The Sense of Touch
“Big Blue” is from Ron Parsons’ debut collection, THE SENSE OF TOUCH (Aqueous Books, 2013). Parsons’ short stories have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, The Briar Cliff Review, and elsewhere. Ron Parsons lives in Sioux Falls.
Parsons said this about the origin of his story: One of my best jobs was working for Project Enhance, an organization in Minneapolis that served mentally challenged adults. To my great delight, I was tasked with organizing and participating in athletic activities with our clients. In the winter months, the favored sport was floor hockey. When it was warm enough outside, we played very competitive games of Wiffle ball using a big, blue plastic bat that I found at the local K-Mart. The games were the substance of many joyful evenings.
During the same time, I was taking a fiction writing class at the University of Minnesota. When writing at night, frustrated and wrestling with the words, I would often find myself taking the Wiffle ball bat into my hands. I would assume a batting stance and imagine the feeling of swinging and smashing my laptop across the room. That particular feeling became the genesis and opening paragraph of “Big Blue.”
I was born and lived the first part of my childhood in the Detroit area. The image of the blue bat inevitably reminded me of my late grandfather, who lived in Kalamazoo. We did not have enough time together to become especially close, but we could relate to each other through a shared love of baseball. He was always both astonished and appalled that I had somehow managed to defy my geographic destiny and become a New York Yankees fan in spite of his best efforts. With those two elements in place, the story began to take shape.