More Origin Tales of Mr. Unremarkable 

More disappointment and underachieving from the one who wasn’t expected to deliver much else anyway.

As I mentioned in the first origin story of Mr. Unremarkable, also known to the super-poweredpowerless and most muggles as, Me, I already had mastered the power to Outswim, as demonstrated by my ability to make it to the egg first. And as I learned in my high school Math class, with two destinations to choose from, the subpower of Probability Manipulation gave me the ability to choose the correct tube the required egg had dropped into, creating the most unremarkable of superheroes. So I also had that going for me.

Yet, for reasons unexplained, it was felt that I needed swimming lessons during my adolescent summers. Were my parents not there during my creation, did they not know of my heroics, what were they thinking? Swimming lessons? And, since I didn’t know how to generate the power of  Superhuman Speed, I was forced to take the slowest, most pedestrian form of transport available to every kid in the summer swim  program, a school bus. And not a good school bus, this was one of the buses they didn’t use during the school year. This was a bus they rolled out when all of the good buses were taking the summer off. A bus with no suspension to speak of, a bus that appeared to be spraying for mosquitoes as it choked and sputtered along the road, a bus where the front appeard to be going to the right while the back appeard to be going to the left.

I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy those early morning swim lessons at Cedar Creek Lake…in the cold refreshing waters of their…well, cedar lake. What I will say is that I would have preferred to have my lessons in the comfort of the heated pool not far away from that cold lake. I really feel like I could have reached my true Aquability with such a simple change to my training venue. But instead, those who taught me, as usual, failed to identify and match my true potential with the proper training environment required for one with my certain set of skills. So, just like every other kid there, I would stretch out my beach towel and learn to overcome another one of the hindrances to becoming my true heroic-self, Sand in my Shorts. Not exactly a battle with a kraken, but truly uncomfortable in many ways.

For some reason, Mr. Forrester, who owned and operated the Creek (my little nickname for the place), along with his staff decided that myself and the super-powered powerlesses needed to learn four different swim strokes. Freestyle, which let’s face it, I already had that one, the Breast Stroke and the Butterfly stroke, and finally, the Backstroke. Master them all and I would achieve true Aquability, if not then I would be just another kid battling Sand in my Shorts. 

There was one unintended distraction that both Inspired and Motivated. It could Elevate young males to swim faster and father than ever before, or Reduce lesser-willed males to something like a cedar lake jellyfish. I’m sure by now you’ve guessed it-a female swim instructor. Complete with blonde hair, a black one-piece bikini bathing suit, and a whistle just in case the first two characteristics didn’t capture the attention and imagination of the older pre-teen boys. I however, still saddled with Balls That Haven’t Dropped, hardly took notice. I was there to achieve Aquability only, anything else would only Distract and Deter me from achieving that goal

These training sessions were hot and grueling early morning tests meant to discourage the super-powered powerless. Or Camp Fishes as I would refer to them. These Camp Fishes all had jobs to do. Some were there to challenge my Swimability, some were sent to simply kick Sand in my Shorts, you know, the kids with the suddenly big feet who felt it necessary to kick sand on you and your towel as they trudged by. These older, usually bigger than me kids, who hadn’t learned to even float yet, also helped me develop the power of Danger Sense, a sense that would serve me well with two older sisters and a little too much attitude for someone my age.

Using my sub-power to Skip the Details, the culmination of all of this training was the traditional Test of Strokes. The annual Ordeal where all of the little Camp Fishes and little S.H.I.T.(s) (this was the acronym the instructors used for those of us SuperHeroes In Training) swam the length of the Creek to the amusement of the instructors…and of course to see who could swim the farthest using the strokes taught us. This is where I would separate myself as a little S.H.I.T. from the simply ordinary Camp Fish. Of course, on my way to growing my legend as Mr. Unremarkable, I failed to achieve my desired result. I did not swim farther than everyone else. I did not swim faster than everyone else. As I sat in the lake, marking my spot for the length of my swim, I watched, as even some of the Camp Fish stroked right by me. Kicking their legs, leg kicks that propelled them further and faster, leg kicks I forgot to employ. And I wondered, why had my instructors failed me…again? And from who or what did this sudden small flow of warm water emanate from?

