SHOW ME THE MONEY! – Garry Armstrong

I’m just back from running an errand. I had the car radio on the local sports radio station, the flagship station for the Boston Red Sox radio network. The regular season starts next week and I’m excited as you would expect of a guy who’s grown up with baseball as a passion.

From my youth in the ’40s and ’50s, following the fortunes of Brooklyn’s Boys of Summer to the early ’60s, tracking the daily misfortunes of Casey’s Amazin’ Mets to the present, hyperventilating over the sons of Teddy Ballgame playing at Fenway Park, the so-called cathedral of baseball.

This is the time of year when we scour pre-season predictions of all the major league teams. We look at stats and projections for all the players.

Politics and other breaking news is set aside to focus on how OUR team will fare. During ancient times, preceding 24/7 online coverage, we studied the magazines that featured baseball experts, looking through their crystal balls, telling us who would be good and who would be lousy. I spent more time on these magazines than on my homework.

Hell, baseball was more important than history, science, geography, math, and science combined.

Cuba Gooding: “Show me the money!”

Ironically, decades later, I’d use my weak math skills to understand crucial baseball stuff, namely contracts. Contracts garner today’s headlines because of the money shelled out to today’s biggest baseball stars.

As I write, Mike Trout is at the top of the world, Ma, agreeing to a multi-year 400-million-dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels. I wonder if Gene Autry, the original Angels owner, is scratching his head at the big Melody Ranch In The Sky.

Trout’s record-shattering contract tops last week’s record-shattering deal by Bryce Harper with the Philadelphia Phillies. Harper’s “It’s not about the money — I love baseball” proclamation covers the multi-year 300 million dollar bonanza for the former Washington Nats star.

Sports media yakkers and writers have been foaming at their collective mouths over Red Sox star and last year’s A.L MVP, Mookie Betts who stands to be new man atop the world when he hits Free Agency in 2 years. Mookie is staying mum, saying “he just wants to play baseball.” Right.

So, I’m listening to talk radio, expecting a little yak about the dough, then moving onto assessing the upcoming season.

Red Sox Nation wonders about last year’s astounding 119 wins –including regular and postseason momentum, including the World Series championship. That was a once-in-a-generation season. Hard to top. I and many other fans are already worried.

We don’t have a decent bullpen, let alone a postseason-caliber roster of relievers. We bid adieu to ace closer Craig Kimbrel who wanted BIG money as one of baseball’s top closers.  We also bid “vaya con dios” to Joe Kelly, the master curve ball artist who presumably could’ve replaced Kimbrel. Kelly went west for big money with the Dodgers.

I’m listening to the radio gas baggers, waiting for some chat about the Red Sox plans for the bullpen, not to mention how the rest of the team looks. They’ve looked pretty bad in Spring Training even though we know Grapefruit League games don’t matter. They are exercises intended to get the team ready for the regular season. Still, you’d like to see the pitchers evolve from rusty to sharp. You’d like them to at least look ready for the real games coming up in just a few weeks, wouldn’t you?

Bosox pitchers have looked like hamburger helpers in the Grapefruit League. The rest of the team looks very iffy, save a few hitters who’ve been slugging like they’re hitting grapefruit instead of horsehide.

The pennant at Fenway

The Talkers also slide over to politics and whether the Sox should pay the traditional championship visit to the White House this year. A number of players have made it clear Donzo is not their kind of guy and have sent regrets to the Oval Office.

I timed half an hour of money talk — and Donzo’s affability — by the yakkers, and callers who seemed to be off their meds.

This isn’t “Field of Dreams” stuff. It’s an offshoot of Cuba Gooding’s famous line in “Jerry McGuire.” We laughed long and loud when Gooding’s baseball player screamed at Tom Cruise’s agent, “Show me the money!”

We’re not laughing now.

ZIPPITTY DOO DAH – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday – ZIP


Garry has a sweatshirt from the 2013 World Series Red Sox victory. It zips up the front.  Last week, it stopped zipping.

I got it to work again, but I think it is on its final legs as a viable zipper. I suggested to Garry that maybe he should wear it open and not zip it. Meanwhile, I improved his mental position in this world by getting him a new 2018 Red Sox World Series Champion sweatshirt — which doesn’t even have a zipper. It’s a pullover.

The good news? The zipper will never wear out.

