Searching for perfection

“No one is perfect … that’s why pencils have an eraser.”

– Author unknown

“When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target.”

– George Fisher

“You kids are perfect slobs.”

– Mrs. Cashman, long ago to Pat and his brothers.

Dwayne Billadeau (not his real name) was a kid who went to my school. Everybody said he was the perfect kid. He was uncommonly good-looking, consistently polite, a straight A student and the best athlete for his age in town.

And Dickie Cooley (not his real name) hated him for that.

One day, Dickie challenged Dwayne to meet him after school for a fight. Dwayne showed up at the appointed time. Five seconds later, Dickie was flat on his back nursing a fat lip and three missing front teeth.

Moral? It’s perfectly stupid to challenge someone perfect to a fight.

Merriam-Webster defines perfection as “being without flaw or defect.” That would pretty much describe the day Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez had last week when he threw a perfect game. That means that not one of the opposing team’s hitters managed to get to first base – either from a walk, a hit – or by cab.

In the century and a half of pro baseball, that hasn’t happened very often.

In fact, a perfect game used to be considered as rare as hen’s teeth. But now, even that comparison has been ruined since scientists managed to actually breed chickens with teeth a few years ago. (True, according to the infallible Internet.)

So why would scientists do that, you may wonder? In order to make a perfectly good expression obsolete, that’s why. (Scientists are now working on a finding something even finer than frog hair.)

But back to the perfect game. Only a baseball pitcher can have one. A basketball player can make every shot, score 150 points – and still not have a perfect game, because he didn’t score 151.

A football quarterback can throw perfect spirals all day, but if his receivers drop them, he looks like a doofus.

Even a baseball hitter can come to the plate five times – hit a grand slam home run every at bat, thus driving in 20 runs – and still not be credited with a perfect game. Only a pitcher can be perfect.

But of course being Mr. Perfecto on one outing might make a pitcher feel lousy if he doesn’t do it the next time. And no one ever has. Maybe Felix can manage it – but if he did, and each subsequent time he pitched, there would come a point when fans would start to yawn. Perfection, after all, can ultimately get boring.

That’s why there will never be a perfect political candidate. It would require someone to admit their mistakes – and if they made mistakes, they’re not perfect.

Incidentally, Dwayne Billadeau showed up for a class reunion a couple of years ago. He’d been married and divorced four times – and had lost a pile of money in the stock market.

Dickie Cooley, on the other hand, while never married, had made it big as a motivational speaker.

His teeth, by the way, appeared perfect.