In the April issue of Legacy Magazine, I presented some information about a new training we have been developing here in New England that will be offered to all the regions of MDI. The material trains dogs to sniff bullshit and become more intimately involved in our circles, saving us a lot of time getting down to the truth. However, as yet we have had no serious inquiries from elsewhere in our organization and I am wondering why not. I wonder if men questioned the veracity of my story, like maybe it’s bullshit about bullshit. Would I dare have made up something like that for this April Fools periodical? You’ll have to decide. Maybe, just maybe, it was just inconvenient.
I’ve been thinking a lot about inconvenience lately, as it happens.
As I wrote earlier in my journal:
“I’m supposed to go to Fenway today with John M,, and high temp for the day will be thirty three degrees with a fifty percent chance of some “wintry mix” (although it is now past the equinox and should be called spring mix, like you find in the produce section). We’re checking in at ten a.m. regarding the status. I’m guessing we will be meeting at the park because there’s no precipitation yet and they will want to get the game in if at all possible because tomorrow looks like a rainout for sure. I had been thinking it all through in bed, as the chance for more sleep slipped gradually away, and so I got up. Details occurred to me like how I’ll need a little cash for buying the scorecards and I hope there will be parking in one of the free spaces on Centre Street up in Brookline and what should I wear so I don’t get too hot walking to Kenmore Square but warm enough when seated in the park and will I even want a beer. But, yeah, it’s Fenway, by God, and I’m about to be twelve years old again, as I am a few times every summer. Maybe it’s like rereading The Wind in the Willows or Treasure Island as an adult. A children’s book only enjoyable by children is probably not a good story, as CS Lewis put it.”
I was noticing how I increasingly don’t want to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable, as I get older, by any hassles, like weather and figuring shit out logistically and driving in heavy traffic and being on phone calls late at night and having to make a writing deadline. I’m glad to notice that tendency and maybe nip it in the bud earlier. Makes me think of Steinbeck’s great section in Travels with Charley about his prep for leaving with his poodle and his truck named Rocinante.
The lecture (from his doctor) ends, “Slow down. You’re not as young as you once were.” And I had seen so many begin to pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood into a kind of spiritual and physical semi-invalidism. In this they are encouraged by wives and relatives, and it’s such a sweet trap. Who doesn’t like to be a center for concern? A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child. And I have searched myself for this possibility with a kind of horror. For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married a man; I saw no reason why she should inherit a baby.
I finally do leave the house, with fine sleet all around, and I have two bananas and a sandwich and some hot coffee in a to-go cup because my wife is who she is. Still couldn’t resist the urge to round up $21.46 to $21.50 at the gas tank. I hate errands like this when I have to do things before I really get underway like warm up the car and get gas and shit like that, because I’m already edgy about doing this inconvenient thing.
I decided on a T-shirt with a with a fairly thick sweater covered by a windbreaker then a vest along with a knit cap and some gloves I use for running. I’ll still be able to keep score with those, of course assuming we even have a game. These are some of the worst conditions in quite a long while for a game at Fenway. And we won’t really know maybe even until we get to the ballpark. It’s hard to tell. It’s going to be a cold sleety mess on the field, I suppose. We might even need to be prepared to wait around for awhile. Of course, if they get in five innings, it’s a complete game.
There is a soft tattoo on the windshield as I drive southward on 93 towards Boston. I switched over to WEEI (Boston Sports talk), after checking in with John, and hope to keep up to date on the status of the game today. How to dress for a game at Fenway in April, or really any time, reminds me of living in the Bay Area and going to the old Candlestick Park, and commonly reciting Twain’s idea that the coldest winter he ever spent was the summer he spent in San Francisco. It’s kind of an art form. There’s an old chestnut about how there’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s only bad clothing. I just took a sip from the Starbucks cup, the roadie that Karen made for me before I left. It’s always a balancing act, knowing I’d like more coffee but also knowing that I have an almost sixty five year old bladder that isn’t very patient, and that too is inconvenient. I also just signed up for Medicare. I have two hearing aids and a shoulder prosthesis and they are all inconvenient.
I’m glad I was there, in the same way I’m glad I get over myself and my whining and make it to a team meeting where I can circle up with my men and feel iron sharpen iron and stay up and hard and laugh my ass off and not retire from my manhood
There is something deep in here about adventure and being able to put up with discomfort and not rolling over just because you are getting older. Keeping that hard on out in the world, that spark, still throwing breaking balls if you’ve lost a few MPH off your fastball.
I was glad I got over my inertia and made it to Fenway.
I got to hang out with my friend and fellow team member, and we each had half a beer before we realized how fucking stupid it was when there was coffee and hot chocolate and clam chowder available. You know you just have to have that brew because you’re at The Cathedral of Baseball. We shivered together and listened to a male choir stir our hearts with an acapella national anthem and watched Carlos Arredondo (the “man in the hat” hero of the Boston Marathon bombings) throw out the first pitch and shared some tepid French fries in the vain hope of warming up and listened as every player on each team was announced as #42 because it is Jackie Robinson Day in every park in Major League Baseball. We watched a lot of first pitch swinging and saw a lot of balls die in the heavy air.
We laughed about all the lies we’ll be able to tell about this day and how it will be colder and windier and every time the tale is told. I’m glad I was there, in the same way I’m glad I get over myself and my whining and make it to a team meeting where I can circle up with my men and feel iron sharpen iron and stay up and hard and laugh my ass off and not retire from my manhood, as Steinbeck observed.
It’s a win to push through discomfort from time to time and to have men in your life to do it with.
Here’s a good spot to remember the line from Young Guns: “See, you get yourself three or four good pals; then you’ve got yourself a tribe. And there ain’t nothing stronger than that.”
So, see to it, my men. Don’t pack your lives in cotton wool.
And let me know when you want to bring our dog training to your region.
Read more published works from our resident Philosopher King Craig Jones at his writing blog ‘The Gratidude‘ here: notesfromthegratidude.com