Ask any grown man what movie makes him cry and he'll either tell you it's "Brian's Song" or "Field Of Dreams".
For me, the taps open at the end of the Kevin Costner classic when he asks his dad at the end of the movie to "have a catch." Truth be told, things get a little blurry just typing about it.
Remarkably, I was able to maintain my composure and my dad-cred earlier this afternoon when my son--home as of today to do Easter break--pulled his baseball mitt from his bag of dirty laundry and asked if I wanted to head outside to toss the ball around.
It was a true "Cats In The Cradle" moment as I begged off, asking if he could wait until I sneaked in a quick nap. Days have been long of late, and it's getting harder and harder to make it to "Taps" each night without a little kipper in between. After a good hour in the rack, I woke up and was delighted to hear that the offer still stood.
Then, it hit me: I really don't have a functioning glove any more. My old one blew out during my son's dying days in Whitnall Little League, and I figured that a guy my age no longer needed one, what with youngest being out of ball and out of the house.
I dug through the kids' toy bin in the garage and unearthed one of those Brewers Glove Day models that we must've snagged ions ago. It fit like, well, a glove: too small for comfort but functional in terms of what it was being called upon to do.
Hell, I would've gone out there wearing an oven mitt.
If you don't have kids, this probably won't make sense but if you do, you'll know what it means when a son (or ball-playing daughter) asks you to go outside for a catch. The older they get, you realize that it's less about baseball and more about time together and memories. Our tosses this afternoon were punctuated with tales of Little League triumphs from times gone by, and backyard games when my son was still small enough to crawl under the deck to retrieve our last surviving baseball. We talked about possible baseball trips this summer, the Brewers' chances this upcoming season, and even a little Bucks basketball.
The little mitt held up fine, and so did my feeble arm. By the time we were done, we had shaken the rust and were delivering solid chest-to-chest tosses that made our gloves crack and our hands occasionally burn.
Young adults are a hard breed to snare for a conversation, much less for anything more than a few sentences blurted out as they head out to work, school and time with friends. To be invited into their world on their own terms, revisiting something that brought so much joy is the finest of compliments. Sometimes that trip down memory lane is no longer than a walk into the backyard.
So, the question is this: do I head to the store and buy myself a new glove, in hopes of more such occasions this summer? Does a 53 year old man REALLY need a new mitt, especially one who's youngest is now a soon-to-be college sophomore?
After what happened this afternoon, how do I not?