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The Feast of Oliver the Negligible

Today might seem to be an odd choice for a Feast Day, what with it being Ethan Hawke’s birthday as well as the day that irrevocably alters the fate of the free world and other outlying areas. It is for this very reason, however, that the Mysterious and Capricious Fates have chosen this day to overshadow the life and work of one Oliver Martinez Perez.

Life: If all of baseball is a stage, then Oliver Perez has played many parts. For different people at different times and in different towns, he has served as the anointed, the prince regent, the schizophrenic millionaire, the tremulous Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin, the disgraced World War One general, Robert Patrick melting silently in the lava at the end of Terminator 2, the drunken ronin who trips and falls on his own sword. Finally, at the age of 28, Perez disappeared in the middle of his own play, stage left, dropped from the tale like a forgotten character in a James Fenimore Cooper novel. The horizon, the sunset, and the inevitable rattlesnake bite were all assumed.

Two years later, Oliver Perez signed a contract to a major league roster for a sum that was nominally higher than the league minimum. Several days after that, you read these words about him.

Spiritual Exercise: Cease, for a brief moment, in computing all the terrifying permutations of the potential loss of your presidential candidate of choice. Instead, consider the long, wayward journey of Oliver Perez, and the psychological tendency of mankind to exaggerate the importance of the near future. While two wealthy men broker with the nation for authority, consider how little the world around you is altered: the universe cools down imperceptibly. The goddamned maple tree down the street is still shedding its horrible little leafy excrement all over your lawn. The sky is still dark by the time you get off work. Oliver Perez gets out lefties. And so it goes.

These things happen despite us, and we live around them, building them into our personal narratives. It’s all we can do. If Oliver Perez cannot control his destiny, how dare we? (Still, go vote.)

A Prayer for Oliver Perez

Oliver Perez!

Although if it’s all the same
I’d rather not use your name anymore.
I’m sure you understand.
It’s just too heavy.
And I’m sure you feel the same way;
That what it means to be an Oliver Perez
Has changed so many times
And so many Oliver Perezes co-exist
In people’s minds
That they begin to average themselves out
Into nothing.

Besides, what is left
Of the first Oliver Perez?
Surely not the synecdochic left arm
Once the nexus of your promises
Whispered to children and scouts
Now essential to your livelihood
Now an amalgam of metal screws
Spare tendons, and scar tissue.

Better to stop being Oliver Perez
To become nameless
To become uncategorized.
If only you played for the Cubs
You could appear in the sixth inning,
Retire a batter or two,
And vanish into the hazy anonymity
Of half-forgotten childhood memories.
The players and the scores and the games
Bleeding together
Into one warm meaningless late-summer tie.

The backdrop for the setting
Of some other boy’s story.