I was the athlete between my brother and I, so we didn’t play a lot of backyard baseball because he wasn’t any good so he hated it. But on a summer afternoon when there was nothing else to do, I pitched him ball after ball, and he missed them all. I could tell he was getting angry, and my experience had led me to fear that he was about to quit, so I ultimately lobbed a soft one down the middle for him to square up. He hit it, softly, right back at me, and I caught it. But he took off running to first base. I watched him run all the way, then stared at him in confusion as he grinned triumphantly back at me.
“What are you doing?” I asked. “I caught it. That’s an out.”
“You dropped it.”
“What? No I didn’t. I have it here in my hand. I caught it.”
“No,” he continued. “You almost caught it, but then you dropped it and kicked it and picked it up again.”
My confusion became rage in an instant and I demanded he retract the fabrication and return to the plate for a clean count. He refused. At an impasse, I stalked away indignant. How could I play with someone who invented plays in his own head and who refused to concede to the things we both plainly saw happen?
Man, I’ve been thinking about that afternoon a lot these past few weeks.