There’s no crying in baseball

Spring Break was quiet this year. The Dude had a lot on his mind, with college decisions looming and even more importantly, the fate of his NCAA bracket. Apparently, he does his best thinking while sleeping.

In prior years, he and I would take at least one academic-enrichment type field trip, usually something required by one of his teachers. To compensate, I’d take him to an exhibition game at Nationals Park. Last year, however, we spent the entire break visiting universities, and with the general chaos of our summer, didn’t get to a single game all season.

Baseball has always been the connection between me and the Dude, although sarcasm runs a close second. With spring in the air, I figured a visit to the ballpark was in order. I went online, bought the tickets, and we were set to go.

The weather couldn’t have been better for a game. The sun was bright, but a slight breeze would keep it cool enough for comfort. The Nats were up against the Mets, not the best team on the planet, but with the Nats bullpen, we were bound to see someone great. Maybe Scherzer, or Strassburg, or even Fister. The Dude and I were amped. We chatted on the Metro in while he texted his friends, while he informed me he was a master manipulator.

“You have the face of a bunny rabbit, Dude. Honestly, you could be a human Peep.”

“That’s what makes me so dangerous,” he said in his best Batman voice. “I live in the shadows.”

“You make me so proud.”

We talked about our favorite baseball moment. Red Sox/Nationals Exhibition game, 2012. Bottom of the 9th, Red Sox were ahead by one. Danny Espinosa crushed one to the outfield. The Nationals fans jumped to their feet as the Red Sox fans slumped in their seats. As Ian Desmond rounded third, Jacoby Ellsbury fired a cannon to home plate. It was like watching in slow motion. The crowd went quiet for a moment, then the ump called him out, reversing the crowd reaction with one simple gesture. Maybe today would be full of memories like that one.

He told me he loved going to games with me, because he could actually pay attention to what was happening on the field without getting distracted by conversation. I took it as a compliment. I’m much the same way. If I wanted to chit chat during a game, I could watch it on my IPhone for much less than the price of a decent ticket.

A young man stood by us in the car, thumbs a blur over his phone, much like my son. He looked familiar.

“Dude, isn’t that…?”


“You could say hello.”

“I have. We’re texting.”

“You’re five feet from each other.”

“He’s with his mother too. It’s better this way.” As his friend left the train (using a different door than his mother did), they gave each other the bro five. “I told him we were going to the game. He never told me where his mother was taking him, which means it’s something lame like a museum.”

We barely noticed how empty the train was until we were the only people exiting at the station.  I checked the tickets.


The game was one week later.

I was an idiot. I should have double-checked, read more closely. I was too focused on what I wanted to do that I didn’t focus on what I was actually doing.

I expected the Dude to give me an earful. If the roles had been reversed, I would have. I might have even cried for effect.

He surprised me. He shrugged and gave a bummed but not fatal, “Well that sucks.” He was being very understanding. Still, I hoisted a bag of “I should have knowns” onto my shoulder, and braced for the lecture. The Dude knows how they go–he’s heard his share. Instead, he asked if there was something else I wanted to do instead, “you know, ’cause we’re already in D.C.”

“You’re taking this rather well.” He’s not a toddler, so I didn’t expect a meltdown, but I thought at a minimum he’d be annoyed.

“Everyone makes mistakes.” Like leaving his coat when driving into a snowstorm, forgetting to take out the garbage, or leaving something behind at school for pretty much all of seventh grade. Things we still give him grief about. Things I’ve blogged about.

We decided on the zoo, since the day was so beautiful. It was packed with strollers, tour groups and screaming children. The zoo loses a lot of its charm when one is there with a teenager. Even more so if that teenager is taking Environmental Science.

“Look long and hard at that tiger, Mom. Who knows how long until they’re extinct. Just like the rhino.”

“You’re an upper, Dude.”

“Just tellin’ it like it is, Mom. Don’t shoot the messenger.”

Since we weren’t at the game, he actually talked–mostly about college. He had finally made his choice, but it was a difficult one, and he wasn’t at peace with it yet. He hated the process of declining acceptances, saying it was like letting some potential future go. He was still worried that he’d do something wrong, make a mistake, choose the wrong place, miss out on something great.

So we talked about how decisions become mistakes only with the benefit of time and a lot of assumptions. In reality, we can only judge one outcome. We have no perspective on the alternative. What would our day have been like had I looked more carefully? Would we have done something else, or would he have slept late while I sat at my computer? We wouldn’t have had the time we were sharing right now. Even if it wasn’t what we’d planned for it to be, we took what we had and made the most of it. While I would have loved to go to the game, I treasured the day exactly as it was.

