On Readheads

I’ve always been attracted to women with red hair. Throw in green eyes and a scattering of freckles and you will definitely have my attention. I don’t know why that is, but it may be due to my Celtic heritage. Not that all or even most Celts have red hair, but the mental image I hold is always of a strapping individual, male or female, with flaming red hair and green eyes, a large shiny sword complete with mystic runes inscribed on the hilt.

It’s easy for our minds to lump people together and define them as a whole based on looks. Skin type, hair color, facial features, help us categorize people at a glance, and often cause us to gloss over and dismiss people as not worthy of our attentions. So often we fail to know or appreciate someone because we didn’t take a moment to look beneath the surface.

But we’re all human, and while we may think otherwise, are more alike than we know. How many times have we been in a crowd and have our eyes automatically drawn to the gorgeous but not too bright blonde, the mysterious brunette, the tanned athletic man of adventure? See how easily those labels are applied, without any conscious effort on our part? Clothing, makeup, jewelry, other accoutrements aside, it doesn’t make much sense that what’s on the outside is a window to the inside.

Except redheads. I wonder if my association of flaming red hair, green eyes and a few freckles, with a fiery personality, might not be too far off the mark. Covers and books, personalities and looks, redheads and tempers. Books need covers, to capture our attention, to protect but still hint at that which lies within. Redheads, I believe, are given their physical traits as a warning to all who might approach. Caution! Extreme heat just beneath the surface! Proceed at your own risk!

And, like moths and flame, like Icarus and the sun, the irresistible attraction of red hair and a few freckles pulls me in, oblivious to possible injury but willing to accept the risk.

The Pitch

He was weary and weak, and didn’t feel good most of the time. The old man seldom went out and even when did, he wished he were back home, in his small apartment and its tired dusty walls, the Murphy bed, the broken recliner. The only place he felt safe and comfortable, with his frail broken down body, his head full of memories that seemed to fade more with each passing day.

He would sit in his chair, a blanket folded over his legs to ward off the chill of an early spring evening, and his mind would wander, and he tried to remember the last time he had felt warm. And he would think, and occasionally nod off, only to be startled awake by the sounds that filtered through the thin walls; the horn of an irate driver, a mother calling her child to dinner, the crack of a bat, the pop of leather meeting leather. He remembered what it felt like, to hit, to catch, to throw. And his nose remembered the scent of a leather glove, how it smelled of oil lovingly rubbed in, of sweat, of summer. And when evening faded to night, the children long gone, the driver forgotten, when darkness and silence were all that remained, he drifted to sleep once more, and he dreamed.

He was on the mound, his attention focused down to a tight narrow beam, the only two things in his world just him, and the catcher’s glove. In that moment, for him, everything else ceased to exist. He didn’t hear the crowd or smell the popcorn, or see the catcher’s signals. Signals made no difference, he knew what he was going to throw, the crowd knew, even the hitter knew. His one pitch, the one that got him here, and kept him here, the one he could always count on. He’d been in situations like this countless times before, he knew the feeling well. He knew pressure, how it could intimidate, crush, make you shrink in on yourself, and he relished that, he hungered for it, for its challenge, for the way it caused his adrenaline to flow, and to him, it was only another opponent, another obstacle to overcome.

Four tenths of a second, hardly more than the blink of an eye, that’s how long it takes the ball to travel from his hand to the catcher’s mitt. Sixty feet six inches and four tenths of a second, all that stood between him and glory.

He wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his glove, adjusted his hat, shook the tightness out of his arm. The ball was light in his hand, like a feather, like nothing at all. His fingers caressed the seams, intimately familiar with their feel. Rocking back on his right leg, reaching back, reaching for all he had, his left leg in the air, he pointed his toe at home plate and threw. From the moment he let the ball go, as it streaked toward home plate, a comet, a vanishing point of light, he knew. He knew. It was his pitch, he owned it. It defined him, was him. He awoke to silence, the crack of the bat a fading memory. The dream, the same one he dreamed every night, ended, as it always ended.

The old man opened his eyes. Outside, a dog was barking.

A Goodnight Story For A Little Snake

Jake came about as a result of a gift given to me by my sister at our 50th high school reunion. A rubber snake. Knowing full well my aversion to snakes, she tossed it down on the table, literally beneath my nose. Although I’m still not particularly fond of snakes, Jake has helped soften my stance somewhat.

This is the story of how a little snake named Jake came to live with Brother BudPie, a courageous, noble, stunningly handsome, soft-spoken, yet humble guy.

One time, not too long ago, not too far from here, there was a little snake named Jake. He didn’t remember being born, or much of his early snakehood, but he did remember a kind and loving person called Lemon Lady. She loved Jake, and he loved her. They went everywhere together. She even removed all the cold, hard coins from her coin purse, just so Jake had a safe and comfortable place to ride.

 Lemon Lady, wise in the ways of little snakes, would let Jake roam around the house and eat spiders, for everyone knows that snakes love spiders. And Jake was no different. Oh how he loved spiders! Big ones, small ones, green ones, brown ones. And sometimes, if he happened to catch the occasional fly, well that was ok too.

But one day, Lemon Lady took Jake aside, and in a kind, loving voice, told him something that would forever change his life. “My Jakey” she said, because that was her pet name for him, she said “Jakey, my little snakey, I need to tell you something. You’re old enough that you need to know this. I’m not your mother.”  

