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Reprisal 07/31/08:

My grandson was born this morning. He weighed more than nine pounds and my daughter apparently took a slight beating as a result. I wouldn’t know about the extent of the beating, but it sounds painful. I know she got an epidural and found it to be a wonderful invention. I honestly wondered if this would make her more aware of what I have gone through. I really did, if just for a moment.

And I am still pondering the relationship I will have with this youngster.

I think I might be expected to teach him soccer fundamentals or some such, and perhaps some day I will want to do that. But not now. (And don’t get me wrong: my daughter has coached at some higher levels than I have, so he will do fine in that regard without me if that becomes the case, even if I AM a better coach than her and taught her all of the important things she knows about the game :)).

I fear that I may not be able to keep up with him, frankly, but more importantly, I have learned a lot over these last several years, and now recognize that there is a lot more in this life than soccer. Actually, I have always known that, but have not always practiced it to the best of my ability.

I would like to sit with him in a bar, I guess, when he is still very young, too small to really understand, and teach him how to shell peanuts to get to the good stuff, throwing the shells on the floor as expected in a bar of any decent reputation. Not in the middle of the boisterous night, but during the day, when the colorful people are there, the ones that have perhaps fought and maybe survived their own demons, are maybe still fighting them, but doing so with relish (and mustard).

I want to sit with him there and watch him toil with peanut shells while the jukebox plays HonkyTonk music and the characters with their almost invariable kindness and humor and generosity and wit come by the table to talk to him, as if he can understand them. Perhaps someday he will recall these one-sided conversations and understand them after all.

I want to talk to him about cowboys and desperadoes and heroes and villains and pirates, and let him know, before he can even understand, that you do not have to toe the line, that you can stretch boundaries, that you can seek your own place, your own comfort, your own paradise.

And when we leave the bar ( 🙂 ) I want to take him to a baseball game. I want him to sit with me with in the stands of a major league baseball game eating hot dogs and sucking down sodas and wondering what the he** we are doing there, but awed, just the same, by the crowd, by the noise, by the lovely expanse of green, by his grandpa’s keen excitement when the guys in THOSE shirts seem to do something great (the guys in the same shirt he happens to me wearing).

I want to play my guitar and play my harmonica and tape it, with him as my accompaniment, his fragile, earnest voice piping up at just the exact inappropriately perfect times, as his mother’s did once upon a time.

I want to have him help me in the yard, getting dirt on his hands, on his feet, on his face, in his mouth, and telling him he did a great job. I definitely want to encourage him to eat some dirt now and again, as the fancy strikes.

I would like to teach him how to ride Cody, my young golden retriever, while he is still young enough to do so, even though Cody is probably not up for this particular gig. I would like to teach him to fall and get back up, how to be way up there on top of the world, to fall, and to get back up and reach again. Also, just to torture this particular dog, of course, I would like for him to chew on Cody’s tail, eat Cody’s toys, hide them, take them home with him. Payback, Cody, as they say, is he**.

But I really want to take him to a bar and teach him how to get to the good parts of peanuts, throwing the shells on the floor. This has lasting repercussions for a couple of desperadoes waiting for a train.

And in the meantime, I guess we can sit together in my rocking chair, the one my recently departed father in law bought for me some time ago from a specialty shop, fully aware of my history of wearing out rocking chairs in as little as a year (this one now into its fifth or sixth year, either of which is a new record … despite Cody’s having gnawed on the back ends of the rockers themselves!), yes, together, in my rocking chair, he drinking whatever it is that pacifies him, and me doing the same (different bottles, different liquids, folks), and maybe watching some college football, dressed in our matching team colors.

That will work in the short run, as long as everybody knows that we are, really, two desperadoes waiting for a train.