And in the end, when it was time for my certificate, “Old Man Forrester”, handed me my “has participated in” certificate and not the “has achieved True Aquability” certificate I needed to further my cred as a superhero. But then the Old Man did something that brought the whole Cedar Creek Lake experience into perspective. Along with a coupon for a Famous Cedar Creek Lake Teenie Weenie and a free drink from any water fountain on the property, cup not included, (not redeemable on date of issue) Old Man Forrester gave me a leaflet to give to my parents so they could sign me up for another round of swimming lessons.

Riding the bus home from Cedar Creek Lake, my sisters in the front of the bus going right, me in the back and going to the left, I stared at that leaflet, at that certificate that represented my newest disappointment, and it finally came to me. This whole thing was a simple money grab. Cedar Creek Lake would continue to give me a “participation” certificate until I was too old to take their training lessons. It would be years before I received a “has achieved True Aquability” certificate, if at all. How could I continue to swim in that cold lake water each morning? All so I could end up with a teenie weenie and a certificate?

…No, not me, not this little S.H.I.T.

My Best Friend And A Ball Game

Baseball, probably more than any other sport, is constantly promoting the next big give-away day at the ballpark. Teams also have “special events” such as a 4th of July Fireworks show to lure in more fans. As a Phillies fan, one of the biggest events the team has each year is celebrating the Phillie Phanatic’s birthday. Mascots from everywhere show up, some recognizable, some not. This year marked the Phanatic’s 38th birthday in human years, not really sure what that adds up to in Phanatic years, and of course his mom Phoebe was there to help celebrate the big day, along with the Zooper Stars (Ken Giraffey Jr., Shark Mcguire, and the umpire-eating Clammy Sosa).

Unfortunately the Phanatic and I don’t get along ever since he climbed into my car at a public appearance and knocked a box of popcorn out of my hand, (true story) making my then 2-year old daughter cry. Apparently it’s okay for him to unroll that tongue of his in your face, but don’t ever give him a playful slap to the back of his fuzzy green head. He doesn’t like that. Of course my daughter being just 2 got over it, but being somewhat of an adult, I just can’t let it go. 

This month’s Can of Corn Challenge is to write about your favorite give away day that you’ve attended. For the sake of transparency, I’ve never been to a baseball game where something was “given away”. I did almost get a foul ball once, however my friend was able to grab it from underneath of the woman’s seat next to him before I could get to it…

…the ball’s live until it’s in someone’s hands. Beneath someone’s seat doesn’t establish ownership.

That was our rule back then, but to be honest, I always thought he should have given the ball back to her so she could give it to her grandson. Especially since he was sitting right next to her. But, it was the Vet in the late 1970’s after all, a place where manners and common courtesy went to die many deaths.

My choice of games to attend would be one of the newer, more popular event days baseball teams have, an event that is on the schedule of over 20 Major League teams…Bark At The Park.

Dog days, or nights, have become so popular in 2016 that many teams are offering them multiple times during the season. In Arizona, the Diamondbacks have made dogs welcome every Sunday in 2016. The Texas Rangers even combined a bobble head give-away, (for you traditionalists), followed by a post game concert by Cody Johnson. I don’t know who that is since my music knowledge ends at 1990, but I’ll assume he’s a Country & Western singer?

In May this year, the Phillies held their Bark At the Park Day for 300 of our Best Friends and their families. Dogs were encouraged to wear their Phillies gear for the chance to win the Becst In Show contest, and participate in the on-field parade prior to the game. The opportunity to be on a Major League Baseball field was a dream I was encouraged to give up when I was 12. Who would think a 13 inch Beagle would give me the best chance to ever “live that dream” imagesome 40+ years later? Of course, just like my inability to hit a curve ball, his love of a good cheesesteak would make it a challenge to get him by the concession stands in Ashburn Alley and make it on the field for the parade. I know, I know…the Phils are too smart to allow dogs in Ashburn Alley, they prefer them to be on the field. (You can interpret that last statement however you want.)

