“How did I survive once they were gone? Are you seriously asking me that? Let me put it this way: When I was little, and I wondered how I was going to make it without anyone looking after me, without anyone on my side, nobody in the whole mixed-up, unfair, cruel, and impartial world, I’d think of burritos. Nice, fat, perfect Mission-style burritos. Now, you might be one of these people who picks them up and eats them, biting at the folded end and eating until you arrive at the far end, the final bite. On the other hand, you might be one of these people who cuts a slit in the top of the burrito with your plastic knife, then uses a plastic fork to eat the contents of the burrito, saving the damp, hollow flour tortilla as the last part you devour like a prize. Either way—and I don’t care who you are or where you come from—when I say the word ‘burrito,’ you know what I’m talking about. Wish I had one right now.”

(A long beat as this hangs in the air between them.)

“Right, but what I was asking is: How did you make your way in the world all alone at such an early age?”


“We might win this game, and we might not. You might live your life exactly as you plan on living it, and you might not. A lot of things may happen, and they might not. That’s the world. That’s life. That’s how things work, whether you’re a team or just a person in this world doing the best you can. So when you walk out on that football field tonight, think about everything that was supposed to happen in your lives up to this point and didn’t, and then think about the things that actually did. Try to separate them all into two different buckets: a bucket full of the things that happened, and one filled with the things that didn’t. Now, set those buckets apart, side by side, maybe three feet apart. Maybe they’re both exactly full, right to the top. Maybe one holds more things than the other. Step over the buckets, keep moving forward past them, out onto the field to play this game. Look back at the buckets. They seem stupid now, right? What are you gonna do, cry about two buckets? Get mad about them? I invented the stupid buckets. Or even if you’re not crying about them, why are you even looking at them, is my point. Yes, Todd, you got a question. Ask it.”

“Shouldn’t we get out on the field?”


“What do you think talent is? You think talent is obsession? Drive? Hunger? The need for something more? Is it some stupid new expensive Porsche you drive down Sunset hoping you don’t look like a cliché? Is it a blessing that hangs beautifully on you like a dress in Beverly Hills, one you can only afford to try on and act like you were considering buying when inside you know you’re not there yet? Or is it bad luck that falls on you from above because you were born on the wrong block? Do you think it’s something in your veins that thins your blood until you’re mad or dead? Let me tell you what talent is. It’s twenty years in a town you never wanted to be from. It’s the kiss you get from the person you would die for and wish you’d never met. It’s a stack of hotel key cards and restaurant receipts for memories. It’s noticing that the birthday parties you were missing have turned to weddings you’re missing, then funerals. It’s Sturm, Drang, clatter, ducks, ping, dink, pachinko, hyork-hyork, dander, harumph, jump my dandy hurley girl, corn’s gone fiddle-faddle, tee-tee, bolt-funk, acid rock, toink-toink, Mr. Grundy, all ships sail at dawn!”

(A long moment of letting the truth sink in.)

“What was that whole last part, though? The sounds and all that other shit?”