The bad news? He wears hearing apparatus and eyeglass and he has to remove everything before he puts on the sweatshirt. It looks really good on him and I’d show you a picture, but I forgot to take one. Next time, okay?

Zippers are great until they aren’t and the price you get charged for replacing a zipper often exceeds the price of the clothing in which you are replacing it.

They should use better zippers. Or reinvent zippers so they last longer and zip more smoothly. I mean, really, they are upgrading EVERYTHING else, whether we like it or not. How about fixing zippers?

Also, maybe pave the roads?

SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

From Melanie, these are the second set of her questions. I feel like I should copy Fandango’s answers because basically, they are my answers. However, I’ll try to say something original.

Original. Hmm.

Okay, at least not exactly the same.

This Week’s Questions:

Are you a better listener or speaker?

I am probably a better speaker, but I listen. And I hear not only what someone says to me, but what they didn’t say.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Chatting about flowers

You might say I hear between the lines.

If you were asked to design a warning label that would be tattooed on your skin, what would it say? 

I have a tattoo. It’s a Phoenix. I got it after I survived my third near-death experience.

I didn’t know I had a couple more to come. I actually (haha) thought I was done.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about writing. Blogging is what I’m doing this time, but I have always written, professionally and just because. Even when I was earning my living as a technical writer, I also wrote funny stuff and free-lance news pieces … and some really good letters.

You could say I’m also passionate about taking pictures, but that has more of a hobby/enthusiast status.

Really, though I am most passionate about learning. I’m a born-again researcher. I will track an idea as far as I can until I’m satisfied that I’ve learned either 1) everything I want to know about it, or 2) I’ve learned everything there is to know about it. For now.

Whatever “it” might be. I do not understand people who lack the curiosity to discover what is going on in the world.

I suppose one of the things that upset me about younger gens is their lack of interest in concepts and ideas. Philosophy. Their minds do not seem to wander into strange and wondrous places. I hope there are some —  hopefully many — who do wander because they will save us all

If you could change one thing about your world, what would it be?

No Trump presidency.

What gave you a reason to smile this past week?   

I think the Red Sox have the Eastern Division in the bag. It doesn’t mean we will win the post-season games. Post-season is another season, but at least it means we’ll get to the post-season.

When life otherwise sucks, there are sports.

A SPIRAL OF CHANGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Ragtime Daily Prompt #67 – SPIRAL


Last night, I found myself staying up very late — much too late — to watch the end of the final game in the Yankees-Red Sox 4-game matchup. Garry had gone to bed.

When he went to bed, the Yankees were winning 4 – 1 and it looked like they were going to win at least that final game in the series. I wasn’t so sure. I figured I would get to the bedroom and Garry would be watching it.

Wrong. He was sound asleep.

What happened to us? He’s asleep … and I’m up way later than I should have been watching baseball? When did we switch roles?

The Sox and the Yankees are one of those classic sports rivalries that always brings out the crowds. This year, our Red Sox are playing brilliantly which no one expected, least of all, us. They just keep winning.

Andrew Benintendi after hitting the winning single for the Red Sox at Fenway Park early Monday. Credit Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

When Garry went to bed after the end of the 7th inning. For you non-baseball types, a standard game is nine innings and typically lasts three to four hours. Since games can’t end in a tie, occasionally, they go on a lot longer by which time the stadium is empty and the announcers are asleep.

A 1908 recording of “Take me out to the ball game” just to get your spirits up!

In the bottom of the ninth — final inning — the Sox knocked in three runs and the score was tied. The game went to the 10th inning, overtime.

We won. I actually had to wake Garry up and tell him “We won.”

“We won?” he mumbled.

“Bottom of the ninth, the Sox knocked in three runs and then one more in the tenth.”

“Damn,” he said and went back to sleep.

Is this a spiral of change? Or a full reverse?

WHO’S GOT THE BIGGEST EGO? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Ego

“MAGA, MAGA, MAGA” screamed the audience.

“Whatever happened to ‘God bless America’ and ‘Land of the Free?’ ” I commented.

Garry changed the channel. The whole thing was making him feel ill. It’s why we watch baseball. Game after game.

Lucky for us, the Red Sox are doing unbelievably well. Hard to believe our ragtag team is now 8-1/2 games ahead of the almighty Yankees, especially since they’ve assembled a team that would have seemed impossible to beat.

