Saturday, April 20, 2013

You can either be fat, or stupid. But I will kick your ass if you're both....(My Life - Part IV)

 I walked in the back door and Mom said, "guess what?" "What", I replied. "I am signing you up for little league tomorrow." she said. I was super excited. I had been waiting a whole year to play baseball. All my friends were playing, while I just did chores and other stupid shit. I was Nine years old, and had never been involved in any organized sports prior. "And I got great news", she said. "What", I asked. "Your Dad is going to be a coach." I didn't know what to think. I remember being scared to death. I was super nervous because I had never played an organized sport before. I didn't want to let the Old Man down. "Coooool", I replied. But I was torn up inside.
 There are obviously no try-outs in little league. I remember my Father being Head Coach of the Palos Hills Giants. I entered little league in the Minor division. I was 9 Years old. 9 and 10 year olds played in the Minors. 11 and 12 year olds played in the majors. At this age we all played on small fields. I remember the signs down the left field and right field lines reading 203 FT. Moving on, the Minors had six teams. My Father was one of the coaches. He and the other five Fathers actually had a "DRAFT". LOLOL. Drafting nine and ten year olds. That's just so funny to me, even as I type it. Obviously I was given to my Dad. All the coaches' kids were automatically on their Father's teams. I was now a Giant. I was terrified though. I remember one day after a "Coaches" meeting at my house. My Mom sensed that something was wrong. She asked, and I told her. "All these kids have been playing ball for one or two years. What if I'm no good?". "You'll be just fine Honey", she replied.

 We had our first practice on a weekend. I remember stepping into the batter's box being scared as hell. The pitcher tossed, and I let rip. Now I don't believe in God, but there must be some sort of God Given Ability. I remember lacing the third pitch into the concessions,. Roughly 240 Ft. After my very first batting practice I went into the dugout to get my mitt. My Dad gave me a pat on the shoulder and said, "Now you'll understand why I didn't want you playing Tee-Ball. These other kids won't hit half as good as you because they're pussies." I remember thinking how he must have known what he was talking about. So many kids were barely hitting the ball out of the infield. When we got home, he was so proud. And I was so satisfied. He said to Mom, "This kid's a natural".

 It was halfway through the season. We were the visiting team. Top of the sixth. (Only six innings at this age).  I remember being down with one out and I went up to the plate with one out and men(?) on first and third. On a 3-0 count the pitcher threw a cherry. I roped it down the first base line. I remember rounding first and hearing stop. But I saw the kid on first running towards home, so I rounded second and headed to third. I was thrown out, but I had tied the game. As I started running back to the dugout, I saw my Dad. He had a look of utter shame. I just kept my head down and headed to the bench. My Father grabbed me by my hair and said, "You pay attention to your Coaches, you fucking idiot."

 My teammates and I were at the concession area eating the shittiest pizza you ever tasted. But to a nine year old fat kid, it was great. We won the game by three runs, and I was really happy because I had tied the game. My Father opened the car door for me. I felt like a champ. Must have been that God given ability. When my Dad sat next to me in the Driver's seat, he stared at me. I looked at him and asked,"Is something wrong Dad?" He put his hand on the left side of my head and shoved it into the side window of the car. As I started to cry he said, "You can either be fat and slow, or stupid. If you ever do something like that again, I'll give you something to cry about."

 We walked to the back door. I went in first. I took off my spikes and immediately headed to my bedroom. I heard my Mom ask, "How was the game?" My Dad replied,"Jonathon has some God given ability." I closed my door, fell onto my bed, and cried. I couldn't figure out for the life of me what I had done wrong.........
But at least I had that God Given ability.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tee-Ball is for Pussies....(My Life - Part III)

 MOM, MOM, MOM. "What!", she replied rather annoyed. "I'd like to play tee-ball this year." I said.

 I was eight years old. We had just moved to a new neighborhood,. and luckily there were plenty of kids my age. That Spring, I found out they were all being signed up for little league tee-ball. "Your Father will be home for Dinner tonight. We'll tell him about it and sign you up tomorrow." I remember running outside and telling Brian and Mike about it. I was so excited. We found a big stick in the open field next door to my house. Mike went home and came back with a Tennis ball. I distinctly remember playing Baseball (Stick Ball) for hours. Even though my Mom was an avid Sox fan, it was the first time I had swung a bat (tree branch) in my life. I remember making Brian call me Ron Kittle.

 Quite some time had past when I saw my Father turn down our street. As he pulled in to the driveway I remember feeling even more excitement. As my Dad walked in he waved at us and I waved back. But I didn't want to bum rush him. I stayed outside playing ball with my friends.Sometime later my Mom stuck her head out the window and yelled that it was Dinner time. I said goodbye and headed inside with great anticipation. After I washed up I headed to the fridge and grabbed a beer for the old man. I sat down and we began our meal.

 "So, I'm going to sign Jonathon up for tee-ball tomorrow.", said Mom. "What", replied the old man. As my Mom explained everything to my Dad, he sat there shaking his head. I remember just looking down at my plate. After he finished his beer, he shouted, "Absolutely not!". My Mom asked "Why?". The old man went on to explain that "Tee-ball is for little pussies". "You might want my Son playing piano like a little Faggot, but I'm putting an end to this shit right now!" "No way is he going to be some little pussy". I couldn't even look up. Never before had I seen my Father like this. But then again, between work and the pub, I rarely saw him anyway. I didn't know what to think besides for the sadness. I even started to tear up a bit. 

 Before I knew it, the old man streamed around the table and smacked me on the back of the head. I grabbed the back of my head and tucked my chin into my chest. Dad grabbed me by my hair and yanked my head back. "You keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about. No Son of mine is going to be a pussy!" At that moment my Mom stood up and shoved my Dad away. She yelled at me to go outside. I sat on the steps of the back porch wondering what the fuck I had just witnessed. I had spent eight years in this family without ever seeing anything like this. Why was my Dad so angry? Why did he hit me? What did I do? Why did my Mom push my Father? Why does tee-ball make me a pussy? What's a faggot? I remember an anger falling over me, a hate that I could not explain. I was so mad.

 Mom came out a few minutes later and sat down with her legs straddled on either side of me. She wrapped her arms around my chest and gave me a firm, gentle squeeze. "Are you OK honey", she asked. "I guess so." She went on to explain something that I had not heard before, and it wouldn't be the last time. "Honey, your Father loves you, but he has what we call the 'DISEASE'." The disease as I came to understand it was nothing more than an excuse for alcoholism and abuse. It was the Irish way of saying, "That person is a piece of shit, but they love you". So with a glimmer of hope I asked, "Did he say I can play tee-ball". Too which she replied, "I'm sorry honey, but Dad would rather you wait until next year when you can play regular baseball. But he agreed that you can take those kickboxing classes that Your friend takes." At this time I could care less about kickboxing, or muay thai. But I nodded in agreement as if everything was fine. I did ask her, "Can I still play piano with you". She replied, "Of course you can honey. You can play piano as long as you want."

 I gave my Mom a smile and a kiss. But what she didn't know is that a deep seeded anger, resentment, and hatred was planted. A seed that would grow within for the next decade. Maybe it really is a disease.