The Crew, as I call them, came out recently. It comprises my wife’s son and daughter, their spouses, two kids (son) and two dogs (daughter). Excellent humans and animals all, but there is, for me, a disorder dynamic that accompanies their arrival, which I have been working on to handle, not that anyone would recognize this effort.
This time, they came out on Friday and we came out on Saturday morning and spent a perfect day at Wades. The son’s wife had purchased one of those tent-like beach enclosures, large enough for all of us to recline in our chairs without fighting for our small circles of individual umbrella shade. It felt like the Ritz.
On Sunday morning, as is his wont, grandson Max arose early and crossed the second floor landing to tentatively open our bedroom door, which reliably creaks to announce his arrival. I say, “Hi, Fuzzball,” a reference to a time not long ago when we shared amusement at a Harrison Ford moment in a Star Wars movie when he upbraided his Wookie sidekick. This remark no longer has any effect and I will retire it. He climbs between us, into The Cave, where in the past we have imagined wild animals benignly threatening him from outside. From deep brain recesses, I resurrected my guttural tiger snarl, which like the failed Fuzzball gambit, no longer sends him burrowing to the back of The Cave for safety. It’s mostly iPad games now.
My wife asks him what he wants to do. A couple ideas are thrown out. He says, “I want to play baseball with Grandpa.”
We go to the garage to select a bat. There are two slender yellow Wiffle Ball bats and a fat red one that seems appropriate for Sammy Sosa in his juicing days. We go with one of the Wiffles and a styrene ball from the recreational spheroid collection.
We head to the diamond, which is in fact the turnaround of the cul-de-sac we live on. My pitching is terrible, too often inside or low. But he whacks away, spraying balls to the first and third base side, to which I say, “Good hit, but I think you nailed a fan.” He pays no heed to my chatter. He does have an innate sense to make me fetch a ball in the tall grass, somehow grasping the notion of bugs and ticks.
My wife comes out and we go into a pitcher/catcher mode that speeds up the action big time. She quickly takes over the hurling duties and puts me to shame, laying in gopher ball after gopher ball. Then Dad and then Mom show up and we have some actual fielding going on. I make several sensational plays but no one seems to notice. The one-on-one grandpa/grandkid spell has long been broken, but you take what you can get.
Next up is the Coecles Harbor Marina pool, where a dear friend allows us entry. Mom and Dad are with the one-year-old girl so we still have custody of Max. The idea is to go swimming, but Dear Friend offers to take us out in her Whaler. This is a no-brainer, but I wonder how Max will react. His sister, if magically endowed with speech and sufficient cognition, would eagerly assent to sky diving. Max has a more deliberative world view.
We inch out of the marina and the time comes to put on some speed. Dear Friend has been in this situation dozens of times. She tells Max it’s all about his comfort zone and gives the throttle a little push. He’s cool with that and then she adds a bit more and then we’re flying. On the phone we record a big smile, absent two front teeth. We bounce through our first wake. The smile endures, bigger maybe.
As we head to Reel Point, Dear Friend asks him to step up to the wheel and he grabs on. He understands this is serious stuff and affects an ancient mariner pose. Then Dear Friend starts a lazy right-hand turn and he’s totally into it as we head back to the marina.
Next up is the Whale’s Tale. He is no young Tiger Woods. His game is all mulligans and herding the ball into the cup. Then, mid-way through, we encounter a hole with no gimmicks, obstacles or undulating carpet. He puts his orange ball into the dimple. From the instant he starts his tiny back swing I know he made unconscious calculations for force and speed and the ball takes off accordingly. He drains it, a no-doubter.
Jubilation? Nope. He wants a do-over.
We’ll take a do-over of the entire day.