Al Batt: Why am I in here again?

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting 

 It was a significant victory. I went into a room and remembered why I’d gone there. 

 Why did you go there? 

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 Go where?

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Deep thoughts occur as I drive past his drive. The pounding sun had brought enough heat that my hat showed my sweat as I waited for a taxi. Inside the cab, my seatbelt refused to click. I tried again and again. No clicking. The driver spent little time sorting his words. According to him, the dispatcher gave him the worst fares (he probably classified me in that category) because she used to date his brother and their breakup wasn’t amicable. His story had been practiced. I looked out the window. We hadn’t gone far before I noticed repeated restaurant brand signs. Whoever made the city should have made it smaller.

He let me off outside my hotel. I tipped him enough that he was willing to continue the story of his brother and the dispatcher, but I exited quickly and left that threat dangling. At the hotel, a woman in a bridal gown belted out “Sweet Caroline” at a wedding reception. Maybe she was a Boston Red Sox fan, as good times never seem so good as when the Fenway Park sound system plays Neil Diamond’s recording of “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the 8th inning. Fans sing the “So good, so good, so good!” portion of the song with excessive enthusiasm. That tradition began when an employee in charge of ballpark music played “Sweet Caroline” because someone she knew had just had a baby named Caroline.

I found my room and crashed on a bed slightly too short for a long drink of water like me. I could hear, “Sweet Caroline. Bum, bum, bum. Good times never seemed so good.”

Meanwhile, at the post office

I was at the post office. A fellow I knew must not have picked up his mail for a few days. He was no longer nimble-fingered and dropped nearly all of it. He swore a bit. No, he swore a lot. A hush fell over the crowd. He’d picked up the habit of excessive cussing during his many years at a factory and he’d practiced it to imperfection. Maybe he wasn’t aware he was so loud. I made a note to look up some of the harsh words he’d used when I got home. He was particularly hard on the slippery magazines his wife had subscribed to. “It’s easier to carry &#%!@?! bullheads.” He threatened to deposit the glossy periodicals in the trash can, but he didn’t. I helped him pick up his mail. He thanked me. I said, “You’re welcome, pastor.”

He laughed his way out the door.

Remembering fondly

I walked around a couple of cemeteries telling the dearly departed that I love and miss them. Their lives went from seed to flower like a time-lapse video, but I hoped some died with a smile, like a cowboy dying with his boots on. My father died with a smile in a hospital, even though he’d wanted to die on the farm. His last words were, “Well, Robert.” Robert was his beloved brother who had died young from a ruptured appendix.

I wonder

If I tell a dog to sit, does it expect bad news?

Is a retired fly a flew?

If we’re not supposed to eat midnight snacks, why is there a light in the refrigerator?

Nature notes

House wrens nested in my mother’s clothespin bag and another nested in my blue jeans hanging on a clothesline. Simple joys weren’t denied as young wrens fledged in unrehearsed flights from both sites. One year, there was a crow that plucked off the clothespins. It did nothing more than drop them to the ground, caw several times and fly away.

I saw a red-winged blackbird on a street sign. I’d love to see one on a street sign reading “Broadway.” It’d be great to hear that bird singing on Broadway.

I watched a couple of mallards napping on a dock next to three plastic owls. A reader sent me a photo of a starling perched on the head of a plastic owl. The effectiveness of the plastic statues is limited because even the most skittish bird quickly finds them no threat.

The eastern chipmunk with his cheeks stuffed with food has a burrow that could reach 2 feet deep and 30 feet long.

Meeting adjourned

“Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”—Mother Teresa.