Before I go to all the bother of standing up, I have first to ask myself – why? What could possibly await an erect me that would be worth the considerable effort I will need to expend in order to raise myself from the relative comfort of these, my pillows? Nothing comes to mind. I’ll stay put.
Uh-oh. Here she comes: Captain Lorrie of the energy police. “Are you just going to lie there all day?”
“I’ve been giving that a good deal of thought… I think so.”
“Wallowing in your misery.”
“Well, suit yourself. I’m going out. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
“Take your time.”
If I were her, I wouldn’t bother coming back at all.
Why so glum, chum? Stupid expression. They’re all stupid, for my money. What money?
This has got to stop. I have a column due on Monday – a humor column. Wouldn’t bet the farm on that one.
I remember once, when I’d found myself in a particularly good mood, trying to analyze the cause of my mood; thinking that if I were able to do so, I might in future be able to reconstruct good moods at will. Well, by the time I was done with my analysis, the mood had disappeared. I had analyzed my good spirits to death. Perhaps I could do the same with my evil ones.
So again, why the gloom and doom? Could it be the value of the dollar in world markets? I doubt it. The Patriots failing to make the playoffs? Gee, I hope not. Constant pain? Nah.
(Many hours later)
The long ago death of my hamster, Dave, at the paws of Shadow, the cat? No. The time I gave up a grand slam in the bottom of the last inning with our team leading 3-0? Maybe. …
“Still in bed, I see.” Lorrie is incredibly observant. “You do remember you have a column due in two days, don’t you?”
“Why don’t you let me worry about that?” I can be very unlikable at times.
“I really wish you’d get over yourself already.”
“I’m trying… Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I gave up the grand slam?”
“You mean the one in the last inning when you were leading 3-0?”
“So I told you?”
“No, I read about it in Sports Illustrated. For God’s sake, Alan; you were ten.”
“I wish I had that pitch back.”
“Think how happy the kid who hit it must have been.”
“Other Shoes, Other Feet” (by Alan Handwerger)
Jonathan Grabow was the worst athlete in his class – maybe in his generation; certainly in our little league. In three seasons of play Jonathan’s bat had never made contact with ball; and he had reached base only once, the result of an errant pitch that had hit him in his helmet, knocking him out for several seconds.
Things were no better for Jonathan on defense; and his coaches often berated him for picking dandelions out in right field rather than retrieving the occasional ball that came his way. In fact, all three of the opposing team’s runs today had been the direct result of Jonathan’s horticultural pursuits.
None of which fazed Jonathan in the least – not, that is, until he saw Sally Ann Graddock in the stands. What was she doing here, at his little league championship game? She lived in another town; and he had never seen her anywhere other than at school.
Sally Ann. They were both in Miss Sheridan’s class. And because school life was lived alphabetically in those days, Jonathan found himself beside Sally Ann for a good portion of every school day. It wasn’t long before he became enormously attached to her. He had gone so far as to name his pillow Sally Ann.
These hot-blooded sentiments were by no means mutual. Sally Ann regarded Jonathan as the sweet nerd that he was. It stung.
But all of that was about to change. Talk about a defining moment.
Jonathan looked up at the scoreboard. It was the bottom of the seventh, last bats for his team; and they trailed 3-0. Further scrutiny revealed that there were two outs, and that there were runners on first and second. “Jonathan,” yelled the coach. “Stop daydreaming and grab a bat. You’re supposed to be in the on-deck circle.”
Now the last thing in the world that any teammate would want to see under these circumstances was Jonathan Grabow, bat in hand. But little league rules stipulate that each player on the team must bat at least once in a game; and Jonathan had yet to have his turn.
It is here that I enter the story. For it was me, you see, who was pitching against Jonathan’s team that day. Me: with my perfect 8-0 record for the season; not to mention the most strikeouts ever recorded in the ten- and eleven-year old division.
I guess it was when I looked over at the on-deck circle and saw Jonathan that I momentarily lost my concentration and walked the kid at the plate “Ball four,” cried the ump.
So now the stage was set: bases loaded; two outs; three to nothing; me against Jonathan Grabow for all the marbles. I know what I was thinking. Three hard fast ones and let my teammates come rushing onto the field, hoist me onto their adoring shoulders and toss me up in the air in jubilation.
What I was not in a position to know was what Jonathan was thinking, which was that I was a ferocious one-eyed Cyclops who planned to devour Sally Ann Graddock; and that only Jonathan, with one enormous swing of his trusty sword, could save her.
Now here’s a sad truth: some of Jonathan’s teammates, along with a good many of his team’s fans, had begun to file out even as he strode to the plate. As a result they would hear, but not see, the ferocious crack of the bat as Jonathan, first pitch swinging, eyes closed tight, sent that ball into the ionosphere, clearing the left field wall and the bases, and giving his team the championship.
But by the time that faithless crew could return to celebrate, Jonathan was long gone.
“Hi, Sally Ann,” he said, handing her a bouquet of dandelions. “These are for you.”
“Oh they’re so beautiful, Jonathan.”
“Jon,” he corrected her.
“They’re so beautiful, Jon.” And with that she kissed him gently on the cheek.
“You look handsome,” Lorrie said, noting the absence of a three-day’s growth when I entered the kitchen. “Smiley too.”
“I wrote my column.”
“Wow. What’d you write about?
“That homer I gave up.”
“Yeah – 1142 words.”
“That’s great… So, you want to tell me what’s been bugging you all week?”