Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bonnes Family Vacation: Day 2

So, this is a new one.

I've spent more than my fair share of time in bars, and like to think that I've done just about everything there is to do in one, but I've never blogged in one. Yet, here I am, in our hotel sports bar, a fairly happening place, literally bellied up to the bar so I can reach the keyboard on my Dell laptop.

I'm down here because my family is sleeping. And they're sleeping because they have all sucked the life out of each other by 9:45 tonight. And that's because we have completed our second day of our family vacation.

So maybe a better question is why am I NOT sleeping. And it's because I want to stretch a bit, write about something a little different than baseball. I'm a little wary, because usually when I write about my family, I have a story to tell, but tonight I'm writing because there isn't a story to tell. I'm writing because I'm sure there are a dozen stories from the last 48 hours, and I'm wondering how I missed them. It's almost like I'm writing to punish myself, but it's more to remind myself to keep a storyteller's eye on things.

And one such story should probably be the drive here to Chicago. I cannot tell you why, but it was incredibly important to me to drive here - to force my family into a seven hour drive. And I have no idea why. It's not like I remember anything important happening in the care on the endless trips my family took every other summer out west.

What I remember is trivial. Like I remember my brother and I taking every available pillow (I think there were four of them) and sticking them into the foot wells of the back seat. That way, one of us would sleep on the large back seat (no bucket seats in those old station wagons) and the other one would sleep on the floor of the back seat. The pillows were important, because they leveled the back floor a bit so the enormous hump that ran through the back of the car wasn't sticking into the middle of your back (too much). So it wasn't because I thought something important would happen for them.

Mostly, I think I wanted to drive because I really like to drive. I'd like to say it makes me think things out, and that's partly true, but again, I can't remember any particularly illuminating insights I've ever had while driving. I just like the feeling of being in the car, of going somewhere, of things changing, and I want the kids to eventually gain that too. So, naturally, I'm dragging them on these little death marches.

On second thought, maybe that isn't the best idea, huh?

But it seems to be working, especially for The Boy™, who has been especially happy. In fact, he's been annoyingly happy. Keeping him focused is nearly always a challenge, but this week it's been impossible. He gets so excited about a simple concept like Dunkin Donuts for breakfast that when the big stuff comes (like going on a speedboat tour of Chicago) he doesn't even know what he's doing.

It's been tragically funny to watch him interact with The Voice of Reason™ in this condition. Today, they literally had the following conversation as he prepared to go out to the swimming pool. I'm going to portray it from his point-of-view:

TB: Mom, where are my (swimming) goggles?
TVOR: Buzz buzz buzz buzzy-buzz. Buzz buzz buzz buzzy-buzz your buzzy-buzz.
(The Boy™ wanders around the hotel room for twenty seconds wondering what he's doing, then remembers he's looking for his goggles.)
TB: (a little more urgently): Mom, have you seen my goggles?
TVOR: Buzz buzz buzz buzzy-buzz. You need to buzzy-buzz your sandals. Get your sandals on.
(The Boy™ spins around the room for 5 more seconds, clues in that he's supposed to be getting his sandals, and then realizes that Mom is still missing the point.)
TB: My GOGGLES. Where are my goggles?

By the third time she has repeated the same sentence, she's speaking slowly. And loudly. She's looking him in the eye. And waving the goggles in front of his nose. She is using all possible resources at her disposal to get the point across. I expect the next step was for her to find a conference room with one of those giant Post-It™ pads and illustrate it for him.

Of course, I find this endlessly amusing in part because I've been doing this to her for years. This Sunday morning I needed to pick up The Chatty Chatty Princess™ from a slumber party, and so I asked TVOR if she had the invitation so I could find the house's address. And she looked at me like I had just grown a third eye.

"It's on the kitchen table. I found it. I brought it to you. I asked you if you would go get her. You said yes. Then I handed you the invitation. You said thanks. Then you set it down on the kitchen table."

I, of course, remember none of this, because I was reading the paper at the time. And I have no doubt that everything she said was true. My talking point now is that for the last seventeen years I've been preparing her for having her own small boy. I'm sure her point is that he's my freaking son, and she should have been a little more careful about selecting a less shallow gene pool.

