February 5th, 2015
So many people spend so much time worrying about what they think they once had, or might have had, or what they think they’re going to lose, that they fail to realize that today – right now – is going to be what the old farts 40 years from now are going to be longing for.
Enjoy the moment. No telling how long it’ll last.
As published in The Daily News, February 6, 2015, and in The Memphis News, February 7-13, 2015
YOU GOTTA LOVE ‘EM.
When some fall in love, falling headlong and defenseless, even despite subsequent events and the weight of time and change, never mind the disappointment and the heartbreak – never mind life – the love remains because that fall and the feel of it last a lifetime.
Being a Cubs fan is like that.
“Son,” the Knoxville cop said, shining his flashlight in the eyes of the passenger in the car he’d just pulled over, “are you a Cubs fan, or do you just like that hat?” The passenger in the Cubs hat was my son, Gaines, and the driver was his friend, Rob. Both were a little to a lot worse for wear, both back in Knoxville for a reunion weekend with buddies a few years after college. It was three o’clock in the morning.
“When I was eight,” Gaines answered, a bit thick-tongued but meeting the flashlight head-on, “my father took me to Wrigley Field. We sat down the first base line, opposite right field. We had hot dogs. Andre Dawson was right in front of us. He came to bat four times in that game and hit four home runs. I thought he was God.” He leaned into the final pitch, “Hell yes, I’m a Cubs fan.”
After a long moment, the cop lowered the flashlight. “Y’all be careful,” he said, and returned to his cruiser - a chance meeting in the night of two people jilted by the same lover, long-suffering, but still in love.
The Cubs date from 1870, the oldest continuously operating professional sports franchise in the country, and they’re loyal and true, the only original National League charter team to still be in their original city. Ernie Banks – Mr. Cub - the Hall of Fame shortstop who slid in safe for the last time two weeks ago – played his entire mid-century career at Wrigley, and he’ll be remembered as the best player to never play in the post season. You see, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908, a pennant since 1945.
Being a Memphian is like that.
We bitch. We moan. We have a double-header of an inferiority complex. Hating Nashville for their bluster, Atlanta for their success, trying to be somebody we’re not. Like the fans at Wrigley Field, we’re so caught up in our miseries of the moment that we no longer feel the love of the place, the warmth of our shared experience. We don’t see the impossible green of the grass anymore, the charm of the ivy on the outfield wall, the magic of all those people on rooftops across the street watching the moment.
But we should. We should see our city like we were eight, noting the home runs we’re hitting of late and expecting still more from our lineup, seeing the promise of undeveloped talent.
We should be like Ernie, who used to say after any game in his city, win or lose, “Let’s play two.”
I’m a Memphian, in fact, hell yes, I’m a Memphian.
If you don’t read it, I’ll read it to you.
The book is available in print online and all over town and now in audio online at Amazon, Audible and iTunes, read by the author – columns, comments and character references for a city filled with it and often absolutely full of it. Take a look or a listen.