Pepper Martin once ate ten salmon steaks in between innings, and you think he cares to hear about your bellyaching?
Pepper Martin don’t care that you got a blister on your throwing finger. He don’t care that you’ve got a bit of clay in your eye. Pepper Martin dislocated his shoulder and still hit a double. He ran into a wall and the wall spit him back, but nary a complaint found Pepper Martin’s tongue.
Onward, then, into the brick wall! Into the unbending clay! Overtop the pebbled infield!
Adorn thyself in dirt and grass, a crown of dust and sweat!
My sunroof has a leak and it just rains, rains, rains. (Pepper Martin don’t care.) I tell strangers — I look out the window forlornly and I tell the Asian woman wandering around the office with an empty coffee cup, I tell her: “My sunroof is leaking.”
She chuckles and hesitates and mutters, oh, realizing I’m talking about the old green Buick in the parking lot, and then she slips back into her meeting like water slipping into the interior of my green 1991 Buick Park Avenue, and a whole dimension away, Pepper Martin is cranking those ivory rain levers over and over and over.
He’s not laughing; he’s mirthless. He’s as solemn as a ground-rule double. He’s cranking the rain levers and I’m telling Joe, “I’ll be driving home with a soggy bottom today.”
Pepper Martin don’t care. If he did care, he could only care about toughening me up, raining me into either a sloppy oblivion or a hardened, weathered, All Star third baseman, like a chiseled stone revealed after the mud is washed away, the obsidian statue to me, hidden until a mudslide of trouble washed it clean.