Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Digging of The Shins

If you play a sport - or have ever done so - then you are familiar with the pre-game ritual. While I think it is an overstatement to say that every one has one, it is probably fair to say that more do than do not. I remember as a 5th grader on the W-H boys' basketball team insisting that Mom make London broil for dinner the night before every game. Why? She had made it for dinner the night before our season opener and the next afternoon we won.

As we continued to win, I continued to eat London broil as my "eve of" meal. We ended the season undefeated and at season's end Dad and I went to the hospital for father/son angioplasties. As a boy of 9 or 10, I believed in the power of the cow. As a man of 43, I long ago came to the realization that our success that season on the court had far more to do with how little time I spent on the court while the game was going on than how much time I spent at the dinner table the night before. Rest in peace, John T. Chandler - our coach and the smartest man ever (clearly).

Later on today our backyard shall be the scene of some joyful noise. Margaret and I officially retire from the graduation party business today with the "Master's for MacMaster" celebration for Suzanne. Me who rarely works only a five-day week has now laid two "DNA-HD" (Did Not Appear - His Decision) in the scorecard on consecutive Saturdays (good thing I am sneaky and bring work home, eh?) Another advantage to starting one's work day not later than 4:45 or so in the a.m. every day is that when the need arises occasionally to sit a dance out you can do it without screwing yourself too badly. There are not a lot of things that keep me from my appointed rounds on a Saturday. Today is one of those things.

Having watched all ten episodes of The Pacific this spring on HBO (and if you did not see any or all of them for whatever reason make every effort to do so - trust me) I can say without hesitation that Margaret would have been Chesty Puller's kind of Marine. She has spent a portion of every night for the past three or four weeks drawing, tearing up and drawing anew a schematic for the backyard to ensure the "proper" placement of tables, chairs, coolers for cold beverages, etc. When I last looked at it last night it was unclear to me whether we are preparing to host a party or to invade Dunellen. Perhaps tomorrow I will report back which occurred.

She and I could not be more different in our planning for such an event as this. Given the overwhelming number of "young people", which I define as anyone whose date of birth occurred at some point after Reagan was elected President the first time (that would be November 1980 for those of you playing along at home) and that they are gathering here more to be in the company of one another, I likely could have entertained them sufficiently by making sure they have beverages to drink and food to grill - nothing more, nothing less. Margaret's approach to parties takes on a "slightly" more comprehensive tack than does mine. To her credit, no one has ever left our home after one of these get-togethers complaining about not having had enough of.......anything and everything.

I am enjoying the still-quiet status of our home this morning. The Commander is still in bed and the honoree and the deputy are as well......not too surprising since they rolled in this morning shortly before I got up for the day (the kids - not the Missus). My pre-game ritual? I popped a couple of Advil and allowed my cranky knee to take me on a nice, short (2.5 mile) tour of our neighborhood just as the sun was starting to poke his head over the horizon line. While I suppose there will be hell to pay when Margaret gets up if she has "overslept" by 1 minute, I am inclined to let her go for a while. You see part of her pre-game ritual is to toss and turn all night the night before. While she ends up perfectly toasted on both sides like a Panini, she ends up not really getting a good night's sleep. So if it takes until 4:30 in the morning for fatigue to kick in and force her to sleep finally instead of fitfully, so be it.

In a few hours, the pre-game portion of the day's festivities will be over. And in an eye blink thereafter so will the day's main event. Off we go, one more time with feeling.

-AK

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