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  1. Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, P.S. by Stephen J Dubner | | Booktopia
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In Middleburgh: the high-school ballfield where I broke up a no-hitter in the last inning. We must have lost the game but my own sliver of glory is all that comes to mind. In Schoharie: the ragged, shallow creek where my mother taught me to fish. We never caught a thing and lost all our lures. I saw a flat-faced man soaping up a flat-faced school bus and the thought of riding it - the thought of childhood - made my insides sag. Gallupville Road, my road, dipped and snaked through hayfields and hillocks, pea-green in the muted June light. I had biked these hills a million times, a million years ago.

I cursed their steepness and the dogs that sprang silently, teeth bared, from behind the forsythia. Now I only had to nudge the gas pedal and the hills fell away.

Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, P.S. by Stephen J Dubner | | Booktopia

For twenty minutes I didn't pass another car. It was taking forever. I checked the speedometer: 23 mph, it said. This was a homecoming retarded by memories; Odysseus had made better time. Right away I saw that it was all wrong. The house still stood but the yard did not. The yard was gone.

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It was now a gravel lot, filled with a couple dozen cars. The yard was the reason I had come home. The yard was a long, sloping spit of crabgrass where we staked our cow and played ball and recited the Rosary in summertime, the eight of us kneeling in a tight circle around our parents.

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And a momentous event had taken place in that yard. I had come home to stand in the tall grass at its edge and maybe close my eyes and commune with that momentous event. The momentous event was in fact a dream - a visitation, really - that came to me every single night for a few years.

The Dream featured a man I never met but who meant more to me than any man, dog, or deity.

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Jesus included. In my parents' home, Jesus was the only thing that truly mattered and although there was some mystery as to how the family had gotten that way, his dominion was never challenged. I had further been instructed that it would be an honor to receive such a visitation myself, and that I should keep my eyes open. So when my own visitation arrived, I took it seriously. My hero came to me with a force, a grace, a reality that neither Jesus nor Mary could muster. He left me quivering in my sleep, astir with joy and longing.

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In my waking hours I thought of him always, and tried to walk in his light. But my hero was a football player. This was plainly a heresy, and I therefore never as much as mentioned the Dream to anyone. Still, I depended on it.


Every night I looked forward to bedtime - which may say less about the Dream than about the unmoored, keening state of my childhood. It wasn't a miserable childhood, only one with a chunk blown out of its center, that chunk being my father. I had returned to the site of this visitation because I had come to believe that it was my hero who had kept me from crumbling into that hollow center. Stephen J.

Books by Stephen Dubner

Dubner As a boy, Stephen J. Dubner's hero was Franco Harris, the famed and mysterious running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Dubner's father died, he became obsessed—he dreamed of his hero every night; he signed his school papers "Franco Dubner. Years later, Dubner journeys to meet his hero, certain that Harris will embrace him.

This is me

And he is. Told with the grit of a journalist and the grace of a memoirist, Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper is a breathtaking, heartbreaking, and often humorous story of astonishing developments. It is also a sparkling meditation on the nature of hero worship—which, like religion and love, tells us as much about ourselves as about the object of our desire.

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