Bark At the Park Night also helped to raise money and awareness for PAWS (the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society) and ARF (Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation). Representatives from PAWS had some adoptable pets on-hand and fans were encouraged to bring much-needed items like food and cleaning supplies.

Maybe someday Bailey and me will make it to a Bark in the Park game because I can’t think of a better way to spend a day with a loyal best friend. 

Image

 

PA House Bill 1947…

…and the protests of the Catholic Church.

I never planned to use this blog site as a forum for a discussion on social or political issues. However, events in Harrisburg last week and at the church I attend have given me a reason to reconsider that plan.

The issue at hand is PA Houuse Bill 1947 which amends current child sex crime laws in the state. The bill was overwhelmingly passed (180-15) by the House in April and discussions in the Senate were held last week, much to the dismay of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

The Bill and my understanding of it:

House Bill 1947 would allow any survivor of child sexual abuse who has not yet reached age 50 to seek civil justice and file a lawsuit against perpetrators of sexual abuse and other responsible parties which permitted the abuse-i.e., a priest and a diocese or a teacher and a public school district. The current civil statute of limitations gives victims until only age 30 to bring a civil lawsuit.

House Bill 1947 would also eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes going forward, and would eliminate state law immunity for public schools which act in a negligent manner in permitting the sexual abuse of children.

To sum it up: Both Public and Private sectors would be liable both civilly and criminally for all sexual abuse crimes until the victim reaches the age of 50 once the bill is signed into law. But, only private sector institutions, such as the Catholic Church could be held retroactively, possibly allowing many out-of-date suits to now be filed and opening the Church up to additional financial liability. In addition, the threshold for suing public institutions are lower than those in the private sector due to the law of sovereign immunity.

Recently many churches in our Archdiocese read a letter from Archbishop Charles Chaput voicing the church’s objections to the bill from a political and financial viewpoint.

Before I start to comment on this, I’ll give you my personal disclaimer: I am not Catholic. My wife is however, and we’ve raised our kids as Catholic. I attend church almost every Sunday, however I chose not to convert to Catholocism for personal reasons.

I will include some excerpts from the letter if you haven’t seen it along with my thoughts on its content and what I feel is its meaning. I found the content of the letter to be an insult to my intelligence and obviously, extremely self-serving:

“A bill is currently pending in our state senate, HB 1947, that poses serious dangers for all of our local parishes and for the ministries, charities and schools of our archdiocesan Church.”

  • Is Archbishop Chaput telling us that due to the possibility of increased financial liability from victims of clergy abuse that church programs may be cut and churches or schools closed? And why if money is donated through the church to fund a specific charity, would that money go anywhere other than to that charity?

“…and especially to oppose any retroactivity provision in the civil statute of limitation covering sexual abuse.”

  • Eliminating the retroactivity portion of the bill would eliminate any currently out of date civil liability. The church would clearly benefit financially from maintaining the current statute of limitations. The Archbishop doesn’t even mention the criminal portion of the bill which tells me the objections are clearly driven by money.

“All of us are rightly angered by the crime of sexual abuse. Over the past decade the Church has worked very hard to support survivors in their healing, to protect our children and to root this crime out of Church life.”

  • The church has absolutely worked harder to make children safer. Parishioners who take part in ministries such as the CCD Program and other ministries are now screened more responsibly and must be certified that they have not been charged or convicted of this heinous crime. As for Priests or Deacons, I don’t know what the process is, I only hope it is enough to weed out any child predators.

“The problem with HB 1947 is its prejudicial content. It covers both public and religious institutions — but in drastically different and unjust ways. The bill fails to support all survivors of abuse equally, and it’s a clear attack on the Church, her parishes and her people.”

