This summer I will listen to baseball games on an AM radio while
dozing in a hammock as a tall, sweating glass of lemonade rises
and falls on my stomach with my breathing. The ice cubes will
tinkle like wind chimes when I wake, with a start, to some
ancient announcer shouting, "Tell Aunt Biddy to feed the kitty,
'cause that ball is gone!" Then I'll fall back to sleep.
I will buy one packet of Topps baseball cards this summer and
peel open the wrapper, hoping to get an Ichiro Suzuki--only to
find, instead, three Armando Almanzas, which I will clothespin to
the front fork of the green Schwinn that I plan to buy this
This summer I will play softball with my buddies in suburban
parks with chain-link outfield fences, and we will drink Coors
Light while getting 10-runned by lumberjacks. I will watch the
games from rightfield through the airholes in the crown of my
cap, which I will hold in front of my face to keep the gnats
away. Then I will ride my Schwinn home with my mitt dangling from
the handlebars, stopping at Dairy Queen for a Scrumpdillyishus
bar, which I will eat in the parking lot, in full uniform, like a
6'4" Little Leaguer.
I will play pickup basketball games this summer on the baking
asphalt of a brick-oven urban playground, and my sweet jump shot
will make the chain net sway like the grass skirt on a hula
dancer. All the while, on my Samsonite-sized boom box, Earth Wind
& Fire will sing September.
June 3, 2001
This summer I will leave work at two o'clock on a Tuesday, citing
a dental appointment, only to hit beautiful arcing draws and
fades for three hours on a driving range out by the airport. Then
on Saturday, full of hope, I will shoot 103 on some municipal
goat track and pinch a nerve in my neck.
I will watch fat men sweat through gray T-shirts at an NFL
training camp this summer while I sit comfortably in an
aluminum-framed lawn chair. There I will drink beers kept cold by
a foam-rubber can cozy and fan myself with a roster of rookies
who just might--I will allow myself to believe--put the Vikings
back in the Super Bowl.
I will fall off a skateboard sometime this summer and break my
arm at a really cool angle. I will wear a cast that all my
friends will sign and that women will find sexy. I will tell
everyone that I broke it hang gliding.
This summer I will set my alarm on a Sunday morning to watch
Breakfast at Wimbledon and see Bud Collins, in pants evidently
cut from a Holiday Inn bedspread, interview a victorious Pete
Sampras, a tradition that I always find comforting. Then, five
hours after waking up, I will make several abortive efforts to
get out of bed.
I will wait for the NBA Finals to conclude this summer in some
oppressively hot city. As celebrating citizens light up the night
with gunfire and blazing squad cars, I will watch the 10 o'clock
news and be glad that I don't live there. Because this summer I
will have no greater concern than how to cut my lawn in those
diagonal stripes of contrasting shades you see in major league
stadiums. On that grass I will throw lawn darts and play croquet
and make a Wiffle ball move like a moth in a maelstrom.
This summer I will buy live bait and sandwiches, served up by the
same hands in a shack by the side of the road. Then I will fish
from a dock with my feet in the water and my back resting on an
Igloo cooler. In eight hours I will catch nothing but a buzz.
I will save 700 soda-pop proof-of-purchase labels this summer,
and I will mail them to a P.O. box in Nebraska so that sometime
next December, I can giddily go to my mailbox and find inside a
Tampa Bay Devil Rays souvenir key chain.
This summer I will spend all day at the beach throwing a football
in flawless spirals and running tight post patterns around old
men with metal detectors. I will never go into the water, and I
will never make it past page 7 of James Michener's Hawaii.
I will stand on my front stoop this summer and watch kids plead
"One more inning" when their mothers call them to wash up for
And when the sun goes down, I will park on the highest hill
overlooking the city and tune in faraway, 50,000-watt radio
stations, and I will listen to ball games drifting in on a breeze
from the West Coast. And when the games fade out, I will lie back
on the hood of my car and look up at the stars and listen to the