Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Wedding Of The Decade, Part Six (The Reception, Part Two)

If this is your first appearance at the wedding or the reception, you are really late, pal. The open bar is closed and the sumptuous buffet has all been eaten. You even missed out on the make-your-own-sundae station.

(Yes, we had one - don't you wish you were there? We had caviar, too - or, at least, so we heard. That was gone even by the time we arrived.)

You can try to catch up, but it'll probably be 2006 by the time you get back here and by then I'll be doing what you'd expect - either ranting about the Celtic's draft, crying about softball being rained out, or telling you some hallucinogen-inspired wholly-made-up story. But, here you go, if you want to try anyway - Parts One, Two, Three, Four and Five.

And, as with the first part of the reception, if you need a closer look at something, click onto it - and then possibly click onto it again, maybe, though I have no idea why that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Yes, it's 2006, but that doesn't mean I have any greater insight into technology other than that it's magic which I can't control.


Why, here are the newlyweds now! Hurray! Remember - no tinkling! They're both packing water pistols.

But... But... The last time we saw them was at the wedding and this is how they looked:

Why, those jolly jokers! They went home and changed clothes! That's why they gave us all these things to do, like anacrostics, while we were waiting for them to show up!

It seems to have kept everybody happy!

Hey, wait a minute! I bet this isn't really a Parker Brothers press release!

And isn't this thing copyrighted by King Features Syndicate? I think that's a copyrighted character from Warner Brothers, too. Oh, well - they can try to get blood from a stone if they really want to ruin our wedding 14 years after the fact! We're so happy to be married, we'll just apologize upfront! Love and kisses, big businesses!

Oh, boy! Cake!

And here's where Jim and HIS NEW WIFE, rather than feed each other cake, gave the first slices to the oldest person in attendance (Jim's grandmother, lurking in the weeds here) and the youngest person (Spooky Alyssa, the first person to know about them getting married, even though they hadn't told anyone yet - which you'd know about if you read Part Two, of course.)

And here is what is probably Jim's favorite picture from the reception. The little person with hands on hips, looking at Jim's NEW WIFE, is Spooky Alyssa. Father Vinny is immediately to the right. Scavenger Hunt Co-Ordinator, Valerie Smith-Sheehy, has her hand on Father Vinny's shoulder. The amazing Peggy Lavoie - artistic director of the tables - is wearing the red dress. Jim's Mom (who has learned far more about Jim by reading this blog than she ever thought she would or wanted to) has her hands on Jim's shoulders. Everyone else in the picture is swell, too!

But, for heaven's sakes, why isn't anyone looking at the camera? What the heck are they looking at? Your guess is as good as mine and I was there!

Here are the puzzle answers, as well as the credits.

And, thus far, they lived happily ever after!*

*unless they really DO end up getting sued by King Features Syndicate or Warner Brothers, in which case this blog is copyright 2006 by Abdullah Lipschitz.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Wedding Of The Decade, Part Five (The Reception)

I'm sorry - you're not allowed into the reception unless you attended the wedding. Luckily, the wedding is perpetually attendable by going here, then here, and then here, and finally, here.

Alrighty, then. Come on in! Have a seat at your assigned table.

What's that you say? You can't find your place card? Oh, that's OK... just choose a table.

(If you want a closer look at anything, move your mouse onto it and click. For printed materials, click again. I hope.)

Perhaps you'd like to sit at the Fenway Park table. Be careful of the green monster in left field!

The Boston Center For Adult Education table is popular with some. Yes, that is a pair of tap shoes to the right.

Perhaps you'd like to do some travelling. If so, the T table is for you! Turn on the cassette deck and hear 20 minutes of actual train sounds, recorded by the future bride while riding Park Street to Ashmont on the Red Line! Please step into the car. Watch the closing doors.

The Lyric Stage table comes with a disguise for our guests who wish to remain incognito.

The groom assures us that the Celtics will be contenders again soon, so perhaps you'd like to get in on the ground floor?

The Boston Public Library table comes with its very own librarian. Shhhhh!

Of course, the Museum Of Fine Arts table is always popular, especially with dancers from Bougival.

Or perhaps the Pitbulls table, where you'll sit with Jim's friends and former band members, as well as his MVP trophy and an old cleat.

Of course, you received your program at the church. Now would be a good time to look it over, so you don't miss any of the fun.

Oh, wait! It's time for The Scavenger Hunt! When you fill out your sheet, bring it to our Scavenger Hunt Co-Ordinator, Valerie, and you might win a fabulous prize!

Oh! Oh! Here come the newlyweds...

Go to more of The Reception!!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Wedding Of The Decade, Part Four

Here are parts One, Two, and Three.

David Ortiz is too spectacular to put into words. He's the best clutch hitter of my lifetime. I saw Yastrzemski in 1967, and he was amazing, but Ortiz? He's established a new standard. On top of it all, he's a nice guy; humble and a great teammate.

Why would I interrupt this continuing saga to talk baseball - aside from the obvious fact that David Ortiz is magnificent? Well, it's the type of thing that guys will talk about at the reception. Women might discuss the beauty of the bride's gown or make fun of the hideous bridesmaid's outfits or perhaps they'll say how pretty the floral arrangements were - I can only speculate concerning these things, of course, since I don't own a vagina. Men, however, will not utter a single word concerning the groom's manner of dress - unless he got married in a kilt or something, in which case he becomes fair game and he knows it, too. No, men will talk sports.

Also, you women need to understand that, if you decide to schedule your wedding on a day containing a major sporting event, there are only two possibilities.

If you schedule the ceremony at the same time as the major sporting event, every guy in the church will be pissed. This includes your father, your brother and the groom himself.

If you schedule the ceremony to happen before or after the major sporting event, that's better. However, if you schedule it before, every guy at the reception - once again including your father, brother and groom - will be trying to find a TV to watch the sporting event. If you schedule it after, they will spend the reception talking about the sporting event. As a matter of fact, they may still gather around the nearest TV, beers in hand, and watch the replays.

The only guys the above does not apply to are your gay friends and those guys in the wedding party who are trying to hit on your bridesmaids. And if you're not hitting on bridesmaids or talking sports, it will be assumed you are gay.

Two stories that prove this:

1 - MY WIFE, prior to meeting me, volunteered to write and send out wedding invitations for a friend of hers. On the invitations, it was supposed to say "So-and-so & guest". Well, when she sent them out, she had it say that on the female invitations, but not on those going to men.

The Machiavellian idea was that this would bring many single dateless men to the reception. Then she and her friends could troll the waters for a catch.

It was a fine idea, except for one thing. The wedding happened during a major sporting event - it may have been the World Series, but that doesn't matter. Every man at the reception, dateless or not, gathered around the TV at the bar and watched the sporting event. MY WIFE and all of her friends didn't go home with a damned thing except experience.

2 - MY WIFE and I attended a wedding reception in 2004. Nice couple, now residing in Brooklyn. The wedding reception was in October. The wedding reception was held in a suburb of Boston.

Boston. October. 2004.

The groom spent nearly the entire evening in conversation with various buddies rhapsodizing about how sweet it was that the Red Sox had come from 0 - 3 down to beat the Yankees. Luckily, his bride was also a Sox fan, so she wasn't pissed. Wouldn't have mattered if she was, though. Some things are just in the genes and if you schedule a wedding or reception at certain times, the genes will out.

