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Communique 11-10-2020 "Field of Tweens"

By Philip Drucker

“Field of Tweens”

Let’s start with a big-ticket question today. Why do other people care how you live your life? I was listening to the oral arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act at the US Supreme Court and I began to wonder. Why does anyone else care if I have affordable health insurance or not? I mean, and cutting to the chase, why would your life be better if I die?

Now, admittedly due to my how to win friends but in a crabby way personality there would be those out there might think their daily, dreary existence would be enhanced by my demise, but they would be wrong. After a while I suspect they would miss me seeing as I do have that ability to make everyone’s day just a bit more interesting. I think. But my point is closer to something I have been asking myself since around the age of five and recently has taken on a greater and deeper meaning for me, and I would like to share with you.

If I, you, anyone can make something better, why wouldn’t you? When I say making things better, I don’t mean changing the world, upsetting the pig with an apple cart in its mouth in such a way that justice is served. No, I’m not talking about righting wrongs or discovering cures, raising the dead, or healing the sick. Water, wine, loaves of bread, fish.

What I am talking about is more of a group mind-set best illustrated by asking another question, what would happen if every day, everybody decided to do one thing that made someone else’s life just a teeny tiny bit better? Imagine a world where everybody knew, or at least admitted, and appreciated that we are all connected and the benefit of the one is for the benefit of the many.

A world where we understood there is no way to hurt someone else without hurting ourselves. A world where, in America, and this is big, the land where individuals are empowered to do the right thing, everyone did the right thing. Which is make things better. When will we realize that we can only help ourselves by helping others and vice-versa?

How do you explain the earth is rich and is abundant with the blessings of our Lord and it is our mission to share and share alike? The sun, the sea, the air, fresh water. These are all gifts from above and necessary to the continuation of life. Just like the Affordable Care Act. Get it? There has been a great deal of talk lately about our future as a nation. Regrettably, I feel most of the discussion misses the point. If you want to worry about how we are doing as a nation, look at how we are doing as people.

You want a strong and secure country to live in? I’m with you on that one, but ask yourself, to do what? In America, is it enough just to survive? If necessary to do so, take, horde, even steal from your neighbor? And here’s a big caveat, without even the slightest thought of giving back? What kind of a life is that?

What kind of a life is it when we can’t acknowledge the sacrifices our courageous military men and women make for us every day? In what world is it desirable to disparage Gold-star families? What planet are you on when the members of our armed services are ridiculed as “suckers” and “losers” by no less than their Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States? What kind of perverse universe is it where you, the veterans, those who surely must know better, voted for this monster, again?

If you are a veteran, first, let me thank you for your service. Let me ask you, if you saw one of your fallen brothers or sisters in arms wounded at the bottom of fox hole and needing medical attention, would it occur to you to leave them there because one day you might need the same medicine, bandages, loving and care and don’t want to “run out”? Before taking affirmative action to save a life and doing what you know you need to do, would you hesitate and ask, what’s in it for me? No? Trump would.

In fact, Trump is the type of sickening individual who would check your pockets, steal your wallet and if he has time, take the fillings out of your teeth and for good measure, swipe the pennies from your eyes. Yes, he would. What did Maya Angelou say about believing someone when they show you who they are? How many times does the orange blob who should be skewered like a kabob have to slap you in the face before you say no more?

Or, is that part of the allure? You must admit, there is something eerily strange and unsettling about your average Trump supporter’s addiction to pain. Me? Can’t say I’m into that and for my part, I’d hit you back. The meek might inherit the earth, but I’m not planning on that as part of my retirement strategy.

So why am I thinking about all this? It involves a memory I recently re-discovered in the back of my memory banks somewhere close but not quite over the subconscious line. It was summer and I was in my early tweens where everything revolved around baseball. Every morning I went over to Mar Vista Park to see who was there and ready to play some ball.

Usually, it was the usual suspects, funny how that worked out. We were a multi-racial group of mostly boys who could not have cared less what color you were or which God you worshipped. If you could hit you could play. We even let the girls play, even if they couldn’t hit. For those of you who remember your misspent youth, somebody had to play right field.

After stopping at the trailer for my ritual “suicide” a soda made from whatever ever soft drinks in whatever amounts the guy behind the counter put in the cup, I was ready for a day in the sun, doing what I did best, which was pull a curve ball down the line if you were stupid enough to throw me one I could hit.

We played till the sun went down. Some evenings I had money for dinner, many evenings I did not. One day, my friend, let’s call him Joe DiMaggio (wow, DiMaggio is in spellcheck, who knew?), invited me back to his house to open the new packs of baseball cards he had just purchased. This being one of the highest of high compliments, I had no choice but to accept. I went back to his house and the two of us were greeted at the door by his mother. She was the smiley type and seemed very nice. So far so good. But that was a far as I made it.

She went back into the house leaving the two of us sitting on the front porch. I thought that a bit odd, but hey, who was I to judge. She came back out with two plates of food, one for her son and one for me. Then, things got weird. Suddenly, Joe’s father, the one with the ’55 aqua blue T-Bird with big fins and whitewall tires so I thought he was cool came barreling out of the door, obviously agitated, and said something along the lines to his wife with the pearly whites as “What are you doing?” Then he turned his head and looked at me. Too the best of my recollection I hadn’t done anything too hideous that day, so I could only wonder what was up?

Unexpectedly, Joe’s father grabbed the plate out of my hand and in a voice far too righteous for the situation exclaimed “I didn’t work all day to feed somebody else’s kid!” And he went back in the house, his wife shrugged and followed him back in. Joe was staring at his plate, picked up a tortilla and said, “that’s my dad.” He kept looking down at his plate as he ate. I said to myself, “screw this!” and left. I went home and as was my favorite at the time, had pancakes for dinner.

Remember, back then you could eat all the carbohydrates and syrup you wanted. I don’t recall ever hearing the word nutrition used seriously until I was well into my late teens. What for? Everyone knew you got all the daily requirements you needed from a bowl of cereal, any cereal, a glass of orange juice and a cigarette.

The next day I saw Joe at the park. I looked at him, he looked at me. We didn’t say a word. He went to his position in left field and I went to my normal station at second base. Needless to say, nor did it need to be said, I would never be asked to or go back to Joe’s house again. No big deal. The sun was still shining. Play ball!

Funny the things we remember, isn’t it? To this day, I have never figured out what in the world can set off a grown man about some dumb-ass kid eating a few tablespoons of rice, refried beans and a tortilla or two. Yet somehow, with the events going on in America and the world today, I wonder, is this what it is like to be a Trump supporter? I guess would explain a lot, unfortunately,

I’m still not old enough to understand or appreciate fear, greed and stupidity as motivating factors worth giving up your humanity over. Fortunately, I’ll always have my memories of the season where I was for all intents and purposes, one of the eternal Boys of Summer.


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