How I Learned Church

Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As far as days of the week are concerned, Sunday is the difference. You can just feel a Sunday without much effort, in much the same way a singer can identify a pitch out of thin air. Whereas Michael Corleone’s first wife- the lovely Apollonia- easily confused the other six days of the week with their bunkmates, she always nailed the one day that was common language, from Sicily to Flatbush.

When I was ten years old, I was an awkward mess of buckteeth and bushy hair and the most geometrically absurd pair of glasses. I was shy, painfully so. If shyness had been a contest, my closet would’ve been full of blue ribbons. The safe haven for me came in the form of books and baseball and music. I could lock the rest of the great big world out of my room and daydream about a future time and place when I wouldn’t feel so out of place.

These love affairs in miniature gifted me liberty from my clumsy toiling through all the nascent lessons my too young self couldn’t yet grasp. My habits were the better chances, delivered from the mysterious belly of a universe whose plans for me were kept in escrow until I grew out of my sad little britches. And Sunday was when all my hopes and dreams came calling, in peaceful little drips.

I happened to be a fledgling explorer when it came to the religion of Café con leche. My method was equal parts a charming ignorance and an earnest deconstruction; I possessed a rudimentary blueprint that substituted espresso with Folgers and scalding hot milk with a cold, heavily sugared alternative. If you grow up with any kind of Latin influence, you understand your serving sizes when it comes to sugar as heaping and diabetic. It’s how I stayed honest enough to the recipe.

I’d tote the brimming mug back to my room and then get lost in the brilliant math of a morning after baseball box-score. I sipped at my Café and pored over the out of town scores before fixing on the exploits of my Yankees. Bucky, Willie and Blair more often than not took the collar and that was alright since defense was their bread and butter. Nettles and Chambliss and Rivers were always good for the rest of it. And then there was Reggie, who served as the front man for a band of talented miscreants. I imagined his murderously quick wrists turning on a hanging fastball inside his church as the congregation roared its approval.

It was during this time when I kinda felt as if Sunday had been created just so’s Lionel Richie could sing his love letter on the radio. I would listen closely to try and hear that intoxicating scratch as the stylus teased vinyl before diving in. In a world full of sophisticated complications, this was one I never got tired of knowing. My senses crushed on that sound.

They still do.

Of Kings and Queens and Kitchen Sinks

History of cats in Egypt

I like the idea of a spirit world.

Ancient Egyptians took the shit very seriously because to their way of thinking, a person’s life wasn’t finished when their expiration date came calling. They believed that the newly departed had an appointment with Osiris- the god of the deceased- and his 42 judges in a place called The Hall of Truth. If it was judged that the person on trial had lived a good life, they were permitted to enter Club Afterlife. Conversely, if the person was judged to have been a dick, they were tossed into the abyss and devoured by a monster. Not for nothing, but the Hall of Truth sounds way more fair minded than our Supreme Court. But that’s another thought for another post.

Anyways, the Egyptians believed that if you were greenlighted for the penthouse, it was all Gucci from there. Residents whose slippers were woven from clouds didn’t have to sweat any return trips to earth. They were gifted their favorite places and things for the rest of eternity without ever having to load up the car and fill the tank. There was however . . a however. Because let’s face it, there’s always a however. If an individual was called into the existential equivalent of jury duty, it meant their business on earth wasn’t quite finished or their peeps had dissed them in some way.

My daughter is convinced that we have a ghost and his name is Mr. Speaker. It makes sense, seeing as how the former furry ruler of House Lancaster loved the view from his perch and made sure that any visitors knew they had best leave their swords at the gate upon entering. It was his kingdom, they were just visiting. It would be sooooo Mr. Speaker to hold it against us for having replaced his precious crown with not one, but two members of royalty. And in the same calendar year to boot.

