It was a hot summer afternoon and the neighborhood kids from Sunset Place were playing baseball in the vacant field behind my house. My dad and his friend had built a nice backstop for us and we played hardball throughout the spring, and summer. We’d meet at the field and put teams together. Tommy Beyers was the best athlete so he was always one of the two guys that got to pick the players, and by default, one of the rest of us would choose for the other team. I was never on Tommy’s team and I was sometimes…make that ALWAYS…picked last in the selection process. This was due to my proven lack of athletic ability and fading prowess at ever becoming a finely tooled machine.
It was a hard hit fly ball to left field, and I couldn’t believe it. Finally, after weeks of umpteen tries, my bat had actually connected to the baseball in a real game. Rounding the bases, I was beyond ecstatic as the screams of the players rose up around me. I had never heard them cheer like that before, and after reaching home plate, I smiled and turned around to survey the field. It was then I realized that the players hadn’t been cheering for me at all, they were berating our left fielder …..(I have to stop here and tell you that I’m using the name Terry here and not his real name just in case he’s still alive and has an affinity for filing lawsuits , stalking old neighborhood kids on Facebook, and stuff like that.)
“Terry!!!! What the horsemilk are you doing?” It was one of the neighbourhood kids, Larry Hoff, yelling at Terry. (Horsemilk was Larry’s favorite swear word and when he got flustered, he’d let his signature expletive fly. ) He was shouting at Terry because while I was hitting the ball to his position in left field, he was in the middle of relieving himself in front of God and everybody. At least he had turned away just enough to spare us from a full frontal expose’…and as he did he bent over a little. (Tommy Beyers said it looked like he was bowing toward Mecca, but Terry was a Catholic and wouldn’t have the faintest idea where Mecca was…maybe Mandan (the town right next to Bismarck). …but certainly not Mecca, that’s for sure.
Terry began his explanation. “I was just taking a whiz…. that’s all”. The neighborhood kids started in. “You were takin’ a stinkin’ whiz….Oh man!!!….Reel it in Terry….Geez!!! Haven’t you heard of a toilet?” Terry shot back. “Yah, I’ve heard of a toilet but that’s two blocks away and I had to GO NOW!!!! Even in our flaming pubescence, we had a boyish sense of decorum …whatever that means. There was an unspoken list of things that were allowed, chief of which was spitting and holding spur of the moment contests to see whose bodily functions were the loudest. This was certainly well within the limits of hormonal civility…but draining on the ball field was not on the list.
One sandlot ritual was trading our baseball gloves when we came in to bat because not everyone had a mitt or maybe they’d forget to bring their baseball glove. No one ever thought anything of it….that is until ole Terry boy decided to do the naughty. I remember him coming from the field to bat and handing me his glove. Ooh…no…oh heck no…not me…not with that . No way I was going to put my hand in that glove. I knew where it had been and I didn’t want to as the song says….”put my hand in the hand of the man” NO SIR..…HUH UH!!!!!
I just didn’t trust that Terry’s glove was “safe” anymore. Yes…not safe anymore. It was as simple as that. Trust is really important to me no matter the situation. It is in my marriage, in business, in the political arena, in friendships and so many other situations. Trust is the marrow of any promise or relationship. It is the living, active fiber of my word. So as I’ve always stated on matters of trust…”If you pee in the field ….don’t hand me your glove”. (That didn’t come out like I thought it would..Horsemilk!!!!)