Monday, February 14, 2011

The Opening of the Deep Blue Heart

Today is an important day in the lives of men everywhere. Indeed. Pitchers and catchers report to the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa Florida today. As the Silver Spoon Twins and Cashman attempt to spin to the media how little the retirement of Andy Pettitte and the rejection by Cliff Lee will affect this year's rotation, off-season signees Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia will be assigned to a room in the complex decorated with items that were popular in 1999. The plan is to make their heads think it is still a year when either man was actually capable of - on a regular basis - doing the job for which he was paid - in the hope that what the mind believes the pitching arm will achieve. The Yankees have no such accommodations set up for A.J. Burnett. Not for lack of trying. Rather they could not find a year from his career to use as a benchmark. Apparently his Babe Ruth League coach never shot any video.

Of course, today is also Valentine's Day. A holiday that I wish people would refer to by its initials - if for no other reason than to hear, "Happy VD! I love you" shouted from church towers and hill tops across the land in one of several languages. My eldest sib Bill wishes for pony rides on his birthday while I (the youngest of our sextet) wish for chaos on Valentine's Day. If that does not serve as proof of the chance you take when you replicate the same process over and over and over and over and over and over, then I know not what does.

I am a lucky man. Damn luckier than I had any right to be as a matter of fact. Margaret and I have been married more than seventeen and a half years now. We will celebrate our 18th anniversary in late June. I should say that I shall celebrate. I fear that Margaret will likely curl up someplace with a photo album or two in one hand, a jumbo-sized cocktail in the other and mutter, "Why? Why? Why?" as she flips through the pictorial documentation of her life with me. People honor milestones in whatever way works for them. Candidly if I was in her shoes I would mark it in precisely the same way: almost two decades married to me is a tough road for any woman to travel.

We have been together for just about twenty years now. We dated for a couple of years before we got married in 1993. I asked her to marry me less than a year after we started dating. I recall that I asked her as we sat in my car outside of her house on Howard Avenue. Never having asked a woman to be my wife before I presumed that a mobile proposal was a good plan of attack since if she said, "No", I could simply watch her exit the vehicle and then drive off into the future alone. It seemed like a good way to nip any post-proposal rejection feelings right in the bud.

Thankfully for me she did not say no. The fact that she did not say no after being presented with a ring whose stone's size could be summed up in one word - infinitesimal - says everything that anyone ever needs to know about Margaret. She looked right past the pathetic excuse for an engagement ring at the utterly terrified man sitting next to her and saw something (potential perhaps) worthy of taking a chance. I remain happy that she did. Actually, I am more than happy. Significantly so. I know not what course my life would have taken had I - on that rainy April Sunday morning more than twenty years ago - driven off alone in my VW Fox with my teeny-tiny ring box in one hand and the remnants of my life in the other. I do not doubt for a moment that it would not have been a particularly happy one. And it certainly would not have been one that I would have wanted to trade for the one I have lived every day since....

....Today I'm thinkin' about the world we live in
All the love and hate that's floatin' around
All the times I felt so lost and helpless
You stood by me you never let me down

Still I keep throwin' up these walls
Most of them I've built with stones
You tear 'em down and bridge the distance
Knowin' we ain't here to be alone

So let your blue heart open wide
Let's never leave our dreams behind
It would comfort and restore my pride
If you let me be your valentine

Our differences are part of life
Still love will pass the test of time
I want you everyday and night
Girl won't you be my valentine?

Be my valentine
Be my valentine
Be my valentine


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