Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 25, 2016, 10:10 a.m.
Now things are back to normal. It’s Sunday and there’s a NASCAR race in New Hampshire and, and by extension, my living room. In a way, the whole world is here. Demonstrations in Charlotte. News of a bright young pitcher’s death in a Florida boating accident. The final CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. Ten wins in a row by the Boston Red Sox.
But the world of the living room isn’t real. It’s 72 degrees all the time, regardless of whether my television is taking me to Juneau or Tucson. I neither shiver nor sweat.
I venture out into the great beyond, which is almost infinitesimally smaller in scope and getting smaller because the whole world can be found inside.
Saturday was rare. I got to be a fan. It wasn’t pretty. Florida Tech, which I didn’t know existed but suspected because it stood to reason a state such as Florida would have a Tech, defeated the local college, the Presbyterian one, 28-7. Usually, when I’m sitting in grandstands, I’m watching the Clinton High School junior varsity. Most of the games I watch, I watch closely and take notes, because it is my job to write about them. The preparation is usually scanning some assemblage of material that is introductory and applicable to the game. The preparation on Saturday was boiling peanuts in a slow cooker overnight.
On Friday night, I wrote about Dorman beating Laurens, 52-21, in tackle football. On Saturday morning, I produced a video about it. Then I tried in vain to find a noon game that was worth watching. Wisconsin was drubbing Michigan State. Ole Miss was clobbering Georgia. By mid-afternoon, I was watching Iowa at Rutgers.
Then to far PC, which is, oh, maybe five minutes from my house. Florida Tech was very accommodating because the Panthers arrived from, oh, eight hours from my house. Unfortunately, it was worth the trip.
The game was a major downer that I managed to withstand because of good, old-fashioned human interaction, fine barbecue, and just the right amount of gins and their accompanying tonics. Gin is like liver. People either like it or they don’t. People develop tastes for beer and scotch. I like gin. Did the first time I tried it. Don’t try it much anymore. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had a gin and tonic in, oh, five years before Saturday.
I tried my best to catch up. I had several before the game. I had one at halftime. I had several after the game, which began at seven, and ended at around 10:30 for the players and most of the fans, but not my friends, who lingered on to dissect the loss as if it were an unfortunate frog in a biology lab.
Gin is a versatile liquid, though hardly the only one being imbibed across a traffic circle from the lovely entryway of Bailey Memorial Stadium. It can be used to celebrate a victory or commiserate a defeat. Some people think various incarnations of alcohol have different effects on people. Tom T. Hall, in communicating why he likes beer (“It makes me a jolly good fellow”), also wrote and sang, “Whisky’s too rough, champagne costs too much, and vodka puts my mouth in gear.”
I have heard gin’s detractors say it tastes like drinking a pine tree, or Pine-Sol disinfectant cleaner, and that always makes wonder how they know what disinfectant cleaner tastes like.
“Hey, you like gin?”
“I don’t know. Never had it. What’s it taste like?”
It’s quite possible that some people who claim to hate gin have never tried it because they didn’t want to find out what Pine-Sol tastes like. I like gin. And tonic. And a squeeze of lime juice. If that’s what Pine-Sol tastes like, well, I’ll take your word for it.
A friend offered a snort of this special bourbon whose name now eludes me – the bourbon, not the friend – and said, “It’s real smooth, but it’ll sneak up on you.”
Having just watched the Blue Hose fall ignominiously, I said, “Well, it can’t sneak up on me too soon,” but I didn’t try the bourbon. Its charms would have been lost on me.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is on Amazon sale at $2. Surely my work is worth that much of a gamble.
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
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