But sometimes, luck turns your way. Our pitchers are out-pitching themselves. Our hitters are whacking the ball out of the park. Moreover, they are doing it day-after-day.

Red Sox final score yesterday against Yankees

They did an interview with J.D. Martinez, a new guy this year. He is doing better than he has ever done before. In fact, everyone is doing better than they ever did before. We weren’t expecting this.

Alex Rodriguez commented that the Red Sox sluggers — Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez — are better than Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. I’m not sure that’s really true. I think that the Yankees haven’t quite gotten it together as a team, yet. About half the Red Sox are new to the team, but pretty much all the Yankees are new and a whole bunch of them are rookies. They are good. Very good. But they are also young and inexperienced an I suspect it will take them time to pull their act together.

That’s why a careful lack of bloated ego in the Sox’ bullpen is a wise choice. The season is half over with more than 50 games remaining to be played. We’ve all watched our Red Sox flounder through August and collapse in September. We don’t want to jinx them so we are cautious, careful, and judicious when we talk about them, though Garry watched not only the entire game on Fox, and then re-watched it (reruns have their place, even in sports) on MLB.com just to hear the Yankee crew eat crow.

It’s nice to win, but that big ole’ fat lady has yet to sing. Until those note come forth, we need to be careful. Bloated egos are bad for team spirit.

Somebody should tell El Presidente that huge egos can more easily pull a team down than help it move up. He should find some humility. Put his head down and shut his fat trap. I’m not sure he has fifty more games to play.

ME AND “THE NATURAL” (1984) – GARRY ARMSTRONG

“God, I LOVE baseball.”

It’s a line that comes up near the end of Robert Redford’s 1984 film, “The Natural.” Redford’s “Roy Hobbs” character is reflecting on the odd turns his life has taken, but he is still playing baseball, still chasing his dream. It’s a wistful, melancholy reflection because the protagonist has lost many productive years because of a bizarre and almost fatal incident.

As many of you know, I’m a life-long baseball fan with roots dating back to the late 1940’s and the Boys of Summer, the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I’ve always loved baseball!  It’s had an almost hypnotic grip on me. I fantasize about baseball the way some men day-dream about a tryst with a beautiful woman. There are only a handful of really good baseball movies. Hollywood, for some reason, hasn’t been able to get a grip on baseball. The short list of good baseball movies includes “The Natural”, “Bull Durham”, “Field of Dreams”, “Major League” (The original), “42”, “Cobb”, “A League of Their Own” and one or two I’ve forgotten.

“The Natural” and “Field of Dreams” top my list.  Some baseball purists, including a couple of Boston sports writers I know, claim those films are too hokey and sentimental. I disagree. Both films carry the lyricism of baseball. They are “print the legend” movies about America’s national pastime. Pro football is great but baseball is special, part of the fabric of our American dream.

My favorite memories, then and now, are of baseball games played during hot summer afternoons. They are languid, not long. Each at bat is drama unto itself. What will the pitcher throw? Can the batter hit the 100 mph fastball? It’s really a chess match between two teams, managers trying to out-scheme each other. I still stand and gasp when great defensive plays are made. This year’s Boston Red Sox have several gifted young players. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogerts, Jackie Bradley, Jr, and Andrew Benentendi are capable of highlight reel plays in the blur of a second. It’s a joy to watch them play.

Field of Dreams – the Ghostfield

The long-maligned Chicago Cubs were the talk of the Nation last year when they won their first World Series in over a century. Everyone felt good for the Cubbies and their fans. It didn’t really matter that your team was on the outside looking in. Real baseball fans have a special bond. Our political leaders might take note.

The New York Yankees have their own core of talented young players.  Mother of mercy, did I just say that?  Never in the wide, wide world of sports did I think I’d watch and appreciate the dreaded Yankees. Applaud “The Pinstripes”?  Family and old friends would gasp in disbelief. The “Baby Bombers” include Aaron Judge, a giant of a young slugger who is setting the baseball world on its ear. Judge, 6’7″ or 6′ 8″ is a muscled Paul Bunyon who appears on the verge of becoming a legend as a rookie. He’s already surpassed Joe DiMaggio’s record for home runs by a rookie and we’re just past the midway mark of the season.  Aaron Judge has the looks and personality of one of those old “Wheaties” Breakfast of Champions heroes. I tune into Yankee games just to catch Judge at bat. His home runs are routinely Ruthian.  You have to be a genuine baseball fan to appreciate Aaron Judge in a Yankee uniform. He appears to be (so far) this generation’s new superstar without the baggage of arrogance or rumors of drugs.

