It’s the summer of 1974 and 10-year-old Sarah Heath is walking across the playground at Wasilla Elementary School in rural Alaska carrying a basketball.
“Hey, where’s she going? The game isn’t over yet,” asks a young Todd Palin, running over to her.
“Hey, Sarah,” Palin says, “where are you going? We still have a whole half left to play and that’s our only basketball.”
“Danny Sullivan says I’m not playing fair,” she whimpers. “So I’m taking my basketball and going home.”
“But you weren’t playing fair,” Palin says. “You were traveling and double-dribbling all over the court and had poor little Walt Monegan ejected as coach because he wouldn’t bench Mikey Wooten for being mean to your sister.”
“So?” little Sarah responds.
“So you’re not playing by the rules,” Palin says.
“There have to be rules, otherwise there’s not much point in playing the game.”
Sarah stops and spins around on her Chuck Taylor high heels.
“Who makes up these stupid rules anyway?” she asks, poking her finger into Palin’s chest. “I mean, who’s to say I don’t know a lot more about the game than these jerks? I want to play by my rules and anyone who doesn’t agree with my rules is just a communist, and I know what a communist looks like ‘cause I can see ‘em from my house.”
“So you’re just going to quit because we won’t play your game, just like you quit the Conservation Club?” Palin responds.
“All of the people associated with that were inethical,” Sarah says.
“Don’t you mean unethical?” Palin asks.
“Whatever,” she says. “They wouldn’t play by my rules either. They were all acting like a bunch of greedy politicians, just grabbing whatever they could for themselves. Disgusting. Just taking money and trips and even clothes for nothing. I could never do that, so I quit.”
“But what will you do now?” Palin asks. “You can’t play ball by yourself.”
“I won’t have to,” she says. “I know there are people out there who agree with me and are willing to play by my rules. I’m going to find them and coach them and build a team that will be the best on the court.”
“… or in it,” Palin whispers.
“What was that?” she snaps.
“Nevermind,” Palin says. “How will you find these people?”
“Once they hear I’m free of any prior obligations and willing to lead them, they’ll come flocking to me,”
Sarah explains. “Maybe we’ll even have some sort of super secret signal, you know, something like special designer eyeglasses or something so we can spot each other in crowds.”
“You’re just making that up, aren’t you?” asks Palin.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.