He’ll never know what might have happened if he’d chosen a different college. The best he can do is embrace the choice, explore its possibilities and move forward. Most of all, he needs to be as understanding of his own mistakes as he was of mine. Maybe I could do a little of that myself.

We still get to go to the game too–only this week instead of last week. It all has a way of working out in the end, if you let it.

It’s your game, Dude. Play ball.

March Madness doesn’t always happen on the court

If all goes well this week, we’ll know which college gets the prize. No, I’m not talking about NCAA basketball. I’m talking about the Dude.

I think back to the beginning of junior year, when the great college hunt began, getting into college seemed like a crapshoot. Every admissions officer was looking for a student with a 4.5 GPA, a sports contract, or a position as the CEO of his or her own non-profit NGO, The Dude is a good student, and usually has a killer fantasy team, but anything more would require he sleep less. I tried not to worry. At least one of the schools he applied to would see his awesomeness. If nothing else, his essays were bound to be an entertaining read. He is, after all, my son.

We did the requisite campus visits, affectionately termed the Dudeapalooza tour, but at the time, The Dude was less than enthused. I dragged him from campus to campus holding tight to the idea that he’d graduate high school at some point and want to live somewhere with less nagging and more parties. The presentations left me enraptured. A seminar where I can invent my own musical instrument? A coffee addicts club? Slam poetry in the cafeteria? Dorms with wi-fi and air conditioning? Sign me up!

He spent his time texting his friends.

Although The Dude was ready for college, he wasn’t ready to fall in love with one. He didn’t have a dream school. He had a well-reasoned set of acceptable choices. Then when the fat envelopes showed up he realized he’d have to pick one.

Over the last two months, we’ve gone through various phases, with each college getting its turn as favorite. Of course, his dad and I have an opinion. My husband is five steps from making it a dictate, but I spent far too many escapades with a toddler who complied with the caveat–“you can make me go, but I won’t enjoy it.” So I’m letting him come to it on his own. Not that he’s making it easy on himself.

He’s poured over the letters, websites and the brochures as if they held some secret clue he’d missed. One university even has a virtual tour app he can access on his phone. His friends aren’t helping much. According to them, the schools he’s chosen are the wrong ones, as in they are Big Ten and not ACC, the only conference that matters.

“This is the most important decision I will make in my entire life.”

My sarcasm meter didn’t go off. He actually meant it, so I gave a thoughtful and empathetic response. “I know it feels that way, and it is probably the most difficult you’ve had to make so far, but there will be others–marriage, children, job opportunities. Let’s keep it in perspective.”

“Pfft–Marriage and children are easy decisions. If you aren’t 100% positive, you shouldn’t do either.”

Oh, the innocence of youth. I decided to stay on topic. ” A university is an aggregation of opportunities. What you learn while you’re there depends on which ones you choose to engage in. Any of these universities have the ingredients to give you what you’re looking for.” I explained he could sleepwalk through the best universities in the country and be no better off than when he started. “It’s all potential energy, but it needs you to set it in motion and choose where it leads you.”

Truthful, heartfelt, but completely incorrect, apparently. “Did you read that response in a parenting book, or did you make that up yourself?”

The lesson has been hammered into his brain. There is a right answer and a wrong answer. Period. One is expected of him. The other is a disaster. Choosing a college is just one more standardized test. Pick wrong, and he fails at life. He could have a career and four years of misery, or the time of his life followed by living in a van down by the river. He says he’s 90% sure he knows what he wants. Or maybe 80%. At least 70%

So tomorrow, we take one more trip to confirm his at least 70% decision. Unless it doesn’t. Still, he says he wants to buy logo swag. I’m taking it as a good sign, although I don’t dare read too much into it. He’s always thought the gift shop was the best part of a museum visit. I’ll believe it once we pay the deposit.

Wish me luck, or at least a plethora of good-looking coeds to help sway the decision. I’ll take whatever help I can get.

