There are some words you sort of know the meaning of without bothering to look up. Reading a book last night I came across the word depredation as in, to spare his daughter from the duke’s depredations…. Not that I ever depredated anyone’s royal daughter but a bell went off in my ever-diminishing brain.
When I was in my second year of pharmacy school (1951), too lost or dumb or afraid to quit since I had just a passing interest in the subject, I still had a passion for playing basketball. My brief stint on the varsity team as a freshman ended badly when my grades hovered somewhere around my point total in any game.
However one night I found myself playing in a league of high school jocks. All I remember is my hot hand. I was a white Kobe Bryant. Everything I threw up found its way into the hoop. To my amazement the game was written up in the Long Island Press and the writer must have been a young John Updike or George Will. The sentence read, The …… won with 21 depredations by Norm Levine. Depredations? How about points? Come to think of it maybe it was a 33 year-old Howard Cosell getting his start as a Monday night pedant.
Speaking of Kobe when Peggy and I were in Tangier we hired a tour guide to take us around. Our last stop was the Casbah where a rug merchant tried to sell us his wares. After half an hour he gave up and took me aside in a far corner of the tent and whispered, So what do you think of Kobe and Shaq? I didn’t tell him that I practically was Kobe for one night fifty years earlier. It was no time for depredations.
The game was played in Jamaica which was 2-3 subway stops from my town of Forest Hills. This is not the Jamaica of Bob Marley or Usain Bolt. But it is in the general area of Jamaica Estates where the Donald, our most modest and erudite candidate for president hails from. If elected what will save the world from his depredations, I ask you?
Jamaica was also the home of the Valencia Theater where, at age seven, I was taken to see the movie, One Million B.C. It would have scared the bejesus off me if I had bejesus to begin with. One thing for Victor Mature to fight off the dinosaurs but how would I manage if I encountered one on my way home? Imagine the depredations. I can just see myself running from a saber-toothed tiger through the jungle which would later become Wilshire Blvd. With a little luck the beast would get stuck in the La Brea Tar Pits and miss his appointment with a veterinary orthodontist to fix those molars.
Victor Mature belonged to the Sylvester Stallone School of acting. Lots of grunts and sweats. I think he wore a headband in the movie which reminds me of Paul Lynd who, when asked if sex was better if a partner wears a mask, replied Yes, it was…that’s why Tonto was always sweating.
Checking out that word, depredations, I see it has been used to describe the ravages of robber barons or looting & pillaging by the Cossacks so what was that would-be Updike / Will thinking to call my jump-shots and driving lay-ups, depredations? I suppose my depredations did ravage the opposition but I’d hate to think of myself as a marauder or plunderer.
The newspaper article is long gone. It’s probably better that way for my reputation to say nothing of that sports writer who either went on to win the National Book Award or more likely ended up selling shoes in Macy’s basement.