  • Simple question. Would the church be satisfied if the bill inPublic and government institutions are covered by the laws of Sovereign Immunity. It’s not a new concept and the church knows that. They choose to ignore it however in any discussions of the bill. Today, the general rule is that public institutions such as our state and federal government have immunity from actions that arise while carrying out their official government duties. Otherwise, most claims aren’t precluded by sovereign immunity. If I understand this, would child molestation be included in carrying out official government duties? Would the Vatican enjoy the laws of Foreign Sovereign Immunity? It does, and don’t think they won’t use it. HB1947 is not an attack on Catholic parishioners. Predator priests and the criminal actions of hiding them by church hierarchy are however.

“This is not just an archdiocesan problem. In other states where similar legislation passed, local parishes have been sued, resulting in parish and school closures and charity work being crippled.”

  • Is that because the courts have already ruled on the constitutionality of recent changes in other states? They did and it is. And again, the Archbishop uses the threat of school and parish closures as a result of this bill passing and not the abusive acts or mismanagement of the church. He doesn’t get it.

“Please act now to contact your senator, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and urge them to oppose HB 1947 and any effort to impose civil statute retroactivity.”

  • Again, only mention of the civil portion, or the financial liability of the bill, not the criminal portion. As I said earlier, I think this is just totally and wholly a money issue. In the past insurance companies may have paid for part of any past settlements, but there is a growing sentiment that these actions are deliberate and heinous and should not be covered under a church insurance policy. For once, I agree with the insurance industry.

This bill is a Pennsylvania House Bill, however similar bills have already been passed in other states including California, Minnesota, and Delaware. 

In an article written by The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, a Catholic advocacy group, and posted on their website:

“In Delaware, where a retroactive law was adopted, more than half of the individual parishes in the state were sued. One parish in Delaware was hit with a verdict of over $3 million. Very few could afford to go to court; none were able to defend themselves on their own. Financially, they had no choice but to join a group settlement without establishing the facts of individual cases. The Diocese of Wilmington had to close two struggling inner-city Catholic schools because diocesan funds were drained paying out settlements. The diocese had to lay off 10 percent of its workforce, and shut down or severely cut back on its Catholic Charities programs that help all people regardless of creed.”

Two immediate questions come to mind. Were the displaced students transported to a different parish school (on public school buses, which is what happened at our parish), and again, why would the Catholic Charities program be affected. Up to 65% of the money received by them comes from the federal government. Is PCC saying the money was used for paying lawsuits incurred by the church because of its predator priests? If so, the government needs to investigate its relationship with the church. In my opinion, that action borders on the criminal.

The sexual abuse of children in this country continues to be a hot button topic, unlikely to go away anytime soon. And it shouldn’t. The abusive actions and cover-ups at both Penn State University  and the Catholic Church should not be forgotten. No matter what your opinion of HB1947, take the time to understand the issues involved and the ramifications of any law changes that might take place in your state.

The opinions I have expressed are mine alone based on how I understand HB1947 and interpret the letter from Archbishop Chaput. Please feel free to comment, agree or disagree, on the contents of the bill and/or the letter.

 

The Origin of Mr.Unremarkable

Some days unremarkable is the best you get.

I was born they told me, in 1960, to the surprise of no one. There was no foretelling of the coming of a new force in the universe, up until that point the only superpower I displayed was the ability to Out-Swim all around me. Hardly the skill of someone of whom much was expected. It must have been a great accomplishment however, because I often heard my father mumble, “I can’t believe you were the one in a million.”

As the years went by, I developed the skill to Un-Inspire those around me, and to Annoy not just the females in my family, but those who were sent to teach me as well. As I grew into my teens, I thought I once developed the power of Invisibility since I was able to walk past most females without any sort of recognition I was there. I soon learned it wasn’t Invisibility, it was just another display of my skills to Un-Inspire and Annoy females.