The Mobyjoe Cafe Weekly News Roundup – Week of 3/15

Ab-tastic Rep is forced to quit
Because he overspent a bit
His office looks like Downton Abby
While the voters paid his tabby
But he’ll always find employ
As Men’s Health’s favorite cover boy


Starbucks tackles race relations
By prompting in-line conversations
Sorry if I sound real mean,
But I don’t chat before caffeine


A rider to a slavery bill
Wreaks havoc up on Capitol Hill
For every woman should be free
Unless you’re talking pregnancy
Sure, Human trafficking’s an abomination
Still, let’s stall Lynch’s nomination
No bill should languish, doomed to molder
And neither should poor Eric Holder


A runner at a New York meet
Swept a bystander off her feet
Unfortunately, the gesture was less than loving
Think–more like a high-speed shoving
Neither party was injured
And “wham-sauced” is now my favorite word

Wall Street bites its nails and waits
While the Fed reviews the interest rate
But they aren’t the only nervous fretters
It’s time for college admission letters
Both Moms and bankers look for signs
And try to read between the lines
While figuring out how much to hoard
To pay for things they can’t afford


Netanyahu’s re-elected
Not the outcome pols expected
Yet the news creates less racket
Than Obama’s b-ball bracket
But neither headline hopes to top
Bruce Jenner’s coming gender swap


Robin Thicke’s back on the market
His ex-wife told him where to park it
Although he wooed her, undeterred
I guess some lines aren’t all that blurred


Ashley Judd is fighting back
‘Gainst Twitter trolls bent on attack
She called out b-ball “dirty play”
And that is where she went astray
For trash talk is a dude’s domain
Male twitterverse has made it plain
She deserved the hate-sex drumming
Because, you know, she had it coming
(Threats are a first amendment exception
So let’s clear up that misconception)
The law may give you all a pass,
But if I was your mother, I’d ground your ass


Sports reporters can’t be trusted
My NCAA bracket is already busted
Since it’s freed a ton of time up
I’m starting my fantasy baseball lineup


Just remember….
Just when the world is looking bleak
We get to start a brand new week
The news is ours to create
So go out there and make it great

The Mobyjoe Cafe News Roundup – The week of 3/1

Obama care goes to debate
Nine justices decide its fate
The next dispute they’ll lay to rest?
The color of that effing dress


Google may rank hits by veracity
Their algorithms show perspicacity
Some sites may have to think anew
I wonder what Fox News will do?


Netanyahu meant no offense
But offers up his recompense
If it keeps him in the club
He’ll take Joe Biden’s shoulder rub


Hillary has secrets galore
And now her email hides much more
Will this gaffe be her downfall?
At least she doesn’t “reply all”


Congress funds the DHS
But does so under great duress
The only place where they concur
Is how much their next raise is for


K-Cups’ inventor shows regret
For spawning a pollution threat
But not as much as he laments
Forgoing payment by percent


Climate change is one big hoax
Says the anti-science folks
Whatever the cause may be
This ******* winter’s agony


In 2018, the circus grants
Amnesty to elephants
But Ringling’s not forgiven yet
For elephants never forget


Tsarnaev’s trial has commenced
One hopes that justice is dispensed
The marathon continues on
Because the city is Boston Strong

Taken from the Headlines – Straight from the llama’s mouth

“We were surrounded by a gang of ****ing humans. What would you do, invite them to tea?” So says Black Llama, one half of Sun City Arizona’s famous camelid pair, now safe in their home corral after spending an hour roaming the city on hoof. Startled by the closing of a trailer door, the two llamas booked for open ground, evading their handler, area police, a posse of well-meaning residents waving romaine, and a visor-wearing woman, who for some reason thought running towards a llama waving her hands about like a madwoman was a viable strategy.

“Trailer door my ass. I saw daylight. That was enough for me. Did you see visor-woman? Let’s just say she wasn’t exactly a llama whisperer.” Black Llama accentuated his outrage with a derisive snort. “The best part had to be the search chopper. Must have been a slow news day. We went for a canter, people. It’s not like we killed someone.” After a pause, he added, “Guess I should be glad they were only armed with lassos and lettuce.”

White Llama, his partner in non-crime nodded from the sidelines. Still skittish from their earlier encounter, throughout our discussion, she occasionally checked the sky for hovering onlookers. Black Llama gave her a reassuring lean, then said as an aside, “Thank goodness Amazon doesn’t have drones yet. We’d have to put her on Valium.”

When reminded that he ran from the same rancher who gave him food and shelter, Black Llama scoffed at the idea. “It’s not like he invented grass. He’s not even Peruvian. He’s a retiree from Jersey or something, I don’t remember.” He nudged me with his nose. “Come on. Think about it. ‘How about a trip to Sun City?’ sounds like a euphemism if I ever heard one.”

“We have trust issues. Can you blame us?” said White Llama, finally joining our conversation. She checked the area for eavesdroppers, and the sky once more, just for good measure. “Just a few months ago the human said, ‘maybe you’d like a  trim?’ I agreed to a half inch just to get rid of the split ends, maybe a sleek blow-out. Next thing you know, I look like a poodle. Bangs are NOT a good look for me, and the awkward grow-out phase took forever.”  She stifled a sob. “I did not sign up for this.”