My best advice, ladies? Schedule your wedding during a time when there are no playoffs happening in any of the four major North American sports. Also, no Olympics, World Cup, major golf tournaments or NASCAR championships. For instance, February 29th.


So the morning of February 29th arrived (arrove?) and we were ready. Every detail was taken care of and all of the stuff we had to bring to the hall and church - for decorating, etc. - was packed up in boxes and bags and ready to be loaded into the car for transport. A couple of very close friends and relatives had agreed to help us that morning with the actual decorating.

I loaded the stuff into my car and drove over to the Knights of Columbus hall we had rented for the reception. I would drop off the stuff with our very good friends and oversee the set-up. I took this task onto myself as a solo venture voluntarily. MY (future) WIFE was on the edge of clinical exhaustion and remained at home taking care of last minute clothing details and popping tranquilizers. I say that not unkindly. She was subject to amazingly hideous migraines and had copped a scrip to make a preemptive strike against that possibility. I was all for her avoiding migraines, of course.

I parked the car, got out, and went into the hall. I then stood there in drop-jawed amazement, not believing what my eyes were seeing.

The entire floor of the hall was covered with trash and I literally mean every inch of it. The hall had been used for a bingo game the night before and it was strewn with discarded bingo cards, scratch tickets, markers, paper plates and drink cups, cigarette butts and every other bit of detritus that could possibly be associated with a night of gambling.

After the bingo game, whoever was in charge had just swept everything on the tables onto the floor, folded everything up and gone home. Our friends and I had to actually clean the place and set up the tables and chairs before they could even begin doing the decorating.

Before that happened, though, I had to go home. MY (future) WIFE expected me to take perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes at the most to drop stuff off and go over a few details with our friends. There was no way in hell I was going to tell her about what was transpiring. So, I went home, made some sort of lame excuse about having to head back to the hall, and then did so - pissed and ready to start busting my balls cleaning.

Thankfully, MY (future) WIFE had a serious case of Bride Brain, so I didn't have to be too effective in my lying.

I went back to the hall and joined in scooping up trash - by hand. I had a change of clothes at home, of course, but the other folks were already in their beautiful wedding duds. They hadn't expected to be working shin-deep in filth that morning. But they did, God bless them, they did.

After helping to dispose of the greater part of the mess, I had to head back home to continue with our pre-wedding prep. I left everything in the capable hands of Peggy Lavoie and she, along with my future brother-in-law and sister-in-law... well, she absolutely guaranteed herself a spot in heaven, if there's any justice in this universe. She took all of the boxes of stuff, along with my hurried instructions concerning set-up details, and she did as magnificent a job with that hall as we could have done given three days to accomplish it. She set up every table with the specific decorations for that table's theme and did so with her marvelous eye for artistry. I won't show you the details yet - that will come later, at the reception - but you need to know that, without her efforts, our day would have been fairly much ruined.


Back home, we packed up the programs we had made and readied to bring them to St. Gregory’s, the church we were being married in. Our greeters (photo above) would hand one to each of the guests as they entered the church. Since we had many friends who were not Catholic, we included fairly much every word of the liturgy within the programs so that they could follow it easily and participate without hesitation or embarrassment.

After dropping off the programs, we had to go to the florist and pick up the floral arrangements, bring them to the church, and set them up on the altar. MY (future) WIFE also had to get her hair done. We both had to dress in what we were wearing for the ceremony. And I had to write a speech, too.

You see, it was our idea that we would both address our guests at the ceremony. I would give a welcome and MY (future) WIFE would say a couple of words after we were married, including pointing out that directions to the reception were in the program.

Remember how this whole story began with an improvisation on my part? I hadn't learned my lesson from that. After all, horrible improvisation though it may have been, she had agreed to marry me. So I figured I could wait until the last minute to come up with something to say as an introduction to our guests.

You know what? I was right this time.

After picking up the flowers, and while MY (future) WIFE was having her hair done, I was at home reading the funny pages of the Boston Globe. I had it in the back of my head that I had to come up with something to say, but I wasn't too worried about it. I could wing it, if need be. I came from a long line of successful b.s. artists and panic under pressure is not a trait you inherit from folks like that. As I was reading Andy Capp, Bringing Up Father, Blondie, and other fine literature sure to instill confidence in a soon-to-be-married man, I glanced down the page and miraculously found the text upon which to base my pre-game talk.

A regular feature on the comics page was the Quote Of The Day. In this case, it was from someone named Festus. The only Festus I knew was the deputy from Gunsmoke, but I assumed it wasn't him and, miracle of miracles, I was now right twice in the same day. As I later found out, he was a Roman philosopher. At that moment, however, he was a gift from God that I gratefully accepted. I clipped the quote out of the page and put it into my pocket.


Her hair now done, MY (future) WIFE was ready for the wedding. We got into our car and drove over to the church. I'd say we had at least twelve or thirteen minutes to spare before the ceremony.

At the time, I was driving a 10-year-old monkey-shit brown Oldsmobile that was not without its charms, but had acquired 10 years worth of dents, dings and other personalizations. We pulled up in front of the church and were immediately accosted by a helpful church official.

"Hey! You can't park there! There's a wedding today and that space is reserved for the limousine!"

"We are the limousine", MY (future) WIFE said, as she moved the orange traffic cones out of the way.


We waited in the sacristy, peeking outside every now and then to count the house - not unlike performers on opening night. I fingered the quote from Festus in my pocket, figuring out my opening lines.

The third person "on stage" with us that day would be Fr. Vincent McKiernan, CSP. We knew him as Vinny. When we decided to get married, he was MY (future) WIFE's immediate choice as celebrant and I agreed wholeheartedly.

Vinny was currently in residence at Ohio State University, but he had previously been a resident at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston. This is where we knew him from. He had been a great help to MY (future) WIFE during a time of great distress (prior to this time of great distress) and a friendship beyond the usual priest-parishioner relationship had developed. I didn't know Vinny as intimately, but I did know him as a kind and gentle man with a wonderful sense of humor, especially adept at punning.

(Since Vinny was from out of town, we had to get special papers to allow him to perform a wedding in Massachusetts. Conservatives want more people to get married and stay married? They want to cut down the divorce rate? Have the government get the hell out of the marriage business. If you left marriage to the religious institutions and dropped all of the hideous paperwork and blood tests and licensing and permissions and fees and other crap, more people might find it easier and might do it. In addition, most churches consider a marriage final. They don't grant divorces; the state does. Mini-rant over. Sorry!)

Vinny was ready. MY (future) WIFE was ready. The musicians were ready. The gathered guests were ready. I pulled Festus out of my pocket and walked out to the lectern on the altar. I began...

"Thank you for coming here today to join us in our celebration of marriage. I'd like to read you a quote that we've pretty much based our entire life together on."

(I had never seen the quote until about an hour ago.)

"The quote is from Festus."

(I here explained that it was not the same Festus as the character from Gunsmoke. I still had no earthly idea what Festus he might have been.)

"We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial."

"We have tried to live our life together thus far by following these words."

(This was pretty much true, but we had never actually seen the words before.)

"Each one of you holds a special place in our lives and it is our fervent hope that you'll find the deeds, thoughts and feelings expressed today filled with love."

(Whatever the hell that means. I know it sounded good because everybody was smiling.)