The super power to Hide, and it’s sub-set of skills, Duck and Dodge, were developed in my early years. Household chores were beneath someone of my self-importance, how was I to develop all of my skills if I was running a vacuum or cleaning a closet? I soon mastered how to Duck and Dodge my father, especially on Saturday mornings when the grass needed to be cut. Unfortunately, my father had mastered the Power of Patience and he knew all he had to do was keep an eye on the kitchen and the refrigerator, I would show up soon enough.

My sisters were a key part in my development into someone Unremarkable. Not only had they worked on their development of the power to Annoy, but Irritate and Tease, were strong powers in their arsenal as well. And because they were older than I was, their powers were far better than any I possessed. Each and every day could have been a lesson in “Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut?”

After leaving behind my sub-par world of high school, I advanced into the world of blue collar labor. It was this world where I developed and drew on the superpower of Dumb As I Wanna Be. Now here, finally, was something I was good at. How could I have repressed this ability for so long? Combined with my ability to Hide, I was soon on nobody’s go-to list, and clearly Un-Inspiring everyone.

But then she came. She had the power of See Right Through Me. I had never encountered another female with a such strong ability. The short-lived and weak power of Dumb As I Wanna Be no longer served me. She learned the places I went to Hide, and soon Duck and Dodge also became just useless memories. She had the powers Smart and Inspired where I had only Annoying and Un-Inspired. She Inspired me to transform my super powers Annoying and Un-Inspired into Mostly Responsible and Somewhat Reliable. 

And after 28 years of marriage and facing The Trials and The Tribulations of raising two of our own one-in-a-million little swimmers, not to mention a Beagle possessing the superpowers of Always Loyal and Forever Hungry, we can’t wait for the day when they have their little swimmers, who we can teach the super power called Spoiled Rotten…

Some Super Hero stories have only a Mostly Responsible ending…

 Origin Story

That Guy Has No…

I always thought I knew-not everything-but more than enough to succeed. It started…as it always does, with a day busier than most days…

I needed to stay close to people who might need my so-called expertise. Since I arrived late today, I thought I would take a walk and let people know I was around.

“Come to me when you have questions. I’ll know how to answer”, I somewhat boasted. And more times than not, I did. But unlike other mornings, I thought I needed to announce this out loud to anyone who would listen.

This morning things seemed different. Instead of the pleasant “Good morning” reply I received most mornings, this morning I got head nods, awkward stares, and quiet whispers when I turned to leave. “They’re hiding something“, I said to only myself.

No matter how long it takes, I knew I would find the answer for all of this. And then all at once I felt it too. I suddenly became very uncomfortable “in my skin” as they say. “What the hell…”, I asked myself rhetorically. And it suddenly dawns on me, the “so-called expert” is naked. Not even a pair of socks for my suddenly cold feet.

But instead of hiding, I choose to walk among the people, cold feet and all, almost challenging anyone to call me on my level of self-preparedness on this day. But nobody does, and instead I walk around, hearing the whispers now, and seeing the shaking heads of condemnation. “What do they know?”, I reasoned. “I must be right, because who would ever doubt my level of expertise?”

And then, one of the few people, capable of making me look very un-expert-like appears, as if from nowhere…making me now feel… extremely uncomfortable. Fran, from Inventory Control. All I heard was…

Blah, blah, blah, you have no clothes on. Go get dressed, your embarrassing yourself!”

But nothing else mattered after “go get dressed”. Because now people-my people-were openly laughing at me, at my lack of self preparedness, and for some reason, the most important thing, my suddenly challenged, lack of expertise.

And then mercifully, my alarm goes off, and I wake up from my version of, “The Emperor  Has No Clothes” dream…

I still miss that job…

 Embarrassing

 

People Acting Douchey…

I was trying to come up with an adjective to describe some of the people and their behaviors we encounter each day. Here, presented absolutely tongue-in-cheek and in the Second Person viewpoint is my interpretation of people acting douchey…

 Most people who know me would say I’m more of a glass-half-empty person, a drain, not a fountain. I don’t always look on the bright side of life, and I won’t make lemonade out of lemons. Sometimes, I think we need to return-serve some of the lemons aimed our way every day.

