2009.06.17 It's a sad situation

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It’s such a sad thing to realize at 10 p.m. on a Monday that I never got around to writing a By The Way column. So sad.

It was a very busy weekend and I was gone away much more than I was home. I meant to get to it Sunday afternoon, but that didn’t happen. Then it just slipped my mind during a busy Monday.

So I wrote one tonight and I was so thoroughly bored by it that I refuse to use it. The Deli just closed up, meaning that it’s now midnight and the situation is now even sadder.

I wandered to the back office and looked at the archive book from 20 years ago and saw a headline reading, “My pillow is ruined.”

Here are the details:

“Life just hasn’t been the same since Rosanna threw up on my pillow.

I don’t have much to back up that statement, other than a sore neck from the scrawny substitute headrest I’m using, but I thought it made an interesting opening.”

June 14, 1989, when there were kids throwing up in the house.

If it wasn’t throw-up, it was baseball cards. They were gaining importance in our house that summer.

“In my opinion, baseball cards are right up there with the other big addictions and vices in life, such as chewing tobacco and nose-picking. Once a kid gets that first taste, it’s all over.

I don’t know what came first—Ben’s discovery of baseball cards or his realization that he could make money helping me address papers on Tuesday nights. The two are very closely related. I remember the time I left him home to play baseball instead of telling him the papers were back from the printer. Boy, did I ever hear about that one. I had to run out and buy him a pack to get him off my case.

Besides the financial drain, I tire of Ben pouncing on any house guest who comes in: You want to see my baseball cards?

Before there’s time for an answer, the guest is involved in helping him arrange his collection in reverse alphabetical order, by position played and color of hat.

There’s only one thing that might save him from the evil of cards, and that’s fishing. He thinks a baseball card might make a heck of a muskie lure. That’s no worse than his famous zucchini lure of last summer.”

In the summer of 1989, Ben was six years old, Rosie was four and Maddie had reached six months. Column writing came easier. I could ask a question, wait for an answer and start writing.

“I popped the big question to Rosanna recently: What do you want to be when you grow up?

She had a ready answer: Go to the park all by myself.

It’s easy to see what’s important in her life. Ben had to think a while before coming up with fireman for an answer. Too bad he didn’t know me way back when I wanted to be a fire truck. We could have made a great team.

My wife says that when she grows up, she would like to be able to eat chocolate without having the caffeine affect a nursing baby. It’s easy to see what’s important in Colleen’s life, too.

For the baby herself, she’s reached that stage where everything goes into the mouth, from grass to rubber snakes and toy bats. And why not? She sits there watching us stuff things into our mouths at least three times a day. Looks like fun.”

And so it went in 1989. I noticed this morning we have three toothbrushes in the holder again. That’s because the baby, Maddie, was here for a brief visit before going away again as she often does these days.

She finished a class in northern Michigan and is now back in Ann Arbor for a summer job. I wasn’t involved in the move on Monday afternoon, but Colleen came back with a worrisome report about the messy house where Maddie is subletting a room. It sounds like typical student housing to me, but Colleen says it’s much worse. She hated to leave her daughter behind.

If I was writing this a day earlier, I could have given Maddie her turn and asked her what she wants to do when she grows up. Walk to the park? Eat chocolate?

There’s something even sadder than not having a column at midnight on Monday. It’s wandering to the back office at midnight and reading about how things were 20 years ago.

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