It never occurred to Arly Hockrood that Jack worshipped him for his powerful mind but hated him for his inconsiderate ways. Although he didn’t do it every week, Hockrood often asked Jack what his questions were—the ones Jack had been afraid to ask at the previous Monday’s Quarterback Lunch. Like an admiring idiot, Jack usually revealed his questions.
“Jesus, Alexander! That’s not an important question!” Hockrood always snapped back. “You gotta learn to ask significant questions, boy, real good ones, timeless ones! You gotta be a student of the game if you’re gonna be a student of the game!”
Jack had quite a bit of trouble trying to figure out what Arly Hockrood meant by that last profundity. He also had trouble with “timeless, significant” questions about football. He studied video, watched all the coach’s shows, read every word he could about the Tuskers, but still his questions about football didn’t seem important enough, at least to satisfy Hockrood. So Jack usually came home depressed, as well as excited, hostile and aggressive, after the rich AEPI founder had made the rounds of the sales offices. Sometimes on the way home Jack would wonder why football aroused all these simultaneous emotions in him. Then he would try to shake off his feelings so he could be a little bit nice to Suzi, even though she wouldn’t be very responsive until Saturday, when Jack would have other things on his mind.
On Thursday evenings, Suzi was sympathetic but not very patient.
“Well, Jack, what were your questions?”
He’d tell her. More often than not, Suzi would say something that made Jack realize how stupid his questions were. Suzi had about as much love for Big Red football as Arly Hockrood did, but she didn’t study the games for the purpose of making trouble. She just loved to see Archie prance around on the field. Suzi was just naive and innocent, thought Jack, at least about football. What he didn’t realize was that in watching the televised games so she could see Archie, she’d picked up a certain amount of insight into the way football was played. Of course her brilliant mind kept a jump ahead of the sport by wrestling, in its boredom, with the second most timeless and significant question of all: How should football be played?
And, from her philosophy classes back at the University of Nebraska, taken back when the football team was the miserable losing Cornhuskers, Suzi remembered that you could easily convert a somewhat significant question into a truly important one simply by replacing the word “how” with the word “why.” For example, one could ask not “how . . . “ but “why should football be played?”
This question was the precise one that the evil wealthy genius Arly Hockrood had asked himself every day since he’d been a youth in college.
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