Having now baffled everybody with bullshit, it was time to begin the actual ceremony. I stepped off of the altar and joined hands with MY (future) WIFE, who was giving me a "Who in heck is Festus and we do what with who now?" smile. We made our way to the back of the church via a side aisle and then followed the rest of the wedding party up the middle aisle towards the altar.

Why, here we are now!

I have to condense slightly here, otherwise I'll have to rent out space on another blog to finish. If you know the Roman Catholic liturgy, you more or less know our wedding.

Dearly beloved...

Husband and WIFE...
(A few minutes previous to this, we had exchanged a high five - somewhat to the chagrin of Vinny, I'm afraid.)

And then we went home, while everyone else...

... headed to the reception. Why did we go home? You'll find out at the reception.

(See you there in a little while!)

Go to The Reception!

The Wedding Of The Decade, Part Three

(You can read part one here and part two here.)

There are vast differences between the way a man's mind works and the way a woman's mind works. Generally speaking, men do one thing at a time. They concentrate on the task at hand to the exclusion of whatever else is happening. Women, on the other hand, tend to multi-task.

Guys, this is why when you are making love to your wife and you want to forestall the end a bit, it helps to do something distracting like calculating batting averages. On the other hand, it's why your wife can honestly say that, yes, it was good for her, too, but while she was moaning, she made out the grocery list in her head, noticed a spot on the ceiling that needed painting, and oh, by the way, you have to remember to pay the gas bill by Friday or the heat will be shut off.

This is why - being a guy - I had no idea that there was so much crap that had to be done before a wedding. I figured you told people about the wedding, they came, and the wedding happened. MY (future) WIFE - being not a guy - knew better. We were not unlike that scene in The Odd Couple when Oscar comes home late from work and Felix stands accusingly before him with a dry overcooked roast. Oscar says, "Well, just put some gravy on it" and Felix says, "Put some gravy on it? Where in the hell am I going to get gravy?" and Oscar says, "I thought it just comes when you make the meat."

The thing of it is, I'm such of a guy's guy I'll probably still forget half the stuff that needed to be done, even in the retelling. As the details were piled on while it was actually happening, I was completely flabbergasted.

Invitations had to be made and sent, flowers had to be ordered and placed, a hall had to be rented, the church had to be reserved, food had to be taken care of, the music, the priest, reply cards, blood tests, licenses, place cards, video, programs, photographs, a cake, transportation, rings, best man, maid of honor, ushers, bridesmaids, shoes, dresses, a tux, hair, readings, seating, vows, travel plans for the honeymoon, hotel reservations, vacation time from work, decorations for the hall, the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, at least fourteen other things I've blessedly forgotten and, God Almighty, none of it comes when you make the meat.

Was it too late to live in sin? How bad could Hell be? I'll be set on fire and poked with a pitchfork for all eternity? Lemme think about it.


The one thing that made all of this bearable was the fact that we were both over thirty.

No, I'm not saying that age had given us some sort of insight allowing us the ability to stand back and be free from stress. What age had done was grant us some freedom from conformity. Since we were both over thirty, we would do everything in exactly the way we wanted it done. It was our wedding and nobody else's.

While younger couples sometimes follow the tradition of having the bride's family pay for much of what happens - and concomitantly have to make concessions to those footing the bill - we were old enough to forego that nonsense. We both worked, so we'd pay for it ourselves. And since we would be paying for it completely on our own, we could include anything we damn well pleased and leave out anything we damn well pleased, too.

Now, we weren't (and aren't) rich. We weren't (aren't) even in the same area code as rich. We were (are) in the same hemisphere as three-paychecks-removed-from-debtors-prison-and-maybe-by-the-time-
we're-seventy-dog-food-won't-look-too-unpalatable. As a result, we also decided that there was a lot of stuff we could do ourselves, as opposed to paying to have it done for us.


First off, being not so rich made us sensitive to the fact that many of our friends were in a similar situation. So, the first thing we decided was to not saddle them with extra expenses. Therefore, we did not make the bridesmaids or maid of honor buy dresses that they would never in a million years wear again, nor did we have ushers or my best man rent (or buy) tuxes. These people could dress in whatever way they wanted. We trusted that they would dress nicely. And they did.


We hand-made the invitations, the reply cards, the programs and the place cards, 150 or so of each. You must understand that this was without the aid of any sort of computer or computer program. It was the dark ages - 1991 and 1992. When I say hand-made, I literally mean hand-made. The most sophisticated tools we had at our disposal were a typewriter and a copier. Here's one of our invitations:

And the inside.
I had barely begun my career in voice-overs and commercial production, so I was working a full-time job as a security guard. I painstakingly did the calligraphy myself during the midnight-to-8 shift. I had never done calligraphy before, but I figured I could fake it well enough to be serviceable. I did it with a felt-tip marker, not a calligraphy pen.

Once I felt I had a good sample (which was about 80 sheets of paper into the effort, what with getting it centered correctly onto a sheet that would then be folded down into a four-sided invitation) I handed it over to MY (future) WIFE for her to do the artwork. Thankfully, she got it right on the first attempt, otherwise I probably would have had to use another 80 sheets to re-do it. Then, I inserted that sheet into a typewriter and prayed to God that I could correctly line up what I needed to type. If not, back to the beginning.

Only after all of this did we feed that one precious sheet into a copier to make the 150 or so copies we needed. We then hand-colored the leaves on every copy - no color copier available to make that an unnecessary task. Finally, we made the heart. You'll see that it is made up of two thumbprints - one from each of us. We had to ink up our thumbs and make every heart from scratch, so each invitation was unique.

Similar work went into the reply cards, place cards and programs.


I recorded onto four one-hour cassette tapes all of the music to be played at the reception. I did this piece by piece, transferring the music from vinyl records to the cassette tapes. No digital downloads. No CDs. All vinyl and all one song at a time and if I got the sound of the needle being lifted or a skip or any other glitch, rewind the cassette to the exact point I had previously started at and begin again.

I had to plan each side so that it would be as close to thirty minutes as possible. I juggled my song lists for timing while keeping in mind the least jarring transitions. I did all of this on a commercial stereo set-up - no cross-fading, no ramping up the records to speed, no input volume meters to reference, nothing. After each song was recorded, I had to rewind to where it began in order to make sure that the volume levels matched and that I had the song beginning immediately after the preceding song and had not cut off anything.

One other thing: The recording cassette deck had a broken door. I had to physically hold it shut during the entire process. This means that during any time I was recording a song, playing back a song, rewinding, or whatever involved any movement of the tape, I had to keep my finger firmly pressed against the door of the deck. The recording process took some ten hours total. My finger was sore for two days afterwards.

I hauled my entire system (including my big-ass-for-those-days 75-watts-a-side speakers) to the hall, in my car, and set it up myself on the morning of the wedding. In addition, once the reception began I had to remember the playlist so that I could be ready to change the cassettes the seven times they would need to be changed.


MY (future) WIFE contracted the musicians for the wedding itself. They were all from the church group she had been a part of - and in which she had met my mother, by the way. The lone exception was my best man and former band mate, Sean Flaherty, who played on one song at my behest. We picked out all of the religious music to be played at the ceremony. In addition, I wrote a song on which Sean would play lead guitar.

