Pretty darn close to being interesting

Social media distancing is a path to sanity
March 31, 2020

Social media distancing - Speaking of sports not being played, many of us have social media profiles and too much time at our fingertips. Writing is introspective and revealing of inner personality traits. Sharing with an audience of casual community characters creates a reactive response from them when they see our names. And here’s what I’m finding: the more downtime people have to pay attention, the less interested they are in attending to anyone other than themselves. “Fernwood 2 Night” was a talk show spoof in the late ’70s hosted by comedian Martin Mull. I remember his character Barth Gimble listening to a guest prattle on, then Barth would interject, “That’s pretty darn close to being interesting.” I spent 35 years as a high school teacher and another 38 as a sports columnist. I know something about being pretty darn close to interesting. I would often challenge an uninterested audience, “Hey, listen, I’ve been ignored by better people than you.”  

High collar - I worked at Strick Trailer in Fairless Hills, Pa., in the late 1960s. I was a clerk in the quality control office. Another young clerk from up in the engineering department delivered prints to our office. He wore big collar shirts and wide ties. Everyone called him “High Collar.” I remember one engineer asking him, “Is that a high collar or do you just have a short neck?” I was watching a replay of the 1992 Elite Eight basketball game played at the Spectrum in which Duke beat Kentucky in overtime on a buzzer beater by Christian Laettner. I was at that game with my Philly friend Bill Jackson. The camera panned to Bonnie Laettner, Christian’s mother, in the stands. She was wearing a rigid plastic neck collar from her manubrium to her mandible. There was no explanation, but I thought, “High collar in the house.” Bonnie Laettner died unexpectedly in November 2017 at the age of 74. It is reported she told Buffalo News sports columnist Bucky Gleason, “You know when I saw the shot? When it was re-enacted on ‘Saturday Night Live’ by Chris Farley.” She said she had her eyes closed during the final minute of one of the greatest college games ever played.  

Silver fox - Cape softball lost in the 2004 finals of the state tournament 1-0 to Caravel in a game played at Sports at the Beach. I wrote in the lead paragraph of the game story: “The relentless, over-the-top obnoxious howling and screaming that came from the Buccaneers dugout had finally gone silent.” Looking back now, I realize that was part of the culture of softball and I didn’t get it, and to paraphrase any student, “I ain’t trying to get it.” After the game, Cape coach Bill Cordrey pointed to the American flag pinned on his chest. “I’m a Vietnam veteran and I support our troops in Iraq and it’s the 60th anniversary of D-Day. I wear this to remind me that what happened here today is just a game.” At the end of my story I wrote, “The No. 1 therapist award goes to Dominique Scott, who had everybody laughing before they hit the bus.” Other members of that team were Jesse Shinn, Marissa Carey, Laura Olenderski, Lisa Williams, Amanda Haxton, Mary Beth Betts, Amanda Deloy, Laura McIlvain, Staci Warrington, Nikki Rhodes, Aisha Hollomn, Jacki Warren, Crystal Spencer and Kristina Lingo.    

My day is today - When a young athlete says to me, “It ain’t like it was back in your day,” I always say, “Today is my day. The same goes for you. We share this day. And by the way, would you like to hear about how good I used to be, you know, back in my day?” “No, that’s alright, Fredman, we good.”       

Snippets - There were desperate times in Cape sports history when it was suggested that I become the soccer coach and at another time the baseball coach. I explained being able to write about a game doesn’t mean you can coach the game. “Nicely done, let’s go with a little bingo-bango.” When you don’t know going into a pandemic how it’s going to affect the sports matrix, it’s not worth speculating how it’s going to resolve coming out. Many gloom-and-doom writers are suggesting it will never be the same while other writers – OK, me – think when the horses finally get sprung from the barn, they will stampede like stallions without saddles and mares without care. Go on now, git!


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