I elected Jack the 2nd and Wednesday the Only to the throne in the summer of 2020, whilst we were still writing songs about our dearly departed King Speaker. Truth is, I was in a very dark place after having lost Speaker months earlier and so when my sister sent me a video of a couple kittens she was fostering, I replied with “Sold!” And the rest has become a splendid history of two incredibly majestic rulers whose reign is akin to Carly Simon and James Taylor spilling musical gold onto a piece of vinyl.

Evidently, Mr. Speaker disagrees with this assessment.

“I think Speaker is inhabiting the kitchen,” My daughter informed me.

“What makes you say that?”

“You ever notice how Jack and Wednesday accompany each other into the kitchen? Or if it’s just one of them going in, they’ll usually wait for us?”

“You think Speaker’s haunting their asses?” I laughed.

“It’s something he would do,” She replied.

I conducted a thorough investigation of the area, making sure to cancel out insects, rodents and phroggers before reaching my conclusion that Mr. Speaker is in fact, haunting our kitchen.

Now here’s the thing. I could hold a séance in which I confess to the guy that he was such a hard act to follow, I had to double down! And not for nothing, but I honored his memory by naming one of them Jack (Since his full name was Mr. Jack Speaker)  He was a trusted confidante and loyal friend to my daughter. He was an expert wingman for yours truly. And as far as gangster chronicles go, the dude was legendary.

Eh . . . what’s the use? I know he would turn his nose up at such a gesture even if it happens to be completely true. He wouldn’t cease and desist even if I asked him nicely. What Mr. Speaker wants, he always gets. Even now. And it’s not as if the current regime is cutting back on food and water as a result. They’re just a tad bit more discretionary as to how they budget their time in the kitchen. And I think I need to follow their example if I’m being completely honest.

Besides . . .as far as I’m concerned, the spirit world just got a whole lot cooler.

The Slate Is Ours To Write

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

There’s this person I know, I’ll call them Sandy since that’s not their name but I wish to be respectful of their privacy. Their journey wasn’t an easy one. Not when you consider how many people still believe the world is supposed to subscribe to the notion that humankind must abide to a uniform script. There are still too many people who are willing to get ugly and mean in order to convey their narrow minded approach to everything and everyone else.

Sandy had a tough road to get here. Born a boy in a conservative Latin family and learning a different truth by adolescence, they hid the truth until it could no longer be hidden. For some, the truth is a liberator but for others such as Sandy, it is the beginning of an arduous journey fraught with complications, betrayal and abject hate.

I took all this into account when I was getting to know them because it’s how I would like to be understood. The golden rule isn’t some bullshit antiquity, it’s a real world solution that works wonders when applied with compassion and understanding. It’s how I learned that Sandy has the kind of personality that makes everybody’s day just a little brighter just by being in the room; smart as all get out, hard working and as genuine a human being as you’re ever going to meet. Sandy isn’t just a good person. Sandy is one of the best people I know, one of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. If you want my slam dunk, that’s a fack jack seal of approval last word on this? I would have enlisted Sandy as a babysitter for my kids back in the day. And that list was reserved for immediate family and a Godmother, so there’s that.

We tend to forget how easy it can be. We’re so wrapped up in the daily mayhem that we lose sight of Camus’ best idea. The one that summons us to get moving to where the getting is good. It’s a place we all have access to if we just let it do its thing. The denomination that threads us together is what should count most of all. If we stopped separating each other as if we were aisles in a grocery store, we would understand ourselves as people. Different and very much the same. Both.

Maybe we don’t ever figure this out. Maybe we drown in our insolence, captive prisoners to the hostilities that are setting perpetual fires to an unkempt world. Maybe we are just too far gone to ever really get to the place where peace matters. Where the quiet of common sense matters. Where life reads like that favorite passage in a classic piece of literature that your brain can feed on in perpetuity. And maybe none of it matters in the end if we give a damn enough to spoil the wreckage with kindness.

