When I was a lad getting fed a lot of mumbo-jumbo at St. Matthew's Grammar School in East Syracuse, New York in the 1970s, a teacher assigned us a short story to read about a midget, as they were called back then, who was signed by a minor league baseball team because he was an expert bunter. This guy wasn't just able to lay down a bunt; he could place the ball anywhere he wanted (within bunting distance). My memory – which is always 100% accurate – tells me that he was discovered at a circus, where he was bunting balls into various buckets that were placed around his batting cage. He never missed, directing each ball with spin and bounce and speed in such a manner as to expertly deposit them into containers of various sizes. Needless to say, he became very valuable to the baseball team that picked him up.
This makes me want to write a modern-day version of this story in which I (the narrator) am cast as the hero. Except in this case, I don't bunt balls into buckets, but instead spit acorns from under the treads of my bike tires at motorists who irritate me on my morning commute.
The story starts with me on my sleepy bike ride into the office on a crisp fall morning. There is a traffic jam, but I, as a cyclist, am unaffected, able to breeze past all the cars that are belching greenhouse gases into the atmosphere while not making much progress on their commutes. As I ride along on this beautiful fall morning, my front tire runs over an acorn, which squirts out and strikes the side of a shiny, black BMW sedan, making a funny "ping" sound as it does.
The damage is non-existent, but that doesn't stop the douchebag driver of the Beamer, after traffic starts moving again and he catches up to me, to roll down his window and call me an asshole for purposely spitting an acorn at his stupid-ass car that costs like $150 just to change the oil. Of course, I didn't "purposely" shoot the acorn at his car. Who could do something like that? Wait, that bunting midget in the short story I read in fifth or sixth grade could have.
So, I set myself to learning how to shoot acorns from under my bike tires at cars stuck in traffic, particularly at douchebag drivers who leak into my bike lane because they are reading threads on X while driving about how bike lanes are ruining life for drivers. With time and a lot of practice, I become an expert at this obscure "sport," able to use my perfect vision to pick out acorns in the road ahead and determine, instantaneously, where to run over them to propel them at Hummers and Navigators and any car that I don't like or driver who has irked me. Soon, I become famous, alleged on obscure websites that I have caused "thousands of dollars of damage," never mind that you could shoot an acorn out of an air gun at high speed and not even put a scratch in a modern auto paint job.
Police try to set up roadblocks in bikes lanes to nab me, but I am too wily, weaving through traffic, dodging cars trying to "door" me, spitting acorns at cars all the while.
I haven't figured out the denouement yet, but I know that this story will have a moment when it seems like I will be caught, and then a happy ending as I get away Scot free, just like the story of the bunting savant had a happy ending.
[Editors note: I found the story online in a copy of The American Legion Magazine from August, 1949. Titled "Lay it Down Ziggy!", it starts on page 11, but don't let that stop you from perusing through the rest of the magazine. Plenty of fun stuff to see, including on page 2 the "The Bracer Royal Supporter Belt," which appears to be a male girdle.]
If I told you the truth – that I own three cars – would think badly of me? Saying that I have three cars probably sounds like I'm bragging, but the fact is that I'm self-conscious about it. It suggests that I don't appreciate the corner we humans have painted ourselves into and am willing to pump as much carbon into the atmosphere as I can muster. Like I'm one of those guys who drives a giant pickup truck and takes pleasure in "rolling coal" at cyclists or running over them. (Or both). I'm embarrassed that you might think of me that way.
You know why they call it "embarrassed"? Because you feel as though your ass is bare. Little linguistical nugget for your brain to ponder.
But back to me not bragging about my three cars: we have three not because I drive all the time but because I'm bad at finding the sweet spot between the price I was offered on a trade-in (not much) and what I want in my wildest dreams (many, many thousands of dollars more). Also, the car I was trading in is 15 years old and coughs up a bolt or springs a leak often and needs surgery. I own another that is eight years old and it doesn't matter how many ball joints and control arms you replace, it seems to need another almost immediately. Consequently, one of these two cars is on the bench so that when the other is on the disabled list my family isn't stuck with just one car.