Not surprisingly, the word douchey was one of the first words I came up with. Surprisingly, it is in the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary and is defined as obnoxiously annoying, offensive, or dislikable <a douchey guy> or <douchey behavior>. There are also some who when asked about me would tell you “takes one to know one.”

With all of that being said, “Let’s pull the pin on this grenade”

You’re stuck in slow traffic during your morning commute. You’ve been waiting in a long left-hand turn lane. Finally…it’s your turn. You slowly inch into the intersection, knowing the only chance you will get is when the opposing traffic stops. The light changes to yellow (okay, amber), the last car clears, it’s now or never, you start your turn…WAIT! The first shout-out goes to that guy who leaves you hanging in the middle of the intersection, as he, (could it have been a she?) blows through the intersection on a red light. In fact, not only did Mr. Red Light Runner leave you hanging, but he sped up to do it, while talking on his cell phone!” Well, isn’t that special?

“Let’s see if there is a pony under this pile of manure.”

After an irritating, thanks to Mr. Red Light Runner, but mostly uneventful drive, you arrive at your Wawa or some other convenience store of choice. You figure a quick top-off on the gas tank, buy some food for the rest of your commute, and you’re out of there, except every single gas aisle is full. So you choose an aisle and you wait. The customer at the pump decides it’s time to wash his windshield, and every other window on his car! And then you hear it, that click of the pump that says his tank is full. Yet, he continues to wash the most useless of windows, the rear passenger side window. Patience you say to yourself. And then Mr. Clean Windows out-douches even Mr. Red-Light Runner. After putting the pump back and replacing his gas cap…he smiles at you on his way into the store. Without moving his car. What a douchey thing to do!

“Let’s not try to run and tie our shoes at the same time.”

Clean Windows finally returns with a bag of groceries and a small bottle of water, waves, and gives you a warm, “Have a nice day!” Finally, after filling your tank, you move your car to a parking spot, and play the parking lot version of the game Frogger as you make your way into the Wawa or other convenience store of your choice, still seething over your run-ins with Mr. Clean Windows and Mr. Red Light Runner. You get your breakfast sandwich, or your 3 donuts for $2.00. You pour your large cup of 100% Columbian coffee, grab a handful of creamers and sugar packets, and race to get in a line 8 people deep. You’re patient, you bide your time making it all the way to third in line…they open up another register…and the employee announces, “I’ll take the next customer in line.”  You do the polite thing and offer it to the person in front of you, who looks at you…mockingly…knowing full well…you don’t stand a chance. You gather your purchases, sprint around the counter in what feels like near-world record time, only to find that customers who were at the end of your former line were able to out-race you to the head of your new line. You’ve gone from almost second in-line to dropping back once again to a disappointing 5th in-line. And Ms. Store Clerk, who called for you, the next person in-line, won’t even acknowledge your existence. Will the douchey behavior ever end?

“We’ve got ’em by the short and curlies.”

Still in line at the convenience store of your choice, you wait patiently as a good and loyal  customer and responsible member of the human race should. But then, a few places ahead of you in line, you see it. Two customers, getting chummy. No, not that kind of chummy. Take your minds out of the gutter, please? Did they come into the store together? You’re not sure, but your spidey-senses tell you, something stinks here. They weren’t always in-line together. Customer 2 just walked up and placed his stuff next to his friends, or as you would describe him to the police, his co-conspirator. Should you say something, do you make a stink about it, what are you going to do? You say nothing, you ASS-U-ME they will check out at the register as one customer. But then it happens. They split their purchases. Or, to put it bluntly, Customer 2 just slapped you in the back of your head on the way to cutting to the front of the line. Still making lemonade are we? Or is it almost time to start returning-serve on those lemons?