When I say, "I wrote", I mean I literally wrote out the song for the musicians; actual sheet music, which was something I had never done before. I had previously played in groups that used nothing but "head arrangements", i.e., arrangements worked out in rehearsals and never existing on paper, but only in the musician's heads. I can read music myself, but only laboriously. Thus, the writing process was very slow.

The wedding musicians, who could sight-read, were unfailingly kind to me when working in rehearsal with my sometimes slightly off-time scratchings and they took my verbal corrections patiently. The only part not written out was Sean's solo following the third verse, but I coached him on the basic form I wanted him to follow - some octave-fingering a la Wes Montgomery - and let him take it from there.

No "Here Comes The Bride", either. We would both march down the aisle together as equal partners. This wasn't some extension of a tribal rite where I'd trade three goats for my woman, so MY (future) WIFE was not "given away" by anyone, nor did I pay attention to any of that silly shit about not seeing the bride before the wedding. I'd already seen every inch of her (and liked what I saw, too.)

We would both wear our nicest clothes, but not a tuxedo or a gown. We wanted the emphasis on the religious aspects of the ceremony, not the trappings. There would be a tuxedo and gown, but... well, you'll see later.


We planned out - and either bought, borrowed, made, or otherwise finagled - all of the decorations ourselves.

We had decided to use a different theme for every guest table at the reception. There was one overall theme - what we loved about Boston. However, each table would represent one place or thing in Boston that we particularly liked. For instance, there would be a Fenway Park table; a Museum of Fine Arts table; a Boston Public Library table; etc., and each table would have it's own distinctive decorations, place cards, centerpieces and whatnot.

In order to do this as inexpensively as possible, we sent letters to every organization representing these places or institutions, explaining what we were up to and asking them to mail us back whatever they were willing to give us as being representative of them. Most were marvelously receptive of the idea and responded with all sorts of interesting little bits of booty.

We'd await the mail each day with some excitement, wondering what it would bring. The Boston Celtics, for instance, sent us schedules and magnets. From the Museum of Fine Arts we received postcards of artwork and other doo-dads. We took these items, added them to what we had around the house already, and planned out each table as its own distinctive work of art.

I'll show you more later, when we get to the reception, but let me give you an idea of what our tables looked like. As a matter of fact, see if you can guess which table this is:

Yes, that'’s right. The HEAD Table.


MY (future) WIFE pored through catalogs of party favors and ordered lots of fun things to have at each table - little spinning toy tops; streamers; those things you blow into and a piece of fabric unwinds and makes a noise, like you see in pictures of New Years Eve (what are those things called?); confetti; candies.

Most of these items came from a marvelous company called Oriental Trading. We highly recommend them.


Of course, on top of these somewhat insane Herculean solo efforts, we also made all of the arrangements with the caterer, contracted the hall, worked with the church to stake out a time that wouldn't interfere with their regular Saturday masses, did the mailings and worked on seating arrangements, rented or bought all of our new clothing, made arrangements with the florist, booked a room for our rehearsal dinner, asked certain friends and family members to be part of the wedding party and do readings and such, and all of the other mundane pre-nuptial tasks.

We made a gigantic list of everything that we needed to accomplish and, as each thing was taken care of, we checked it off. Then we added two more things that we had forgotten about.

Here is what we looked like two days before the wedding:


Finally, came the morning of the wedding.

Well, finally for us, that is. Finally for you will be tomorrow. See you then. Have some fun - dress up. If you have a bridesmaid's dress that you bought for someone else's wedding and you've despaired ever since that you spent so much money on it and never found a place to wear it again, feel free to throw it on.

Go to The Wedding!

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Wedding Of The Decade, Part Two

Before we pick up the story, I have some words of advice for the guys in my audience. There is absolutely nothing - and I mean not a single solitary thing - that your wife will not remember about your wedding and anything that was even remotely connected to it. That's just the way it is, so don't try to fight it. It is the nature of the beast, so to speak.

You know how you can recall that ballgame you played in high school? You remember that there were runners on second and third, the count was 2-and-1, it was slightly overcast, the leftfielder was shading you towards center, and the pitcher threw a curve that hung and you laced a double down the line that made the score 6 - 5 in the fifth inning? Women do that with weddings.

I mention this because I showed Part One to MY WIFE last night and she immediately corrected five or six mistakes.

(I will also mention here that, when I went to access it for a link, Blogger appeared to have once again taken a liking to my stuff and eaten it. I re-posted it, thus losing any comments. Sorry. Feel free to comment again.)

Now, I'm not going to go back and correct everything as MY WIFE picks off the mistakes. Instead, I'm going to go ahead and relate the story as best I can with my man-wedding-memory, and then if she wishes to post a guest blog afterwards, showing all of you how pitifully I recalled things, OK.

And one more thing before we pick it up again. My brother-in-law called last night and he wasn't pleased with yesterday's post. It wasn't that he had any problem with my mention of boinking his sister. He just couldn't understand why, what with all of the euphemisms at my disposal, I had chosen one so closely associated with Bob Seger.

(I had considered using "making the two-backed beast", but I doubt that would have made him feel any better.)

Oh, OK, I'll add one more thing. MY WIFE says that we were fully clothed when I popped the question. Nah.


So there I was, being a basket case all day while MY (future) WIFE decided whether or not to accept my proposal. I've never liked waiting of any kind, but to wait for an answer that will decide my future? Sheer hell.

She said, "Yes."

(Well, what did you expect? I haven't been calling her MY (almost-but-not-quite) WIFE. Wouldn't have been much of a wedding if she had said, "No.")

(I'm sorry to have made you wait a whole day just for that. Or maybe you didn't. Maybe you're late to this party. If so, shame on you. I hope you took the opportunity given above to click onto the first part. If you didn't, here's one more chance.)

Having received the positive answer, we now had to tell people that we were getting married. Not a big problem, really. Her folks liked me and my folks liked her. However, there were extenuating circumstances.

My Dad was in the hospital and my Aunt Jeanne, my Mom's sister, had just passed away. It didn't seem like a propitious moment, so we held off. We also didn't want to just blurt it out like a couple of silly boobs before we had some details taken care of; for instance, the date.

We tossed around a couple of ideas. October may be our favorite month, all things considered, and both MY (future) WIFE's parents and grandparents had been married on the same date in October, so we gave serious consideration to getting married then. However, when we looked at a calendar, we saw that something somewhat rare was happening in the next year and we both immediately knew it was the right date for us to get married on. It was both serendipitous and goofy, just like us. We settled on February 29th.

Yes, February 29th. February 29th is not an easy date to forget. It only happens once every four years. I'm willing to bet that every person who attended our wedding remembers the date of our anniversary. And I certainly do, so that takes care of any of that "forgetful husband" crap when our anniversary rolls around. For another thing, 29 had always been a lucky number for me. It's the number I like to get on all of my softball uniforms. And the actual date would be 2/29/92, which is certainly... something. And it fell on a Saturday in 1992. Perfect!

(We will be celebrating our fourth anniversary in 2008. If you're still coming around here by then, you should get a life. No, wait a minute. What I meant to say was that if you're still coming around here by then and you want to get us a gift, the traditional 4th anniversary present is linen. We'll probably need some new sheets by then, so...)

Meanwhile, we had dinner one Sunday at my in-laws. I liked them a lot. Bill and Eleanor were nice folks and I miss them. Anyway, there we were sitting around the table - me, MY (future) WIFE, her mother and father, her sister Victoria, and Victoria's two daughters, Caitlyn, 5, and Alyssa, 3.

