Monday, March 18, 2024

Help Me, I Think I’ve Fallen.

For whatever reason, clumsiness, old-age, lack of sleep or an un-diagnosed inner-ear problem, I took an unannounced tumble down a steep flight of steps on Sunday morning. The great comedian Fred Allen once said the ad agency, Batton Barton Durstein and Osborn sounded like a valise falling down the stairs. I never worked at BBDO, not even freelance, but I did a fairly creditable imitation of the onomatopoeia.

If you want to picture me falling ass over tea kettle down a flight of steps--and who wouldn't--this scene from "Kiss of Death" starring Richard Widmark should do the trick. I'm sure there's some Adobe program that will let you put this on continuous loop. That's yet another way to enjoy my pain.

Since my head over heels-ness, I've been self-monitoring my dissolution. Can I read aloud? Am I slurring my words? And I backing my 1966 Simca into the hydrangeas? Am I taking a long walk up to Coogan's Bluff to watch the New York Giants play a twin bill against the Boston Braves in the Polo Grounds where bleacher seats will cost me two-bits and I can get a tall cuppa Rheingold for just four more of the aforementioned bits.

Naw. But somehow, in a flurry of mental slurry, I had a flashback to one of the stupider things I did habitually when I played baseball for Hector Quetzacoatl Padilla and the Seraperos de Saltillo (AA) in the Mexican Baseball League way back in 1975. 

       At :40, look how Mr. Mays dekes the outfielder and smarts his way around the bases.

Whenever I hit a ball hard, in the gap, over an outfielder's head or straight down a line, I routinely imitated the amazing Enos Slaughter or the now-disgraced Pete Rose or the immortal Willie Mays.

Like Mays, I'd stutter-step into second to draw a throw from the outfield into second-base, and the accelerate around the second sack and chug with avid vehemence into third. By those means, probably a dozen times or seven or twenty, I stretched a double into a three-bagger, a triple.

Hector would chide me for my aggressiveness. Why, he'd ask. There's little difference between a double and a triple, really. With either one, a single brings you in.

"I dunno," I'd answer. 'I'd see the outfielder anticipate. I'd see him not thinking. I'd see the outfielder exhibiting a certain fielder's lassitude and expecting the same lassitude from me running the bases and, Hector, I'd say to myself, 'why not? I made it this far already.'"

"I made it this far, already." Hector would laugh. "No one's ever said that having hit a double."

I would laugh back. "Maybe it's my way of just being a bastard by doing more than I have to do and getting away with it.'

Stretching a double into a triple.

It was a work thing too. 

Selling six spots when the client wanted three. Or presenting sixes, spreads, long-form and more. Or finishing the work and more early before the brief was even done, with full-copy, none of the lorem-ipsum shite. Taking the extra base even when everyone from your supervisor, to your partner, to the people running the business would tell you to hold at second, wipe off your flannels and take the breeze.

Maybe that stretching doubles into triples is why I’m stretched out now with 6 feet 2 inches of black and blue. And blues.

I dunno what age or falls or my impending diminishment will do to me in the future--like this afternoon, tomorrow, or even next week. I dunno how much longer I can take the extra base because I've made it this far already.

For the first time ever I fell down a steep flight of stairs. I could have a Thomas Wolfe (the real writer, not the white suit guy) cerebral hemorrhage and be laying in a pool of crusted blood before I even awake to post this.

Or not.

I've made it this far already.

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