Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Get Back In The Box, Grandpa!"

I’ve been fifty years old for four days now. I can’t say that I notice any difference.

While I was approaching this milestone, a kind soul reminded me of Satchel Paige’s wonderful question: “If you didn’t know how old you was, how old would you be?” I’ve given that some thought. I think 42 or 43 would be about right.

Physically, not too much has changed for me in quite a while. I’m still 15 pounds overweight during the winter and right where I should be once I start back to playing ball in the spring. I’ve been bald since I was in my late 20’s, so nothing to worry about there. I’ve got no problems sexually; never have. I haven’t noticed any reduction in overall strength or stamina, although I do get winded a bit easier.

(That’s from the smoking, of course. You could probably set your watch by my coughing. I clear my throat about once every ten minutes. A great deal of it’s in my head, though. I know this because I go to the theater with MY WIFE and I might cough once during a two-hour performance. However, I’ve digressed – somewhat psychologically - and smoking is a topic for another day, maybe not too far in the future. We’ll see.)

The only age-related detrimental change I’ve noticed is that my vision is deteriorating. I’m not expecting to go blind anytime soon. It’s just that I now have to wear glasses whenever I want to see anything sharply and in focus. This goes for both near objects and those that are far away. I have two pair of glasses now – one for reading and another for distance.

The reason for the two pair of glasses is that each of my eyes is going bad in a different direction. My left eye is just swell for looking at stuff across the street or down the block, but crummy for reading. My right eye is just the opposite – reading is no problem, but anything more than fifteen feet from me is fuzzy.

You might well ask why I have two pair of glasses rather than bifocals. The answer is simple enough. I have a pair of bifocals, but I hate them. I tried getting used to the things, but all I got used to was having headaches and tilting my head at weird angles to make them work. In order to read, I had to tilt my head back and look down my nose. To see things at a distance, I had to lower my head and look towards my eyebrows. If I just looked straight ahead, I got a headache. Maybe they’re great for some folks, but I find it much less inconvenient to just put on whichever pair of glasses I need at the moment.

Anyway, my vision isn’t so horrible yet that I have to wear glasses constantly. I’ve never worn the reading glasses anyplace but at home. The distance glasses have pretty much been for home use, also. I put them on to bring clarity to the TV. I’ll wear them while driving, but only if it’s nighttime and visibility is less than normal. Otherwise, I’m OK. For instance, I’m not wearing glasses while I type this and I’m not havung any reak problens.

This year, I’ll have to wear the things while I play ball. I could still play without them, but I’d be doing a disservice to both my team and myself if I did. I expect they’ll save me a couple of errors and maybe buy me three or four hits. I truly hate wearing them on a ballfield, though. What I gain in straight-ahead vision is almost offset by what I lose peripherally. I’ve reached the point where they’re definitely a net gain, though, so wear them I will. I expect to be called “Grandpa” much more often this season.

The first time that happened was three years ago. And it was a woman who did it, which made it all the more painful. I liked to think that, since I was wearing a real honest-to-goodness uniform and performing some sort of athletics, I might possibly still be young and sexy. I guess not.

We’ve had, as I recall, five women who have played in our Sunday league over the thirteen years I’ve been a player in it. They’ve all been decent players, so I give them respect. I figure it’s hard enough for a woman to compete in an all-male league, so why should I give them more grief than they’re already getting from some of the rockheads who play? They’re giving it what they’ve got to give and I’d be pissed if I was in their position and heard some of the crap that’s said.

Anyway, Andrea is a pitcher. She can’t hit worth a shit – heck, I’m a hideous pitcher and I popped her up the only time she faced me – but she throws like an ace. It’s fast-pitch, after all, and women certainly have no deficiencies in this sport when it comes to pitching.

In this particular game, I’m leadoff for my team, as usual, and my style was irking her. I’m the most patient batter in the league. If the pitcher wants to throw me four balls, I’ll take them, thank you, and walk down to first base. That’s what I did to lead off the game against her.