The new generation of Yankees and Red Sox promises to fire up their long rivalry, hopefully with appreciation rather than spiteful dislike.

The Yanks visit Fenway Park in a few days for a four-game series. It promises to be exciting and fun for all. It certainly will get me away from our national political angst.

All of which brings me back to “The Natural.” I’m 75 and still have boyish dreams. Yes, some are X-rated. Men are pigs. No argument. However, most of my dreams are about baseball. I’m Roy Hobbs who is a composite of Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and (for me), Duke Snider.

Robert Redford admits he copied Ted Williams’ batting stance, even his uniform number 9. Redford’s grace on the base paths and in the outfield remind me of my hero, Duke Snider. There’s a sense of grace to his movements, even the way he swings his shoulders as he runs. I shamelessly copied those movements when I played baseball as a not-very-gifted youth and adult.

If I could have one genie wish, it would be to morph as Roy Hobbs in his prime. I think now, more than ever, America needs Roy Hobbs to hit a walk off home run and send us home with unbounded happiness.

OCTOBER! GUESS WHO IS ON FIRST?

72-Future-Past-Fenway-Park_172

It’s October and you know what that means. Well, I guess that depends on how you feel about baseball. For us, on a good year, it’s the beginning of the playoffs. On a not so good year (like last year and the year before), it’s the end of the Red Sox — until next spring.

72-Fenway-Sox_14

But, surprise! It’s been a good year and the Red Sox have clinched the American League East division, so we’re in it for at least one more round.

72-Sign-Garry-Fenway-42-041516_01

And it’s the right time to play the class bit of Americana from Abbot and Costello. WHO’S ON FIRST is Abbot and Costello at their funniest. They used to run this in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on a continuous loop. They’ve remodeled the museum and much to our disappointment it’s not there anymore. But maybe it will be back at the museum someday. In the meantime, here it is.

We can all use a laugh.

JACKIE ROBINSON DAY – EPILOGUE – Garry Armstrong

72-Sign-Garry-Fenway-42-041516_01

Twilight was frosty at Fenway Park on Friday, April 15th. Income tax deadline day for some, JACKIE ROBINSON DAY for those of us who jammed the baseball shrine in Boston’s Kenmore Square. Pilgrims and Players, everyone wore number 42 in tribute to the man who broke baseball’s racial barrier and stirred a nation’s conscience 69 years ago, with World War Two still casting a long shadow.

72-Garry-Fenway-42-041516_04

Grantland Rice’s archaic litany, “It’s not about winning or losing, it’s how you play the game”, echoed silently as a winter’s night chilled the crowd. Arch rivals, Boston and Toronto, displayed respect instead of animosity. Batters picked up the catcher’s mask in flashes of sportsmanship rarely seen these days.

72-Garry-Fenway-42-041516_07

Big Papi stole second base, likely to be his only stolen base of the year and sent the crowd into a frenzy. The pilgrims erupted with joy and players on both teams broke into smiles and laughter.

An image of the young Jackie Robinson split the jumbo screen with a replay of Big Papi’s theft of second.

The message was clear.

For one night, 2016 Boston was 1950’s Brooklyn. You could almost hear Vin Scully’s poetic calls of the plays by Jackie Robinson and the other fabled Boys of Summer.

72-Garry-Fenway-42-041516_02

It was parka and gloves weather as the game wound down but few left the ball park. Eventually, the Red Sox prevailed over the Blue Jays.

The crowd slowly filed out, songs filled the night. “Sweet Caroline” mixed in with “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” The image of Jackie Robinson in his prime filled a neon billboard. A night to remember.

72-Forty-Two-Garry-Fenway-42-041516_08

See: VIN SCULLY, JACKIE ROBINSON AND A LOSS OF INNOCENCE – BY GARRY ARMSTRONG for the rest of the story.

ALMS FOR THE RED SOX – GARRY ARMSTRONG

If you are a real baseball fan, you live and die with your team’s success and failure. It’s all about winning, not how you play the game.

72-Mar-Gar-Fenway-2_086

I’ve been passionate about baseball for more than 65 years of my life. The pre baseball years were devoted to kid stuff like cowboys and Indians. I’ve rooted for three teams in my life. The Brooklyn Dodgers, Casey’s original Amazin’ New York Mets, and the Boston Red Sox.