"Just one car." Yes, I know, first world problem.
Meanwhile, we had been using the same drivers for our vehicles since we got married in 2003. We finally updated our drivers to include our son when he was around 16. My impression is that we can get away with just these three drivers until 2024, when we plan to update them again by adding my daughter (currently 15). It's just sensible. By then, we may have just one functioning automobile. That's when I buy everyone a bike.
I wish I had the job of a baseball color commentator. Some of them know a thing or two about the game, having played it at the big-league level, sometimes well, but often not terribly well at all, though well enough to have made it to the biggest stage in the world before embarrassing themselves with two out in the bottom of the ninth and the whole world watching. Most don't know so much more than you or I about baseball. They just know some of the game's famous players, having showered alongside them when they were having their so-called "cup of coffee" in the majors.
And yet, here they come into our living rooms with important-sounding titles such as "analyst," which suggests that they have received advance training to interpret your dreams or pick apart your psyche. Maybe they just know how to read data tables. In truth, they are there because fans would rather listen to former ballplayers talk about the game nostalgically and with a modicum of objectivity, rather than listen to you whine about a call that, in truth, was probably correct.
This may be how Lou Merloni, who played a bit part for his hometown Red Sox from 1998 to 2002, is allowed to "commentate" (a word that needn't ever have been created, given the existence of "comment") on Red Sox radio broadcasts now and again. This season, early on, Lou managed to concoct a phrase that I had never heard a baseball analyst utter. Speaking of the young Red Sox, Lou noted that Alex Cora's squad had "a ton of inexperience."
This turn of phrase – indicating that the absence of something – experience – was really the presence of something else – inexperience, was clever, even if Lou didn't mean it to be. It's like saying that you have an infinite amount of nothing.
Reminds me of a former roommate I had when I lived on Murdock Street in Brighton, who once replied affirmatively, sort of, to some question I had tossed his way by saying, "For sure, probably."
Thanks for being clear.
On and off in these pages, I've been known to allege that my children are Canadians. I don't mean they act like Canadians by being overly friendly, drinking maple syrup, and wearing toques, but they nevertheless had what seemed to be an airtight legal entitlement to live and work in the 51st state, given that their grandma was Quebecois.
Despite the fact that my kids were born (or "borned" as we little kids often said back in the 1960s) prior to the laws changing in 2009 and were bona fide citizens when they emerged into our cold world, they are not grandfathered under previous law. Changes in 2009 that eliminated citizenship being conveyed by a grandparent unless you had already applied for "proof of citizenship" (i.e., not citizenship per se, just proof that you are a citizen, which at the time they were) means that our friendly northern neighbors will bar these two from entering their smoldering country if/when the next US Civil War gets approved.
On the plus side, they won't be expected to doggedly defend any ice that still exists up there in the Canada parts of the arctic region, if ice continues to exist, which is not a given.
As if to put an exclamation point on the denial of their citizenship, Canada is blowing smoke at us Americans, preventing us from playing bad tennis outside thanks to terrible air quality. It's like they're trying to push us away from their border, or mimic the Vatican by sending messages via smoke signal. Sacre Bleu!
This issue is something short of tragic, I suppose. We are not Ukrainian refugees, or Sudanese trying to escape civil war. But with the US south sweltering, our government and society divided, and all those guns floating around, having an escape hatch would be great. (As would the tuition relief they would see if they managed to get into McGill.)
I'd like to say that we're going to protest the government's decision by boycotting Canada altogether, but the fact is that just last week we went to The Shaw Festival in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, with our tails between our legs, and yes, we had a really nice time. I guess there are reasons to be north of the border beyond escaping our heat, guns, and the US Supreme Court.