Saturday, August 25, 2007


In Sex And The City, it was was always Springtime in New York City. Except for a few episodes of the final season when it was Winter in Paris. And not that there's anything wrong with Springtime in New York City. But my pop cultural signifier came a few decades earlier: Andrew Holleran's Dancer From The Dance, which I read for the first time when I was about fifteen, and every summer after that through college at least. In Dancer From The Dance, it was always Summer in New York City.

So before I ever set foot on the north side of the Hudson, I only knew New York City in the Summer, and that's how I've loved the town.

Today, Saturday, August 24th, was a perfect Summer day in New York City.

And it was sweltering, with enough humidity to give that Walking Through Cream Of Asparagus Soup feeling I love so well. People were stripped down to the basics: just sandals, shorts, and tshirts. Faces have that sheen of sweat. And every other person you pass on the street has that dreamy expression on their faces like they just had really great sex. The heat makes you appreciate the little things. I used to love walking up Second Avenue going to work in the mornings through the East Village when all the folks who ran bodegas were hosing down the sidewalks in front of their stores, temporarily transforming the neighborhood into a cool dewy meadow. And of course, one of my favorites: emerging from some hyper-airconditioned space back onto the sultry streets. It's like opening the door of an oven. But most of all, I just love the feeling of Hot. And sweating makes it all the better. Love to sweat. Hot weather always gives me a yen for spicy asian food. I wonder if that great Malasian place on Allen Street off Canal is still around. It was like putting a hot coal on my tongue. Only in a good way.

'T'was softball brought me to New York City today. The Division Playoffs. This week, we played once again on Pier 40. Ah, Pier 40. An astroturf covered square the size of a city block surrounded by three stories of parking garage, ensuring that not a single breath of sweet breeze from the Hudson River disturbs the athletes who contend thereupon.

First, we took on the Diabolitos, a wonderful team. When the Diabolitos get their bats going, there's nothing to do. Some amazing hitters on that team. Pretty quick, they took a strong lead. We were down by seven runs. But then the tide turned when our secondbaseman came running in from second. But wait! A throw from the outfield to the catcher! Who made the catch! And tagged our guy out! Why did they end up in a huge manpile on home plate? Why that would be because the catcher was doing what catchers should never ever EVER do: block the plate. So when the dust cleared, the umpire called it Safe. From then on, we managed to bat our way out of the basement, and ended up winning the game 14-12.

Speaking of the umpires, or as we call them in Mondo Softball, "Blue," the game was officiated by a pair that... that just had me wondering how much money it would take to let me watch while the two of them went at it, no holds barred.

Oh yeah. The guy with the ink and the the arms like innertubes on his knees, while the big smiley family man feeds him the kielbasa till he chokes so bad his eyes tear up.

Oh. And they're great guys and their calls are usually spot on.

Our second game was against none other than the Bob Cats. Let's face it. They're good. They're really good. Early in the season, we beat them once. And that was one of their only losses this year.

We Ball Breakers convened for a pep talk: keep focus, stay with the game, no errors, and we can pull it off. Because they were seed higher than us in the season--as in, they're number one and we're number two--they got to be the home team, meaning they had last ups at bat. First inning, they got two runs. We managed to get four runs, taking the lead. And then, we managed to hold them scoreless, inning after inning. The Ball Breakers played amazing softball. Beautiful softball. Flawless softball.

Let me repeat: We. Held. The. Bobcats. Scoreless. For. Four. Innings.

Tragically, our bats were afflicted by the sounds of silence, too. So we got no insurance runs.

But there we are in the seventh inning, three outs away from defeating the Bob Cats. A pop fly bought us the first out. A force play got us the second out.

Omigosh... Could it really happen? Could we really beat the Bob Cats?

Uh... No.

That is to say, we could, but we didn't.

A good--not a great hit--went sailing out to center field. Make the catch, throw out the runner at second... But that didn't happen. Our centerfielder, who had been making beautiful catches all day long, didn't in this case. The ball careened off his glove instead of landing in it and headed further into the outfield, to where no one happened to be standing. First the tying run, then the go-ahead run crossed the plate.