Agony and ecstasy have marked my love for these teams. All were perennial long-time losers, demonizing generations of their followers. Victory as in winning the World Series was the sweetest wine ever tasted.

72-Fenway-GA_075

When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, their first title since the end of World War One, peace was bestowed on generations in the Red Sox Nation. The Bosox have since won two more World Series, totaling three in nine years. Success is now expected by the pilgrims who discovered baseball after 2000 and (current) new Sox ownership.

72-Fenway-GA_068

Great expectations easily breed discontent. In the Red Sox Nation, the grapes of wrath are growing because of the team’s mediocre pitching, despite off-season trades and free-agent signings to bolster the offense.

72-Fenway-Park_162

The suits who run Fenway’s boys of summer club refuse to deal for quality pitching. They claim to be satisfied with the mediocrity of the current staff, saying the arms will improve with time. One of the pitchers is already on the disabled list with a “tired arm”, six weeks into the season and with an ERA over five.

The suits say it’s still early. They don’t want to deal or spend foolishly.

Marilyn and I recently made our pilgrimage to Boston’s cathedral of baseball. The Sox were playing out-of-town, so we could move around easily, observing the salutes to past teams.

72-Garry-Fenway-Park_152

You could hear murmurs about the current Sox and their woeful pitching. What to do?

Marilyn decided to help boost the team’s financial coffers and bought a nifty hat. It was a bargain! Only 3 times what you would pay at your favorite department store not named the “Red Sox Team Store.” Marilyn should get a lot of use out of her hat. Its brim has more snap to it than most of the curve balls thrown by the Red Sox starters.

It’s a long season. Maybe Marilyn’s purchase will be the alms that bring quality arms to our beloved team.

Maybe. Not.

RAMBLINGS OF A SLEEP DEPRIVED RED SOX FAN

Not being able to sleep is a serious bummer. In my case, it’s my back. I can’t find a comfortable position and the drugs that are supposed to make me sleep are not nearly as strong as the back pain. It’s not that I don’t sleep at all. I sleep a little. Restless, light sleep and then I’m up again. Waking and sleeping and waking again. As I said: Bummer.

Sunrise

It gives me a lot of time to think during those long, uncomfortable nights. I think about what I should do that I haven’t done. I really get myself going by thinking about what I did do that I shouldn’t have done. Best of all, there is what I should have done differently. In that direction lies true madness and I don’t recommend it.

Eventually, I crawl out of bed, get sort of dressed. I turn on the coffee, throw the dogs out into the cruel world to do their business, then settle into the recliner in the living room. Blearily drinking coffee as the sun sort of rises. It’s been grey and dark for the past three days, so it never really feels like daytime has come and sunrise is just a slightly lighter color grey than night.

Right before bed last night, Garry and I were having a conversation. It was a reminder of why I love that man. We were talking about baseball. For those of you who aren’t fans and don’t follow this stuff, the “winter meetings” are in progress. This is when teams dig into their pockets, pull out their checkbooks, and negotiate with players.  Whatever the holes in their lineups — pitching, hitting, fielding — they are going to try to sign players to fill the roster for the coming year. Hopefully, for a lot longer than just one season.

fenway_480x200

The Red Sox, our home team, traded away pretty much the entire pitching staff at the end of last season in favor of a bunch of sluggers. Not that it helped much because we still managed to get a firm grip on last place and hold it to the bitter end.

So, no one is arguing they didn’t need the offensive players, but perhaps they might have shown a bit more restraint in cutting loose people like Jon Lester, who clearly didn’t want to be traded and is the el primo pitcher in baseball. This week, as the meetings continue, they are trying — balls to the wall — to get him to come back to Boston — and he isn’t playing nice. No home town discounts this round of talks.

I said “They over-estimated their ability to sweet-talk him back to Boston.”

Garry said “They over-estimated their clout at the winter meetings.”

I said “They under-estimated how pissed off he was at getting traded.

And Garry summed it up. “Hubris,” he said. “Hubris. Gets them every time.”

Hubris: (noun) Excessive pride or self-confidence. Synonyms: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority; more. Antonyms: humility
(In Greek tragedy) Excessive pride toward, or defiance of, the gods, leading to nemesis.

“Hubris,” I agreed. “That covers the whole thing.” After which we stumbled off to bed.

