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Entries in Charlie Brown (2)


Baseball in Chi-Town Scares Me

So we took the boy to sign up for baseball last weekend.

There’s something people should know about Midwesterners. These snowbound freak shows LOVE baseball almost as much as they love a four-wheel jacked-up snow blower that can run 0 to 60 in three seconds while microwaving a bratwurst and holding their Old Style.

I’ll never forget the first run I took while in the Chicago burbs of Oak Park. It was May, the sun was out, it was about 50 degrees, and I was enjoying my first look at the neighborhood I was temporarily living in. I noticed historic houses, cars, good looking moms walking with baby strollers, and then it hit me. In front of every-other house was a father and son, or daughter, throwing a baseball. Cubs and White Sox flags hanging everywhere.

It seemed like even women gathering along the sidewalk were all “Ya…we’re gonna split season tickets at Wrigley this year with Bob and Marge…” (please re-read with a Fargo midwest accent attached)

When I got home I immediately turned the TV on to try and find a baseball game. The laptop flew up and while dripping sweat all over the keyboard I frantically pulled up the Cubs website to learn everything I possibly could about this cursed team. I was scared shitless!!!

I had that same feeling this past weekend when we walked into the local high school to sign the boy up for baseball. They had “farm” league and “prep” league. I was a deer in headlights watching kids warm up with their fathers as the sign-in lady was sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher as she tried to explain the difference between “farm” and “prep.”

Despite the fact it was 10 degrees outside, sweat was trickling down my back as I watched a six-year-old hum a baseball over a 30 foot space back and forth with his dad. Seven year olds wearing numbers on their back were taking turns running down the first base line while a lady (well, I think she was a lady...come to think of it she may have had a beard) with a stop watch timed them. A line of fathers leaned against the gym wall were intensely watching every move their kids made while fighting back the overwhelming urge to rip their clothes off down to their loin cloth thong and beat their chests.

I was fucking scared out of my mind!

“Ummm…my seven-year-old’s never played organized baseball. Which league should we sign-up for that will keep him away from those kids?” I asked the lady, pointing at the six-year-old pitching a 40-mph strike.

With a half smirk and slight chuckle, she blew the dust off a form and handed it to me to fill out, “Prep. Your boy should DEFINITELY be in prep league. NEXT!,” she yelled as my sweaty shaking hand pulled the form from her hand and I looked around to see if my face was being televised on a jumbo-screen with the words “Deadbeat ‘Prep League’ Dad” written below it.

With that out of the way, and a few sessions with my therapist, I’m actually looking forward to the baseball season.

I look forward to seeing the boy learn basic skills, maybe hit a few good balls here and there, and getting a feel as to whether he’s really into the game or not. But most importantly—I’m fascinated to see how the parents will be. Oh sure, I’ll bring a gun with me to the games just to make sure no one gives my boy shit for striking out or running straight to third base after a good hit.

But I’ll also bring with me my pad and pen…cause you guys are definitely going to be the first to hear the rantings that are sure to come spewing from these rabid baseball fan’s mouths.


At Least I Still Have a Job, Right?!

Well….at least I still have a job, right?! That’s what I keep telling myself.

Yesterday I was told by my employer that I had a choice. I could take a significant salary decrease—my salary will be cut in half—or, I could resign effective December 1, and continue to receive my regular pay check through the end of February.

At least I still have a job right?

I haven’t felt emotion like that in years. My boss sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher as he talked to me and my head was spinning as I thought about our mortgage, car payment, bills, food, my impending drug habit, and of course, my kids.

I moved my family from Virginia to Chicago for this job—one of the biggest decisions of my life. I lived in an empty house by myself on an air mattress for 6 months while my wife and kids stayed in Virginia trying to sell our house. I saw them once a month during that time, if I was lucky. I’ve busted my ass, taken the organization to a new level on many fronts……and now….

But, at least I still have a job, right?

People all over the world are being handed pink slips today, tomorrow….. People who’ve probably worked twice as hard and long as me are now sitting at home fretting over how to pull the pieces together. And my heart breaks for them.

Yesterday as I sat there I was shaking. I wanted to cry. I wanted to beat the ever loving shit out of something. I wanted my mommy. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted to give my boss shaken-baby syndrome. I wanted to never feel this helpless again.

I stood up, tucked my tail between my legs, packed my shit up, walked out of the building, grabbed a beer and shot of Jager and started my journey home. The longest walk of shame in my life. There’s nothing less manly than coming home to your family, wearing the “bread-winner” hat, and having to explain that our lives will significantly alter and that we have a major decision to make.

I’m beginning to see potential paths appearing in front of me. Some are riddled with obstacles and have risk written all over them. Others are straight, smooth roads and make the most sense. The difficult part will be thumping myself hard enough in the nuts to buck-up, pick a path and start walking down it. The other difficult part will be not letting this beat me mentally….not taking it personally….not letting it affect the way I view myself as a person, worker, father, husband. And I won’t….

So I’ll rally, figure this shit out and hope for the best. At least I still have a job, right?