It is time for me to rest from my miseries for a few moments.
In the midst of chaos, a double-whammy chaos brought on by a computer and a credit card –What else could it be? — i have stopped to catch up on me and tell a good story.
You see, my laptop, my source to the outside world, all things good and bad, an infuriating root of easy attached to an even more infuriating Rube Goldberg maze with no end of security gone bad world of passwords, user names, account keys, secret codes, and some dark side of energy that saps our lives from normal existence, went down. Hard. So hard that when i confronted the laughing repaired laptop, i discovered my latest backup was corrupt and good to no one except the lord of the dark and unknown.
The double-whammy came when i complained to my bride of great wisdom that the United States Postal Service, which we used to call the post office, was now charging me for redelivery of a package that did not reach me nor what contents lie therein. Her antennae stood up and she found i had just been scammed. This, of course, required me to contact my financial institution in its greatest example of security inflamed entry through user names, account id, passwords, magic codes, and several incantations to the financial gods, and cancel my credit card. Which i did. Head shaking-ly sadly.
So now, while retrieving all of my accounts and all of my data on my computer and updating all of that security gobbeldy gook — i really thought “gobbeldy” was a word — i am also updating all of my accounts with new credit card information.
i think this is what hell looks like.
But i stop.
You see, in the midst of my frenetic scrambling yesterday, i took a break to watch Vanderbilt play Florida in a cold First Bank Stadium where good ole Dr. Dudley has taken a back seat to money.
i figured the Gators would chomp on the “Dores early to the point i not only could, but would happily, turn off somewhere around the turn of the first and second quarters.
i was gloriously wrong. Vanderbilt jumped on the Gators and rode them to the finish just like old Paul Bryant jumped on that bear in the carnival contest and beat that grizzly to earn his nickname “Bear.”
Vanderbilt beats Florida, 31-24, the first victory for the Commodores over the Gators in the newly named First Bank Stadium since 1988.
And through my amazement, my happiness, my plans to exchange joy with all of my Vanderbilt friends, i kept thinking of one person.
For those who might not have caught about two dozen or so of my posts here. Mike Dixon and i were fast friends. He passed away just about 14 months ago. i no longer wrestle with whether i should take my golf clubs when i go back home, or my baseball glove, or my basketball.
Mike was a major, major fan of Vanderbilt sports, especially the three sports that dominated our youth: football, basketball, and baseball. He had season tickets to all three. He wanted the Commodores to beat the world, and especially the Vols at the school, University of Tennessee, which he once attended.
Mike and i played basketball and baseball together at Castle Heights and baseball against each other and then with each other on Lebanon’s American Legion team that won the mid-east regional and played in the state tournament. And we not only played together, we went together to see basketball games all over Middle Tennessee. i clearly remember he and i sitting on the hillside down the first baseline of Hawkins Field, watching Vandy play someone on a perfect spring sunny afternoon under the shade of Dudley Field. Prophetic perhaps.
Mike and i played whiffle ball endlessly in my backyard when we both were developing into almost fanatic Pittsburgh Pirate fans. A single was beyond an imaginary line between an imaginary first and second base. We played honest. A double was against the garage wall in right or the house steps. A triple was down the left field wall into the side yard or in the left center against the house again or to the driveway in right center. A home run was a fly into the Padgett’s field next door in right or past the yard to left or against the house in left. If the ball hit the small pecan tree down the third baseline or the Japanese elm just past the shortstop, we estimated the distance it would have flown. Each player had to throw in the manner of one of the Pirate pitchers. And each batter had to take the stance of one of the Pirate hitters. Favorite pitchers were were Harvey Haddix who pitched 12-innings of perfect baseball only to lose 1-0 in the 13th, Elroy Face who won 18 games in a row as the archetypal closer with his famous fork-finger pitch. On the hitting side, we liked the circular warmup swing with the head turning to the side of Roberto Clemente, my all-time favorite baseball player.
The only thing we played longer were our pick up games in the old Heights gymnasium. We played after the noon mess in our uniforms and socked feet. And we played after football, basketball, and baseball practice until Mrs. Fahey, the mother of all cadets who had an apartment in the front of the gym, would run us home where we were in trouble for being late for supper.
Then we went our separate ways to college, seldom seeing each other until we connected when Mike was out on a sales mission in Anaheim. i drove up and we talked for a couple of hours over drinks. That resumed the relationship. i would see him every time i went home to Lebanon, and if the weather allowed, one or two rounds of golf were included, many with Wayne Dedman.
Every time i came home and needed help in rides to or from the airport or a place to stay, Mike, Henry Harding, and Eddie Callis were always there for me. With Mike, a Vanderbilt game was included if the schedule fell right.
Mike ached from wanting Vanderbilt to win so badly. He was a critic, but a loyal one. He married Gloria Mallory, the light of his life after Brenda, his first wife, succumbed to cancer. Gloria and Mike shared their love of Vanderbilt sports and were one of the few couples from home who visited us in the Southwest corner, one of our favorite weekends.
Mike fought through some significant major illnesses until his heart, the one that beat so hard for sports, Vanderbilt in particular; his religion, and his wife Gloria, finally struck out swinging.
i miss him, terribly sometimes, especially in his analysis and insider dope of Vanderbilt football, basketball, and baseball.
Yesterday, somewhere up there, i am sure he was jumping up and down with joy when the Commodores held off the Gators, just like we did (and got caught skipping the lunch formation when the Pirates beat the mighty Yankees on Bill Mazeroski’s home run over Yogi Berra in left field of Forbes Field in 1961. And he will be by my side when the ‘Dores take on the Vols next Saturday.
Rest well, my friend.