If I never knew Sandy, I never write this post and I never feel as hopeful as I do in the moments that come at me from every direction with words that spill over with love and peace and a genuine belief in us. All of us. And it’s a tiny little stretch of real estate with quiet understandings. But its resonance moves the holy spirits that tend to our small mercies, even in the most desperate of times.

Admittedly, I can still be clumsy with pronouns. But I’m earnest and I’m open and I’m honest to this fact. After all, it ain’t hard work. It’s how a person chooses to live because it’s their life . . it’s their choice. My part is the least meeting most in a hug, and I do understand that it’s not everything, but it’s a lot more than nothing at all. And it still counts.

A lot more than we know.

Peace And Love Is All I Got

The Victims of the Uvalde, Texas, School Shooting | Time

I was planning on a Rundown for today and then Tuesday happened.

We don’t even get to catch our collective breath before the next slaughtering of innocents punches us in the gut all over again. It seems a hopeless effort to hope and pray that maybe the world will go quiet for a spell, and it leaves me wondering if anything is ever going to make sense ever again.

I sat down and tried to write something about those twenty-one souls as I watched the news footage coming out of Uvalde. And then it hit me, the madness of it all. Here I was writing about yet another lost day, not even a week removed from my last post about a mass shooting. And then I wondered if a post about Texas would even make it to Friday before the next horrible moment arrived. After that, all I had left was the crying.

Life is so incredibly fragile as it is without provoking the fates. We don’t stand a chance so long as we allow hate and ignorance to matter as much as they do. We lose the value of ourselves when we accept the worst as a matter of course. We need to be doing better than this. As a neighborhood, a town, a city, a state, a country. As a whole.

We need to be better. As parents and neighbors, as strangers and as friends. And we need to expect better of everyone who is entrusted to serve their constituency. They do not answer solely to those who vote for them. They have to answer to us all.

Our children deserve better.

Finding The Reason

The holiday season is when the past merges with the present. The leaves of this continuum tree get rolled into an obscenely thick cigarette that achieves a curiously satisfying high or a precipitously dangerous low. And somewhere between the merry and the menacing and the caroling and the crashing is where I tend to camp. The co-mingling of two wholly different mindsets is my default gateway; the holidays just add a heaping tablespoon of crushed red pepper to the equation.

And then Monday happened.

Missed Call

I get that message countless times over the course of a day. No big deal. And then I saw the name attached belonged to my daughter.

“Hey, what’s up?” I said, keeping it cool even though I wasn’t feeling cool in the least.

In a sad statement of the world we live in, when I heard her trembling voice, I immediately thought there had been a shooting at her workplace. My mind ran through a half dozen frightening scenarios, and then she let me know what was what and an entirely new collection of frightening scenarios ensued.

“I’m on my way to the ER . . . I’ve got abdominal pains that won’t quit . . I . .”

“You’re on your way to the hospital?”

I cursed myself for cutting her off before letting her finish. Then I dropped everything and skipped. The drive to the hospital seemed impossibly surreal, as if I had ventured off the pages of a neat and tidy script and into a fractured ramble of misbegotten that lacked all reason. The rhythm of the day had become disjointed and foreign, as if I’d broken out of a snow globe.

I’m pretty sure Dante Alighieri penned a divine piece of hate mail to hospitals back in the Middle Ages, and he wasn’t kidding. As I navigated the labyrinth of negative space, my brain constructed battlements to stanch the desperate chorus of sounds that raged like wildfire.

Arriving at her side, I compiled all the 411 from the nurse and my daughter and then came to the unprofessional conclusion that she was suffering from appendicitis. Imagine Marjorie Taylor Greene, without the manly conviction. Of course, this diagnosis wasn’t helping my daughter any and neither was the morphine for that matter.

When her CT scan came back inconclusive, I retired from the field of medicine and resumed my paternal obligations; in other words, I became a royal pain in the ass to anyone wearing scrubs. The ultrasound results effectively shut my ass up.

