Friday, March 2, 2012

Not Such Deep Thoughts; Special Leap Year Edition

Had an extra day, thought I’d make the most of it. And away we go…

Lots of interesting stuff happening down at The Fort. Comings, goings, sage advice and weak excuses; yep, it’s Spring Training time again, and there’ll be lots to talk about. I’m not really sure why they call it Spring training, though. I just don’t associate February with spring, especially when it’s snowing. I think Winter Ball would be a lot more appropriate.

Speaking of the Sox, and comings and goings, first Wake hangs up his cleats, and now Tek is following suit. Wow. That’s a lot for Sox fans to deal with; they’ve both been such a big part of the team for such a long time. It’s going to seem really strange not seeing them on a daily basis. In this age of the mercenary sports star, players that remain with a team as long as they did, and contribute as much as they did, are few and far between. They become woven into the fabric of the franchise, and it’s hard to imagine the team existing without them. It will, though. We’ll move on, but we won’t forget the great memories they’ve given us, or the great things they’ve done for our area. I wish them both prosperous times going forward, and send my heartfelt thanks.

While we’re on the subject of Tek, did I ever tell you my Varitek/Hooters story? Doesn’t matter, I’m going to anyway. My wife used to have a severe case of anti-Hooterism; wouldn’t go if you paid her. Well, we ended up stopping at the Fort Myers Hooters one day on the way back from the pahk. We had a request for a Hooters calendar from a friend, and we were going right by, so there we were. The wife and I were both hungry, and the wings smelled sooooooooo good, that she decided to throw caution to the wind and accompany me inside.

She got a kick out of the kitschy d├ęcor and the lively music, and our waitress turned out to be from Nashua, so things were off to a pretty cool start, and wings and cold beverages quickly ensued. As we were sitting there, I noticed that Jason Varitek was sitting a couple of tables away. I told my wife, who’s a huge Varitek fan, and I offered to go get her an autograph. Smart woman that she is, she suggested that rather than bothering him, we should send a round of drinks to his table, so we did. We told the waitress to tell him they were a thank you from some home town fans, and we kind of thought that would be the end of it.

It wasn’t. After a little while I saw him get up from his booth and head our way. He came over, leaned down on the table, and introduced himself. Like he really needed to, but that’s the kind of guy he is; unassuming and very personable. He chatted us up for quite a while, and then grabbed the menu and signed it for us with a nice little personal message. My wife was over the moon, and so was I, but not for quite the same reasons. She had met Tek, her favorite player, and he turned out to be all that a fan could ask for, Me, I was pretty thrilled by meeting him too, but the best part for me was that I knew I now had a lifetime pass to Hooters, at least the Fort Myers one, anyway. Nice.

Well, if I’m going to retell old stories, I guess I owe you a new one to go with it. Here goes; A Deacon, two Priests and a Bishop walk into this bar… Actually, it was a church, and this isn’t going to be one of those lame jokes. It’s a somewhat amusing real life story that happened just this past weekend, and it involves said clergy, pomp, circumstance, and a flying tackle. Got your interest? Good.

My nephew was being confirmed last Sunday as part of a pretty large class, and the Regional Bishop was presiding to boot, so the church was packed and seats were at a premium. One of the nephews and I left the seats to the ladies and stood in the back of the church, along with many others. We were the first two off of the main aisle, which is a pretty good spot, viewing wise. The procession slowly filed past us, as did our confirmant, and the festivities got under way.

As I said, the church was packed, and it was starting to get a bit stuffy as the mass went on. Suddenly we heard a woman gasp loudly, and we looked across the aisle to see the woman struggling to keep her husband erect. He appeared to be in the process of fainting, and I could tell that he was either going to smash his head on the back of the last pew, or face plant on the fancy marble. It also registered that she was never going to be able to hold him; she had a bad angle, and he was a pretty big guy. The last thought I had was that the way she was tugging at his right arm was causing him to spin a little so that I had a good view of his chest, and at that moment a little green light flashed in my head and I was off.

I zipped across the aisle, dipping as I went, and my shoulder made soft but firm contact dead center on his chest. I wrapped my arms around him in a bear hug and kept churning, forcing him up and back against the wall, and we came to rest like a couple in a loving embrace. His eyes were still closed, and I started to have a panicky “now what do I do” feeling. Of course, dead silence had fallen over the congregation, this was a major interruption to a major ceremony, even the organist had stopped playing, and that made it all the more unreal and uncomfortable, but as his wife fussed over him, and I still hugged him tightly, his eyes began to flutter open. He turned his head slightly until we were nose to nose and officially Eskimo kissing, and his eyes went through this amazing transformation; from unfocused, to uncomprehending, and then to angry, and he began trying to push me away.

Although I was a little leery of loosening my grasp, I decided it was time, and slowly disengaged. I’ve never been much for hugging guys anyway, and my job there was done. I lift things up, I put them down.

The fainting man’s family quickly whisked him outside, and as I turned away to leave, I noticed that everyone in the vicinity was watching our little drama intently. Even the organist had craned his neck over the railing and was staring down at us. I felt a little sheepish as I returned to my original post, but the smiles and thumbs up I got from my family went a long way to remedy that.

The rest of the mass proceeded uneventfully, thank goodness, and my new found fainting friend never returned, which is probably a good thing. The frosting on the cake for me, though, came during the collection. A friend of ours had our area, and as he passed by with the basket he smiled and said “It didn’t surprise me when I looked back and saw you at the center of things.” I just smiled back, because that pretty much sums up my life. I am Forrest Gump.

Apropos of nothing, my lower back is really bothering me this week. I don’t know what I did, but I seem to have done it well.

OK, on to some serious stuff. Davy Jones passed away this week, taking with him another little bit of my past. When the Monkees first arrived on the scene, I was just a wee lad of 11, and like most of my contemporaries, I was a big fan. I saw every show, had every album, and I still know every word to every song by heart. I know, they were a manufactured group, yada, yada yada. Doesn’t matter. They had some of the greatest song writers of that time period penning their lyrics, and they were happy, infectious tunes, and the Monkees were happy, infectious guys. They’ve stood the test of time, also. They’re the guilty pleasure on my iPod, and through the magic of cable, they reached whole new generations. My sons watched their TV show with me when they were just little spuds and quickly became fans. Their Great Woods stop on their 20th reunion tour in the late 80’s was the first concert they ever attended, and the night was one of those classic family bonding moments that I’ll carry with me to my grave.

Last year they came to the Lowell Auditorium, and my wife received some tickets as a birthday gift. It turned out that the Bruins happened to be playing for the cup that night, but we went anyway. Both my buddy and I had an earphone in one ear listening to the game, as did half the audience, and Davy was smart enough to give updates and wave around a Bruins jersey. It was a great night, on a lot of levels, and has become another little “stepping stone” in the river of my memories.

So, old Davy has caught the last train to Clarksville, or wherever it is that rock stars go when they pass too soon, but he’ll live on in our hearts and minds, and our iPods.

It’s been a pleasure, Mr. Jones.

That is all.