, without
A head at all—more of a football type.
Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards.
He was good: in fact, the best. In ’46
He bucketed three hundred ninety points,
A county record still. The ball loved Flick.
I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.
He never learned a trade, he just sells gas,
Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while,
As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube,
But most of us remember anyway.
His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench.
It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though.
Off work, he hangs around Mae’s Luncheonette.
Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball,
Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates.
Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods
Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers
Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads.


This was one of the poems that we read in English class. We read several poems, but this one stick out to me the most. The reason is that the main character, Flick, has his life ruined because he only practiced basketball during his high school life and didn’t learn any trade. When I read this, I felt pitiful towards Flick and thought how unfortunate he was. However, as I read this over and over, I started to think that maybe Flick was just not smart enough to balance between basketball and his work. I thought, ‘I don’t want to be like him when I grow up!’.

As you know, my blog is about art. Art is a hobby for me and I’m not planning to become an artist or have a job that relates to art. I know that if I don’t become a famous or a successful artist, I won’t make much money. I know you choose your job based on your interest, but in this world today, that is not enough. The world revolves around money. Money, money, money, that’s what all people talk about. People choose their job based on how much money the job can earn. So, is it that bad to choose your job based on your hobby or your ambition?

Useful Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Updike

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