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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!


#30. I got a surprise trip to Atlanta for my thirtieth birthday.

First of all, my wife is the coolest. I’m sorry if you think your spouse, or your kid, or your kindergarten teacher is the coolest, but I have to correct you now. Because my wife is the absolute coolest. That’s just the way it is. You’ll have to find some way to go on living. Sorry.

So, I don’t really make a big deal about birthdays. I’m not really comfortable with all the attention. I think. I’m sure it all hearkens back to some childhood trauma, but whatever it is, I’ve apparently repressed it. But I don’t really know what to do when people single me out for attention, or go out of their way to be especially nice, or — Horus help me — sing to me. I mean, I appreciate the sentiment; it just makes me a little itchy sometimes. I’m working on that.

But a spouse is a different animal altogether, then, isn’t it? (In a few of the places I’ve lived, that would be literally true. We don’t talk about that in mixed company.) Your wife or husband has to make a bit of a deal over your birthday, though, don’t they? A card and a hearty handshake at the very least. Or a cab ride, an airplane trip, and a secret weekend getaway. At the very most.

So, I should probably explain that I’m a huge baseball fan. Well, okay, I’m not huge, though I could stand to tighten up a bit in a few places. The point is that I really, really love baseball. Not quite as much as my wife — even though I’ve known baseball much longer — but still, there’s a lot of love there. I would probably take my wife and baseball and an unlimited supply of Victory Hop Devil IPA as my three ‘desert island’ things. Of course, that might cause some tension, as I’d be sitting around on the island drinking beer and watching baseball all the time. On the other hand, she doesn’t seem to mind it so much now, so it would probably work out. I’d just have to build the lean-to and hoard a few coconuts and weave some grass skirts first. Then I could sit down and really have a nice baseball-watching. That’ll be nice. I can’t wait.

Um… so, steering back in the general direction of the topic, I like baseball. A lot. I’m (slowly) trying to see a game in every park, even.

(So far, I’m up to five (two of which no longer exist), with an exhibition game and a stadium tour thrown in. So, I have five, with an asterisked sixth, out of the approximately forty possible parks (including now-defunct stadia) that have been available throughout my quest. I said I was trying, folks. I didn’t say that I’m trying very hard.)

So, anyway, big fan, love the game, catch the fever, you get the idea. And the Atlanta Braves are my favorite team. Which always elicits groans from other baseball fans:

The Braves?! Ugh. I hate the Braves. You must be one of those bandwagon-hopping fair-weather fans. Do you do that damned tomahawk chop thing? I hate that! I hate the Braves! I hate you people! Wah!

Okay, so most people are a tad more tactful than that. But just a tad. And I can see their point, frankly. The Braves have won eleven division titles in a row. They’re always in the playoffs. Many of their fans are extremely annoying. And I, too, think that the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ is usually a warning that there’s a pot-bellied, slope-browed, mouth-breathing goon on the other end of that oscillating arm. So, I feel people’s pain, I really do. More so, because I get lumped in with the morons and fair-weather half-assers out there who’re just picking a winning team.

But it’s not like that. Not for me. I’ll admit, I did jump on the Braves’ bandwagon. But I hopped on the back in 1982, when I was twelve years old. They’d been horrible before that, and were in the middle of a ‘worst to first’ season when I started watching. After that year, they were horrible again for just about an entire decade. But I didn’t care; I stuck with them.

See, as a baseball fan, especially one growing up three of more hours away from a baseball town, the Braves and TBS were a godsend. Instead of a game or two a week of the ‘local’ team (the Cincinnati Reds, if you’re keeping track of such things), and a randomly-selected ‘Game of the Week’ on Sunday afternoons, now I could watch baseball five, six, sometimes seven days a week! What could possibly be better for a kid just finishing up Little League, who’s developed a passion for the game? Well, okay, somebody could’ve made me a batboy… that would have been better. But they didn’t (the bastards!), so I watched TBS. It was all I had.

So, by the time I lived in a real-life ‘baseball town’ (Pittsburgh, if you’re still keeping score… don’t you have anything better to do?), I’d been a Braves fan for about ten years. So I wasn’t going to give them up then. I went to quite a few games, of course, and cheered for the hometown Pirates along with the rest of the city. Until they played the Braves, at which point I kept my mouth mainly shut, letting my shit-eating grin do all the talking when the good guys won a game.

And now, I do the same with the Boston Red Sox. I love the Sox; I really do. And they’re in the American League, while the Braves (and Pirates) are in the National League. So the Sox and Braves don’t play very often, and never when it really means much. And they never will, of course. The Braves always get to the playoffs, but in that whole long streak of success, they’ve only won one World Series. More recently, they get knocked out in the early rounds, and I think they have trouble determining how to win in the post-season. And the Red Sox… well, they’re cursed, now, aren’t they? They haven’t won a Fall Classic since 1918, and they’re not likely to do so until Georgie Steinbrenner takes his swagger and his cash and his Cuban cigars and hightails it out of New York. Which is never going to happen, of course. They’ll have to pry his cold, dead hands away from the helm of that organization, which means they’ll also have to lift his lifeless boot heel off the neck of the Red Sox. Until then, the Sox are playing for second place. Cash is king, I’m afraid, even in the greatest game on earth.

Well, shit. These are supposed to be short posts, and I haven’t really told you anything about my trip. Man, don’t get me started on baseball. Obviously. Well, let’s see — maybe I can summarize. You can pretty much see where this is going by now, anyway. On my thirtieth birthday, my wife hustled me into a cab, and wouldn’t tell me where we were going. The airport in Boston is a bit isolated, so I figured out late in the ride that we were driving there, but I had no idea where we were going until she marched us to the counter of a flight headed to Hotlanta. We had a fantastic weekend, and saw a game (Turner Field is a great stadium, by the way — I highly recommend it), and saw a few sights, and generally had a spectacular, romantic, together-y birthday. It was the bestest.

So. I suppose the only thing that I really wanted to say, or that you need to know about this whole ball of wax, is that my wife is the coolest. And I already told you that, way up at the beginning. So you really didn’t have to read this far, now did you? Poor thing.

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