Monday, October 11, 2010
O Volleyball Days, where have you gone?
This, Murray, is my new granddaughter, Grace Catherine Deming. BTW, Dear Reader, this post is dedicated to my old pal Murray.
I'm driving down Terwood Road and there he is, bandanna on his head, down on his hands n knees in the hot October sun...gardening. I u-turned and pulled in his drive. My music was blasting.
I strode up the hill and stood in front of him, looking something like this, but w/o the pudding:
Who am I? I asked the Murr.
Ruth from volleyball, he said.
I plopped myself down in front of him and we talked. It's been 25 years...25 years and we live 5 minutes away.
He asked how my kids were.
Sarah's 36, married and living in Brooklyn. Dan's 34 and living in Abington.
He shook his head in disbelief.
It was then I noticed his wedding band.
Murray, married? Impossible. But there was something different about him. I could tell right away. Murray had mellowed. Sure enuf, he's been married 5 years to a woman from Brazil. They met at Borders Books in Chestnut Hill. She came out and we shook hands. She was holding her car keys and of course I was blocking her in, but she said she'd wait.
Murray had every gardening tool imaginable and I watched as he dug precise holes to drop in the bulbs, and even had a frigging ruler to measure how deep the hole went.
The sun was so hot I peeled off my jacket and then my outer sweater and sat soaking up the sunshine.
I asked about all the volleyballers and told him who I had flings with. My favorite was Randy Johnson. I don't think he remembered ole Randy, simply gorgeous, looked like a young Christian from Texas. After our, ahem, night of ecstasy, Randy never returned to volleyball...or me.
But, hey, I was used to being dumped, and besides I had more important things to do like prepare for my nervous breakdown. All this volleyball playing was before I ever went crazy. I was so mad my father never got to learn I was a manic-depressive. He would've been almost as shocked as I was. When the cops toted me in chains to Norristown State Hospital and after they shot me up with Haldol, they let me go in the gym with the other psychotics and play volleyball.
I longingly remembered my royal-blue kneepads I used to wear when I dove for the ball. Murr even remembered I wore an elastic band on my thumb so I wouldn't fracture it again.
I'd carry a big red thermos of ice water. The time I fractured my thumb I plunged it in the cold water to staunch the pain.
Sarah and Dan would play in the playground. This all took place at Masons Mill Park in Upper Moreland.
I told him that my dad was dying of cancer at the time. I'd mentioned it to no one, except one time, I couldn't stand not talking about it so when I was sitting on the sidelines, I mentioned it to Lou, the electrician. He was the boyfriend of a miserable woman named Pat. As soon as I talked about my dying father, Lou got up and left.
Murray and I laffed about it today.
Look at how things that once mattered, that once hurt like hell, that once tore at your heart so you thought you'd die with pain, don't mean shit no more.
There's a lesson there somewhere. Send me an email if you can figger it out.