More Daily Life in the Neighborhood

This week was another exciting, action-packed week for yours truly and the family. There was one particular day…

There’s never a dull moment with this house or this family… or this neighborhood.

A neighborhood cul-de-sac.
Never a dull moment in
our idyllic enclave.

This week was another exciting, action-packed week for yours truly and the family. There was one particular day where I had a little more than my usual excitement. I got a phone call from my father, who told me he was meeting a friend for lunch and lunch just happened to be in this very bustling metropolis I call home. It just so happened that my mother had no plans on Wednesday, the day of the lunch, so she decided to accompany him to my house where we would make our own plans.

My mother and I found a place for lunch. We went back to my house, where Dad was waiting for us. We drove to school to surprise The Boy and The Oppressed. We got to school and they were surprised and so was I. My parents had bought a new car a couple of months ago and I got to ride in it for the first time. The arm rests were heated. I never knew such a technology existed. There were other fabulous amenities to this car but my mind couldn’t get past the heated arm rests.

My nephew called. He was in the yard and having trouble with the leaf blower. I asked if the rake was broken too.

While we were driving to the school my nephew called my father. Nephew was doing some work in the yard and was having trouble with the leaf blower. Dad tried to walk him through it. He told him to try a couple of things. If the advice didn’t work, he could just forget about it and my dad would take a look at things when he got home. After Nephew hung up, I asked if the rake was broken too. My dad just shrugged.

We went back home where Lovie, Slick, and Slugger had returned from their day of learning and enrichment. Mom and Dad said hello and chatted briefly before starting their trek back home. After they left, I needed to give Slick a ride to work and get groceries for dinner. I then got The Oppressed, who wanted to check out a book at a local store (God bless her heart).

A small pile of leaves in a puddle in the street gutter.
A seemingly harmless part of the street. This is where we helped the nice lady.

On the way to the store, we noticed a nice lady on the ground next to a dog. I was a concerned citizen and I stopped the car to see what the problem was. It turned out that the nice lady had awkwardly stepped into a small hole that was in the sidewalk. He hurt her leg and, after a brief conversation, we learned that we actually lived on the same street. The oppressed and I helped her and her dog into the car and we drove her to her house, where her husband was waiting for her after she called him to tell him of her misfortune. When we told her where we lived, she told us she passed our house all of the time and noticed our dog.

From there, The Oppressed and I continued to the store. I then went home to cook dinner, which we ate like we always do on any other normal day where nothing out of the ordinary happens.

Superman
Just another day in the life…

What am I Drinking?

I am a self-described amateur beer and bourbon critic. I like to sit down and enjoy a glass or bottle of something. Parenthood has made me enjoy this even more.

When I have a beer, I like to have something locally made. Wife and I like to support the local businesses. The local breweries are no exception to this for me. I like the local stuff and I like to drink it at the local places. Coronapalooza has made going out to places a little difficult but I can still buy something and take it home.

What do I buy? Almost anything. I like lagers, ales. I like IPA’s but only so much. Sometimes I need a break from them. I like beers with fruit in them, usually blueberries or cherries. Chocolate. Coffee? Not so much.

Hoppy beers. Strong beers. Not too strong. I have five kids and I need to be up in the morning but a good, strong porter or IPA can make a nice nightcap, especially after a long day.

I want to know about the local stuff. I want to know what people like to drink (or brew). What are people selling? I’m the guy who can talk to the people behind the counter or bar about their beer all day. I used to work at a liquor store. I could help people find something new and I got to learn a thing or two from the sales reps.

I’m a beer geek. I like to research what I’m drinking. I like to see where it came from and what went into it. Where was it made? How far is it from where I am. If I go on vacation, I look for the local stuff first. I’m on Untapped. I like to see what’s out there. I take my vices seriously.

I like to have a little something after dinner. After the kids have gone to bed and as I am unwinding after a day of homework, dishes, and maybe while I’m preparing the next installment of my parenting exploits. I call The Boy my little reason for single-malt. I sometimes remind the kids it’s too early in the day to want to drink. Like most adults. I like to have a drink. I like it the most when it accompanies conversation with other people. One of the neighbors has a bar in their basement that I like to frequent. Before Corona, my family would go to someone’s house on a weekly basis for a pot-luck. We would sit around, have dinner and a drink and relax. We’d blow off steam for a couple of hours by talking about life and our jobs and the kids and how we have ruined their lives during that particular week.

I certainly miss it and I’m sure you do, too. We didn’t light the fire pit too often this past summer. We spent too much time cooped up in the house instead of in backyards and on front porches talking to neighbors and friends. One local place even shuttered its doors due to the ‘Rona. A new group bought it and re-opened it. That’s a good story. A lot of other places throughout the country haven’t been so lucky.