Now it’s my second time up. She’s worked the count to one ball and two strikes, all looking. I haven’t swung at a single one of the 9 pitches she’s thrown me in the game. After the second strike, I stepped out of the batter’s box and asked for time. She yelled, “Get back in the box, Grandpa! You’re gonna have to get the bat off your shoulder THIS time!”

I started laughing. My bench was in hysterics, of course. My teammates said:

“Get back in the box, Grandpa! Show that young whippersnapper a thing or two!”

“Charge the mound and beat her with your cane, Sully!”

“Hey, Sully, show the ump your A.A.R.P. card. I think you get a walk on three balls with the discount.”

I shouted out to her, “Grandpa? GRANDPA? Oh, my. You’d think that playing this game for sixty years would earn me some respect, but Nooooooo! Hey, wait a minute! Somebody bring me my glasses. Is the pitcher a GIRL? Damn!”

That broke her up. We resumed play. I’m happy to report that, on the next pitch, I singled off her ass. Not literally, although I tried.

(I’d be less-than-honest if I didn’t tell you that she struck me out the time after that, on a change-up. It was clever pitching. However, in my final at-bat, I walked again. That pissed her off, let me tell you.)

After the game, as is the custom in our league, both teams lined up and exchanged handshakes. When we got to each other in the line, we both laughed and then she hugged me. Ever since then, she’s been one of my favorite people in the league. She hasn’t played more than a handful of games in the last two seasons, having moved out of the area, but I hope she pitches against me this year. I'd be very interested in hearing what she'd have to say when I step into the box actually wearing glasses.

Grandpa Suldog, over and out. See you tomorrow - if I have my glasses on.


Peter N said...

How great! Sul, you hit every emotion. And on this bitter cold Tuesday (zero right now, after it was 2 degrees at 7am), I did mention you, briefly, on my latest post. I hope you have the time to read. And you? I love your stuff. Peter

Peter N said...

And he's listening, with my tears glistening and sharpening my eyes' sight.

Rhea said...

That was a great assessment of how young you feel and what is working on your body and what isn't. I liked that, Grandpa. Let's see, if I didn't know my age, what age would I be? I think about 27.

Michael Leggett said...

It's ONLY a #:


Anonymous said...

You know... although I haven't hit the big five-oh, I'm creeping up on that, too. (I'm 46 for the record)

The weird thing is that most days I don't *feel* anywhere near 30, let alone 40. If you go on how you feel... I'm somewhere north of 16, and south of 25.

I remember you worrying a bit about those glasses last spring. I'm glad you decided to go ahead an wear them - have fun, enjoy running around the bases, and see if you can't get at least one hit off of Andrea.

And as you run by her, slide those glasses down your nose, flash her a big ol' smile, and wink. ;)

Barbara said...

A great story Suldog, I hope you two can play each other again. You don't have to be young to walk.

Kaylee said...

Great story!I liked it!:)

Anonymous said...

Caughhhhhhhh, Arghhhhhhh, those are the sounds of your future voice if you don't stop smoking.

Suldog said...

Well, this is the sound of my voice today, if I DO stop smoking:


Mushy said...

I figured a guy who liked Zero bars couldn't be all bad and I was right.

50? Huh...that's nothing...been 60 for about 10 months now and except for be laid up with this shoulder thing, I'm in pretty good shape even though I'm 20 pounds overweight.

Life is what we make it - right!

Oh yeah...I stopped wearing my bifocuals over 3 years ago and buy +250s at Wal-Mart. I too became tired of tilting my head back to see the computer screen.

Anali said...

Funny! This whole getting older thing just keeps getting more interesting huh? : )

Urbie said...

Har! At 43, I caved in and got bifocals (progressive, no bi-line) a couple of months ago. They've worked out great -- but my eyes are both about the same; namely, highly myopic, and now, Presbyterian and somewhat astigmatized. But the bifocals work for everything, including bowling. Your mileage would prolly vary, gramps! -- Urb