The game was over. And for the Ball Breakers, the season was over.

We wuz robbed.

Not really. There was no shame at all for us.

As expected, the Bob Cats were all kinds of gloaty in victory.

But that meant that we could head back to our home bar, Ty's on Christopher Street, and start drinking. The Bob Cats had to now go on and play the Noreasters. We love the Noreasters. And not just because the husband of one of our team mates plays for the Noreasters. But we love the Noreasters about as much as we don't love the Bob Cats. The Noreasters took over our dugout, and we imparted to them some advice for their game against the Bob Cats: "Without grease."

Can't wait to hear how it turned out.

Even the straight guys on the team joined us at Ty's. And I was feeling all kind of something, so I decided that instead of my usual Red Bull, I'd treat myself to a drink, and ordered a Cosmo. Now, that vodka was the first thing to cross my lips all day long. And that would be all day spent in the hot sun. And my caring teammates decided that me drunk was something they had to see, so when I turned around for a second, my empty glass was replaced by a full one. And I was suddenly as drunk as I've been in a long, long time. To the best of my recollection, I didn't embarass myself. Although my recollection was somewhat impaired, no?

Pizza arrived at last, and I ate at last. Doing the best math I was capable of, I gave myself two hours for each cosmo before I started my drive home. Much of that was spent at Ty's, bidding a fond farewell to the 2007 season, but then, inevitably, I headed to Starbucks at 10th and Hudson.

I headed for home at 7:30 p.m., no longer inebriate, and very well caffeinated.

For possibly the last time this year, I headed over the Kosciusko Bridge, which, if you go fast enough, gives the illusion of soaring over the Port of Newark. Sky and terra firma became indistinguishable in the pale blue haze, dotted with pinpoints of mercury lights. Overhead, an almost but not quite full moon glowed orange through the curtain of the haze, sort of like the way they shot close-ups of Cybil Shepherd on Moonlighting all those years ago.

So that's it.

For the season, we came in second, so I should be getting a trophy at the awards banquet. ("It is great courage you give me little star, shining forth in a sunrise to which you lend no so small a part.") And for the playoffs, we came in third, after the Noreasters (Yay!) and the Bob Cats ( . . . ). We got the bronze.

And on Monday, a new chapter begins. And it's taking shape.

Last night, I sat down and figured out how much money I'll be bringing in from this part time deal at Home Depot. And it's not quite enough. I'll have to be working (Hard) Labor Ready jobs about three days a week to make ends meet. So that means that I'll be working six days a week, on the average.

Or not.

Y'see, I've got A Plan.

When I worked the second day for father and son team on Friday, at the end of the day, the father told me that he often needs another guy on jobs he works, and his son will be going back to school. And he said that he'd rather just take me on without going through (Hard) Labor Ready. At $13/hour. That's almost twice what I make from (Hard) Labor Ready.

And that got me thinking.

These (Hard) Labor Ready jobs will probably present many similar opportunities.


So here's what I'm gonna do.

I'm gonna make sure I show up at these jobs with my tools, all ready to go, smarter than the average bear. And I'm gonna see if I can afford to get some business cards made up, simply bearing my name and phone number, along with the following: "Nothing feels as good as a job well done."

And so the next time that my (Hard) Labor Ready job site supervisor complements me on a job well done (which has gone down on every (Hard) Labor Ready job I've done, I'll profer one of my cards and invite him to keep me in mind if he ever can use me again.

it may turn out to be a dead end, but maybe not. Maybe I'll not only manage to cut out the middleman, but also get work experience in a variety of trades. If it works, and if I work it, I could become an all-rounder.

Oh And another idea I had. My birthday is rolling around in October. And this coincides with the start of AutoCAD classes at Bucks County Community College. So towards the end of September, I'm gonna sit my father down, look him in the eye, and say, "So. I guess you're wondering what to get me for my birthday." And thn I'll explain to my father the wonders of AutoCAD.


Time for bed.

Church tomorrow.

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