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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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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!

Whatever You Do, Don’t Lick the Aluminum Bats

It’s not completely random. Just think of it as ‘topic kebabs’.

Well, softball starts up again today. And I know what you’re probably thinking —

Softball? Starting? Mid-September? In New England? Nuh-uh.

And to you, I emphatically retort: ‘Yuh-huh!

(See, ma, that year on the debate team in high school really did pay off!)

(Oh, and by the way, stop thinking in sentence fragments. You keep that up, your brain will freeze like that one day.)

Anyway, Team Guinness and I are embarking this afternoon on yet another quest for a title. This game begins the clinically accurate but frighteningly-named ‘Frostbite Season‘. And if you’ve had any late-fall experience in the Boston area, you’ll know just how apt the name is. A couple of years ago, we played a game in a snowstorm. If not for all the blood smeared on the ball from the cracked skin on our fingers, we’d have never been able to see it in the snow. So thank heaven for split cuticles, eh?

Many of our games are in barren, remote places way outside of Boston, too. Places even further north of the city, like Lexington and North Reading.

(No, no — not Reading, folks. You hit Reading, and then you keep going! Like two more whole miles, or something! It’s crazy!)

I’m just hoping that we don’t get into any ‘Donner party’ nonsense one of these Sundays, out in the wilderness like that. Of course — assuming I’m not the first course — that might not be all bad. Some of our players do look pretty tasty, I have to admit. I’ve been thinking about eating our catcher for a while now, actually.

We shouldn’t have any problems today, though. The game’s just a few blocks away from my house, and it’s still pretty summery around here. So it should be fun — other than the fact that we may only have four people showing up. See, the fall is actually worse than the summer, as far as people showing up for the games. You’d think we’d all be too scared or disgusted to travel far, what with all the New York yahoos stampeding up here to look at the autumn foliage.

(Which I simply don’t understand. People, they’re leaves. Lee-eaves. What’s the attraction? Sure, I can see that having brown, and red, and yellow instead of boring old green is an improvement, but just because something’s better doesn’t mean it’s particularly good. Look, ‘naked’ is generally ‘better’, but do you really want to see Kathy Bates in her birthday suit?

(Or, for the ladies in the audience, Brian Dennehy?)

No, not unless you have an icepick at the ready to gouge your eyes out. And you certainly wouldn’t travel hundreds of miles to ‘ooh‘ and ‘aah‘ over it. (‘Ewww‘ and ‘aaugh‘, maybe, but that’s different. Liver-spotted. Yellowed. Different.

Now, I’m not trying to compare our majestic northeastern forests to pudgy, aging film stars. But, well — I guess I just did, so I’m gonna go with it. Look, I wouldn’t drive several hours to spend a weekend gaping slack-jawed at these old Hollywood farts, nor any others I can think of.

(Okay, so maybe if Natalie Portman decides to display herself in the nude over a weekend on a bet or something, I’d schlep over to see that. But hey — she goes to Harvard, so I could probably walk there. The argument stands.)

So, I suppose I just don’t see the point when it comes to the leaves. Sure, they’re kind of pretty, but if you’ve seen one deciduous forest closing down shop for the year, you’ve seem ’em all, right? And even if you haven’t — how long can it possibly take to get the gist? Ten minutes? Twenty, if you’re a little slow? And that deserves a weekend trip? Nah.

No, I think the real reason these damned New Yorkers ooze their way up here every damned year is because they want to rub our noses in the fuckin’ Yankees, and the insurmountable lead they have every frickin’ September over our belov’d Red Sox. Yeah, you don’t see these bastards comin’ in the spring for the flowers. And they don’t drive up here for the snow in the winter, when the Celtics are kickin’ their Knicks’ ass up and down the hardwood. No. Just in the fall, for ‘the leaves’. Right. Yankee-lovin’ dickheads. Everything that’s wrong with the world is Yankees fans’ fault. You people know that, right?)

Anyway, what the hell was I talking about? Softball? I think I was bitching about getting enough people to play.

(I was bitching about something, anyway, and that seems like a good enough place to pick it back up.)

So, the fall is actually the toughest time to get people. There are still Red Sox games for people to go to, and late vacations, and our shortstop has Patriots season tickets. Other folks decide that it’s more fun to watch football and drink beer all day and night than to play softball and drink beer just all night.

(Which sounds so damned reasonable when I write it down like that. Hmmm, maybe they’ve got a point there.)

Plus, there’s apparently an awful lot of jiggy-gettin’-with around here at Christmastime, because it seems like every year, there’s a baby being dropped in September or October, which takes another player out of circulation for a few dozen years.

(Or at least until the spring… but honestly, none of the guys whose wives have had kids have ever come back. It’s like a giant black baby hole. Fear it!)

So it’s quite possible that we’ll end up ‘scrimmaging’ today, rather than playing a game that counts. I think we’ve got six or seven people confirmed, and another couple who might show. But we have to have nine to play, and we really should have ten or more, so I don’t have high hopes. I suppose the best thing that could happen is that we forfeit right away, pack up all our shit, and hit the bar. We’ll have lost a couple of hours of early-afternoon drinking, but we can make up for that. We’re Team Guinness, after all. Even with diminished numbers, we’ll put away our fair share. I just hope there aren’t any New Yorkers at our bar. If we forfeit our game, I am so not gonna be in the mood for those goddamned snooty Yankholes. Grrr.

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