Motivation for Recreation

     I currently work in technical support. It’s a decent job that has provided me with learning opportunities and new experiences. Having said that, like any other hard working, red blooded, dyed in the wool Southern American man; I support the old adage that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work. I take no shame in admitting that I work for the weekend (insert three cowbell notes here).

    Most weekends, I prefer to do nothing (and I don’t get around to that until about noonish). This past weekend, however, provided a rather unique opportunity for me. My wife and younger daughter were visiting family in Florida. This left my younger son and me with a unique chance for some one-on-one time. I had already purchased tickets for the home opener of the local minor league baseball team – the Rochester Redwings. I got home on Friday evening and was looking forward to a movie night with my son at home. I happened to read a post from a friend online. She posted that she had just finished watching “Rocky” and was getting ready to watch “Saturday Night Fever”. I admit, a Knuckle Dragging Protagonist Double Feature sounds pretty cool. You could even go for the trifecta and add “Terminator” to that lineup. Caleb and I had other plans in mind for our movie night. We burly he-men decided to watch “Wall-E”. After all, it had robots and gadgets in it. That makes it a guy movie (am I right, guys?).

    Day two of the weekend was the aforementioned baseball game. I have spent the most part of 22 years living in the Rochester, New York area. You’d think I’d be used to the colder weather and enjoy the two weeks of summer that start around July 4th. You’d have thought incorrectly. There had been rain in the forecast and it had rained the previous day. It was 41° outside when we arrived at Frontier Field. Forgive me, but there is just something wrong about such weather at a baseball game. Sadly, I have no control over the weather. Given that the game went on without a hitch, I am not about to complain to the One who does.

    Caleb and I hooted and hollered throughout the game. We feverishly shook the complimentary cowbells we were provided. Given the temperature, the shaking came pretty easily. We ate like kings. Caleb took on a ½ pound burger with fires and a drink big enough to revive a dehydrated bull. When my 16 year old finished his meal, he loudly proclaimed: “I AM A MAN!” It’s hard to argue with someone who took on a meal like that. It was 36° by the time we left (That’s Fahrenheit folks. New York isn’t on the metric system). The Red Wings pulled a sweet double play in the top of the 9th that made it worth every bone chilling minute.

    Day three was spent watching the tube and catching up on some housework. After all, there is nothing wrong with living like men. The house just can’t look like it when the wife gets back. Caleb and I then watched a show that may change my view about reality shows (probably not). “Billy the Exterminator” is about a deep Southern exterminator who can get rid of just about anything. If it has more than two legs (or no legs), and crawls, flies, or swims; Billy’s your guy. Billy wears a lot of leather and spikes that look like he didn’t quite get the gig with Judas Priest. The reason for this was quite evident when he was bitten by one of the creatures he was catching. Billy was unharmed. He worked on a catch and release policy. He capture (and released) a 5 foot alligator. He captured (and released) an armadillo. Much to my relief, when he came to a house infested with roaches, he eradicated them. I would have freaked if he found a way to release those vile creatures into the wild. Actually, Billy only did one thing I found questionable. He caught (and released) a beaver. The thing is; he took the beaver to a petting zoo. Pardon my ignorance; it just seems that an animal that can take down large trees with its teeth hardly encourages petting by human hands. I wouldn’t even pet it with a stick. I’d have a pencil in less than 10 seconds.

    Alas, my weekend is coming to a close and my wife and daughter are due back in 3 days. My son is on a break from school through the coming week. I, on the other hand will be back at work. Still, I will work through the week until I can hear those three cowbell notes once again. Thank you, Loverboy for giving me the motivation to get to my recreation.


Nice To Meet You, Warren

A lot of times, when I write, topics just fall into my lap like a spaghetti dinner on a white sport coat and a pink carnation (Forgive me, Mr. Robbins). Other times, it can be like typing the closed captions of a televised Bob Dylan speech — slow, unpleasant, and I usually wind up confused and frustrated. At times, when the latter is the case, I like to go somewhere public. I usually prefer to go the mall. There’s a simple reason for this. I tend to write about things that I find absurd or laughable. Simply put, people provide the best material and the mall provides a lot of people. Napoleon I once said: “There is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.” At the mall, I can find both of those elements.

It was a great day to go to the mall. It was an almost unseasonably warm early April day here in Rochester, New York. It was nearly 90 degrees and the sun was beautiful and bright. I was wearing this really cool t-shirt. My wife got me the shirt. It has guitars on it that are painted all different colors. It looks like the paint is dripping off the guitars. It’s a really cool shirt. It was a great day to drive anywhere. I was elated by the fact I actually has to turn on the air conditioner in the van. That’s right, folks; 255 air conditioning wasn’t going to cut it. [For the unlearned, that is 2 windows down while driving (at least) 55 miles per hour. I’d appreciate it if my Canadian friends can provide the metric counterpart]. I saw an open parking spot and eagerly headed toward it. Unfortunately, a compact car coming from the opposite direction beat me to it. I let out a barely audible sigh. I figured I’d find another spot soon enough. It turned out that the driver of the compact car had an open spot directly in ahead of the original spot (leaving said spot open for moi).

I stepped out of my van and could not help but be overcome (once again) by how beautiful the day was. Apparently, the driver of the compact car had the same feeling. He approached me and said: “Is this a beautiful day in Rochester or WHAT?” He was a bald African American man about my age and height. He was quite muscular. This fact allowed him to offer a very hearty and firm handshake. He then complimented me on my t-shirt (I TOLD you. It’s a COOL looking shirt). He then explained that he was a drummer and also enjoyed playing acoustic guitar. This proved something I have observed many times. There are three things that can cause an instant bond between two men that have never met: gadgets, outdoor grills, and a love of music.

We engaged in a great conversation about music. We talked about different artists in a variety of genres: jazz, blues, rock, hip-hop, reggae, country. We talked about the unplugged craze of the early 1990’s (one of the best things to happen to the music industry). We talked about some of the great musical acts of the 60’s and 70’s. We went on and on about the great riffs of Cream, Blood Sweat and Tears, and James Brown (and that beautiful ninth chord he used over and over again). We actually sang lines to each other from acts like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Grand Funk Railroad. People passing probably thought we were freaks (so you KNOW we were having a good time).

We then decided to walk into the mall as we continued our impromptu chat. He asked me if I still played. I explained that tendonitis had, unfortunately, rendered me very out of practice. I then explained that I primarily spent my free time writing for my blog. We could have gone on for quite a while longer. Instead, we mutually agreed to get on with our day. He extended his hand again and shook my hand firmly. “I’m Warren Elliot. It was really great talking to you, man.” “I’m Shane McAfee. The pleasure was mine.”

I retreated to the food court to try and focus on a writing topic. I then stared at the people riding along on the carousel. My mind went back to my conversation with Warren. I couldn’t get a Hollies tune out of my head. I STILL can’t get it out of my head.