Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bunky Takes a Bow

   I set my coffee on the table and sat down across from Clara.
   She smiled and asked, "Have you heard the news about Eb?"
   "If you mean the clutch strike he threw last night to win the game for our bowling team ... yes, I was there."
   "No, I mean about his book being endorsed by the Ding Dong School."
   "Ding Dong School?"
   "It's a hot new website for preschoolers and ..."
   "Preschoolers have a website?"
   "Where have you been, Chris ... there are hundreds of them."
   "You know, me, Clara ... I'm the last know anything."
   "Now, that's not true ... "
   "Just ask Uncle Billy ... anyway, what's this about Eb being endorsed by a website?"
   "Ding Dong School ... they reviewed Bunky Takes a Nap and gave it a five handprint endorsement."
   "Five handprint?"
   "It's the symbol they use ... you know, like movie critics often use stars ... a good movie gets four or five stars ..."
   "Oh, yeah."
   "... well, Ding Dong School uses hand prints ... and Eb's book got five."
   "Wow, that sounds good."
   "Good? Ding Dong is one of the premier on-line destinations for kids ... and their parents ... do you know what this could mean for Eb?"
   I rubbed my chin. "I see what you mean."
   "Getting an endorsement from a high-profile website like that could launch him into the stratosphere ... you could have a celebrity for a friend."
   "That's amazing."
   "You must be proud ... after all, you're the one who helped him realize his goal."
   "I don't know about that ... but, I'm certainly happy for him."
   Clara looked at her watch. "Oh, shoot ... I've got to leave."
   "Leave? I just got here."
   "Didn't you get my text?"
   "No, I don't ..."
   "Oh, that's right ... I keep forgetting ... you don't read texts ..."
   "Well, it's not exactly that I don't read them ... my phone doesn't receive them ... anyway, why do you have to leave?"
   "William is taking me to the ballgame this afternoon, and I have to drop off some copies of my book at the library before he picks me up."
   "You're going to the game with Uncle Billy?"
   Clara stood up to leave. "Hey, the Tigers are in a pennant race."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dry Night

   The team held it's collective breath as the ten-pin teetered momentarily, finally succumbing to gravity and falling in to the gutter to complete the strike and win the game for the team. A cheer went up and Hank, Uncle Billy and I charged onto the lane to congratulate Eb with friendly back-slaps, high-fives and hair ruffling.
   "Way to go, Eb!" shouted Hank.
   "Great job!" I added.
   "Didn't think you had it in you," said Billy.
    We guided Eb back to his seat, a smile creasing his face.
   Hank plopped down beside him. "I'm buying your first beer, young man."
   "Hey, how about me?" said Billy. "Don't forget that turkey I threw in the middle frames set this up."
   Hank looked up at him. "I didn't forget, Bill ... I'm buying a round for everyone."
   I slipped off my shoes and grabbed my street shoes from the beneath my seat. "I'll have to take a rain check, Hank."
   "Where are you going?" asked Billy.
   "I gotta get home ..."
   "What? And miss free beer?" asked Eb.
   "I sure hate to, but I've got an early call tomorrow."
   "What's going on?" asked Hank.
   "I have a job interview."
   "No kidding?" said Hank.
   I laced up my shoes. "They're looking for tutors at Knowledge World."
   "What's that?" asked Eb.
   "Teaching rug-rats their ABC's," said Billy.
   I finished tying my shoes and gave Billy a sideways glance. "I think it's for kids who need extra help in school."
   "Hey, that's great," said Eb, still smiling from ear to ear. "But are you sure you don't have time for one beer?"
   "Sorry, Eb."
   "He needs his beauty rest," said Billy, "or it'll be all he can do to fill out that application."
   "Is that something you want to do?" asked Hank.
   I grabbed the bowling shoes and stood up. "Not necessarily ... but I could use a little extra jing at the moment."
   "It was either that or Walmart greeter," said Billy.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Postman Always Rings Twice

