This scrawny kid seemed to always be reading, and while I have been a reader for as long as I can possibly remember, his nose always seemed to be in stories far outside my usual realm of comfort. In sixth grade, I still found myself on a steady diet of The Three Investigators, but this guy feasted in a different world, one populated by monsters and demons, killers and ghosts.
Oh, sure, I knew about monsters – I was a huge fan of the classic Universal movies like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. His tastes, though, ran a bit bloodier.
So when I saw Aaron Saylor flipping through Fangoria, a magazine devoted to the scariest and, well, goriest, movies and entertainment of that era (the mid-1980s), I instantly knew two things: 1) This was one weird little dude; and 2) we needed to be friends.
Almost 30 years later, both are still true.
We lined up in a yard too hilly for football but just muddy enough for 11-year-old boys. We only had a basic grasp of the rules – football as an organized sport wouldn’t come to Powell County for another two years – but we knew how to throw and run, and while we didn’t know for certain the proper ins and outs of tackling, we still hit each other as young boys do. Which is to say with a reckless abandon that comes without fear of broken limbs and lost teeth.
Battered and muddy (and no doubt exhausted), we marched back to my house for cake and presents. I’m sure Star Wars was dutifully represented in the gifts, probably He-Man, too, but only one gift clearly stands out: the Wheel of Fortune board game, oddly enough. We might have been months away from official football, but Pat Sajak and Vanna White are forever.
It was my greatest birthday.
Bobby stood guard while Jared and I buried Boba Fett in a shallow grave.
I rubbed the dirt off on my shorts as the creek, which had slowed to a trickle from the long summer days, washed away most everything else. The plastic figure was soon forgotten, lost among the afternoons sitting on the rocks, a fishing pole in one hand, a fresh-off-the-tree apple in the other. We were kids, our forevers ahead of us.
I don’t know what happened to those days or even to those boys. Life pulls us in many directions, some into pits from which escape seems impossible. I guess sometimes it is. Impossible, I mean. No matter how hard you try.
Those boys, once so much a part of my life, are now living shadows.
They’re not alone.
The battles of addiction are heavy, and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched from it in some way. Maybe it’s a friend, a dad, a mom, a sister, a brother, a co-worker. It doesn’t matter who – it’s out there, it’s someone and it’s someone who is loved.
Our words carry weight, with messages both subtle and obvious. People are listening, often paying close attention, whether you know it or not.
Some choose to hide behind a message of hate, tossing off words without a care in the world who gets harmed in the process. It’s sad that all that’s being asked is tolerance; that’s not even acceptance. It’s merely the absolute least that can be provided – “yes, I tolerate you.”
There is, however, another choice.
Last week, the Georgetown News-Graphic published a column I wrote in response to a married couple’s letters to the editor bemoaning the fact that same-sex couples now share that same right to marry. The response, fortunately, was overwhelmingly positive, with friends and strangers alike sharing the love.
One, though, stood out, and it’s with the family’s permission that I share this story:
Nolan Ryan taught me how to pitch.
I learned every move he had, from the way he held his glove as he started his windup, to the high leg kick, to the explosion off the pitching rubber as another 100 mph-plus fastball hurdled toward the plate.
Oh, I had everything he had.
Minus the 100 mph fastball.
Or any fastball, really. Continue reading
A friend recently came to me with an interesting little project: his girlfriend, who usually has stellar taste in music, just can’t get into Wilco (who, I should note, is a band my friend I both count as a personal favorite). Oddly enough, she’s digging Tweedy, which is the side project of Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.
So, my friend asked me to compile a tracklist designed to get her to love Wilco, or, at the very least, appreciate Wilco. I thought about the options, and what I sent is below. In the meantime, I ask any fellow Wilco fans to weigh in on what I included or, more importantly, what I left out.
Late last week, I started experiencing some connection difficulties through my AT&T U-verse internet package, something the rep at the time assured me would be easy to fix. We scheduled an appointment for sometime between 4 and 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, with a promise to call about an hour before arriving to allow me to get home for the technician.
I should have known things wouldn’t end well when the tech, Nathan, called at 1:30 p.m. to say he’s on his way.
As I explained that he was quite premature in our scheduled time, he said the problem likely existed in a cable outside so it’s doubtful he’d even need to access my house. Sounds great, I told him. Check it out, and call me with any questions.
Around 3, he left a message saying the problem was fixed in the cable and that he’d leave a note in my mailbox.
At the time, I was willing to overlook that federal offense, seeing how I didn’t have to be home between the broad hours of 4-8. By the time I got home, though, it was clear that wasn’t the only personal space that had been invaded.