“She has a rather large cyst on her ovary. . .” The doctor began, as if he was reciting the special of the day whilst taking our drink orders.

You know what happens when you attempt to quiet the worst case scenarios that run through your head when you receive bad news? Welp, they run faster and they scream even louder is what happens. Before the doctor could finish scaring the fuck out of me, I’d done it my damn self. And then they served her up another round of morphine that ended up being as useless as the first.

It was a couple hours and an ambulance ride to Women’s And Babies Hospital before the nurses gathered around to prep her for surgery. And for what felt like the millionth time that day, I told my daughter that everything was going to be alright. Only this time, I was finally believing it. And then I kissed her on the forehead before leaving the room.

“You’re my favorite child. Just don’t tell your brother . .”

“He knows,”. She replied, not missing a beat.

The apple, dropping right off the branch and letting me know the universe wasn’t just listening, it was offering a little sage advice: Be grateful for the good times you get to keep, and hold onto them as if you’ve been gifted magic.

It was twelve hours removed from my daughter’s phone call before the surgeon came out to let me know they had removed a balloon sized cyst that had lodged between her fallopian tubes and her ovary. The intense pain my daughter had been experiencing was the result of the cyst forcing her ovary to twist on itself. The surgery had gone pristinely, as if God had tucked his present under our Christmas tree.

While I waited for the green light to be reunited with my daughter, I put in my twentieth call of the day to Dale and I let her know the color was returning to my knuckles rather nicely. We spent the next few minutes exhaling for the first time all day as the clock drew ever closer to midnight. And then I called Big Papi to let him know why I had been incommunicado.

He took the news quietly and then cursed at the idea that someone so young and healthy might have to deal with a body that barks back at them. Of course we know full well that life doesn’t give a fig about pretty faces or the date of birth on your driver’s license. But his rant was all about love, and I appreciated it. Because like me and Dale, he has that parental gene too . . the one that screams for the great white shark to come get us and leave the kids the fuck alone.

“But she’s going to be fine, man. You got your Christmas gift,”

He’s a poet when he wants to be.

To The Heavens, They Obliged

The History of the Twin Towers Design and Architecture - Bloomberg

“Good Lord . . . there are no words . . .” CNN Anchor Aaron Brown as the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

Something hit the World Trade,” My wife told me as I was shaving.

Of the myriad thoughts that scrabbled through my brain, I never approached the reality of what had just happened. As I listened to the news coverage, describing the event as a small plane crashing into the North tower, I knew this wasn’t true. I’d been to the twin towers and gotten lost inside the mighty shadow it cast on my every step. They were double imaged testimony of man’s ability to dream big and build even bigger; One hundred and ten stories tall and almost three-quarters the length of a football field wide. A twin-engine Cessna would’ve resembled a pock mark on the side of this massive structure.

“It wasn’t a small plane . . no way,” I said.

9/11 documents detail bravery and fear - Deseret News

It was a few minutes before nine a.m., minutes that separated us from a sinister new normal and the worst kind of evidence that our world had gone sick with madness. I listened as the news reports kept getting it all wrong, and I prayed for the uneasy feeling that wouldn’t quit my bones to leave me be.

I stepped outside to take a call from my sister and lit up a smoke as we talked about what we didn’t know as if it meant something. The sky was a pristine ocean of blue that held forever in its mighty reach, as if Andrew Wyeth had paid God a ransom for the privilege. And then those precious minutes stopped separating us from the truth and then the second plane hit the south tower and then that peaceful blue sky went black and then a quiet Tuesday morning on the cusp of autumn became the meanest winter.

Ohio State studying effects of WTC dust on 9/11 first responders

It wasn’t long before Washington was hit, after which every major city across the country braced for the next attack. And then reports of a plane going down three hours west of us, and then the waiting as time got stuck in this insidious clench of hopelessness. By Tuesday night, I feared sleep as the threat of more attacks continued to prevail. And when I woke early on Wednesday, it was as if midnight had visited us and decided to stay.