I don’t want to put a ceiling on your blue sky, but…”

You put in your 8 hours in the old salt mines, or the place where you also call work. Today you’ve decided it’s now time to finally get that helmet you call your hair, cut. You no longer go to the barber with the spinning barber pole outside, they’re all gone. Much to your dismay, you now have to go to one of those uni-sex hair cutting establishments. So you suck it up, and you usually try to get there right after work. Entering the shop, you look around, only one customer waiting staring stupidly at his cell phone, with 4 cutters working. You check-in, where they tell you your 5th in-line. “Say again, I’m what?” Four other customers checked in on-line, they’re just not here yet is the reason. Like everything else on this day, you decide to take your chances and wait it out, spending your time obsessing over Mr. Red Light Runner, Mr. Clean Windows, Ms. Store Clerk, and Checkout Line Co-Conspirators. And now, for some reason, Mr. Cell Phone, begins to annoy you as well.

“It’s a sh*t sandwich, but we all have to take a bite.”

  • Customer #1 arrives. Young male teen with what looks to be a case of permanent bed head. “I checked in on my cell phone.”, he thinks everyone wants to know. After several suggestions from his “stylist”, he decides he wants to look at a book they have of different haircuts. Really, with that hair?
  • Customer #2 arrives. Female, guessing mid-40’s. She would like her hair colored and styled like Lady Gaga had at this year’s Oscars. Since nobody knows what that looked like, three cheers for Bed-Head Teen  for taking the time to find a picture on instyle.com using his cell phone.

“It’s also how I checked in!”, he reminds everyone.

Barber #4 uses this opportunity to call it a day, exhausted from a long 4-hour shift.

  • Customers #3 & #4 arrive. Twin elementary school-aged girls you guess, with their mom who wants them to get their hair cut like Tinkerbell. They’re going to Disney for summer vacation. She just can’t decide which one, Tinkerbell from the cartoon Peter Pan or Tinkerbell Julia Roberts from the movie Hook. Again, another big smolie-olie to Bed-Head Teen for finding pictures of each on his cell phone.

…he’s been here almost 30 minutes and hasn’t had a single hair on his head cut.

Mr. Cell Phone who was waiting when you entered the shop is still engrossed in his phone. You decide you can’t take it any longer and leave in a douchey huff. As you exit the store you here Bed-Head Teen exclaim…

“Give me a High-Lo Fade and a Medium Pompadour!” 

…and you say to yourself, “how douchey.”

My Favorite Ballpark…

Being a life-long fan of baseball and the Phillies, Citizens Bank Park should be my favorite park, except…“Ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice.”

Connie Mack Stadium gets no vote here either. I went just once as a first year minor leaguer with my local Rec Council. Phils lost, kids stole the Cookie Rojas autographed program I had waited in line for him to sign. Older little leaguers I think. I promised myself if I ever pitched against any of them, they would get plunked. Depending of course on the game situation. I never did. Pitch that is.

My favorite stadium, the one with the greatest memories, and one sure not to get very many votes, was Veterans Memorial Stadium. I was in left field on April 10, 1971, the day the stadium opened. As an 11 year old baseball fan I was in amazement. I had been to Connie Mack Stadium in 1970, and it looked old. The Vet was a cement marvel of ramps and concourses with its bright new field of Astro-Turf and multiple levels of different colored seating used around the stadium. There was also a state of the art scoreboard (for 1971) that played funny cartoon videos. The Phillies even gave us 2 new “mascots”, Philadelphia Phil and Phillis, the colonial kids who along with the giant Liberty Bell were part of the Phillies new “home run spectacular” which went something like this…

When a Phillie would hit a home run, Phil would appear in center field and hit a baseball. It traveled toward the message board in right center and struck the Liberty Bell. The bell glowed and its crack lit up. The ball continued and hit little Phillis in the fanny and she fell down. As she fell, she pulled a lanyard on a cannon causing the cannon to explode. After some smoke and sound effects, a Colonial American flag dropped down. And, if that wasn’t enough, dancing waters would come to life to the tune of Stars and Stripes Forever.

