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Being Eddie Johnson: On the Long Road, Again, Forever

The once and future United States national team forward returned to the American fold earlier this year. Ryan O'Hanlon examines the winding path he traveled to do so.
BY Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
November 08, 2012
7:03 AM
You’re driving down a dark road. It’s dark because it’s nighttime, and the sun goes away, and the moon’s not bright enough to light up the Earth because the Earth rotates, but you know all that. So, it’s night. Yeah, it’s nighttime. And you’re tired because you woke up when the sun came out, and you didn’t drink coffee because you didn’t have time to make a cup and then you were working and you were working so much so you didn’t have time to get coffee during the day and you never had coffee and therefore you never had caffeine and therefore you’re sleepy now. You’re sleepy because it’s nighttime, and the darkness makes it easier for your eyes to fade, but you’re tired because it was a long day and you worked hard and you didn’t have any coffee. You ate a PowerBar, you think. Yeah, you definitely ate a PowerBar because you can taste it in your mouth. It’s peanut butter-chocolate because all the other flavors are gross because it’s hard to make something that’s oat-taffy taste good no matter the flavor. And peanut butter-chocolate is okay but it’s still not enough to eat to fuel your body like a dinner would because you’re a grown man, a grown-ass man.

The name’s kind of misleading, though, isn’t it? Because if you eat a PowerBar you should be able to run faster than a motorcycle and bend a barbell in half by flexing your shoulders and decimate a small English town just be sneezing or farting—and that’s what everyone tells you, always expects from you—but it’s just not true. PowerBars just don’t work like that. ExtraPower or AncillaryPower or PowerBar: an Addendum to Your Regular Human Power. Those are better names. But PowerBar seems to suggest that there’s only one kind of power you need and that it’s in this bar, but you know that’s wrong because you’re starting to lose concentration. And now you’re worried about the name of an active-life snack, and it’s making you even more tired than you already were because it’s nighttime and it’s dark and it was a really long day, and you worked so hard, so hard that you never got to have coffee.

But you’re still driving a car. Shouldn’t that be enough to keep you awake, enough to remind you of all the hopes and futures and personal things you could crush if you ever forgot you were driving a car on a road filled with other human beings? You don’t know why you’re thinking about this, even. It’s just a damn car ride isn’t it? But everything you do seems to mean more for everyone else than it seems to for you. And why is it so cold?

So cold in that car you’re driving, that nice car you’re driving that everyone says you’re lucky to have so you should take care of it and never leave it out in the rain and certainly never drive it when you’re this tired. But the air-conditioning isn’t working. Or, well, it is working but it won’t stop working. It’s nighttime now so it’s dark and it’s cold, but the air conditioning won’t shut off even though you really want it to. It’s on the third bar because your system is digital and doesn’t have knobs like all those people who always tell you what to do, but it won’t go down or up, and this isn’t good. Because you’re tired since it’s nighttime and it’s been a long day and it’s dark and you never got to have coffee after working so hard, because you worked so hard, and that PowerBar lied to you and just wasn’t enough. And now you’re tired because it’s so cold and that won’t help wake you up and now you’re sleeping.

But you’re still driving the car. Your foot’s still bent at the proper angle and even though the road snakes left and right, since it tilts slightly, each way, you and your body move the wheel just enough to take the turns just right. And you’re moving smoothly and not thinking about PowerBars and no coffee and oh my god.

You wake up and jolt the wheel to the right, then jolt it back left so you don’t hit the guardrail. And now you’re driving straight again and soon you’re back asleep again as you whaaaaaat. You swerve back and forth to miss the raccoon that wasn’t there but had to have been because you were sleeping and how could you even know so you just have to assume. And you’ve got the wheel steady, and then you’re back asleep. Moving smoothly again, taking the turns so well and seriously again? You’re awake and you don’t know why this keeps happening and you stomp the break this time because your arms are too tired to jerk the wheel and this is your new natural reaction. But then you immediately ease off because you’re still driving a car on a street and you need to keep moving. Then you realize you’re on your street; you’re right in front of your house, and you pull into your driveway without falling asleep again because it’s right there in front of you. You’re home. You’re tired, but you’re home.

You’re Eddie Johnson.

Ryan O'Hanlon (@rwohan) is an editor at Outside and a contributing editor to AmericanSoccerNow.com.

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