'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
Earlier this summer my 14-year-old nephew and I were having lunch at a diner. It was a Saturday afternoon and I had just taken him golfing, which was my birthday present to him.
“Kid,” I said solemnly, “I’m going to tell you something that is very painful to hear, but it is something that you must know.”
“What, Uncle Billy?” he said with a confused expression on his face.
“Well, a lot of people do not think like we think. A lot of people,” I hesitated, dreading the next words. “A lot of people do not care about sports.”
His confused expression intensified. It was as if I had declared that a lot of people do not require oxygen to survive. My statement did not compute. “You mean,” he said tentatively, “they don’t have the MLB Package on Direct-TV?”
“No, kiddo. A lot of people not only do not have the MLB Package, they don’t even care about baseball.”
My nephew furrowed his brow in thought, trying to make sense of what I had said. “You mean they’re too busy, so they don’t have a chance to watch games on TV?” he said.
“No. Even if they had the time, they’d never watch games on TV—ever. They never even think about baseball—ever.”
The youngster leaned against the padded back of our booth. He looked at the remaining half of his bacon cheeseburger and muttered, “I’m not hunger anymore.”
It had been such a good day till that point. We had fun on the golf course, then stopped to have a late lunch. There were few people in the diner, so we picked a booth that was close to a flat screen TV showing the Red Sox game. Perfect.
But then, just as Big Papi strode to the plate, with runners on first and third, in a one-run ballgame, a lady went over and spoke with a waitress. The waitress grabbed a remote control unit and changed the channel to a cooking show. In the middle of a one-run ballgame. A one-run Red Sox ballgame! With runners on first and third!! With Big Papi at the plate!!! This turn of events prompted our painful conversation.
My nephew looked queasy. I think he eyes were getting misty. “How can they not like sports?” he pleaded.
“I dunno,” I replied. “They’re just interested in, in other things.”
“Other things? You mean like basketball or football or hockey?” he asked.
“No, kid. I mean other things like art. Or literature. Or fashion. Or politics. Or finance. Or, like in this case, cooking. You know, all the other things people claim are a part of life.”
He stared off into space for a few moments, then said softly, “Let’s go home, Uncle Billy. I don’t feel so good.”
I didn’t feel so good either. I felt bad being the one to break the devastating news to the young lad. But I figured the sooner he understands that not everyone is obsessed with sports, the sooner he will adapt and be able to live a normal life. It took me until my mid-40s to comprehend this painful fact. Maybe he’ll be spared all the awkward moments I endured.
As I started my car, we heard on the radio that Big Papi whacked a game-tying double. We immediately high-fived each other and screamed with joy. Other people in the parking lot looked at us as if we were insane.
On second thought, considering his extended family, maybe he won’t be spared.
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