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Beyond the Blue Horizon

I once leaned my head on a public restroom wall. The wool/poly blend of a New Era cap acted as a shield, but still. I had been standing over a urinal in the men’s restroom of the Piccadilly Pub in Franklin, and as the reality of the 19-8 defeat at the hands of the Yankees tumbled over me like so many bricks, I kind of slowly leaned forward and my forehead gently met the wall in front of me. I think it was plaster, not tile, but don’t hold me to that.

This is just not meant to be, I told myself. Probably because of something I did.

Because it was personal, of course. How could it be any other way? The Sox, they had my name. They knew who I was. My Social Security number was on file somewhere in the bowels of their offices, a microchip had been implanted in the skin under my forearm, surely all of this was One Big Middle Finger to me and my existence, some sort of moral judgment on my activities to this point. I had not led a good enough life yet. I didn’t deserve any sort of baseball happiness. All their postseason foibles were an attack on me, nobody else. Red Sox Nation? Pfft, what do they know? This is all on me. They’re doing this to screw with ME. For my sins, my failings, my decayed humanity. Me.

So I leaned my head on a public restroom wall. Not something I’d advise doing, generally, even at a place as genteel as a suburban Piccadilly Pub.

It was just not meant to be.

Going into the evening the Yanks were up 2 games to none, but the Sox were back at Fenway and a win would make it a series again. It was a see-saw battle for 3 innings, then the Yankees became extremely rude guests and ran away with things, to the point where one might find themselves leaning against a filmy bathroom wall and wondering what was the point of it all was.

Grady Little had horrifically botched things the year before, clutching defeat from the jaws of victory against these very Yankees at the most crucial moment possible, a rug-pull played on those Sox fans who truly believed the team’s accursed past was simply due to random bad luck. Or bad management. Or personnel failings.

This indignity, this Grady, this Boone, piled on top of Buckner and Dent and Jim Burton and Armbrister and Ruhle and Aparicio and Jack Hamilton and Enos Slaughter. There were generations of men from the corners of New England and all points in between who were sick to their stomachs and looking at themselves in bathroom mirrors wondering why it ever had to be this way. Why? Why?

The Yankees had beaten the Red Sox 19-8, taking a 3-0 lead in the 2004 American League Championship Series. There would be no World Series for the Sox that year, no redemption for those left prostrate by Grady Little’s idiocy the year before. Baseball does not do karma. The game is its own reward, win or lose. A harsh but needed lesson, brutal in its finality.

I separated my forehead from the wall, exited the bathroom, and left the restaurant sometime after midnight on Sunday, October 17, 2004.


On Saturday I noticed my drawing table had gathered cobwebs. That’s not metaphorical, nor an embellishment. It was real enough that I got a vacuum cleaner and waved at them half-heartedly. There were even some rogue strands that had made the leap to my chair.

I’ve been struggling to determine how or why activities or hobbies get back-burnered or mothballed. It’s not unique, or even unexpected. People garden, and then they don’t. Needlepoint sits idle in a drawer, golf clubs slowly rust in a darkened corner of the garage. Hell, I didn’t so much as pick up a humble pencil with any artistic purpose for almost all of the ’90s. I’ve been there before.

I think it’s like having kids. You love them and are proud of them, but sometimes you’d just like to abdicate your parental responsibilities and simply forget they exist, even as they woozily cry for their insulin.