(with special thanks to Ernest Hemingway)
He was an old fan who after many years of following the Mets suddenly found himself adrift at sea after a terrible storm.
At first, the old Mets fan was not worried about being rescued, but as the days went by he began to doubt whether anyone would ever come for him. “You have food”, he said to himself, “and plenty of water. Someone will come and rescue you. You must never lose hope.”
Each day that went by he could see a big white ship in the distance, bigger than most of the other ships, and he figured that one day the big white ship would see him and come to rescue him. “Its a very big white ship”, he would say to himself, “It will come for me. I will be rescued. Its only a matter of time. You must persevere and not let hopelessness defeat you.”
Then five years passed by and the big white ship had not come to rescue him. Abandoned in the middle of the vast blue nothingness that no longer held any beauty for him, and without food or water, he began to build up a great contempt for the big white ship that he could see every single day, but never came to get him. He scolded himself for being angry with the people on that big white ship, “You are angry and it will do you no good. It is weak to be angry and you are not weak.” He had long ago become sunburned like leather, and his lips had become permanently parched, and he had almost given up hope that anyone cared about his fate. But he wouldn’t give up. He would never give up. During the day he would howl like a mad man into the endless blue skies hoping the big white ship might hear him, and at night he’d howl into the pitch black nights with the twinkling stars that seemed to taunt him. But no one heard him. He had suffered for a very, very long time, waiting for the big white ship that did not come to rescue him. “You can abandon me,” he thought many times, “but you can not defeat me. I will never give up.”
Then, unexpectedly one night in December, when he was at his bleakest and he thought he could not last one more day alone at sea, he saw a faint, flickering light in the distance, and it began getting closer to him. His heart turned over in his chest. “Could it finally be the big white ship coming to rescue me?”
The light came closer and he watched with the wonderment of a child and joy started to fill his heart, and then the light from the big white ship got so bright it illuminated everything around him. When the big white ship got right next to him he didn’t wonder why the big white ship finally decided to rescue him that particular night, or why it had taken so long. “I am just happy it finally has come to rescue me,” he thought. He fell to his knees in gratitude. He should have felt bitterness in his heart but instead he was filled with endless hope for the future.
Once on the big white ship, a fellow passenger appeared with a big, round, heavy jug of water, and when it was handed to him the old Mets fan could see that the water was tinged a funny looking color and had an odd smell to it. When he held the jug he could tell it wasn’t particularly cold water, either. The old Mets fan had every reason to believe that the tepid water he was about to drink may be germ infested and if he drank it he might become sick with fever. He might even die a very slow, agonizing death over the next two years. But despite these reservations he quickly put his parched lips to the jug and gulped the foul smelling water down, because he was so thirsty for any water to drink after all these years of having none, and while the water was putrid and foul smelling, it was water nevertheless.
Later, a group of passengers on the big white ship gathered around and told him in hushed voices that the captain hadn’t been seen for quite some time, and that the First Mate was in charge, and half of the passengers didn’t like him, and they didn’t trust him. They said he was an arrogant man, and no one was sure where he was taking them. They said that he had only steered one ship safely to anywhere many decades ago and no one believed he could find his way again and that arrogance was his great character flaw and it would doom him and the passengers. “Trust me”, he would say over and over to those who began to doubt him, “I have a plan to fix things from the terrible storm.” But eventually no one from this group of passengers trusted him anymore and no one believed he had a plan, not one that made any sense anyways. However, the other group on the big white ship did believe him. They believed everything he told them, even though he never told them his plan either. The two groups had many heated arguments and great disagreements and the group that didn’t trust him tried to get him to listen to their complaints, but he didn’t listen to anyone except the Second and Third Mates. ‘I’m the captain’, he declared when the group who mistrusted him threatened to mutiny, though everyone in this group knew he was not the real Captain.
The passengers who mistrusted the First Mate the most told the old Mets fan that there had been a rumor before they came to rescue him that the Captain, an older man who meant well but may have lost a lot of his money in the terrible storm of five years ago, had been telling the First Mate what to do these past few days and that it was the Captain who had ordered the First Mate to come rescue him. The Captain had taken control of the big white ship because he didn’t want any of the passengers to mutiny, and the First Mate was not happy about all of this because he thought this group was a bunch of whiny malcontents, but he did what he was told.
The old Mets fan was too tired to be angry or worried. At least not on this night, the night the big white ship finally came to rescue him. He was just happy to be on-board the big white ship, happy that the big white ship was moving in any direction, no matter how slowly the big white ship appeared to still be going or how skeptical he might still be about the First Mate. It no longer mattered to the old Mets fan if the Captain even had enough money to buy more fuel, or, frankly, if the Captain even had any plan at all. The old Mets fan knew that the two groups on the big white ship would probably not agree again, that they would argue and complain and call each other names, and there would be more misery and angst as the big white ship lost its way again, as it had many times before, but he was too tired and too happy now to think about any of that. That could wait for another day.
That night, the old Mets fan curled up in a bed for the first time in over five years and dreamed about ice cold, pristine clear water, like the kind he once drank in 1969 and 1986.