Quote of the Day: “Hold on a minute. Don’t get out. I’ve got a feelin its about to come on.” –Larry to TB, having a psychic moment circa 1986 correctly anticipating his favorite “Fort” song being played
One of the things I love about Facebook is being able to keep up with so many people I’ve known through the years through their pithy, often witty status updates. In particular it is good to hear from those who travel in completely different circles than TB. Lately there has been an avalanche of notes about the onset of summer as defined by the last day of school. Is there another phrase in the English language that connotes such joy and anticipation as “last day of school”? For fourteen years going back and another few looking ahead the phrase has not/will not apply to me, but thanks to Facebook I am reveling vicariously this year in the pleasure of many friends.
Best of all about summer is the nighttime. Among my earliest summer memories are those where I was allowed to stay up past the school year bedtime, watching Monday Night Baseball. In particular I have vivid childhood recollections of watching the Major League All-Star game. What stands out most in memory are the uniforms–the mid-1970’s color explosions that characterized them and the appearance of such mythical names heard but never seen on tv such as the Mariners or the Indians. I also recall the Aqua-velva and Old Spice commercials starring Pete Rose or Steve Garvey, the inevitable 70’s streaker or kissing bandit and National League dominance, often due to the heroics of one my Redlegs. Of course, it wasn’t all about staying inside and watching sports; the excitement of neighborhood play after dark–kick the can, spotlight, eventually rolling or pine-coning the grouchy old dude’s yard–the opportunity to be outside after dark was never wasted.
As the elementary school years wore on,summer nights more and more meant baseball under the lights, watching and playing, then post game trips to May’s Superburger or Tastee Freeze. For a few years I stalked foul balls and home run hitters in quest of the always enticing free sno-cone, then later on I did my part to return the favor for the little ones. I can smell the ballfields of my youth as I sit here typing. A mixture of damp grass, red dirt, cigarette smoke, polyester, cotton candy, illicit booze, and grease. That smell doesn’t exist any more except in memory; it’s too bad.
In high school the ballgames were still being played. By then, along with the still burning competitive fire to win was the parallel chase for girls. The spirit of conversations on the mound with teammates and at the bases with opponents stays with me. “All we need is three more outs. Throw strikes. We need to get out of here by 9 so we can get showered up and hit the point.” Or, “Nice hit. You goin’ out afterwards? I need a ride.” By ten we’d be cruising up Market Street to the Pizza Hut parking lot for turnaround, then down to Beach Boulevard and over to the Point until it started hoppin. Van Halen blaring, or the Crue or Bon Jovi, or whichever hair band was in favor any given week. With luck, we’d find a girl and keep going past the Pizza Hut on the next run, maybe all the way down to the Old Spanish Fort for a little privacy and a radio change to a station more suitable for the moment.
Summer nights are still great. When it gets cool enough to escape the daylight heat and then run the gnats and mosquitos of dusk away, a gentle breeze, a moonlit sky, some good tunes, an ice chest full of cold beer and an ARB to tell old lies with, or the right girl, sometimes both…..that’s about as good as it gets. My crew just got news from our daytime lives, a work conflict removed today, that frees up the forthcoming summer nights unexpectedly. I think I’ll make sure the cooler is cleaned out and maybe add a few 80’s hits to the ipod. One of them is for you Sweet, one for Larry and one for BR (this week’s honorees for spotlight on the commenters).
–A forgotten 80’s Summer Nights playlist–
- Summer Nights–Van Halen
- Cherish–Kool and the Gang
- Say it Isn’t So–The Outfield
- Smooth Operator–Sade
- The Rain–Oran Juice Jones
- Runaway–Bon Jovi
- Livin After Midnight–Judas Priest