But in how many husband-wife discussions does “hubris” figure? Not a lot, in my experience. That we can have conversations like this and not have to say “Come again?” or “What do you mean by that?” makes a world of difference, to me at least.

Better yet, it was all about baseball. They should have held on to Lester. Especially in view of the fact that Lester just signed with the Chicago Cubs for 6 years at $155,000,000 with a 7th vesting year that could take the contract up to $170,000,000.

Theo Epstein, who left the Red Sox with a mad on because they didn’t treat him well — and Lester, who was unceremoniously traded by the Red Sox against his wishes and thus also departed with a mad on, got together to jointly stick it to the Red Sox. I’m sure they are both smiling. Chicago has reason to celebrate while Boston scrambles to find a couple of top-quality pitchers. Good luck with that.

Hubris, hubris, hubris.


(Note: In case the Daily Prompt gets their act together this is part of today’s dysfunctional prompt: All or Nothing? – “Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” — Sylvia Plath

The Red Sox wanted everything. I hope they don’t end up with nothing.

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME

Offside Memories – Team USA is playing today in the soccer World Cup in Brazil. Do you have any funny/harrowing/interesting memories from a sporting event you attended, participated in, or watched?


One weekend, shortly after Garry and I began living together, he had read the sports section of three newspapers and was watching the fifth or sixth baseball game in a row. I thought: “I really better learn to love baseball. If I don’t, I will never have a conversation with Garry from April through October.” Little did I know when baseball ended, it would be time for football.

I love baseball. I understand it. Never took to football with the same enthusiasm, but I’m good with basketball. Hockey and soccer don’t do it for me. Other than that? If it’s done on a horse, I’ll watch it.

nationals in DC baseball

I’ve been to a lot of baseball games, mostly at Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox. But in our travels, we’ve caught a game at Candlestick Park, in Montreal and most recently, a Red Sox-Yankees match-up in the new Yankee Stadium.

Watching the Sox trounce the Yankees on their home turf was the coolest game I’ve seen in a park. And we had great seats.

These days, we watch on the big TV. The greatest sports moment I can remember? How could I forget? It was the Red Sox winning the Series in 2004 with a walk-off homer by David Ortiz. We sat there stunned, waiting for the umpire to say it was a mistake. It had finally happened!

By now, we’ve gotten used to winning. We have higher expectations of our team performance. It had been a long dry spell.

Here we are again. After a winning season in 2013, the Sox can’t seem to hit the ball with the bat. The season has been so godawful, we are already trying to forget it. And it’s only the middle of June.

Still, it’s a long season. You never know, right?

P.S. Almost forgot! It was pretty memorable when Garry and I cuddled up in the big bed (I had the flu) to watch a World Series and instead, watched the big San Francisco earthquake. I had returned from San Francisco the day before. That was unique.

EVIL DREAMS

There is a herd of elephants in my living room. Sometimes there are so many elephants lolling about that there is hardly enough room for me to settle down, have a cup of tea and watch the Red Sox on a warm summer evening.

They are the elephants of my childhood. Snidely grinning elephants. Scary elephants. One pachyderm carries a belt. I know he’s going to beat me. Others smile sweetly. I don’t to trust those smiles. These are not real. The smiles are camouflage to hide an evil so deep it makes my blood turn watery.

75-Funhouse-Paint-1

For most of my life I had a recurring nightmare. I would be sitting in the middle of some particularly bucolic setting, a field, meadow or alongside babbling brook. The day would be perfect. Blue sky, puffy clouds and sunshine. I was happy. Content to sit and watch the birds, bunnies or butterflies. In the midst of this bucolic setting, the cute little creatures would transform into flying or crawling little monsters that would swarm over me. I’d wake up screaming, drenched in sweat.

The monsters were never the same twice. Sometimes they looked like spiders or snakes; other times, they resembled nothing in the real world. Perhaps they could have emerged from the primordial ooze or a sleazy horror movie.

Always there were many monsters attacking simultaneously. Escape was impossible and in any case, I was paralyzed with terror unable to run, barely able to scream. Only waking ended the attack. But not the fear. The fear stuck around.

The dream sometimes went away for a few months, but inevitably returned. And so it continued for more than forty years. Finally — a lifetime later — all the little monsters came together and formed a face. My father.

My eyes snapped open. I was fully awake and understood.

I never had the dream again.