I walked my kids to school at the end of the week. I felt an intense need to propagate simple moments out of the unseen world, and I was struck with an even deeper sense of humility. I visited the principal to offer my apologies. I had engaged in a heated argument with him on that Tuesday morning when I insisted on picking up my kids from school because I wanted them with me. I remember the exhaustion on the faces of every adult I came across. We couldn’t turn back time, we couldn’t undo all the horrible crimes that had been perpetrated on us. The calculus on a new millennium had morphed into a frightening new reality, where every person, place and thing could be the end of days.

NYC first responders, non-profit rush to save 9/11 tribute - New York Daily News

The weekend was full of shutting out the world around us the best we could, but it was no use. There were calls from my sisters who had just gotten home from Maine and calls to my cousin, who had been in the north tower, and calls to friends who still wanted to talk about the one thing we were trying to get away from but never would.

I went to church that Sunday. It was something I rarely did by that point, but it felt like the right place to be since I was desperate to gain a peace of mind that wasn’t happening in the days since the attacks. The house worked for me in the way I assume it’s intended to work because I prayed as if I had a direct line to Mother Mary’s ear. I prayed for the heroes who were lost and I prayed for the heroes who kept digging for signs of anything at all. I wished for that deep blue ocean of a sky to return those precious minutes back to them . . . the minutes that came before a raging storm stole their forever away. I wished for a different somewhere, a place where that brilliant sky might get to finish its work for their weary souls.

Wherever they were.

Yesterday Once More

Canadiens-Golden Knights Game 6 score, live updates: Artturi Lehkonen's OT goal sends Montreal to Stanley Cup Final - The Athletic

There’s a line from the movie Miracle in which the legendary Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks lets his young troops know what’s really at stake inside the sixty minute crucible of the biggest hockey game of their lives against the Russians. He tells them the name on the front of the jersey is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back.

The Tampa Bay Lightning may not be confused with the Soviets powerhouse of a hockey team, but the Bolts are pretty damn good in their own right. And it’s going to take everything this young Canadiens team has to raise that Cup. And unlike that American hockey club at Lake Placid, these Habs have to do it four times in a couple weeks. So where you might be helped by a lucky bounce or a bad game by a superior line in a single game elimination, those chances dwindle when you’re talking about a seven game series.

These Canadiens are good with that. They came into this Stanley Cup playoff season with 500-1 odds to make the finals. Of the four Canadian squads with a dance card, they were given little to no chance of being the first team north of the border to get this far since Vancouver did it in 2011. And when they fell behind to the favored Toronto Maple Leafs three games to one in the first round, you wouldn’t have blamed their fans for toasting to last rites. And then the Canadiens pulled an Ali and got up off the canvas and punched their way through the Leafs, the Jets and the Golden Knights. And now you’ve got a group of kids with a whole bunch of tomorrows in their back pocket, intent on making today the beginning of a brand new chapter in their proud history. It’s been twenty-eight years since the Canadiens were last in the finals, and yet their twenty-four titles are still far and away the most of any team in the sport. Where some might find such a task daunting, this group seems to feed off of it.

These Habs bring a solid mix of veterans and kids to the party. From Brendan Gallagher to Cole Caufield, Tyler Toffoli to Nick Suzuki. And then you have Carey Price in goal, who happens to be in the middle of a playoff run for the ages. He’s been around long enough to know what to expect, and it’s a fine hockey blessing that he gets to sit at the high stakes table now. You want to see guys like Carey Price doing their thing on the sport’s biggest stage, getting his chance at immortality. And now Carey Price has the one thing, the only thing, a competitor really wants. He has his chance. And so does a Canadiens squad that doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, playing for history.

The Canadiens have made June a magical place to be, awakening the echoes of a once mighty empire as they topple the modern day giants of the sport. And now there’s one heavyweight champion left in front of them, looking to defend their belt, after having dispatched the Islanders in a seven-game nail biter.

