Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Catching Up

Unsavory characters . . . criminals . . . convicts . . . military and ex-military . . . bikers . . . hippies . . . Japanese mafia . . . rednecks . . . greasers . . . and probably many more politically incorrect images for my fellow human beings who have tattoos.  Negative images.  Growing up those were the only ones I was told had tattoos—people on the dark side of life.  Thus I pretty much grew up thinking that tattoos were not good and said something bad about the individual.  This is sad because I was grossly misinformed. 

Fifty percent of my immediate family has tattoos.  Until the kids graduated and moved out the wife and I were adamant in our resolve that they could not have a tattoo.  The oldest child wasted little time getting a tattoo—within three months of going off to college.  Since that first tattoo he has expanded it and it takes up a good chunk of his back.  The daughter was next with a small one of a dove on her shoulder, followed by a peace symbol on her wrist, and then one –a phrase—across her shoulder blade.  The youngest was the last to decorate his body with a tattoo—a cross of his design on his shoulder.  It was difficult to picture our own children as any of those unsavory characters mentioned above . . . though at times we wondered.  They were just being themselves . . . their tattoos supposedly help to define themselves through body art.  For the most part I can see them in each of the tattoos.  Had to soften up the opinion on tattoos when the preachers’ kids are the most decorated ones in town.

I also have two clergy friends –a husband and wife—who have tattoos.  They got them to mark an important milestone in their lives.  They had simple tattoos done above their ankles—a safe place for a minister to have a tattoo.  I always thought there was a rebellious side underneath that conservative ministerial air around them.  Truth be known, they are pretty normal people—nothing close to the caricatures mentioned above.
I have been thinking about tattoos lately.  Over the years the kids have tried to get me to consider getting a tattoo—even volunteering to get one at the same time.  Each time I have come up with good reasons not to get a tattoo.  I don’t like needles.  Needles cause pain.  Tattoos are made with needles.  Sounds like a legitimate reason not to get a tattoo . . . unless they serve a lot of beer while the tattoo is being done.  That’s one reason.  A second reason is that old image of what a minister is supposed to be—tattoos are not a part of that image.  The congregation would start talking, as if they needed something else to add to the fire.  It would not be good.  Another reason is that I do not picture myself as being . . . well, unsavory.  But, I do have a little rebel in me and tattoos still fascinate me.

Each year, I get closer.  The problem is that I now cannot decide on what I would get for a tattoo.  It has to be something that represents who I see myself as, what I believe, and how I want others to see me.  I don’t want just any old tattoo.  I want one that is me.  Something that has significant meaning to me.  Right now I am stuck between two images:

Yeppers, I am stuck between a moose and a turtle.  Until moving to Montana I would have never considered a moose.  The turtle would have won hands down.  The moose has made great progress in my psyche in a short time to the point that.  I thought about something like the image above, but even as a minister I don’t think that is too tough looking.  Probably something my grandchildren would love, but would get me laughed at in any of the local watering holes.

Despite the moose gaining in popularity I am still leaning towards the turtle.  Ever since I was in junior high—all because of a fluke—I have been given turtles as gifts from family members for years and years.  I don’t know if it is because I look like a turtle when I wear green, but I have quite a turtle collection hidden away in the bowels of our house.  In popular culture turtles are portrayed as easy going, patient, and wise.  Also, due to their long life span, slow movement, sturdiness, and wrinkles many cultures see them as symbols of longevity and stability.  Sounded good to me . . . all things that I strive for and lots of people think I need.

When the day comes the above image is the tattoo I will get.  It will be on the inside of my right wrist—yeah, I know, for a guy who hates needles and pain that is about the stupidest place for a tattoo.  Ignorance is bliss and I am pretty blissful.  But that is the design I want.  Not only does it represent the turtle, but it also represents the mountains.  I love the mountains.  The youngest son found this design a couple of years ago and thought about getting it as a tattoo but never did.  I even offered to pay for everyone in the family that I hiked with to get it at one point (in a braver or drunk moment, I think).  Told them we would call ourselves the “turtle club”.  Remember the “turtle club”?  If you do then you will understand my answer to that question: You bet your sweet ass I do! 

Now begins the process of convincing myself that I need to get the tattoo.  Convincing myself that it won’t hurt.  Convincing myself that it does not matter what the congregation thinks.  Convincing myself that I am not a hoodlum or unsavory character.  Convincing myself that it is okay . . . even at my age.  It is better late than never . . . besides I have also been thinking a lot about black leather and Harley Davison motorcycles.  

  I’m getting old and I have a lot of catching up to do!  Stay tuned . . .

Friday, June 29, 2012


The minor league baseball season has begun . . . the Billing Mustangs (Rookie League affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds) are in full swing . . . and I am nearly in heaven!  I enjoy baseball and having a minor league team in the area is a perfect diversion to “life” on a daily basis.  I enjoy the game, the crowds, and all of the weird little “rituals” that accompany it . . . even if others cannot comprehend or understand.  I say this because I apparently fall into that category of weird little “rituals”.