You have to understand, for this part of the story, that there was something otherworldly about Alyssa when she was very young. She saw things that other people didn't. Not dead people, but she was very much in touch with some sort of cosmic force, and you can call it God or something else if you like, but whatever it was, she was a spooky little kid sometimes. If I go into a lot of detail here, it would be far too much of a digression, so you'll have to take my word for it. She just knew stuff and nobody knew how she knew.

We're sitting there eating and she asked me to pass the bread. After I did, Victoria said, "What do we say, Alyssa?" and she said, "Thank you, Uncle Jimmy."

There was a collective gasp at the table. We hadn't said a blessed thing yet about being engaged, so everybody (except MY [future] WIFE and I) got all flustered and embarrassed and started to tell Alyssa that, while I was a nice guy, I wasn't really her uncle, etc., but we figured that was as good an opportunity as we were likely to get, so we said, "No, she's right, sort of. We are getting married."

(By the way, as Alyssa got closer and closer to puberty, she lost more and more of whatever connection she had. Not that she isn't still a sweet kid - she is. It's just that now I can't ask her for some numbers to play when I go to Las Vegas and have any expectations that those numbers will turn a profit. They did for a while and I gave her 10% off the top. I should have laid it in heavier than I did. Oh, well.)

When we told my Mom that we were getting married, she was delighted. After all, she had introduced us. We tried to be subtle about it. We were at my Grandmother's house, listening to some old recordings from my late Grandfather's collection of dixieland jazz, and MY WIFE said, "Do you have any wedding music in there?" Neither one of them took the bait, so we had to spell it out.

Once my Dad left the hospital and we told him about the wedding, he was very happy also. He liked MY (future) WIFE a lot. He certainly liked her a lot more than he liked my ex. As he told his racetrack buddies after meeting MY (future) WIFE, "Jimmy's stepping up in class."

As for how we told the rest of the world? Well, whereas some folks have their wedding announcement in the society pages of The Times, we had ours in Moos From The Farm.

Moos From The Farm was a newsletter published by Stonyfield Farms, makers of fine yogurt. We had both "adopted" cows through a fun program of theirs (Susie and Sadie were their names) and we received mailings from them on a regular basis telling us how our cows were doing and other stuff pertaining to dairy farming in New Hampshire.

Well, they had a regular feature called Mooers Profiles. Remember the scotch ads - Dewars Profiles? Like those, only with cows. And the prize for being featured in a Mooers Profile was a lifetime supply of yogurt. We figured that they wouldn't be able to pass up two of their "cow parents" getting married and we were right. So, we had our wedding announcement in the pages of Moos From The Farm and got a lifetime supply of yogurt, to boot.

(The "lifetime supply" was actually a huge stack of coupons, each one redeemable for a 32 oz. bucket of yogurt, which is a big bucket. We still have a couple of those coupons and we will never cash in the last one. We figure that when we do, we will die. It is a lifetime supply, after all.)

(I wanted to include the actual announcement here, but as with so many of the treasured mementos of things in my life, it is packed away somewhere in one of the many boxes full of crap in our basement. I'm happy to report, however, that Moos From The Farm is still being published. You can find the latest issue here. Unfortunately, the archives only go back to Spring 2002, which is after we were married. I suppose this is because, prior to our wedding, it was a print-only newsletter. Yes, we became engaged in THE BEFORE TIME!!!)

You women will get a kick out of this next part. Since we were being married in February, I figured we didn't have to really do anything about it until January.

You can stop laughing now.

Oh, OK, keep on laughing, then. However, you've just cost yourselves the weekend because now I have to do actual paying work and I don't have time to go into...


Next time, on Suldog-O-Rama!

(Actually, the reason I'm ending it here is because I wanted to show you some things but I currently have no access to a working scanner. Let's hope I do on Monday because otherwise I'm going to have to do an awful lot of re-writing.)

Go to Part Three

The Wedding Of The Decade

Somewhere in my ranting last Thursday, I promised to write about my wedding. I will. As a matter of fact, I'll do it today (or at least start it today - it will probably run for a week) but I have a good story to tell and no better place to put it, so since it concerns MY WIFE, this seems as good a time as any.

Friday night we ordered some Chinese food. One of the items we ordered was Moo Shi, which is sometimes known as Moo Shu. Some of you may not be familiar with Moo Shi (or Moo Shu) so I'll explain what it is. Moo Shi is shredded vegetables and some sort of meat (in this case, shrimp) stir-fried with spices in a brown sauce. An order of it always includes four or five of what are called "pancakes", but are really closer to crepes. The Moo Shi may be eaten by itself, but the usual way of having it is to lay a couple of forkfuls onto one of the pancakes, put some plum sauce on top of it, and then roll it up like a cigar. It may then be eaten by hand or with a knife and fork; either way is acceptable.

As I began to prepare some Moo Shi, MY WIFE tried to give me a better way to enjoy it. She instructed me to first put the plum sauce on the pancake, spread it over the entire surface with a spoon, and then add the filling. Following that, rather than just roll it up like a cigar, she had me fold it over twice - the plum sauce acting as an adhesive - and then tuck the ends in under the main body. She said, "That way, when you eat it you won't get as much of the juices running down your... your... your arm shins."

I was momentarily bewildered. Arm shins? What the heck are arm shins? I then realized that she meant my forearms, so I started laughing like a loon.

"Hoo hoo hoo! Arm shins? Hoo hoo! Arm Shins?!? Hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! ARM SHINS!!!"

Meanwhile, finally realizing what she had said, she was doubled over laughing on the other side of the kitchen, saying "No! Stop! I'm going to pee all over the floor!" She then s-l-o-w-l-y started edging towards the bathroom with her legs together, still doubled over and laughing. There may have been a tear coming down her face.

Of course, this sight made me laugh even harder. "Arm Shins! Hoo Hoo Hoo!" I said, the only thing keeping me from collapsing onto the floor being the fact that I had a plate full of hot Moo Shi in my hands and I was cognizant enough to not want to spill it onto the linoleum. As I heard the bathroom door close, I was still laughing. "Arm shins! Hoo hoo hoo!"

After she came out of the bathroom, and while I was eating my Moo Shi - very neatly, too, I might add - she said, hands on hips, "You're not going to let me forget this one, are you?"

No, I'm not.

However, it isn't out of meanness. It's because, like MY WIFE, I find it especially hilarious when otherwise intelligent people say something ridiculous.

But here's why I love MY WIFE and why MY WIFE loves me. It's because very few minds work in such a way as to come up with "arm shins" as a substitute for "forearms", and as the recipient of such an absurdity I didn't say something crude like, "Don't you mean FOREARMS, you moron?" but mostly because, while some couples remember every bad thing that their partner has done and won't hesitate for a second to bring it up again in a later argument, the only ammunition either of us stores away for later use is the funny stuff. As a result, we've had no more than a couple of real fights in the entire time since our wedding.

Our wedding? Oh, yes. That was what I was supposed to be writing about here. And so I will, starting now.


Before that, though, you might find it good background to know how I met MY WIFE. You can read all about it here.

Also, to further flesh out the story of our relationship, The Shish Kebob Incident will be instructional. Part One is here and then you'll (of course) want to read Part Two.

