Now that you’ve seen me in some, but not all, of my hats, you are at a great advantage in this conversation. You know, for instance, that I spend an inordinate amount of time looking to my right. I thank you for not abusing this power.
When I was a kid (small boy, not young goat), there was a woman who lived on Bridge Street. Row homes in Philadelphia. As far as I know, she existed only in the summer evening twilight, sitting on her stretch of sidewalk in a nylon-webbed aluminum lawn chair. She had white hair and I can remember her only in a blue and white gingham dress. On the armrest of that chair, a transistor radio, AM, AA-powered, Harry Kalas calling the Phillies game.
Maybe there was a time when she sat there with her husband. Or her wife (the state wouldn’t have recognized it, but tell that to the heart). Or maybe her husband or wife used to sit there alone with a warmed can of Schlitz, her futzing in the house, her playing bridge over on Pratt Street, her visiting her mother in the nursing home. Or maybe they both listened to the Phils. Or maybe it was always just her and that was plenty.
But every time you turned that corner playing tag or freedom or hide and go seek, you’d slow down, hoping to catch just one call. Please please please no Dietz & Watson commercial. You prayed for Michael Jack Schmidt—good things were happening when Harry got formal. You’d settle though, for even a ball or a strike, utterly out of context, meaningless and forgotten once you turned into the alley. Just to hear Harry call one pitch. Just to know she was there, still and again.
On some (most) nights, this feeling nags at me: that it’s all right in front of me if I could only get out of my own way. I can’t. It haunts me. I’m afraid I’ll die like this. So whatever is happening on these pages likely comes down to this: a desperate attempt to catch what I can’t see.
In the meantime, someday, I’d like a ping pong table, and maybe a room to put it in. Also, a generous bowl of burnt sugar ice cream. And maybe a sense of ease in my own body. I appreciate you checking things out here. I hope you enjoy the stories and whatever else you find.