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The Mystery of the Universe is Sandy Koufax


By Michelle Railey

There’s a thing that happens when I see Ferris wheels in the daytime. It happens with carousel horses, too. They’re not lit. They’re not operating. They’re still and fiberglass and dark. They were meant to be filled with laughing people, surrounded by night, illuminated in neon and fluorescence. They were intended to be more than the sum of their parts. But that only comes at nighttime. And nighttime only happens once a day.

So there’s something about Ferris wheels in the daytime, against the sun. Smelling of carneys and excess, glinting like factory-production and axle grease; intended to be special and magnificent but stark in the daylight. And there’s a beauty there: in the same stripped way of dinosaur skeletons and Erector sets, a geometric perfection which is almost enough but not quite.

I’m not sure why: the Ferris wheel in the daytime leaves me bereft, thinking of the lost and the loved and the past and the unfulfilled.

Solve for x. “Why” equals “x.”

Or rather, to me, the answer to every unanswered question (and there are so very many) is “Sandy Koufax.” The 1980s original version of the Trivial Pursuit game has a thousand-y questions. A superfluity of the orange answers are “Sandy Koufax.” Hence, to me, any unknown question (I am terrible at Sports and Recreation) is “Sandy Koufax.” Statistically, you have a better chance there than answering “shuttlecock” or “ninepins.” Or NFL anything. Just answer Sandy Koufax. If you’re flipping through the (original, mind you, 1980s edition) deck, the answer is either something else or Sandy Koufax. It’s like 50-50.

So: Solve for “x?” X equals Sandy Koufax.

Why do Ferris wheels in the morning make me sad? Sandy Koufax.

Why do fools fall in love? Sandy Koufax.

Why do people die or suffer? Why do they starve? Why do people hurt when they don’t need to?

No answer? Sandy Koufax. Sandy Koufax is the only answer I have.

Why does that ferris wheel make me so sad? What is an hour of a man’s life worth? Sandy Koufax? “x?”

It’s not helpful, of course. Sandy Koufax was born Sanford Braun in Brooklyn. He died in 1998. God rest his soul. And when I’m searching for something, there he always is: Sandy Koufax is the unhelpful answer. Solve for x? Sandy Koufax. A prime number, an unprime number, the most common orange card. It’s not the right answer, necessarily, but he’s the best we’ve got.

Answers, like pitchers, are difficult to come by. Thank god there’s occasionally a card that is not orange.

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