When I was fourteen or fifteen, I used to take care of a married couple’s miniature black poodle while they were down in Florida on winter vacation. The neighbor who offered me this work was a lawyer who belonged to a country club, wore white leather loafers in the appropriate season, and lived in a modern looking ranch house two front yards away. My parents had divorced a couple of years prior, and Mr. Lewis, “Chick” to the adults, had decided to help me learn about responsibility in my father’s absence. I was a procrastinator, not terrifically responsible, and would usually wait until the end of the day, commonly known as the night, to trudge through the moonlit snow towards the Lewis’ incontinent poodle. Befitting their progressive and affluent lifestyle, the Lewises were among the elite in my town who first paid for something called cable television. I had heard from friends that cable had stations that sometimes showed nudity. So while waiting for the dog to do his business out back on his dog run, I began to experiment.
In search of adolescent titillation and in a house kept dark so as not to alarm the other watchful neighbors, I probed and pushed at the curved, raised buttons along the strange plastic box that rested atop the Lewis’ TV. I happened upon a scene perhaps more indelible to my dilated pupils than a woman’s heaving, naked breast (now into my late forties, it still runs neck and neck). A channel sterilely named ESPN was broadcasting early round games of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Two exotic universities, Brigham Young in light blue and Notre Dame in all gold, were battling each other on the court. I sat down on the shag rug transfixed. I had read in the newspaper about elimination games like this but had never seen anything like it live. Then, down by one with eight seconds remaining, a young Mormon named Danny Ainge took the inbounds pass, dribbled the length of the court, eluded all five Irish players intent on stopping him, and tear-dropped the ball into the basket for an incomprehensible, exultant victory. I was quite punctual the next night for my canine date, and I’ve been in love (lust?) ever since.