Needless to say, Jake was stunned. He was floored by this revelation. (He was floored most of the time anyway, being a snake and all). “You’re not my mother?” cried Jake, a tear rolling down his face, and splashing a very short distance to the floor. “My poor Jakey, no one knows who your parents are. I found you one day curled up on my doorstep, with a note, a very small note, attached just under your chin. It said ‘Please take care of my little Jake. I can no longer provide for him, as I have two dozen of his siblings that demand all of my time and resources.’ And it was signed ‘Jake’s real Mom'”.

Totally drained and emotionally exhausted, Jake went to bed, in the little woodpile next to the fireplace, where he always slept. He thought to himself, “I’ll never be able to sleep tonight.” But he did. And in the morning, when he woke up, not feeling much better, Lemon Lady was sitting on the floor right beside the woodpile.

“Wakey wakey, Little Jakey, we’re going on an adventure. Some of my very dear friends are meeting at an Old Timer’s Convention in Apple Land, where goodness grows on trees, and the Mexican food is superb. And we’re invited! I haven’t seen some of them in a very long time”. So off they went, Lemon Lady on her ten speed Schwinn bicycle that she won playing bingo at the Lemon Lovers League, with Jake, snug in her coin purse. They rode and rode, and rode some more. After what seemed like a very long time to Jake, they arrived at a beautiful, lush, parklike place, where some people were busy hitting and chasing little white balls. This didn’t make much sense to Jake, but he was young, and not very worldly. He shrugged, as much as he could, not having shoulders, and went inside with Lemon Lady.

A wondrous magical place awaited him there. Rows upon rows of tables, covered in white cloth. People walking to and fro. “Put me down, Lemon Lady, so I can crawl around” said Jake.

“Oh my baby Jake, you’re just a little snake, and a single clumsy foot is all that it would take, to turn my little boy into a skinny long pancake.” So she didn’t.

Not long after that, Jake’s senses were assaulted by a cacophony of sound, and his eyes were bedazzled by people, making weird gyrations in the middle of the room. “What madness is this?” thought Jake, for he had never seen or heard anything like it. Certainly not at Lemon Lady’s house.

But through all the noise and mayhem, Lemon Lady, in a soft, loving voice said “Come along Baby Snakes, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” And saying that, she walked over to a table, near the back of the room, and carefully placed Jake, the little snake, in front of a tall (all people were tall to Jake), handsome, strong yet gentle, kind, funny, semi bald man. “Jake” said Lemon Lady, “I’d  like you to meet Brother BudPie.”

Jake looked up, and up, and up. And all he could see were two large holes, with stuff growing inside. “A guy could get lost in there” thought Jake. But then he realized he was too close to Brother Budpie, and he scooted back. “Ah, much better”, and now his attention was drawn to the most beautiful, large, perfectly shaped, not too hairy, ears.

Jake was enchanted by the wing-like appendages protruding from the sides of Brother BudPie’s enormous head (to Jake, all peoples’ heads were enormous). “I bet you can hear everything!” blurted Jake, before he had a chance to think better of it.

“Yes I can, little snake, and I bet you’re wearing contacts.” said Brother BudPie, with a twinkle in his eye, and a chuckle in his mellow, kind, gentle voice, with just a hint of an accent, that may or may not have been Welsh. “I can hear secrets in the breeze, birds up in the trees, spiders when they talk, and even when they walk.” For Brother BudPie had the annoying habit of talking in rhyme. All the time.

“But” said Jake, with as much of a puzzled expression as he could manage, not having the benefit of eyebrows, “what makes you think I’m wearing contacts?” And Brother BudPie, without missing a beat, said “Because you don’t have any ears, little buddy. Bada bing, bada boom.”

“Hmmm” thought Jake, “sometimes you just have to roll with the flow.” But always on the lookout for a snack, Jake did not miss the reference to spiders. “Are you my dad?” said Jake, a quiver in his voice and longing in his heart. “Are there spiders where you live?” Because, as we now know, Jake loved spiders. “Would it be so bad if I were not your dad? If you would live with me, you soon would come to see, spiders all around, spiders on the ground, spiders on the chair, spiders everywhere.”

Only slightly annoyed, Jake looked up at Lemon Lady, with hope in his eyes, and seeing the loving smile on her angelic face, and the little smudge of lemon frosting on the corner of her mouth that he had come to love, he knew right then that he had found his forever home. And that’s the story of how Jake the Little Snake came to live with Brother BudPie, a staunch advocate for snake’s rights, defender of all critters, big and small, and President of the Local Chapter of Refrigerator Salesmen.

My Bloggin’ Life

Hi, I’m Bud! Glad you stopped by to visit. Most of the content will be stories, some that document my younger days growing up in a small town. Some will be everyday observations that I feel are worth sharing. There will also be children’s stories and the occasional poem thrown in for good measure. That seems the be the track I’m currently on. And, I’m sure there will be some pure nonsense. Bear with me, hopefully, it will get better as time goes by. 🙂

So I’m really new to this, and you will pardon me if I fumble about a bit. I suppose if I hadn’t waited until I was in my dotage to undertake such an endeavor, the results would be much better. That, and I’m currently struggling with a sticky space bar. That slows me down somewhat. But I shall overcome, most likely by purchasing a new laptop. In the above paragraph you will note that I mentioned nonsense. You’ve just had your first dose. It’s better if you take it with a grain of salt.