Turn on the Lights

Light poles weren’t easy to come around in Spokane, Washington in the ninety seventies.  They weren’t even easy to hide behind on a night when lights were required.

My late brother, Steve, although mostly revered for his wrestling talents, was also just as talented on the baseball diamond.  Too young to witness him playing, I can only recount some of his past through friends’ voices and my siblings’ memories.

While being recruited by college baseball coaches, Steve forbid our father from coming to any of his games.  Our father was not one who said anything during the game.  He would, however, discuss your batting average after the game.

Steve believed if our father was at the game, his batting average would drop dramatically.  Since he believed it, Steve was correct. He didn’t perform well when our father was watching.  Therefore, Steve asked dad to stop coming to all of his games.  Dad loved baseball and didn’t respect his son’s wishes.

One evening, after going to confession, my father thought it would’t be a terrible sin to show up to his games if he used camouflage.  It was the light pole which almost provided it.

Steve was playing centerfield, and our father was hiding behind the light pole directly behind him.  Steve sniffed him out and called him out.  “Dad! I know you’re hiding behind the pole!”

Dad found somewhere else to hide, Steve quit playing baseball after high school, and went on to win a National Collegiate Wrestling Championship .

Dad knew nothing about wrestling, but I know he was proud.



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Rulers and J.D.

What seems to be a million years ago, I was a teacher of sorts.  When Autumn comes, someone can either rise or fall.  One of the most brilliant students, sadly, was not in my classroom.  I taught English, and my next door teaching neighbor was an art instructor.  Requiring rulers was my neighbor’s first and second mistake.

One of his students enjoyed art, manual labor, and breaking things.  He also was from a broken home, and he placed his anger on rulers.

On a teaching budget, rulers can be a bit costly.  Each ruler costs a buck.  Ninety students times one buck….ninety bucks. That’s simple math.  Complicated math manifests when one student begins breaking half of the rulers.  Ninety divided by two is forty five.  He was on pace to break a record by the second week of school.  Sort of the Roger Maris of breaking rulers instead of home runs.

Our art teacher provided this student an ultimatum.  For every ruler you break, you owe me a dollar.  The student then busted out his wallet filled with at least fifty one dollar bills.  He then snapped a ruler in half and tossed his teacher a buck.

Turns out, this twelve year old was working part time at a gas station to help his alcoholic parents pay some bills.

Another teacher of his called me for assistance in her classroom one day.  The same student had a fifth of Jack Daniels on his desk during math class.  She didn’t know how to deal with it, so, as a part time drinker, I was intrigued.  Upon showing up to help this fellow employer out, I smelled the bottle, and it was filled with apple juice.  He said it was the only empty bottle he could find in the house which could contain the apple juice he made for himself that morning.  Although feeling sorrow for the student, I did inform him even bringing a bottle of Jack Daniels filled with apple juice could get him suspended.  He didn’t care, because he was making more money working at a gas station than he was at school.  I had to laugh, because he was a really affable fellow.  I then confiscated the bottle, saving him from a suspension and bought him a plastic bottle of apple juice from the school’s vending machine.  He was very thankful for the offering.  I was upset his bottle of Jack Daniels wasn’t filled with Jack Daniels.  It would have saved us both some cash.

As long as he’s only drinking apple juice, he’s probably a millionaire by now.

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Sorry, Golf.

Golf season is always over for me, but post season baseball is starting soon. The NFL and college football is also beginning, but I would like to provide a sweet conclusion to golf.

Admitting that I am a less than average golfer is a selfishly phony compliment for myself.  Most of my clubs end up in trees or water.  Some people say I’m impatient.  Others think I should’t be allowed to play publicly.

I wouldn’t say I’m abjectly terrible, but I’ve lost to groups of people over the age of eighty and younger than six who can’t keep score. That’s my excuse.

Golf has left me with one lasting memory when I knew I could never compete with AARP members or children.  It was one of my favorite memories of golf.

While attempting to golf alone, only out of embarrassment, I was, fortunately, joined with a duo I had never met.  One was probably eighty six years old, and his granddaughter was probably five.