Come back when you're done with the history lesson. Those of us who have read it (as well as those of us who wrote it) will be waiting for you just underneath the string of asterisks below.


And here we all are again, so let's get on with it.

Most marriages begin with a proposal and so did ours. Many women tell charming stories of how their future husbands creatively proposed to them. For instance, they might have been sitting in the stands at Fenway Park and, during the seventh inning stretch, "Felicia, will you marry me?" flashed onto the scoreboard in center field, while Felicia's boyfriend, Archie, suddenly dropped to one knee in the aisle. While everyone in the park cheered, Felicia tearfully said, "Yes! Yes!" as she wrapped her arms around Archie, hugging him tightly.

(Meanwhile, Archie was thinking, "What the hell? I just dropped a quarter here. Is she that happy that I found it? What an oddball..." while in another part of the park there was a different Felicia telling her ex-boyfriend [they broke up in the bottom of the sixth in an argument over the infield fly rule] that she wouldn't marry him if he was the last man on earth, so he can take that cheap ring he got from a Crackerjacks box and shove it up his ass.)

Well, there was - I'm sorry to say - nothing so glorious about my proposal. It was one of the worst proposals ever. It was so bad, MY WIFE will probably be extremely embarrassed (for both of us) if I go into detail about it. So, I really shouldn't. Really. I shouldn't.

However, I know that I can't cop out here, so I'll try to put it as delicately as possible. I'll use all of the linguistic powers at my command to save her dignity and make the whole thing sound much more romantic than it actually was.

We had just finished dancing the horizontal bop. Between gasping breaths, I said, "Hey, would you like to get married?"

(Smooth, baby. Don Juan? Casanova? Those bums had nothing on me.)

MY (future) WIFE said, "What do you mean by that?"

She was serious. See, for the previous 12 months I had been telling her - whenever marriage happened to come up during conversation - that I had no desire to ever get married and that I didn't believe marriage was necessary if two people really loved each other. She had no reason to believe I had been lying when I said those things, so her question was certainly not without pertinence.

And I wasn't lying when I said those things previously. I had, at the time, no desire to get married and I really did believe (still do) that marriage isn't necessary if two people truly love each other. However, just because something isn't necessary that doesn't mean it can't be nice, and the desire to get married is always affected by the person with whom you have the opportunity to be spliced.

My most previous relationship had been hideous; full of trivial arguments that escalated into full-scale shouting matches and an almost totally-at-odds-with-each-other view of what our future plans should be. Whenever that person brought up marriage - which was every other day - I cringed.

Now, understand that I was no saint in that relationship. I was as much to blame for the ridiculous amount of fighting we did as my girlfriend was. And not all of the arguments were trivial. We had some extremely major philosophical differences and they were, in my view, irresolvable. However, we soldiered on - an apt description, considering how much of our time was spent at war with each other - until she finally had the brains to leave me.

(She didn't tell me she was leaving me. She told me she was going to visit some friends of ours in Florida and that she'd be back for Christmas. Then, a couple of days before Christmas, after I had spent half my months pay on gifts for her, I received a "Dear John" letter. Nice. However, I've gone into those details before, so enough digression.)

Anyway, I had been completely and utterly soured on the concept of marriage, mostly because - from my limited experience - it seemed like something that a woman wanted to force on a man much more than something a man might actually want and find pleasant. Being a contrarian by nature, the easiest way to get me to not want to do something is to tell me that I have to do it. So, I never gave marriage any sort of serious consideration nor did I think I ever would.

Sometimes, though, you realize that the situation you're currently in isn't anything at all like the previous ones you've had. At that point, if you have any brain, you understand that a different approach altogether is needed. So, I had to consider whether marriage was actually something that could be a good thing. And I had decided that it could be, if you were married to the right person.

MY (future) WIFE was definitely the right person. I had no doubt about that. And I had no doubt whatsoever that we could live together and be happy. So, would a proposal be in my best interest? Most assuredly yes, because I figured that she might not be willing to stick around if I didn't propose. That was the one lasting lesson of value I had taken away from the previous relationship. Therefore, I had been considering proposing to her for a few weeks before I actually did. I hadn't made any real plans concerning how I would do it, but I figured I could improvise. So, I improvised, as explained earlier.

(Just because you can improvise, that doesn't mean you should.)

Although I didn't know it at the time, MY (future) WIFE was pondering whether or not she could continue as we had been. Some time after the fact, she told me that - had I not proposed - she was probably going to tell me that she loved me, but her values wouldn't permit her to continue our relationship without being married. So, it turned out my train of thought had actually been on the right track for once.

So, there you have it. I proposed, albeit in a truly non-spectacular fashion, and she, being caught totally off guard, ended up telling me that she had to think about it.

Yup. She had to think about it. Which meant that I, too, had to think about it, until she had an answer for me, which meant that I became a basket case until she told me yes or no. I had assumed that she would break down into tears of joy and immediately say "yes" - I was a catch, after all - but my expectations were not met.

(The word "catch" in the preceding sentence can best be defined in the same sense as what might be found at sea - something fishy.)

So, I awaited her answer - much as you will have to await the next installment. See you then.

Go to Part Two

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More Stuff About Me You Don't Give A Damn About

I have in front of me an American Express advertisement. In it, they list 17 categories followed by dotted lines. The idea is that you fill in the blanks.

American Express sucks. For being late on a payment once by less than 48 hours (it was in the mail on time, I know that) they charge me such an exorbitant interest rate (you don't want to know, believe me) that I have no compunction about using their advertisement for my own purposes, with or without their permission. I figure this way, the stealing's mutual. So, without any further undue acrimony, here's how I filled in their shitty little self-centered yuppie scumbag list.



Childhood Ambition

To get out of school, by any means possible. Beyond that, I wanted to be either a baseball player or a trolley driver.

I've been playing ball of some sort or another for over 40 years now, so that part of the ambition came true, I suppose, even though I assumed that it would involve somebody paying me to play and not me paying to play.

I did get to drive a trolley once and it was one of the nicest gifts anyone ever gave me. MY WIFE bought me a membership to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. As part of the membership, there are certain days during the year when they will take you out on their private tracks, give you a few lessons and then let you actually operate the damned thing for a quarter of a mile or so. I got to drive a trolley that had been in service on Boston's T during the 1940's. As with the baseball thing, I expected that I would be paid for doing this. It was great fun anyway.

Fondest Memory

Hard to put into words, actually. It's a conglomeration of sounds and smells from the house I grew up in. I can pretty much call these from memory to the extent where I can almost actually hear and smell them. Creaking stairs, doors clicking shut, the sound that the knobs on the TV made (in the days before remote controls), the sound and smell of the fan-forced heating system kicking in; they all live on to an amazing extent within my mind. I lived there 37 years, though, so I guess they damn well should be easily recalled.


Everything by Deep Purple; the first 6 Black Sabbath albums; anything by The Alice Cooper Group (that is, prior to Mr. Cooper going solo); all of the Terry Knight-produced Grand Funk and Bloodrock albums; Prokofiev's Second Symphony (my favorite is by the Berliner Philharmoniker, under the direction of Seiji Ozawa); and every last tiny bit of Tommy Dorsey. Ah, what the heck, throw in some Budgie as well.


Any book.