But here's the punchline. The invitation was on the kitchen table, but I forgot it there when I went to pick her up, so I had to call TVOR from outside the house and confirm the damn address anyway.

Hey, look, I found a story. That was fun. Maybe, just maybe, we'll try again tomorrow night.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Untold Story of How Joe Helped Nick Out of his Slump

by Twins Geek

As Joe Mauer waited his turn for the batting cage, he noticed Patrick Reusse weaving his way towards him. “Hey Joe!” his gravel voice squeaked. “How many RBI do you think you’ll drive in this season?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t really keep track.”
”What? Then how do you compare yourself to other players?”
“By height.”

Thinking he had missed part of the conversation (again), Reusse wandered away to ask Morneau when he was going to start hitting left-handers again. From his shadow, little Nick Punto suddenly emerged. “Hey, Joe. Can I ask you something?”
“Sure thing, Ned. Shoot.” said Joe kindly.
“It’s Nick, Joe”, replied Punto. “Did you ever trouble getting excited about baseball?”
“No, I've never had that problem,” Joe replied thoughtfully. “Why?”
“Forget it. I didn't think you'd understand”, Nick dejectedly. But he fired back up almost immediately. “I’ve got to hit again. I’ve just got to!”
“Nick, this isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia, is it?"
“Um, no…”
“I didn't think so. Now, the thing is, do you want to hit?”
“Well, yeah. If I don’t, I might lose my job,“ lamented Nick. “I mean, how am I going to support my family?”
“Whoa, Nate. I’m not even a free agent yet. I helped you find that jewelry endorsement, and I bought you that Coke yesterday. I can’t pay for everything…”
“No, no,” Nick quickly responded as Joe entered the batting cage. “It’s just, I really, really, want to hit again. I’m tired of grounding out weakly to shortstop. I’m not ready for my career to end and to spend the rest of my life selling baseball stuff from some warehouse.”
“What’s the matter with selling baseball stuff?” wondered Joe. “I own two warehouses full of QuickSwings.™”
“I notice you don’t spend a lot of time at them.”
“I’m not sure where they are.”

After a couple of practice swings, Joe looked back at Nick, and seemingly made a decision. “I like you, Nancy”, he said.
“That's Nick, Joe”, replied Nick.
“Nick. I’m going to give you a little advice. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen.” And out of his back pocket, he pulled a headband. “All you have to do is get in touch with it,” he said as he put the headband around his head and... over his eyes? “Stop thinking.” He picked up the bat. “Hear nothing. Feel nothing.” He brought the back bat, cocked, waiting for the pitch. “Just let things happen and be….”
The pitching machine clicked. The ball fired.
“…the ball.”
The arms swung. The wrists uncoiled. With a holy smack the ball flew straight up the middle.
“That was kind of incredible, Joe!” exclaimed Nick.
“Thank you very little, replied Joe. “Here, you try it.”
“Pardon me?” said Nick.
“You try it,” Said Joe, handing Nick the bat and blindfold. “Just relax. Find your center.”
Nick lined himself up at the plate. Resting the bat on his leg, he put the blindfold over his eyes. “Just picture the pitch. Picture it” quietly coached Joe.
Nick picked up the bat, raising his arms behind his head.
“Turn off all the sound. Just let it happen,” continued Joe. “Be the ball,” he whispered. “Be the ball, Nick.”
The machine clicked. The ball fired – right past Punto with the bat still cocked behind his head.
“You're not being the ball, Nick,” scolded Joe.
“Well, it's difficult with you talking like that,” spat back Nick.
“OK. I'm not talking,” said Joe soothingly. “I’ve stopped talking. I'm not talking now. Be the ball.”
The machine clicked. The ball fired. But this time, the bat connected – and the ball dribbled weakly to the left of the pitching machine.
Punto whipped off the blindfold. “Where did it go?” he asked.
“Right in the warehouse,” sighed Joe. “It's okay. We'll work on it.”

The Twins Geek writes a couple time per week about Minnesota Sports at TwinsGeek.com. And on his deathbed, he’ll receive total consciousness. So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.