Technology has allowed me to keep in touch with some of my friends. We have a beer while we talk to each other and find out how we’ve been and what we’re doing to see ourselves through this. We can’t wait for this to be over. When it is, I hope you’ll do some celebrating somewhere local. There’s a business that would certainly appreciate it.

Street Hoops with Children

There is a friend I would visit from time to time. I am sorry to say we don’t see each other as much as we used to. There was a time we would be at each other’s house often and sometimes I would watch his kids. Sometimes I would visit and my friend and I would play pick-up basket ball with one of the children. We’ll call this person “Wilt”. There would be another person there. Four of us. We would play two-on-two.

“Wilt” had a unique style of playing basketball. It was a fairly simple style, really. Wilt would get the ball from me. He would dribble. He would run here. Run there. He would go to the other side of the street. I would be under the hoop. Wide open. “Wilt!” I would yell. “Wilt! I’m open!” Wilt would continue to run around the block. He would run inside the house, still dribbling. Come outside with his bus pass, leave his street and take the bus to his school. He would run back to his house. His defender has backed away from him and now I am being double-teamed. Does Wilt shoot? Of course not! There are three guys under the hoop. Two of them are on me. One of my defenders leaves me and goes back to Wilt, who is heading to the neighboring town in hopes of getting a better shot.

I’m starting to understand why there’s a shot-clock.

I tell Wilt it’s going to be dark soon. I tell him Christmas is coming. Maybe Santa can get him an assist for Christmas. He shoots. He misses. The other team gets the ball. The ball goes out of bounds. Our ball. I’m taking it out.

I’m at the top of the key. I yell to Wilt and tell him to go to the hoop. “Wilt!” I yell. “Hoop!” Wilt just stands there off to the side of the hoop. He’s not moving. He just stands there and stares at me.

“Hoop!” I yell again but to no avail. Wilt Chamberlain is just standing there. He doesn’t have the ball. Why should he move anywhere on the court?

“Hoop!” I yell again. He doesn’t move. I heave up a shot. I’m hoping the ball in the air will get Wilt to move. He just stands there with his defender. My defender jumps up and tries to block the ball. He can’t. The ball gets by him. The ball sails in a majestic arc and barely misses the rim. It bounces out of bounds. Their ball.

“Augh!” Wilt yells. He grabs his hair. He stomps his feet. He is incensed. His eyeballs are about to pop out of his face. He is furious.

“What are you doing?!” Wilt demands.

“Naismith,” I say to him. “How many times did I say, ‘hoop’?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asks.

“I wanted you to go to the hoop,” I explain to him.

“Then you should have said, ‘Under the hoop!'”

He stomps off, furious at my painfully obvious lack of basketball and communication skills. I look at my friend, his father, who just puts his hands up and says, “Don’t look at me. I deal with this everyday.”

Marvin the Foreman

Sometimes you see kids and you just know what they’re going to do when they grow up. Coaching youth sports gives me insight to plenty of kids. I watch some and I just think to myself what this one could do with a little molding. I see others, like the subject of this entry and think to myself, “Good luck, World.”

I have one player on my team this year who happens to be one of the kids in my neighborhood. So, I already have a feel for his personality and what he will bring to that proverbial “table”. I am also friends with his parents and I love relaying the nuggets this child utters to them from time to time. His dad tells me he’s going to be a foreman when he grows up. I can’t say I doubt that.

I’m going to call this child “Marvin” (Google “Marvin Miller” and you’ll understand why.) Marvin is a kid who makes sure you don’t forget about him. Even after you tell him where he’s playing or when he’s going to bat, He will ask you if it’s his turn yet, or why he can’t play over there. I’ll tell him it’s because there’s already someone over there. He throws his hands in the air and rolls his eyes. “Oh my God!” he exclaims. “Why can’t I just be over there?!” He mutters a few more things that I can’t quite understand because he is walking away and because I have other crises on the infield that require my attention.

Ready for work. A game? Not so much.

Marvin doesn’t miss much, especially when it comes to a break from the action. Immediately after it’s time to take the field, Marvin needs water. I remind Marvin he just had water and he should have had his water while he was on the bench, which, technically, he did have. He thinks for a second and says, “I have to go to the bathroom!'” I get his father’s attention and Marvin and Dad make their way to the bathroom (second time this evening.) Marvin returns and is unhappy to see his coveted position (whichever one he can’t get) has already been claimed by another player. Hands go up. Eye roll. The injustice. The humanity. Why? Why?!

Alex Cora never had it so hard.