Tomorrow in Tampa is where past meets present, and all that’s at stake is every single thing these guys play for. It’s when the names on the back of the jerseys get known and it’s where the name on the front of the jersey counts most of all. For this Habs squad, it’s a halcyon dose of recognition for what they have achieved thus far. And they’re well aware tomorrow isn’t promised.

It’s earned.

A Word For Wednesday

The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not mans
-Mark Twain

I told Dale I would post today’s entry because I just do not want to let Wednesday go wordless. Not this Wednesday.

Zeke passed into the mystic on Tuesday afternoon. And as with any brilliant light, the end came much too soon. Because it is always too soon to say goodbye to such a cherished companion. She referred to him as a beautiful beast yesterday and a more fitting description you will not find. He lived a wonderful life as evidenced by this montage pieced together by the love of his life.

Good night, sweet prince.

The Sorryless Non-Refundable 2021 MLB Season Preview!

Image result for San Diego Padres celebrate wild card win

Since I’m still trying to figure a way in to the Magic Dance Sunday series, I decided to change things up this week and go with something completely different. With spring training on the horizon, Imma summon my creative fastball with a 2021 preview of what to expect from the MLB this coming season. And as always, if you decide to place a wager based on these predictions, seek help . . immediately.

The season begins on April Fools Day, and the results are in keeping . . .

Newly acquired slugger George Springer hits a record five home runs in his Blue Jays debut as Toronto beats Gerrit Cole and the Yankees 21-18. New York signs NFL place-kicker Sam Ficken after the loss. In Colorado, the defending champion Dodgers score so many runs that the scoreboard operator resorts to Roman numerals after the fifth inning. Final score: Dodgers XXVIII- Rockies II. The New York Mets win their opener over the Nationals, after which the New York papers declare the NL East Race to be over. The Chicago White Sox club the home team Angels so badly that Mike Trout asks to be traded to a playoff contender. He is promptly dealt to the Rams for five first round draft picks.

Once the season gets its legs kicking, form wins out. In the National League, the Dodgers go undefeated until mid-July and end up beating out the San Diego Padres for the NL West. The Mets win the East going away, prompting owner Steve Cohen to ask for public money to build an exact replica of The Colosseum. For the first time in baseball history, an entire division- the NL Central- is eliminated from postseason play.

In the American League, the Yankees win the East but decide to sit out the playoffs since more than half the team is on the injured list. “We would have to call A-Rod back into service, and I’d much rather hold on to the soul the good Lord gave me,” Says manager Aaron Boone. The White Sox win the AL Central but are upstaged by the Chicago Bears trade for DeShaun Watson so the team announces it will be moving to the cornfields of Iowa in 2022. The Houston Astros win the AL Central despite playing in a literal dump, after MLB removes every trash can from Minute Maid Park.

The postseason is where things get carazy with a capital Ice-T.

The Dodgers fall flat after going 151-3 in the regular season, losing in three straight to the Mets, after which they attempt to trade for the Rams Mike Trout but are thwarted since LA is undefeated thanks in large part to the running back’s MVP caliber season. The Mets then lose a hard fought classic to the Padres in seven games, when Fernando Tatis hits a pennant clinching home run in extra innings. The Mets lodge a protest claiming they led for the first three innings and thus should be awarded the game but the case goes nowhere since the GOP already tried that in the 2020 Presidential election.

In the American League, with the Yankees out, the Tampa Bay Rays stand in for them and proceed to sweep the Astros out of the playoffs. Houston promises to bring a pennant back to Houston next season, after the city’s health department orders the team to house trash cans in their stadium by 2022. The Rays are then swept out themselves by the White Sox, after which the team enters into discussions with the city of Tampa to build a tax-payer funded stadium for the team . . in Montreal.