Black Llama doled out the low-down. “When the human asks if you want to do something, it’s not really a question, and nothing good is coming. Especially when he uses the voice.” To demonstrate, he squished up his face and said, in a sing-song, “Who wants to go for a ride in the trailer? That’s right! You!”

White Llama shuddered. “I hate the voice. It is the harbinger of doom.”

Black Llama rolled his lip, baring a sizable set of teeth. “The stupid dog falls for it every time. He doesn’t even need a harness. He just hops right in the truck.” He gestures at a hound rolling a well-loved tennis ball around the corral with his nose. “Sucker.” The dog looked up briefly, then went back on task, moving the tennis ball another few feet.

Black Llama continued. “We know it’s either a show or a shot, and frankly, I’m not sure which one I hate more. It’s a sick game of would-you-rather. Stand still for one sharp poke that lasts a few seconds, or a million little pokes over a three hour time frame. Either way, it’s a pain in the ass.”

“And when it’s all done, the human gushes ‘you’re such a good llama’. Like I give two shits.” White Llama’s use of the voice devolves into a verbal sneer.

“You usually do, and then some,” countered Black Llama, which elicited a embarrassed titter from his partner.

White Llama nodded toward Black Llama “He’s the clever one. I’m the pretty one.”

Her smile faded and she looked toward something in the distance only she could see. Her voice was a whisper. “I almost made it.” Perhaps it was the shadow of hope. “I’m not asking for much. A green pasture, clean water, some sunshine, and not having three dudes in a pickup following behind me while trying to throw a lasso over my head. Comprenderme?”

“Don’t listen to these two. They’re dramallamas.” The third llama (now known as the llama that stayed at home or Llama TSAH), who stayed in the trailer while White Llama and Black Llama went on the run, chewed on a wad of grass while speaking. “We were going to walk hallways and let people pet us. Big deal.”

Black Llama snapped at the Llama TSAH. “No one asked you.” He turned back to me. “Petting is for dogs.”  Just as he finished speaking, the dog sauntered past me to bring the ball to the approaching rancher.

The rancher stopped and the dog dropped the ball at his feet. The farmer bent over both knees and sang, “Who’s a smart boy? You are! Yes you are!” and winged the ball over the fence to the next yard. The dogs ears flapped as he ran.

The rancher made his approach, calling to me with a friendly voice. “Nice creatures, llamas. Smart, too. Not as smart as the dog, though. He comes back when I call him.”

Black Llama gave me a knowing look. “I rest my case.” He sighed. “I deserve a little dignity.”

Well said, Black Llama. Don’t we all.

Today’s Headline – Satan says “Talk to the hand, but lend me some mittens first.”

Plunging temps are creating havoc across the eastern United States, stressing human services, weary mothers of house-bound children and the pipes of forgetful homeowners. But we’ve found an unexpected casualty of the record-setting deep freeze.

“You’ve got an issue with follow through? Not my fault, people. Leave me alone. I’ve got problems of my own.”  The devil insists this due date isn’t his. “I only run the joint. If you don’t like the climate, talk to the guy upstairs. Ever heard the term ‘acts of god?’ We’re done here.”

Hell has frozen over, and thousands of individuals are facing the unexpected consequences of what they thought were idle promises. But they won’t go down without a fight.

Like Dennis Mattinson of Dedham, Massachusetts. “I don’t care if Satan is doing triple toe loops in the underworld, I am not, I repeat, am not going to see Riverdance.”

Peggy, his wife of forty years begs to differ. “He said it, not me. What happened to ‘a man is only as good as his word? I’ve already bought our tickets, and by the way, he’ll be wearing a tie.” Sorry, Dennis, but Peggy isn’t budging.

“I’m calling a lawyer. Who’s that guy on t.v.? You only have to pay him if you win. That’s what he says anyway.”

For his part, attorney Michael Allen is ready. “This is a gray area, in my opinion. Exactly what does ‘frozen over’ mean and how do we verify the extent of the condition required to trigger satisfaction of the contract? We can’t be talking about a little frost around the edges. Frozen over implies an extensive condition of durable status. I’m not sure these agreements are enforceable.”

Human Resource professionals and former employees alike are pondering the same question–does “I’ll come back to this job when hell freezes over” constitute a threat or a promise?

“I quit that bitch, and I’ll do it again,” says Denise Garret of Pontiac, Michigan.

“We never accepted the terms of Denise’s re-employment,” adds Monica Thomas of Widgetworks Enterprises. “It was verbal only, with no consideration given from either party. Denise is not the considerate sort. Trust me.”

