Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ruins Of Rube Clemson (from Off Season For The Sleepless)

Let’s name our children after shortstops. They can have yellow hair if you want. Carefree attitudes? Sure. Why not? Let them eat bread and toast it too. A before must come first. You see, even though we are caught in these humble contradictions of gestation (infinite or not so infinite), you must admit that the difference between playing dead and arriving on time is not as subtle as you would think. So, let’s think in terms of patio furniture, or the possibility of a fireworks display. A few less items on the agenda would be suitable for the occasion. Find a new person to like. Let that person take the place of where all of your hungering was hanging out. If it is only a matter of moving from one thing to the next thing, well, then, so what? Sometimes second basemen have better mustaches than shortstops, like say Davey Lopes in comparison with Luis Aparacio. Not that the aptness of this suits people like us, but this is just something to say, like maybe other things one could say, like jersey or chert or batteries or shrift. Making sense isn’t always the most beneficial option. So the children could grow mustaches. It might be likely. If our children have to have names, well, then we are holding ourselves responsible for this naming, and shortstops aren’t as likely as second basemen to be alcoholics, but still, the mustache-thing might come into play. Let’s play it by ear. Boys or girls, or both. Whatever the lord decides to drop on us. I was born in a bar. You were born in a freight train’s caboose. We have names. Names are not obstacles. Names are reservations we make on other people’s lives. Let’s give a few out for a song. Let’s call ourselves Heracles and Luddy. Let’s move out to the country. We’ll live like paupers on crumb cakes and Old Gold cigarettes, and we’ll moonshine our own whisky. Get ourselves a few dogs and we’ll name them Paunch and Rump. Nothing sticks all the time like a name might stick sometimes if you let it. West is only one more direction to not go in. Let’s name our kids in the womb. Let’s make them real before they even know that they are. We can dream in unison, and maybe we’ll meet there—like on a log, in the water, artfully dodging things, in a game of Frogger. Second basemen are lost causes. Second basemen are the derelicts of the middle-infield milieu. I want to name a girl Pothole. I’d call her Pothole Polly. I want windy screams and silent thunder and breakfast served all night long. I want a kid with tattered clothes and a dirty face and scabby elbows and knees and a penchant for tree climbing. I mistake madness for generosity all the time. Let’s name the pigeons and the bees and the battered old men with no teeth who sit lonely by empty trays in lunchrooms of discontent. We should put training wheels on our fear. Maybe ride out to the ocean and just sit there watching all that water just being water. If we go with shortstops (which would be a good going if I were asked) then we could have a Rabbit (or a Maranville.) Maybe an Ozzie or a Tinker (but not a Chance) or a Sewell or a Peewee Reese or a Honus or an Arky or a Yount. Just something to boil your noodles in. In the meantime let’s just follow the bend in the sky, the cut of clouds, the crest of a sunset, the hamburger bun of tomorrow’s restless and always disappearing patty. Ploys are not enough. Let’s have us a whole mess of kids. Let’s litter the world with our progeny. Let’s go all in. Let’s fold. I’ve got a head full of movies, a pocketful of doing 99 years, a channel changer and a bucket of flowers filled with rainwater. Sleep will come. Sleep will heal. Sleep will remove and redo and put hinges on the doors of perception. If our children have children and they think about things like gusty and hassling and Paul Cézanne and amativeness and copper—well, then we have ourselves still. We have our names. We have shortstops who might not be so likely to have good mustaches. Children cannot be doctors, but they can be thieves. Let’s give our kids a handgrip of courage to hoist themselves up the tattered and wayward wall of life. There is a certain crimping that dawdles around—skirting if you will—the selvage of what we do with these lives we have, flanking our temerity while we exist inside these bodies that we lease with no option to buy. And then suddenly some guy pokes one up the middle, right through the wickets of the pitcher. Maybe it scrapes the mound, kicks up some dirt, and then comes shooting on through. Somebody’s going to dive. At least try to get some leather on it. And a hush will come, like 40,000 people holding their breath. Nobody will know what it means. Muddled are the ways of God. With the names of shortstops our children will make a name for themselves.