“I believe Andy [Pettitte] has misheard, Mr. Congressman, on his comments about myself using HGH, which never happened. The conversation that I can recall, that I had with Andy Pettitte, was at my house in Houston, while we were working out. And I had expressed to him about a TV show something that I have heard about three older men that were using HGH and getting back their quality of life from that.”
—Roger Clemens, testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Houston, Texas (1999)
Roger Clemens’s house. Clemens and Andy Pettitte are working out.
CLEMENS: Hey, Andy.
PETTITTE: What’s up?
CLEMENS: I want to express something to you.
PETTITTE: You’re impressed with my meat pumps? You’re a strong clown in a box of kitty litter?
CLEMENS: [changes expression]
PETTITTE: Joe Torre in a bowl of oats? Hell, I dunno, Rocket.
CLEMENS [exasperated]: Oh, forget it, Andy. I’ll just come out and say it: I’m thinking about this TV show where three older men use HGH and get their quality of life back.
PETTITTE: Oh, I see it now. Well, here, it’s your house, hoss [passes Clemens remote control].
CLEMENS: It’s not really on yet. I guess what I’m saying is, what if there were a TV show with three guys—
PETTITTE: Like Miami Vice if you count Crockett’s alligator Elvis as a guy? I always thought of him as one.
CLEMENS: Right, but these three guys are, let’s say, plumbers.
PETTITTE: Why would a plumber need HGH, Roger? I don’t see the advantage. The lifting’s not that bad. Flush valves, float balls, trip levers, and whatnot. Or wait: Do the three guys have to fight angry Draculas or, like, underground C.H.U.D.s? I’d watch that.
CLEMENS: Let me phrase it a different way. You’re a Christian man, Andy, so let’s look at the Gospel of Matthew.
CLEMENS: OK, so there are three guys: Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar. They’re from the East.
PETTITTE: Like on the Orioles or the Sox? These guys sound familiar. Are they those deaf Venezuelan brothers with the cut fastballs? I thought they were deported.
CLEMENS: They were. Listen, those guys aren’t on the Orioles or the Sox. They’re from the Bible, kid. The Three Wise Men.
PETTITTE: Oh, right. Blue Jays.
CLEMENS: No, the Bible. Look, King Herod—let’s call him Bud Selig—sent the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem, and said, ‘Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.’ But it was a trick. Bud Selig knew these guys had probably been juiced up on the cream and the clear and all that stuff, just so they could make that long trip from the Orient. Then he had the children massacred. You don’t want to kill babies, do you, Andy?
PETTITTE: No! And it’s Asia. “Orient” is for Chinamen, Roger. Please.
CLEMENS: Anyway, these guys were old. Like, older than Julio Franco, even. But you see, if they didn’t have all that juice, they never would have given gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus, who is the reason you and I are here. Wouldn’t you use the HGH these guys use on this TV show if you could perform miracles in the name of Jesus?
PETTITTE: I don’t know. Since when is carrying tree-sap over the Urals a miracle? And how do they get back to the plumbing shop? Let me ask you this, Roger: What was their quality of life before? You said they were kings, didn’t you? They probably had chicks and money—and they never had to call a plumber, either! Why would they pump themselves full of juice and wander around Persia like that? Sounds like a pain. And my quality of life is good. Me and Laura just got a sex swing. I don’t know if I can relate to this show.
CLEMENS: Andy, are you familiar with the idea of indirection, the semiotics of invisibility—you know, talking about something you’re not actually talking about?
PETTITTE: Like when I say I want a bucket of Popeye’s extra crispy and a new rosin bag, but what I really want is a new dog?
CLEMENS: That’s not how Kierkegaard would put it, but sure. And you know that’s what we’re doing, right, like, with respect to this “show?”
PETTITTE: I figured. Even the best plumber couldn’t beat Dracula in a straight-up fight. Even if he was a plumber-king.
CLEMENS: Damnit, Andy, you have to be the densest son of a bitch this side of Cooperstown.
PETTITTE: If you gave ‘em fangs and baby Jesus as a sidekick, the Venezuelans could probably beat a Dracula or maybe even a C.H.U.D. I ain’t dense, Rog, I’m just skeptical.
CLEMENS: Have you misheard me or something? I’m talking about steroids.
PETTITTE: Well, what if the juiced-up king-plumbers brought better stuff to Jesus, like maybe a fiddle, a jug, or a banjo—make it more Hee Haw and less stupid after-school special? Or make it like Manimal! Jesus turns into a panther who leads a jug band and—
CLEMENS: Forget it, Andy, forget it.
PETTITTE: C’mon, Roger, lighten up. It’s good to be king.