Grant Branch of Chicago, Illinois is ecstatic. “Finally! It’s the Cubbie’s year.” The citizens of Seattle beg to differ. For his part, David Acheson, general manager of the Cleveland Browns is backpedaling. “It’s not like we don’t want to go to the Superbowl. Cut us some slack.”

Katie Dwyer is already planning her spring break trip to Daytona. “Par-tay!!” Her parents declined to comment.

Florists are seeing a boom in business from thwarted suitors seeing a second chance with their future ex-wives, while restaurant reservation lines are the only thing burning up north of the Mason Dixon. “Finally, it’s my turn,” says Taylor Watson. “I’ve been keeping a list. The only problem I’ve run into is that a lot of these phone numbers have been disconnected, and this one,” he points to a number next to the name Emily, “is for the Rite-Aid prescription refill line. When you see this, call me, okay?”

The devil, more formally known as Lucifer Beelzebub insists he isn’t liable for third-party agreements. “What happened to all that free will stuff, tell me that, mankind? I barely have enough time to deal with politicians.” Don’t bother complaining, Lucifer isn’t interested. “And if you don’t like it, you can go to hell, but you might want to bring a coat. Just sayin’.”

All we can say here at the Mobyjoe Cafe is that keeping your agreements is up to you, but at least try to keep warm.

Abominable Behavior

Boston-YetiAbout ten years ago, when I was living in Boston, a major snowstorm hit the city while I was traveling on business.

As fate would have it, parking at Logan was limited, so I had to park on the roof. That’s right. The roof. The part of the building without more building above it.

I was totally screwed. Not only would my car be covered with eight inches of snow, I would be boxed in by whatever the plow left behind my car while clearing the roof for everyone else. In the time I was gone, surely it would have half-melted and re-solidified into a natural barricade which would require a jack hammer to get through.

Come to think of it, I wasn’t entirely sure exactly which row I’d parked in. It’s not like the roof has a lot of identifying characteristics, and I sort of counted on having the identifying characteristics of my car to rely on, unless, of course, it was the only one still covered with snow. Then it would be easy to spot.

I had a snow brush in the car, but what I really needed was a shovel, or a pick axe. Maybe I’d be better off taking a cab home, and then going back the next day with a jack hammer.

And that’s when my husband called.

“So you and the dude are going to drive over and dig me out before I get home, right?”

The dude was six. At seventeen, he still is useless during a snowstorm. If only he shoveled snow as effectively as he manages to shovel everything else.

“Hahahaha. Right.” My husband is such a romantic soul.

When I finally arrived in Boston it was late–well past midnight–and I made my way to the roof of the parking ramp. As expected, the rooftop was a sea of white under bright lights, each car an indistinguishable white blob next to another white blob.

All except for one. Mine. Completely cleared and shoveled out of the mess. All I had to do was back up and I could head home.

I called my husband. “I was joking, but really, thank you. That was amazing. You really didn’t have to dig out my car.”

I basked in the feeling of overwhelming love. It was so good to be home.

“Good, because I didn’t.”

I’ve always wondered who shoveled out my car. My husband’s theory is that someone spent an hour digging out a car only to figure out it wasn’t theirs. Their silver Sienna was one more row over. Their worst night ever had become my coup.

But as of today, I know the truth. It was the Boston Yeti.

Boston has been hammered with snow the last few weeks, and the Yeti has roamed empty streets late at night, played in the snow, and even hailed a cab. Folks all across town have tweeted their sightings using #BostonYeti2015. Last week, he began digging out cars, and he didn’t even put a lawn chair with a box of cat litter on top of it to call dibs on the space for later. I told my family that my mystery was solved.

A lot of really shitty stuff is happening in the world right now, like we’re engaged in a sick one-upsmanship to establish who can be the most horrific of all.  Ironic, isn’t it? Someone in a an abominable snowman suit is representing the best of human spirit, while others engage in abominable behavior while pretending to be human.

The Yeti says he’s just lending a claw, but I’d like to think he’s starting a movement. What would the world be like if we were all Yeti, just doing what needed to be done, without fanfare or attribution, just to make the world a little better for one person on one day by doing one simple (or not so simple) thing.

Is today’s Yeti also my Yeti? I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. It’s been over ten years since my personal Yeti rescued my car from burial by snowdrift at Logan, and just thinking about it renews my belief in magic. We could use a little magic, don’t you think? Maybe we could all be someone’s Yeti.

Go do it. Be abominable. Be a Yeti.

Photograph from Mashable