"Can I tell you something weird?" he asked. This probably isn't a valid question, because one can never say no to such an inquiry. But this is what he asked me. "Of course," I said in response. "Always." "Okay, well...great. That's great." He collected his thoughts for fourteen seconds. "Something is happening to me," he said. "I keep thinking about something that happened to me a long time ago. Years ago. Like, this thing happened to me in eighth fucking grade. This is a situation I hadn't even thought about for probably ten or fifteen years. But then I saw a documentary that reexamined theChallengerexplosion, and this particular event had happened around that same time. And what's disturbing is that -- now -- I find myself thinking about this particular afternoon constantly. I have dreams about it. Every time I get drunk or stoned, I inevitably find myself sitting in a dark room, replaying the sequence of the events in my mind, over and over again. And the details I remember from this 1986 afternoon are unfathomably intense. Nothing is missing and nothing is muddled. And I'm starting to believe -- and this, I suppose, is the weird part -- that maybe this day was the most important day of my entire life, and that everything significant about my personality was created on this one particular afternoon. I'm starting to suspect that this memory is not merely about a certain day of my life; this memory is abouttheday, if you get my meaning." "I think I do," I said. "Obviously, I'm intrigued." "I thought you would be," he replied. "In fact, that's why I specifically wanted to talk to you about this problem. Because the story itself isn't amazing. It's not like my best friend died on this particular day. It's not like a wolf showed up at my school and mauled a bunch of teachers. It's not a sad story, and it's not even a funny story. It's about a junior-high basketball game." "A junior-high basketball game." "Yes." "The most important day in your life was a junior-high basketball game." "Yes." "And you're realizing this now, as a thirty-three-year-old chemical engineer with two children." "Yes." I attempted to arch my eyebrows to suggest skepticism, but the sentiment did not translate. "Obviously, this story isn'treallyabout basketball," he said. "I suppose it'skindof about basketball, because I was playing a basketball game on this particular afternoon. However, I have a feeling that the game itself is secondary." "It always is," I said. "Exactly. So, here's the situation: when I was in eighth grade, our basketball team was kind of terrible. You only play a ten-game schedule when you're in eighth grade, and we lost four of our first six games, a few of them by wide margins. I was probably the best player on the team, and I sucked. We were bad. We knew we were bad. And on the specific afternoon I'm recalling, we were playing the Fairmount Pheasants. We had played Fairmount in the first game of the year, and they beat us by twenty-two points. Fairmount only had three hundred people in their whole goddamn town, but they had the best eighth-grade basketball team in rural southeast North Dakota that winter." "That's tremendous," I said. "They had a power forward named Tyler RaGoose. He was the single most unstoppable Pheasant. He was wiry and swarthy and strong, and he almost had a mustache; every great eighth-grade basketball playeralmosthas a mustache. The rumor was that he could dunk a volleyball and that he had already fucked two girls, one of whom was a sophomore. It seemed plausible. They also had a precocious, flashy seventh grader who played point guard -- I think his name was Trevor Monroe. He was one of those kids who was just naturally good at everything: he played point guard in the winter, shortstop in the summer, and quarterback in the fall. I'm not sure if Fairmount had a golf course, but I assume hKlosterman, Chuck is the author of 'Chuck Klosterman IV A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas', published 2007 under ISBN 9780743284899 and ISBN 0743284895.