As for the game, every Phillies fan can tell you that Boots Day made the first out (who doesn’t love a good Boots Day memory), Larry Bowa got the first hit and 3rd baseman Don Money the first home run in stadium history. More important, the Phils beat the Expos 4-1 and were in first place. And in an exciting pre-game stunt, catcher Mike Ryan caught the first ball after being dropped from a helicopter. The ball, not Mike Ryan. And the Phils were in first place…

I saw many games at the Vet over the years. In 1972 my dad took me to the Vet with the gang from Skippers Seafood Restaurant and Sports Bar when the Phils were the best team in baseball…but only on the days when Steve Carlton pitched. His 27 wins that season were almost half of the team’s total wins and made it easier for us to forget we gave up Rick Wise to get  him.

 In 1983, I went with some other inebriated friends to see the Phils finally beat the Dodgers and win the National League pennant. Gary Matthews hit a 3-run homer in the first inning that night giving the Phillies all the runs they would need to win the game. We almost missed it thanks to the time it took to ascend to our 700 level seats. Seats so high even a good Sherpa Guide would advise against going there. It didn’t matter that we were too high up to see anything, it was more about being there and taking in a moment that was a long time coming. The rest of the night was spent caught up in the post game drunken revelry of South Philly. I also had a ticket to Game 5 of the World Series against the Orioles. I was smart enough to scalp the ticket prior to the game. You didn’t have to be Joe Garagiola to know the Phils were done. Looking back on it though, I wish I would have gone to the game. I may never get a chance to go to a World Series game again.

In 1984 I sat with my girlfriend, now my wife, in the 700 level drinking melon balls from a thermos we brought in with us. That was back in the era of the Vet where you could bring in a thermos, you just had to promise there was no alcohol in whatever concoction you were smuggling into the park. And you could also bring in sandwiches as some thrifty fans on a budget did. How many cans of beer came into the park each night disguised as hoagies?

I saw the spectacular fast pitch softballer Eddie Feigner and his 4 man team, The King and his Court play an exhibition between games of a doubleheader. To be honest, he probably could have won with just himself and a catcher. Even against the home team.

And in 1993, baseball came full circle for me when I finally went to a game as a Dad. I took my daughter to a couple of games that season so she could see her favorite player…the Kruker. And the Phanatic. In ’93 the team also banned smoking from the seating areas and limited it to just the concourses. The Phillies had finally begun to remove Big Tobacco from the Vet.

The tradition of delivering the first ball led to one of  the great moments in Vet history as Kite Man crashed with his kite after falling from a ramp in the outfield seats prior to the opening day game of the 1972 season. In all fairness, he was a last minute replacement for the actual Kite Man, and after he crashed he did try to throw the ball, believing he could reach the pitchers mound. It ended up in the Phillies bullpen and the fan base booed him for his efforts. The Phillies continued the tradition of unsuccessful Kitemen until 1980 when a ball was finally delivered as planned. Oh, and in August of that year Karl Wallenda walked 640 feet across a tight-rope that was 168 feet above the concrete and plastic grass surface of the Vet. Without a net. He did take a break during the walk, to do a headstand over the second base cut-out. I’ll take this kind of world class entertainment over a CB Park bobble-head or bucket hat giveaway any day. I think most people would.

The Vet has been called a toilet, and in many unintended places such as the 700 Level and the bathroom sinks, it lived up to that billing. But for many of us Phillies fans, it was the proverbial toilet where we wallowed with our favorite baseball team from April to September. It was where we went on hot summer days for an over-priced, watered down, flat beer or soda, ball park hot dogs boiled in that gray-colored water in boxes and carried by vendors to all parts of the park, except the 700 Level. If you wanted food there, your best bet was to buy it on the way in and haul it up to your seat. No wonder they were always so pissed-off up there.

 And finally, the opening of the Vet in 1971 coincided with the first year of the greatest broadcast team we as fans had the pleasure of listening to, Harry and Whitey. Sadly all three are gone, but we will always have the memories.

“Hard to believe Harry.”

My Favorite Ballpark…