About The Funk...

Observational Spittle from the mind of a man of color in his 40s, without the color added (most times). Come in, laugh, and you may learn something...

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Story About Me Part II

I remember the "pop" the sponge-like ball made when it hit the wall.

I also remember the bit of wind that I made whenever I swung through one of his curveballs, sliders, and fastballs.

Baseball swing discipline was never my strong point.  But, ever so often, he would leave one down the middle of the plate...

...and I'd still strike out.

I remember one year, spring to summer (even tho sadly, I couldn't tell you the EXACT year, except it was in the mid 1980's) where a boy who lived across the street and I did battle, back when baseball didn't have folks shooting drugs so that they could extend careers (note, they probably did, but we didn't know about it), and kids still wanted to be the next slugger or great pitcher.

We'd get together, play one or two games a day, and then hang out (mostly at his mom's; I have no idea why he rarely came to my house - I think he was at my mom's probably 5 times b4 I went to college).

But those ball games..those were games of legend...battles between a free swinging slugger (and I use "slugger" lightly) and a complete player that, if life didn't direct him in a different way, would of just have retired recently after a stellar professional career.

He knew how to control that sponge baseball, throwing with different arm angles, pitches dodging left & right, up and down.  We played on the side of my building, a white structure with cement terraces, a strike stone etched in chalk.  Nice thing about that is when you hit the corner (well, especially when it was wet) of the strike zone, there were no arguments.

There was a torn down building behind where we used to play, and all that was left behind a fence that separated our mini "playing field" was a lot of bricks, and other things dumped there that I probably didn't need to know about when I was a teen.  When it was your turn to pitch, you tossed your pitches with a bench in front of you.  It made for an interesting dynamic, but that was NYC for you.

During our "season", I only beat him twice.  Usually I got blown out, because while I was one dimensional, he was a complete player.

However, ever so often (well, about 43 times that season), I got him.  I took him deep.

Now, a home run was anything that got over that "brick graveyard" behind us.  Now, I had some power in my youth, and when I connected, I CONNECTED.  Put it either on the street beyond the junkyard, or "out of the park" on the street across from the bricks.

It was our bonding, our time, something that built what turned out to be a 33 year journey together....well, sort of.

For about 4 years, we lost contact, he getting married, I going off to college.  Now if I can count, he lived (and still lives) in a building across the street from where we played ball, raising his kids, enjoying a long marriage, and growing up to be a pretty decent human being.

Now, when I see him, things are the same...yet things are quite different.  Our philosophies are, well, quite different.  At times, whenever I think about the "thwap" sound of that rubber/spongy baseball, and how I thought he was so cool...the guy who grew up to be a great dad and husband (and uber nerd; he collects figurines of superheroes and movie characters, reads graphic novels, and hits Comic Con regularly; however he would qualify as the the coolest nerd of all time; brilliantly sarcastic, and in a lot of ways when I was a kid, I looked up to the guy).

Sometimes, when I think about my friend, it brings back memories of happier days...yet at the same time, it makes me a little sad.

But as in all relationships, you take the good and the bad.

Had a "Facts of Life" Moment.  Wow.

We all have them, don't we?  Some of them good, some of them quite crappy.

But for those good times, those home runs, those 2 victories, and even all of those losses on the side of a white building in the Bronx that still stands, any price would of been worth it.

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