Communion Of Dreams


“Whatcha gonna to do with the bat, Jamie?”
July 4, 2020, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Humor | Tags: , , , , ,

There’s an apocryphal story told in my family which has amused my friends for years, but which I haven’t bothered to ever write up. Today seems like a good day to correct that, since it happened on a July 4th almost 60 years ago …

It seems that my family was gathered at the home of my maternal grandmother for a 4th of July party, sometime in the early ’60s (I don’t actually remember this particular event, since I think I was just five or six years old, though I trust that it’s true). Now, the 4th of July was a big weekend for such celebrations back then, and we’d regularly get together for barbecue, beer, and fireworks. Watch some baseball. Play games. And have a birthday party for me. See, I was born on the Fourth.

Anyway, we’d been playing baseball out in the yard, some of my cousins and me. Or, more likely, since I was one of the younger kids in the extended family, I was probably watching my cousins play. And the time came for dinner, so everyone hustled inside, to sit around on various chairs in the big living room and watch some pro sports on a little black & white TV while balancing paper plates of seared meat, baked beans, and salad dressing on their laps.

Now, I’ve never really enjoyed watching sports. Just not my thing. And evidently this was the case when I was really young, too. Because I had finished my dinner, and bored with everyone else just sitting around, had wandered back outside.

Where I found one of the baseball bats we’d been playing with earlier. I picked it up, swung it around, then plopped it on my shoulder and went back inside. Because an idea had struck me.

As I said, I don’t actually remember this, because I was so young. But I imagine that I had been watching some slapstick TV earlier — probably the 3 Stooges or something — and I thought that it would be fun to emulate that.

So I walked over to where my dad was sitting, eating his dinner, watching the game. My dad was a tough, burly, Irish cop who was beloved by many but evidently someone not to be messed with. And I stopped and stood there next to his chair, just looking at him. Finally, he noticed me, looked away from the television, leaned forward and asked “Whatcha gonna do with the bat, Jamie?”

I smiled a little smile, and smacked him upside the head with it.

I have NO idea why I thought this was a good idea. Probably, like I said, because of something I saw the 3 Stooges do, or in a cartoon, or something. But evidently I thought it would be funny.

I knocked my dad cold. Boom, right out. Unconscious. Probably a concussion, though we didn’t worry about such things as much back then.

Before he could wake up, the story is that my mom hustled me off to hide me with friends or other family members for a few days, so my dad wouldn’t kill me when he came to.

Well, it blew over and became something of a standing joke in the family, and later among my friends.

But everybody knew not to ask me damned fool questions like that.

 

Jim Downey

(For other “Jim Downey” stories, I refer you to my old archive site.)

 



So, you think you’re hard?
April 9, 2012, 10:17 am
Filed under: Failure, MetaFilter | Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve got a lot of respect for people who attempt difficult, almost impossible tasks. People who not only risk failure, but challenge it. Who step up to it in a bar, tap it on the shoulder, and then spit in its eye.

People like this:

In the fringe world of ultra endurance sports, there is an outlier: The Barkley.

The Barkley is the world’s toughest race you’ve never heard of. With 59,100 feet of climb and decent over 100 miles, it’s considered the most difficult endurance event on the planet. In its 25-year history, only twelve men, the same amount of men who have walked on the moon, have actually been able to finish the race.

* * *

The course is five loops around the park, totally unmarked, mostly off trail, with a time limit of sixty hours.

There are no manned aid stations. You must carry everything you need to survive “out there” including a map and compass (no GPS allowed) to navigate the course.

There are no rescues. You must self-extract, however long it takes, and get back to camp.

As I’ve said before:

The most interesting people I know are not the ones who have only succeeded in everything they’ve tried – that type is either too self-satisfied to be interesting, or so unambitious to have never pushed themselves. Give me people who go too far, who push themselves in what they do past their abilities, who are ambitious enough to want to Paint the Moon. Those are the people who are interesting.

Go take a look at that first site I mentioned above. There you’ll see before & after portraits of some of this year’s participants, along with how they fared in the attempt. If you think that you’re athletic, or can push yourself, consider what they accomplished. Then look in the mirror and think again.

I have no illusions. I was a fair athlete ‘back in the day’ but I was never in the kind of condition that these people are – even the ones who ‘only’ last 12 hours.

Maybe I only like these sorts of things because they make me feel better about my own failures.

I can live with that.

Jim Downey

Via MeFi.