The World Series is a winner for baseball fans, even if the networks complain that a San Diego/Chicago World Series is a ratings killer on the level of The Alliance of American Football. Fox Sports President Mark Silverman petitions to have the teams replaced with New York and Los Angeles and Commissioner Rob Manfred suggests two World Series be played. The idea goes nowhere since daytime World Series games would have to be played in order to pull it off, and no network worth its gravy is going to forfeit prime time ratings, sorry kids.

With the series locked at three games apiece, the deciding game is played in a snowstorm. It’s the first such storm to hit San Diego in more than fifty years. Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy calls it a “Gift from God” but is refuted by California Governor Gavin Newsom who proclaims it to be a byproduct of climate change. Feeling right at home in the elements, the White Sox push five runs across the board and hold serve through the first seven innings before the Padres answer with three runs of their own after replacing their cleats with snowshoes. The game goes to the bottom of the ninth inning with the White Sox clinging to a 5-4 lead when Fernando Tatis comes to the plate with one man on and two outs.

“Tom Brady is one swing away from delivering San Diego its first Stanley Cup ever!” Says a clearly inebriated Joe Buck. The Fox announcer will later admit he played a drinking game in which he downed a shot of tequila every time a batter struck out in Game 7. To the great entertainment of Fox viewers, the teams combine to strike out a record forty six times.

Tatis quickly falls behind 0-2 and appears to tweak his left shoulder, which forces him to finish his at bat from the left side. A Fox Graph follows, grimly predicting the Padres chances of winning to be less than Hilary Clinton’s in a Presidential election. Somehow, Tatis works the count to 3-2 as Joe Buck is replaced in the booth by the legendary Vin Scully, who tucks the baseball season to bed.

“And Tatis has sustained every punch the odds have thrown his way, from the frigid snowflakes out of Currier and Ives to the fiery bullets being served up by Sox closer Alex Colome. Add in the fact that Tatis is batting from the left side for the first time since his days as a prospect in the Dominican League. And now El Nino, as befitting a name in these conditions as Henry Thoreau could muster, is being asked to pen a Cinderella ending for the Friars . . .”

” . . . Colome will be pitching from the windup here with the whole of October in the offing. And now the pitch . . . hit deep down the right field line, if it’s fair its gone . . . it iiiiiiiiiis GONE!” 

And then Scully does something remarkable. He lets the scene play out without injecting a single, solitary adjective. He lets the tapestry of joy and heartbreak play out on its own, and he allows the viewers . . to view. Three minutes worth of watching men transform themselves into little boys again. Stomping through a miracle ending on the way to baseball nirvana. Inside this moment, the world settles into a most agreeable place, where magic and reality intertwine before the season gets lost to winter. And in the dark confines of the losing dugout can be heard that most dignified appraisal of not just baseball, but life itself.

Wait till next year.

 

Magic Dance

Howard Beach, 1983: Liz fumbled across the night table until her index finger was strumming the snooze option on the alarm clock radio. She lay still as the dead, as if by doing so she might stave off the day that was dripping into her brain like tiny beads of water from a faucet. She rose when the morning news broke through the darkness and switched off the alarm clock before moving into the bathroom.

“Fuck . . ” She said, examining the tiny shadow of a curl on her face. A virgin wrinkle. Her mother had taught her the value of pretty faces and gin martinis; a disharmonious combination that would end up stealing the elasticity of Mary Austin’s youth until she concluded that life was no longer worth living, and promptly moved to Long Island.

The chime of the rotary phone in the living room brought Liz back to present day. She ran to its bleating hum like a lovesick Lizzy Borden, craving that melodic timbre that was silk to her senses, even if she wanted to murder the sweet talking sonofabitch.

“Hey funny face,” Danny said. He lifted the moniker from an Audrey Hepburn flick they’d taken in at the Regent Theater in Soho on the day they fell in love.

“A Saturday, Danny? The fuck . . ”

“Half a day, and then we have a hot date at Don Peppe,”

“I wanted a hot date this morning and I got the fucking cat, okay?”

