Sean was born on December 15, 1949 in Barrien Springs, Michigan. He was ninth, fifth if you counted boys only. His father worked on the assembly line, and his mother was a teacher. She always bragged that Sean was the brightest in the family. He was on the honor roll at Roscoe Elementary, and later at JFK High. He batted .320 for the baseball team, lost his virginity on prom night, and earned a full scholarship to Purdue. He hadn’t applied anywhere else.
Like all good college freshmen, Sean spent most of his first year drinking, partying, and bullshitting his way through classes. He was good looking, in a curly-haired, Greek-god sort of way, and had no trouble finding a date for Friday night. Eventually, he fell in love. Her name was Elizabeth. He bought a ring, and they planned a wedding with money they didn’t have.
Sean graduated at the top of his class and continued on to law school. He worked as a legal clerk to pay tuition. He drank coffee to stay awake in class, and when that wasn’t enough, he moved on to caffeine pills. Elizabeth was six credits short of her psychology degree when she left school. She took a job as a waitress and went to night school to get her teaching credentials. By the bar exam, Sean was chest-deep in debt and carried a silver spoon. His career was already over.
Many years later, a therapist who needed the fee would come to a pithy conclusion: Patient is mostly well-adjusted, but has deep-seated inferiority complex. Elizabeth fought the habit. She supported them both on a schoolteacher’s salary, and she made Valentine’s Day reservations at a nice restaurant. Sean stared at the blank TV screen and bounced a baseball against the wall. When he sold their lease for $500 and a half-pound bag, she left. She drove south to a town called Renace, just above the Mexican border, and opened a taqueria. I was born in the back room. Sometimes, after the midday rush, we play catch together. She gave me his glove, but it’s still too big for me. I’ll grow into it someday.