Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lions, Heroes, and soft-serve

It was a beautiful spring day today, so I opened all the windows and did a lot of much-needed housecleaning. I also meditated, ran down by the river, was actually present in the moment... well, most of the time... and, in the evening, went to another ballgame.

This time I got smart and sat on the first-base side, across from the chanting, singing, beating-those-dang-inflatable-plastic-sticks crowd. (However, at the last game, I salvaged two of the sticks that had been discarded... I gave one to Joanna and kept one, so as to be able to tap the little darlings gently on the noggin when they don't pay attention.) Apparently, when the visiting team doesn't fill the first-base side with their supporters, the knowledgeable baseball fans, the ones who actually want to pay attention to the game, sit there.

It was just lovely, in the low seventies Fahrenheit, with a light breeze, the moon overhead, and me on a peaceful high. On life, naturally. I was just calm, relaxed, happy. I strolled into the ballgame and sat down at the moment of the first pitch, and that fit how the day went, or how I felt all day, which I guess is the same thing. The game was a bust; the Lions ended up losing to the Heroes, 8-1, but that's okay.

It reminded me so much of August 26, 1965, sitting in the upper deck at Shea Stadium on my mom's 53rd birthday, watching 19-year-old Tug McGraw beat Sandy Koufax, as a light breeze wafted in from the bay and the moon hung overhead. It's funny how a ballgame and a breeze can instantly take you back 44 years. (It's also inconceivable that I'm older than my parents were then.)

Speaking of taking me back, on the way home I thought of a summer day in... 1960? Somewhere in there. Anyway, every day Dairy Dan the Ice Cream Man would pull up in his van with the little window, across the street from my house and I'd run over for a soft-serve cone. That day I bought the biggest swirly cone they had, took one lick, and dropped the cone in the gutter. I started to cry because I didn't have another 35 cents. Dairy Dan (or Dairy Bob, or Dairy Barry, whatever his name actually was) gave me another cone, even bigger, for free.

I know that it was nothing, it probably cost the company a dime, and the guy probably forgot about it by that night. But it meant a lot to me that day and I haven't forgotten. One minor act of benevolence to a little kid, almost fifty years ago, and it still lives on in my mind.

On the way home tonight, I stopped at the Lotteria burger joint, got a soft-serve cone, and said thank you to Dairy Dan, wherever he is.

It's amazing how kindness lingers.


Anonymous said...

Good posting Steve. Tug, Sandy, your parents and Shea are all gone but you can reassemble the whole scene between your ears. I've experienced simlar thoughts in certain locales. North Point Taughannock seems to have a hold on me for some reason. I can smell the firepits and the musty pavilion, feel the chill of the lake breeze even in July and skip the same stones I probably skipped 50 years ago that finally washed back up on shore. Good spot to spread my ashes.... Buff

Stephen J said...

Yo, Buff... did you get more profound in the last twenty-plus years, or did I just not notice you were deep because all we ever talked about was beer, baseball, and babes? (Actually, I never use the word "babes", but I can't resist alliteration.)

Taughannock does it for me, too. But then so do a lot of places.

Oh, and Sandy's fine. Great comment, though!

Anonymous said...

Apologies to Sandy K.... he's just been so quiet that I assume he was gone. I just checked his Wikipedia entry and he's been reclusive. As for my depth it has been mostly a product of years, some disappointment and some joy. I still enjoy beer, baseball and babe (note the singular). I'm watching the Mets/Phils game right now on a Friday night (Mets up 2 in the first) and I have a cold Labatts in hand. The babe is visiting family in Ohio. Same as it ever was (kinda).