Wildest Dream

I hit the lottery for a bazillion dollars and buy a major league baseball expansion franchise. I name myself the manager and put myself on the roster as the third-string catcher. In game seven of the World Series, both of the first two catchers go down with injuries (sorry, imaginary guys!) but we win in extra innings when the opposition's tying run is thrown out at the plate. He rams into me with everything he's got, but I hold onto the ball. With blood streaming down my face, I am carried on the shoulders of my teammates to the accompanying cheers of the crowd.

Proudest Moment

Probably when I voted for myself in 1992 for state rep in Massachusetts. Read all about it here and here and here and here and here and here and even here.

Biggest Challenge

Really? Not blowing every penny I've got on harebrained gambling schemes and keeping my nose (literally) clean.

What they probably expect someone to say? Fuck knows. Something about a paradigm.

Alarm Clock

My alarm clock.

Perfect Day

Already had it. It was my wedding day. Everything went absolutely and charmingly right. I can't think of a single thing I would have changed. I should probably write about it sometime, huh?

OK, that will be my weekend assignment. Look for it on Monday.

First Job

Paperboy. I delivered the Boston Globe and Boston Herald to houses in Milton, which is the richer neighbor of Dorchester where I grew up.

The only really interesting thing I can think of about that job was that Luis Tiant was on my route. He didn't get a paper from me; he just lived on one of the streets. Every time I passed his place, I looked for him. Never did see him.



Last Purchase

I got a fill of gas for my car. Livin' La Vida Loca, baby!

Favorite Movie

Probably Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, but Braveheart and Blazing Saddles are real close. Oh, and the porno.


No, not the porno. MY WIFE. It used to be drugs, but she costs less and lasts longer.

My Life

What the frack does that mean? My Life? I don't know. I'm alive. Good enough, I guess.

My Card

They want you to say American Express. As if. I'll say a 1965 Topps Chris Cannizzaro.

Oh, and one more time: American Express sucks.

Monday, June 12, 2006

In Which I Denigrate The Best Writer On The Internet For No Other Reason Than To Have A Hook For Writing More Of The Same Silly Shit I Always Do

As is my wont from time to time, I was perusing the archives of Magazine Man. The son of a bitch makes me sick (I mean that in the nicest way) because there isn't anything he can't do. He writes magnificent prose, of course, but he also can be counted upon to toss off a verse or two, speak in foreign languages (please read the story by Art Lad [his son] first, then scroll down in the comments), have a best-selling book in China, win a spelling bee and appear on national TV with Soledad O'Brien.

Part of my actual friggin' job is doing commercials and I haven't even gotten my voice onto national TV, let alone my entire body and the most famous person I ever actually met was Phyllis Diller, who is a very nice lady but certainly no match in the looks department with Soledad Freakin' O'Brien. The best I can come up with as a counter is the fact that I'm heard in some 17 or 18 states on a daily basis, but that's on the telephone, which hardly even registers on the cachet scale in comparison and Blogger has eaten what I wrote about it so even that sucks. Grrrrrr.

Anyway, while diving head first into his back issues - and getting more jealous by the second - I came upon something that I could actually do just as well. I can make lists, too, damn it, so without further agony over my relative unworthiness as a human being, here goes:

5 songs I know all the words to:

Highway Star
School's Out
Smoke On The Water
War Pigs

(I could make up a new category, of course, and probably give the same answers: 5 songs nobody in their right mind has wanted to hear all the words to since 1978.)

5 snacks:

1 - Saltines and Peanut Butter with a glass of chocolate milk
2 - Tapioca pudding and pretzels
3 - Turnip sandwiches
4 - Cookies, any variety
5 - Froot Loops

(And MY WIFE wonders why I haven't had a physical since forever. I'm just scared that the doctor will tell me I died two years ago and didn't have brains enough to realize it yet.)

5 things I'd do if I had $100 million:

1 - Choose 50 relatives and friends and give them $1 million each.
2 - Buy the most kick-ass uniforms available for my softball teams and pay all of the league fees every year into perpetuity.
3 - Have all of my teeth completely done over by the dentists who originally did my uppers. Those guys rock, but they're wicked expensive.
4 - Give $1 million dollars to the Ellen M. Gifford Sheltering Home.
5 - Probably die long before I got to spend the other $48 million or so because if you give me the wherewithal to kill myself, I'm a good bet to probably do it as soon as possible - and maybe that's why God refuses to make me rich, because it's for my own good.

5 places I would run away to:

I'm going to invoke the "anything is possible if you're fantasizing" rule and consider time travel a viable option. I'll take any of the years from 1946 to 1950 in New York, as long as I can return to the present whenever I wish. The styles, the music, the general ambiance, the baseball, the subways and elevated, the boxing, any number of interesting cultural anomalies that will never occur again - I'd love to be able to experience them in person rather than through reading or viewing film.

5 things I would never wear:

1 - Shorts while playing softball - do the people who do so never expect to slide?
2 - Ear rings
3 - Corduroy pants
4 - A piercing of any sort
5 - A leisure suit

(If you were born after 1980, you probably have no idea what a leisure suit was. Go here, but know that they were even worse than pictured, if you can imagine that.)

5 favorite TV shows:

1 - House
2 - Everybody Hates Chris
3 - The Office
4 - My Name Is Earl
5 - Futurama

(Yes, I realize that Futurama hasn't been in first-run since about four years ago, but Cartoon Network shows an episode almost every night and I watch it, so I'm counting it.)

5 greatest joys:

1 - The day I married MY WIFE.
2 - The Red Sox coming from 0-3 down and beating the Yankees in 2004.
3 - The first time I was on stage with an actual group playing music in front of an actual crowd.
4 - Seeing my name on a ballot and actually getting to pull the lever for someone I knew I agreed with almost all the time.
5 - Smoking marijuana for the first time and discovering that there was a whole world of magnificent sound out there that I had hitherto been ignorant about.

(I'm serious. Prior to smoking dope, I had no particular love for music. I liked it as much as the next guy, and I heard it, but I didn't really listen to it. Grass opened my ears and gave me countless hours of listening pleasure. It was, on a much smaller scale, not unlike a deaf person being able to suddenly hear. Of course, some folks become less cognizant of the world around them, so your mileage may vary.)

5 favorite toys:

1 - My bass guitar
2 - My softball bat
3 - My cooking utensils
4 - This blog

The original (longer and containing more categories) is here if you feel that you really must visit the multi-talented bastard.

I mean that in the nicest way, of course.

(I do have one thing over the guy. I have a better wife. Yes, Her Lovely Self would appear to be a fine woman, but come on. She's married to him. MY WIFE has to put up with me. Case closed.)

(And, really, this whole thing was inspired by this and my little recurring joke was stolen from the comment at the very end by Sharfa, who is a fine person in her own write.)

(Yes, write.)

One Good Turn


Tomorrow will be my final game as manager of the Bombers, my Sunday softball team.

(Final games, actually, since we play a doubleheader each week. Well, at least each week it doesn't rain, which means that tomorrow will be our third and fourth games of the season. Pitiful.)

I decided to step down as manager when one of my players, Jack Atton, went down with a torn meniscus.

(You can get your mind out of the gutter; it's part of the knee.)

Jack is currently attempting physical therapy, but will have surgery if that doesn't work. In any case, he'll likely be out for most of the season.

