It’s uncomfortable to think about one’s own mortality. However, there are moments in our lives when the subject is unavoidable. I had one of those moments last weekend at Silver Dollar City, in Branson, Missouri.
No, the “moment” didn’t happen on the death spiral of a roller-coaster, nor did it come by way of heat exhaustion from the blazing temperatures. This life-shaking moment came as I stepped off a main pedestrian thoroughfare to consult a map of the theme park. A terse voice surprised me, “What … are you looking for?”
I looked up to see a neatly dressed undertaker, complete with measuring rod and top hat. He was eyeing me intently.
Slightly startled by this “character,” I tried to collect my thoughts. I looked around for Angie, who I noticed was keeping a healthy distance from us. I stammered a bit, but finally managed a, “I might have forgotten where I was going.” Without missing a beat the perfectly serious undertaker quipped, “I wonder why?”
Another glance over at Angie, and she was clearly a couple of steps further away than last time. I was going to have to handle this on my own.
Ah, yes! The glassblower! I remembered we were going to see the glassblower. I proudly shook off my “flusteration,” and told the undertaker, “We are looking for the Glassblower.”
“Now listen carefully,” he said in a hushed tone after leaning in toward me. “Go down this street. Take the first major right. Follow it. At the end of that street, you will find the glassblower.”
Finally regaining my composure, I thanked the undertaker for his help. He reached into his coat pocket and withdrew a small piece of paper. “Here’s my card… in case you need my services… at a later date….” After a quick nod at both myself and Angie, he turned and walked away.
He’s right – I will need his services at a later date, but today I simply enjoyed the moment.
CALLAWAY CO., MO, – Against tough opposition and seemingly unending waves of corn, we came out victorious against this year’s Shryocks Callaway Farms Corn Maze, shattering our personal record in the process. Our completion time of one hour and twelve minutes marks the first time we’ve completed the maze in under two hours.
Our plan of attack this year was simple. We allowed each team-members’ strengths to shine: her, with her intuitive nature and tendency to pick up on non-maze specific details like, “There’s a lot of talking coming from that direction…I’ll bet there’s a checkpoint there.” Me with my methodical mapping of every corn corridor we traversed. We kept our focus, stuck to our game plan, and immensely enjoyed the afternoon together until we reached all the checkpoints. Then we picked out a pumpkin together and basked in our accomplishment into the evening. Together, the totality of our victory exceeded the sum of our individual contributions.
Growing up watching baseball games with my dad was fantastic fun. I knew all the players well then; I collected their cards. We groaned at all the mistakes they made on the field, cheered at all their successes, and chewed over ideas on what they needed to do to go all the way.
Those rare occasions when we actually got to go to the ballpark to watch a game together were among the absolute greatest memories I have as a child. Even in the inexpensive seats, there is an excitement that just doesn’t translate to TV. The cheers, the smell of the food, the fabulous fountains and scoreboard – very few experiences can compare. Transistor radio in my ear, I was an expert with inside knowledge of the game that I periodically shared with my dad. Of course, he would tell me something every bit as profound and relevant, without the radio in his ear.
Everything I’ve done with baseball, from my card collection as a child to my sim league team that I still manage today, is a direct result of this shared enjoyment of a father and son.
Now, of course, I’m married and I’m taking my wife to a Sunday afternoon game. As is often is the case, she’s being quite troublesome. First of all, she’s wearing the colors of our rival team. And she’s cheering them on. At least there are no boos. I hate boos – on both sides.
But after that jarring beginning, we settle into a kind of groove. We savor some nachos, and some chips, fried on the spot, with bleu cheese, bacon, and I’m not sure what else. Delicious! We watch the game. We talk about the plays. We are surprised by the number of foul balls that sail into the stands close to us. We smile at the new and improved scoreboard as it does amazing things. We appreciate nice weather and the cool afternoon breeze blowing in our face. We have a ball together!
We took some pictures, panoramas of the new stadium renovations, the new plaza areas in the outfield (that we explored until they kicked us out), and pictures of the statues of the players my dad and I used to watch play,
I can’t wait to show the pictures to Dad and tell him all about the game!
Many, many books have been written about the significance of Charles Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts. These books can never accomplish the goal they strive for, because art, by its very nature, is experienced by individuals who bring their own unique experiences to the table. I can’t even sum up what the strip means to just me, so let me just say that the first thing I remember reading regularly was Peanuts in the Sunday comics of the Kansas City Star. I was enjoying the strip before Kindergarten at least, because it’s well-documented by family members that I based several school projects at that time on the strip.
I credit the strip not just for encouraging me to read, but for giving me an appreciation of the sublime sense of humor that showed up on our doorstep every Sunday. As I read the collected comic strips in book form now, I can begin to appreciate the layers and depth that Schultz wove into his comic. It’s funny and witty on multiple levels.
Today is the tenth anniversary of Charles Schulz’s passing, and I wanted to share with you a layer I never really fully appreciated in his work. I found this fascinating exhibit called Schulz’s Beethoven that I want to share. It’s on the American Beethoven Society’s website. Enjoy!
We went earlier in the year, but later in the day to the corn maze this year. In fact, we finished it in the dark! Angie wanted to leave the maze and get a flashlight, but I convinced her to press on and we found the last two checkpoints in quick succession.
Here, Angie is faced with the first of many decisions we would have to make that day.
After jotting down some notes in Angie’s file, after recommending she drink lots of Gatorade (for the electrolytes), after she explained about how sick she’s been after last week’s recess duty in close to one hundred degree weather on a shadeless blacktop playground … after all that, our doctor looked at us and smiled. “My wife and I just saw a movie I think you two would really like. It’s called The Proposal.”
I’d seen the trailers before. Kind of a “chick flick,” I had thought at the time. Not that I was being dismissive; there are many “chick flicks” I have enjoyed watching. Fifty First Dates was good fun. The Legally Blonde movies were entertaining as they gleefully poked fun at the legal profession. Come to think of it, when I used the word “chick flick,” I really meant “date movie.” A “chick flick” is something you’d see on the Lifetime network or Oxygen. Date movie is a much better description of what I’m talking about, and is more inclusive of great comedy-action movies like The Princess Bride and The Incredibles. (more…)