   I flicked on my right turn signal and started to turn out of Back in the Day parking lot to head for Manny's Deli and Liquor.
   "Hey, do me a favor," said Uncle Billy, "and swing by the mailbox, will you?"
   I stopped the car. "Mailbox? Where is there a mailbox?"
   Billy pointed to the left. "There's one in the neighborhood ... a couple blocks up."
   I flicked on the left turn signal and turned left onto the side street. "Why do you want to go there?"
   Billy rolled his eyes. "Um, let me think ... oh, yeah, to mail a letter."
   "I guessed that ... don't they have mail pick-up at the facility?"
   "So ... "
   "What do you care? Can't you just take me to the mailbox."
   I noticed he was tapping an envelope on his thigh. "I'll take you to the mailbox ... I'm just curious why you wouldn't just drop off at your apartment."
   "Maybe I don't want everyone knowing my business ... including nephews."
   "Okay, okay ... it's none of my business."
   He stopped tapping the envelope and I saw the words 'Suburban Senior News' in the address line.
   "Suburban Senior News?" I blurted out.
   He looked down at the envelope and flipped it over so the address was no longer visible. "Didn't I just say that I don't want everyone knowing my business?"
   "I'm sorry ... but the address was right there ..."
   "Maybe if you kept your eyes on the road instead of my personal correspondence we could get this letter mailed and get to Manny's before it closes."
   I slowed to a stop in front of the mailbox. "We've been through this before, Uncle ... Manny's never closes."
   "By the time you finish reading my mail, they'll probably be sold out of Scotch."
   "I'm not reading your mail ... I just happened to see the address ... the letter was sitting right there on your leg ..."
   "Okay, if you must know, Kojak ... Clara told me there were some good coupons for seniors in this stupid rag ... so, I figured I'd take advantage of them."
   "Well, that makes sense," I said. "But I still don't see why you couldn't mail at the facility."
   "You just have to know everything, don't you?"
   "I'm just curious ..."
   "Look, Stella Rochelle gives the mail to give to the postman and Stella is the number-one gossip in the joint and she just happens to be friendly with Clara ... you figure it out."
   "So what if she told Clara that you ordered the Suburban Senior News?"
   "And let Clara think she had a good idea?"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dream On

   The room held its collective breath as Austin Jackson sprinted toward deep center, chasing down a long fly that looked, for all the world, like it would drop behind him, sending the tying runs home for Chicago. When the ball settled into his glove, a cheer went up in the bar like Detroit had just won the seventh game of the World Series; beer and popcorn seemed to be flying everywhere.
   "Oh man, was that fantastic or what?" said Hank.
   "My heart can start beating again," said Rebecca.
   Uncle Billy brushed popcorn off the table in front of him. "It's just one series ... in case you haven't noticed, it's only September 2 ... there is still a lot of baseball to played."
   I shook my head. "Uncle, you sure know how to take the fun out of a moment."
   Billy looked around at the beaming faces and back slapping going on around the table. "What? I'm just trying to be realistic."
   "I know ... but that was a big series ... we're tied for first place."
   "For a day ... they'll lose to Cleveland tomorrow and we'll be back in second."
   Hank poured beer into Billy's half-full glass. "Bill, you couldn't find joy in a moment if you won the Lotto."
   "Sure I can ... I've just been a Tiger fan for too long ... I know they'll stumble sooner or later."
   Mary brushed popcorn off Eb's chest. "Maybe they will, but can't we enjoy this victory?"
   "I'm enjoying it," said Billy.
   "You couldn't tell, Uncle," I said.
   "Look, I'm as happy as anyone that they just swept Chicago for a share of first place ... I just happen to know this script ... they'll keep us hoping until the end, and then rip our hearts out and stomp on them."
   "Hey, they won the division last year and went to the playoffs," said Eb.
   Billy sneered. "Right ... and what happened? They lost the pennant to the Rangers."
   "So what?" said Eb. "We got to see 'em play in October."
   "That's right," I added, "all you can ask is for meaningful games in September and a chance to play into October."
   Billy stood up and threw a ten dollar bill on the table. "That ought to cover my share of the tab ... I'm leaving you dreamers to your fantasies."
   "Where are you going, Uncle?"
   "I'm taking Alma to the Casino."