Got a bottle of Shiner on my right, music I can believe in playing and the echoes of a little girl at Target telling her brother that girls have crotches and boys have balls.
I give a quick smile and move swiftly pass the young mom not quite catching her response to her daughter momentarily wondering if she is correcting her daughter or agreeing.
Been a thousand years since my own children were that young but I remember.
Ten minutes from now I’ll be seated in my car on a work call calculating how long it will take from this joint on Glade to the middle of Dallas and whether it is worth trying to make the run.
I opt not to go today because this parking lot at the Target off Glade seems to be as good a place to make phone calls as any but wish there was more shade because even with the air on I am baking.
Got thoughts and ideas floating through my head and echoes of the past floating into the present.
Chaos has been unleashed upon the world and I am planting my feet and considering options, not going to make rash decisions and mildly disappointed to realize how feel people I really speak with.
I make a quick list in my head of who I can rely upon and follow up with a silent question, should I trust you?
I keep getting pinged with notifications about a post I placed upon Facebook but I haven’t taken the time to look at what is being said.
Can’t say whether some, most or all are for or against me and I don’t care.
A thousand years ago in the days of Tim, Norb and Willie I took on all comers and gained a companion spirit who joined in the fight.
You could ask if it was life changing or if I would have kept fighting without encouragement and I would smile and say all things are possible.
I told Brother Pablo about it and said how much certainty and confusion lay in life at that time and he laughed.
“You were barely a father at that point, barely into what makes you a real adult so only a fool would think of themselves as knowing everything then.”
I tip my Shiner back, take a long swig and smile.
“Pablo, have you seen how big the moon is now. It is the source 0f the hope and the craziness is it not.”
We sit in silence and I tell him how funny it is to feel some of these changes.
“Mentally and emotionally I am 150 percent stronger, but physically I feel the years and sometimes that translates into mental fatigue. Sometimes I think it is easier to stick with what I know, but most of the time I don’t let that stop me.”
Brother Pablo toasts me and asks if I know what one kiss can do.
“Keep your tongue out of my mouth Pablo.”
We both laugh and stare up at the moon.
“Some people suit you better than others. Sometimes you tell them to be good or they say the same to you and you smile because you have to live your life.”
“Joshua, one day my friend you will tell me your story, right?”
“Should I trust you?”
I Don’t Need To Be Your Hero
Go back 44 years and dad and I are at the park and he is telling me how to stop a baseball with my chest.
I don’t want to let it hit me because I am afraid it will hurt but he is pushing me to just do it.
“It won’t sting for very long and if you practice you’ll learn how to avoid getting hit like that.”
We’ll go back and forth about this and similar things for what feels like years but eventually I’ll realize the truth of what he tried to teach me and integrate it into life.
The guys at the gym who are far better athletes and basketball players than I am will start to ask me to play with them because I grind it out. I throw my body into the game with reckless abandon and will run through players, jump over chairs and dive on the floor chasing the ball.
“Why do you keep trying to be the hero?”
It is not really a question, it is an insult that slimes its way off the lips of a sneering jerk.
“I don’t need to be your hero and I am not trying to.”
“You’re full of shit. Nobody plays that hard unless they are trying to show off.”
“Yeah, you caught me. I am trying to embarrass you because you’re fat lazy fuck who annoys me.”
His eyes bug out and for a moment I can see him wrestle with how to respond.
Truth is I didn’t know I was going to say it until I did, so while he processes I lean in further.
“You’re a better player than I am. Got more ability and talent, but no heart and you’re a whiner. So play or shut the fuck up because none of us are afraid of you.”
He steps forward and I step into his space well aware that I am daring him to take a swing. He has size on me and is big enough that I know this could be a mistake.
Two guys step between us and nothing more happens. Later on in the steam room one of the guys tells me I am crazy and that my willingness to throw my body after the ball is why he backed off.
“You’re not afraid to get hit, that is clear.”
I don’t tell him how wrong he is and that I hate getting hit. It hurts and you never know for certain what can happen.
I am old enough to recognize how lucky I have been.
It is relatively quiet in the house in part because I am in my own electronic bubble but also because the teens are doing their own thing.
Occasionally the boy who is now a hair short of looking me in the eye comes through the kitchen to feed the beast in his belly and I stop to marvel at how much he has grown.
Without the baby face you would see a man and he still hasn’t finished growing or filling out. I see significant changes and sense there he is damn close to taking a giant leap forward.
Friends and family ask about current and future plans, some wondering if I have considered moving elsewhere and others asking what I think will happen in the coming election.
I tell one that we ought to take advantage of our Saturday nights as we once did and he tells me that I ought to be more concerned.
“Who says I am not and who says now is any worse than other times?”
“You have to be naive to say such a thing. It is horrible!”
I nod my head and say it feels like it but ask what the Depression and WWII were like.
He tells me not to change the subject and I explain I am not doing so. I am trying to establish a benchmark to measure things against.
“I am planting my feet and letting the balls I can’t catch bounce off of my chest.”
He tells me he wishes things weren’t like this now and I say Frodo said the same thing.
We got back and forth some more and I know he is unsatisfied with my response. Part of me doesn’t care because I don’t wear a sweater because others are cold.
Part of me feels badly because I would like to help, but I don’t know what to say that will ease general anxiety.
I have my own set and have my own panaceas.
So I plant my feet, consider where things are at and ask questions like should I trust you.
A voice in my head provides an answer and that is enough for now because it has to be.