Recently the wife told me that her diehard Mustangs fans (guys who have been going to the games for decades as season ticket holders) in her church are a little perplexed with me.  They don’t understand me . . . especially when it comes to baseball.  They just don’t get my baseball ritual, but have kindly refrained from qualifying me as weird—eccentric, maybe, but they are too nice to call me weird . . . or even twisted.  After all, they are good Christians and the wife is their minister.  Thus they just tell her they are a little perplexed at my “ritual”.

 My ritual?  Well, it all involves baseballs.  I collect batting practice balls before the game.  I started doing that after the family and I attended our first Mustangs game four years ago and found a ball lying in the grass by the stadium.  Ever since then it has been a part of my routine whenever I go to a game.  I like to arrive early and see how many baseballs I can find and pick up.  So far, in a little over three seasons and the start of this season, I have found 48 baseballs.  In the two games I have attended this season I have found 12 . . . at this rate I should shatter my record and double the number of baseballs I have stashed away in my office closet.  Sounds a little weird, doesn’t it?  And this is what these gentlemen don’t understand . . . and, to be honest, I am not sure I really understand either.  In a way, it is kind of twisted. . .

 . . . but I will try to explain.  The simplest explanation is that I get off of work at 4:00PM—batting practice begins at 4:00PM—the gates into the stadium don’t open until 6:00PM for a 7:05PM game start—that is two hours that I need to kill before I can actually get into the stadium.  What better way to spend it than walking around the stadium picking up balls hit out of the field?  Besides, the wife frowns on me sitting down at the local breweries sampling the many fine microbrews for two hours.  Because of that I spend my time working on my tan, cardiovascular system, and collecting errant baseballs . . . 48 and counting.  It keeps me out of trouble.

I can see how this looks peculiar to lots of folks.  A later middle-aged guy, with a slight pot belly, standing in the grass beyond the stadium fence waiting for baseballs to magically appear.  I suppose those the stadium workers have determined that I am some sort of local eccentric –the old fart—who has obsessive compulsive disorder.  I notice that they usually take a wide berth around me when walking by.  They probably think that I am twisted.  As I said earlier, it keeps me out of trouble, and the wife always knows where I am.  That is the simplest explanation—it is something to do while waiting for the game to start.

 Another reason that I probably enjoy collecting these wayward baseballs has to do with economics.  Yeah, I said economics.  A baseball—whether used in the game or batting practice—costs an average of four dollars.  Once a baseball leaves the field—whether during a game or batting practice—it is fair game.  Anyone can pick it up and have it for him or herself.  Over a season I will spend an average of seven dollars for a ticket for the privilege of attending a game.  At the game I will have to spend $2.50 for a hot dog (usually two), $3.50 for a beer (usually two), and another $2.50 for an ice tea for a grand total of $14.50.  For approximately $21.50, I get the pleasure of attending Mustangs baseball.  I figure as a many four dollar baseballs I can get for free is a nice compromise.  Right now I figure I am about five bucks ahead for the season—hey, that is two hot dogs!  Twisted?  Maybe, but it does make sense . . . they are free souvenirs.

Also, on the economic lines, I had children who played baseball growing up and we went through a lot of baseballs.  The children are now grown up and beginning to have children of their own—some of which might play baseball.  To play baseball you have got to have baseballs.  I want to be known as the grandparent with all the balls—baseballs, that is.  At the rate I am going I should have enough baseballs to last me into the great, great grandchildren.  Their parents will thank me later.


The above paragraph kind of answers the other question that these gentlemen were wondering about, which is: What is he doing with all those baseballs?  Obviously they are for future generations of the family to enjoy without ever having to worry about having to spend a penny to get.  Right now, as I said earlier, they are just stacking up in the closet in my office.  I have to be careful opening the closet door so that I don’t create a baseball avalanche.  The headline would look terrible in the paper: Local Minister Killed in Baseball Avalanche!  The community would wonder what sort of crazy guy the wife was married to.  

Other ideas of what to do with all these baseballs have crossed my mind over the years.  I have thought about starting a baseball compost pile in the backyard—at least it wouldn’t smell like a regular compost pile.  I have thought about nailing two 2X4’s to my office wall and then putting plexy glass between them—then drop the balls between the glass and wall to create a “baseball wall”.  I have thought about putting them all in the bed of my truck, opening the tailgate, and driving down the highway to see how long it would take to empty it out.  The wife—and eventually my own common sense—nixed all of those ideas.  So, in the meantime, they sit in the closet.

Am I weird . . . eccentric . . . a little twisted?  All because I like to collect loose balls before the start of a baseball game.  Maybe . . . maybe not.  It all depends on who you ask.  Why do I do this?  Because I can.  Because it makes me happy.  And, because it gives everyone something to talk about.  When it comes to being twisted it is all a matter of one’s perspective.  With that in mind I give you this closing song by Joni Mitchell to consider:

Play ball!