Guest Post: Why Me? Why NOT Me?

I posted a short quote from a baseball player, of all things, in the “He Said/She Said” section. It was Mel Stottlemyre, a baseball coach and certifiably Famous Dude within the world of MLB, shrugging and refusing to pity himself for being struck with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. “Why me? Why not me?” he said in a Steve Rushin article in Sports Illustrated a decade ago, and I’ve never forgotten. (It must be an example I need to remember.) Thoughtful reader Michael Freeman made his comment into a short personal essay, which deserved prime real estate, and here it is:

I don’t know who actually coined this phraseology first, but it took me a long time to come to the same conclusion, if not the same exact language. A coin has two sides, different sides unless you are lucky enough or crafty enough to possess one of those phony two-headed coins of con job fame.

An argument, or debate, in its simplest form has a pro and a con. An island has an east and a west coast. A game has a winner and a loser. Why can’t every why have a why not?

I was leaving an AA meeting one time. I had just joined in the group commiseration of throwing our proverbial dirty laundry into the centre of the table, and shared ideas as to how to proceed. Each meeting is a safe haven where all are welcome to share and discuss and come away feeling just a little bit better. And it usually works, for many, at least along spiritual and emotional lines, but I have always had the nagging of physical discomfort knocking at my door. Daily. Persistent. And at times, relentless.

I stood at the bottom of a staircase bemoaning my condition: festering leg and back pain and a mind distracted by its impact. I hesitated for but a few moments,

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Mel Stottlemyre (considering the odds & not complaining)

My name is Howdy, and I’m still a paper wrangler.

Oh, I have e-files, too, of great letters, articles of lasting importance to me, and no doubt lots of ephemera that will make me wonder, Why did I hang on to that, again? In our move back from China, though, I also had the challenge of deciding what magazine tear-outs would make the luggage weight limit, and have come back to hundreds more in my big green Ottawa filing cabinet in the garage. So.

I ran across a column from Steve Rushin — he’s excellent, a very funny writer, though not in this piece — in the July 12, 2004 Sports Illustrated. (Paper hoarders sometimes get to remember useful things, and fine.) He was writing about cancer, multiple myeloma, because his big brother Jim had it and, more famously, so did a couple of superb ex-big-league ballplayers. Rushin began this way: We have ‘disillusionment’, but not an opposite word (illusionment) for when somebody’s even better than you thought. He was talking about Mel Stottlemyre, a former major league pitching star.

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