The granddaughter was equally as bad at driving their golf cart as I was at playing the game.  The grandfather, insanely, allowing his granddaughter to drive the cart, was just as abysmal as me on the course.  So, I knew we’d enjoy ourselves as equals.

After twenty or so strokes, the grandfather would finally land his ball on the green.  At that point, he was too tired to putt, so he allowed his granddaughter to putt for him.  She was happy to accommodate him, but she also felt sorry for the ball.  After each of her thirteen putts on the green, she would, with great sincerity, say, “Sorry ball.”

It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen on a golf course.

That’s a pretty sweet conclusion.


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Analogies are something I appreciate.  The baseball team I’ve been rooting for the last forty years recently committed a crime.  They proceeded to commit five errors in one inning…Something which hasn’t been done since 1977.  Bravo.

The President of the United States of America (I have trouble writing that)  has delivered far more lies and errors since anyone B.C., and after.

In the immortal words of Charlie Brown: “Good Grief.”



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Eclipse This

Although today will be an interesting two and a half minutes of darkness regarding the total eclipse, I’m more concerned with the specialized glasses I may have to purchase when Sasquatch comes back to town.

Can you look directly at him without those glasses?

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The Worrying is the Hardest Part

Worry warts may be the worst, but sometimes, they turn a corner, similar to a mole, or skin tag.

My mother worried about everything from my brothers  jumping off a dock to jumping off a tree in the middle of the night.   She even worried about us smoking crack in our treehouse.  Strangely, that was thirty years ago when only my brother, Greg, was smart enough to develop a substance making us crazy enough to jump off a really tall tree.

These days, I only worry about my brothers and sisters…….and my wife, and my friends, and their families, and our country, and the world, and the solar eclipse.

Out of respect to my mother,  I don’t jump off of trees anymore.

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Pious at the Plate

Secretly, I was a pretty decent baseball player until I learned only being successful three times out of ten would get you in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  I was hitting five hundred in my my math classes, and hitting .400 on the baseball field. My father didn’t give a damn about my batting average compared to my math scores.  Five hundred in math equals an F.  Four hundred on the diamond provides an A.

Recognizing slumps in baseball, your batting average may drop by fifty to a hundred percentage points quite drastically.  While in a slump, I resorted to prayer.

Growing up in the Catholic church, I always prayed for others, but I have to confess, while kneeling in that pew, I tossed in a little extras for me.  Those never worked.

Dealing with two strikes with runners on base is tough for anyone, but with God on your side, going to church every weekend, including standing on each Holiday, should that make a difference in my favor?  I wish you could hear my laughter.  It does not.

Stepping out of the batter’s box with two strikes on me, I did the sign of the cross in front of the umpire.  He called time out and asked me, “Did you just do the sign of the Cross?”

As though I was confessing my sins, I responded, “Yes.”

He then said, “Son, Even God can’t help you in this game.”

I laughed and ended up getting a base hit. However, he was right.  I was praying for a home run..



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King County has recently hiked up their numbers regarding license plate tabs.  My last purchase for tabs was 580 dollars.  There was a time when I was in a cheaper place.

License plates are a tricky issue.  When you are homeless, your car becomes your home.

Years ago, when I was teaching in a land far far away, and during a pending divorce, I was asked to provide my place of residence by the Address Police, AKA secretaries of our school.  I provided my license plate number, model and make of my  car, because I had no proper place of residence.  Even though many people offered me unconditional shelter, my truck was the only place I could properly call my home, since it was my own.

It was only funny to my fellow teachers who appreciated the fact I had become a loser.  The secretary merely shook her head and filed it.

I’m better now.

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Recently, my wife and I were having a sophisticated conversation regarding colors. What is your favorite color?  She loves Dodger Blue.  I told her I love the color gravy.

I will never lose weight, until she tells me to do so.  Does Crayola carry the color gravy?


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In The Middle

Is crying more important than drinking?

Crying counts, drinking is fun, but crying is our reality.  It’s not fun, but it does count.

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