Now, Jack is a nice guy and one heck of a player, but I'm not stepping down because his absence leaves me with such depression that I can't stand it. I'm stepping down because I suffered a torn meniscus 10 years ago.

That may not make any sense. It will.


When I suffered my injury (which happened during batting practice prior to the first game of the season, for goodness' sakes) I was devastated. I couldn't straighten my leg, but that didn't bother me as much as the fact that I knew I'd probably be out for the season. That sounds like lunacy, but you have to understand that I truly love this game. I can live with a crooked leg. I hadn't missed a season of ball (whether base or soft) since I was seven years old.

(Perhaps it will tell you something about my love of the game if I let you know that, when I tore the meniscus and couldn't straighten my leg, I didn't go to the hospital immediately. I stayed and watched my teammates play two games. Then I went to the doctor.)

I had been a player on the team for two years before my injury. Ron Johnson was the manager. How Ron came to be our manager and how the team came to be, period, is an interesting story.

Prior to the year I joined the team, it had been known as the Bowdoin Bombers. The team was made up of black guys from Dorchester and had been together for quite a few seasons. For some reason or another, the team had fallen apart. Ron and a great (but long in the tooth) pitcher named Jimmy Jackson were now the only holdovers from that team.

In the meantime, in order to fill the roster, an ad had been placed in the Sports Plus section of the Boston Globe. The ad called for softball players to come down to a field in Brighton in order to compete for roster spots. I answered the ad, as did about thirty other guys. We all ran around, shagged flies, hit, and did whatever else you do when trying out for a team.

What we didn't know at the time, but found out later, was that the guy running the tryout, whose name I can't for the life of me recall, was already manager of a pretty good team in that league. What he ended up doing was picking off who he thought were the top three or four guys at the tryout for his own team. The worst guys either decided to not come back or were told not to - I'm unsure which it was. That left the other 14 or 15 of us to more or less be the league's expansion franchise. And Ron Johnson, loving ball as he does, had agreed to be the manager of this crummy new team. We became the B2-Bombers.

Race is never important in softball, but it's important for this story. Ron, as you may have inferred, is black. So was Jimmy Jackson - still is, probably. Every single one of us who had answered the ad were white; some of us extremely so, like me.

Ron and I have shared a few laughs over the years when talking about that time. Ron had been on an exclusively black team. He gets a call from the guy whose name I can't remember, telling him that he's put together a team for him to manage. Ron says OK. Then, when he shows up, his first thought was, "Who are all these white guys?"


We were a pretty bad team. We went 5 and 21 that first year. Ron was a monster, leading us in just about every hitting category and, therefore, leading us by example, but he wasn't surrounded by a great deal of talent. I led the team in walks and doubles, which is my usual M.O. in softball, if not in life - patience and hustle. There were a couple of other good players. Everybody else tried hard and what more can you ask of folks? We lost, but it turned out that we liked each other and we had fun.

The highlight of our season was our first win. It came against the team managed by the guy whose name I can't remember. We won when, during a possible game-ending rally, he was picked off of second base. We were leading by one run and he was on second with two outs, having just doubled. The next batter walked. As the batter went to first, the guy whose name I can't remember started to go to third. When he realized his mistake, it was too late. And so the guys he didn't think were good enough for his team beat him on his own horrible mental error. Sometimes justice is served.


The next year wasn't much better. We won a couple more games, but still finished far from the playoffs. And part of the reason was Ron's managing.

It wasn't because Ron didn't know what he was doing. Ron is a very smart guy and knows ball. He doesn't have any deficiency of intelligence. However, he's too nice. It would have been obvious to a blind man that Ron was head and shoulders above the rest of the team as a hitter. However, Ron the manager would sit Ron the hitter in order to give very inferior players some playing time. I told Ron at one point that he should never bench himself and he just sort of shrugged and said that everybody deserved to play. Well, yes, Ron, that's true, but you can put them in for somebody besides the best hitter on the team - you. Too nice.

The next year, when I tore the cartilage in my knee, I kept coming to the games even though I couldn't play. I figured I was part of the team, so I should show up and do whatever I could - coach a base, keep the book. After a couple of weeks, Ron handed the whole deal over to me. And once I became the manager, you couldn't get Ron out of the line-up with a crowbar. That was my first decision - a no-brainer.

Aside from Ron being in the line-up every game, we had added a few good players. So, in my first year as manager we ended up having a fine season. We had a winning record and went to the playoffs. And I was a real part of it, thanks to Ron.

Well, it's been 10 years since Ron did that great favor for me. He made my year by allowing me to take over the team. Even though I still would have come down for every game that year, I would have felt less and less a real part of the team as the wins piled up and I wasn't playing. Instead, I had a ball and I've enjoyed being manager for most of the rest of my time, too.


Now, Jack has gone down with the same injury as I had 10 years ago. As soon as I heard "torn meniscus", my first thought was that it was Karma speaking. Time to pass the torch. I offered the job to Jack and he accepted.

It will be a good fit for the team. Everybody likes Jack and, more important, everybody respects him. I'll be happy to play for him and I'll do everything I can to make his job easy. Ron did that for me.

So, tomorrow will be my final time as the manager. I'd like to go out with a win.



Rained out AGAIN. This has been the worst softball season ever.

Ah, what the hell. There'll be other Sundays. I'll just hand the reigns over to Jack, though, and I won't be the manager next week. Maybe someday after I stop playing I'll manage again. For now, I'll enjoy the relative indolence of just being a player.

If it ever stops raining.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The World's Smallest Political Quiz

I only have short bit of time for writing today, so I'm going to give you a quiz to take.

This quiz is known as The World's Smallest Political Quiz and was originally formulated by David Nolan in the 1970's, I believe. By answering these 10 questions, you will find out (if you don't know already) whether you should probably be voting conservative, liberal, libertarian, or whatever else.

Now, of course, this is a very small political quiz (as a matter of fact, I think it was mentioned somewhere here that is the smallest) so if the results tell you that you are a statist (read: fascist), you might not necessarily want to run out and start your own band of brownshirts. However, it is a great general guide and you may find out that you've been voting for folks who don't really represent the views you wish expressed.

Here are the simple instructions:

For each statement below, say "agree", "disagree" or "maybe".


1 - Government should not censor speech, press, media or internet.

2 - Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft.

3 - There should be no laws forbidding sex between consenting adults.

4 - Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs.

5 - There should be no National ID card.


1 - End "Corporate Welfare". No government handouts to businesses.

2 - End barriers to international free trade.

3 - Let people control their own retirement. Privatize Social Security.

4 - Replace government welfare with private charity.

5 - Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more.

The scoring is quite simple. For each section (Personal, Economic) give yourself 20 points for each "Agree", 10 points for each "Maybe", and 0 points for a "Disagree".

When you have your totals for each section, refer to the chart below.

Take your PERSONAL score and note where it falls on that side of the chart. Do the same for your ECONOMIC score. Then, go to where the lines would meet on the chart. That is your political home, more or less.

For example, where you see the red dot? That would be from a score of 70 on PERSONAL and 50 on ECONOMIC.

If you wish to learn more about the quiz, here's where I stole it.

(I didn't steal it. They love having this thing disseminated. Feel free to do so yourself.)

(Oh, and for the record? I score 100-80, and fall very much into the Libertarian quadrant. Big surprise, eh?)

See you Monday!