Friday, March 04, 2011

On seeing Derek Jeter at Starbucks, and thinking about Michael

Cross-posted on the Mike Simanoff Memorial Blog

Derek Jeter hangs out at my Starbucks.

It's not my Starbucks, of course. I don't own it. Derek Jeter probably thinks of it as his Starbucks too. But, just like me, he lives nearby and comes here from time to time. As he's the shortstop for the New York Yankees, and I am not, it is safe to assume that he lives in a bigger house in a better neighborhood than I do. But Starbucks is the great social equalizer of our time. Rich and poor, professional athlete and couch potato, Mac users and PC users — we all congregate at Starbucks.

This isn't a blog post about Starbucks, though. It's a blog post about Jeter and my brother, Michael, who died in 2006.

Michael liked many things. High on the list were the New York Yankees and fantasy baseball. He was known for his prowess with baseball statistics, and even maintained his own website discussing the finer points of analytics. What some people did with fastballs, Michael could do with Excel sheets.

Time has a way of stealing your memories. This doesn't happen violently: time is not a mugger, and you can't fight back against it. One day, something happens and you are shocked to realize that you've forgotten about some of the things — characteristics, events, times — pertaining to the people you love.

Seeing Jeter made me think about how much Michael loved baseball. It reminded me that Michael loved the numbers behind baseball, and that he would build new teams and play entire seasons using nothing but existing information.

Before I knew it, I was standing in front of Jeter. Here's what I think I said:

"I hate to bother you, as I know people must come up to you all the time and pester you. I just wanted to tell you my brother was a huge Yankees fan, and if he were here right now, he'd be staring at you but too shy to say hello. My brother was also a huge fantasy baseball fan. What you did made him very happy. When I saw you, it made me think about him when he was happy. So, thank you."

This probably came out as:

"Awww, gee, mister baseball guy. Hi. Ramble, ramble, ramble. Bye now."

Jeter was very gracious, and said thanks. And since this encounter, he hasn't filed any kind of legal document requiring me to stay a prescribed distance away from him, so I probably didn't say anything too awkward or stupid.

I'm grateful for the experience — not because I said hi to Jeter, but because it brought back memories of Michael.


April said...

Time may have a way of steeling memories, but it sounds like you treasure every one Michael gave you. Your gift of writing what has stayed within the hidden corners of your heart, will continue to bring him back to life for all of us.

Anonymous said...

I happened to be thinking about and remembering Mike tonight, and while checking his memorial blog saw your most recent post. Just wanted to post to mention that these five years later I still treasure and miss his company.

Gabriel M (a friend of his from NY)