“Okay, forget Don Peppe. Makeup sex, pizza and beer,”

“Uh, no . . you don’t get to cheap out after standing me up. And morning sex beats makeup sex, every day of the week,”

“Debatable,”

“No, what’s debatable is whether you’re getting any tonight,”

“That’s harsh,”

“It’s why you love me. Get me some cheesecake from Eileen’s on your way home,”

“Done. I’ll be home by three,”

“That’s a half day?”

“Yanno, some day when we’re summering in the Hamptons and you’re drinking gin martinis at noon and having sex on a king sized hammock, you’re going to look back on this time and wonder what all the bitching was about,”

“Well now, that depends on the gardener . . .”

“Cheesecake as per your wish good looking,” Danny said.

“I hate you,” Liz replied.

“Hate you more, see you at three,”

Liz turned to find her black cat, Thin Lizzy, tossing daggers at her.

“I don’t need your shit right now sister, so you go tell it to the old man when he gets home,”

She moved to the kitchen and cranked up her coffee maker before delivering up some Al Green on her turntable as the intercom came to life.

“Yeah?!”

“Buzz me in! Buzz me in!” It was her best friend Maria. Liz unlocked the door and poured two cups of coffee, fixing hers up the way the old Cubans did, with enough sugar to send her into a diabetic coma.

“I hate my fucking life! More later . . I gotta piss!”

Maria was what happened when sound got pregnant with fury’s baby. The two of them had been friends since grade school, and Liz was thankful for the fact every single day. To know there was someone in the world more fucked up than her, it was a priceless thing.

“Coffee . .”

“Kitchen, I didn’t add anything to it since I don’t know what your mood is,”

“Bitch knows me!”

“So why does life suck today?”

“Never mind, but okay. Remember Richie Mancuso from high school?”

“Probably not,”

“Sweet black Riv? We went double dating after ditching the prom? You passed out in the front seat and he banged me in the back seat?”

“Oh shit, the guy I thought was too good looking to be straight!”

“Him. Well, we went out last night. He’s a used car salesman now,”

“God, I am so proud of you for moving on,”

“So we’ve gone out twice, he’s banged me twice,”

“When’s the wedding?”

“That’s just it, the fucking guy’s married!”

“It’s just so strange, Mar. A used car salesman . . . who lies,”

“I know! How did you get so lucky, meeting a handsome guy with money?”

“Easy. His childhood was as messed up as mine, Get this, his mother confessed to me that Danny’s father? Ain’t his father,”

“Get the fuck out!”

“Yeah, she pulled me aside at her birthday party last week to tell me this. She was totally wasted so of course I had to confirm it by calling her a couple days later. Turns out, she was messing with a family friend and the next thing she knew . .”

“Danny,”

“Yep. And it makes sense. They’re blonds, can’t grow facial hair to save their lives. I saw pictures of this guy . . has a Robert Redford thing going on. So no complaints on my end,”

“Do you have any weed?”

“Utensils drawer in the kitchen . . .”

“How’s the painting going by the way?”

“Eh, I sold a couple pieces last month at that art gallery in Brooklyn,”

“That’s awesome!”

“Maybe. But it was to the same guy, and I think he only bought them because he wants to sleep with me, so there’s that,”

“Does he look like Robert Redford?”

“More like Robert Redford’s accountant. Toke, por favor,” Liz said.

“Does Danny know? About his old men?”

“Are you nuts? He still thinks his mom was a virgin when she met his . . . when she met Carl,”

“Well when I have kids, they’re gonna know their mother had a good time when she was younger. Lying about your past bites you in the ass, always,” Maria said.

“I’ll make sure to remind you of this when you’re boring the shit out of them with stories of your time in the convent,” Liz smiled.

“Why does love have to suck so much Liz?”

“Because it knows we’ll keep coming back for more . . .”