Saturday, July 28, 2007

The History of Hank Aaron

The history of Hank Aaron is not 755 homeruns.

Lately, the shattering of Babe Ruth's homerun record by Aaron in '74 and his 755 career homeruns have been the focus of the baseball world due to the impending new record by Barry Bonds. But the history of Hank Aaron should be his life, the strides he made as a black athlete in a racially charged era and the trail he blazed for the players that followed him.

The 755 home runs that Aaron belted in his career were the vehicle that transported him from merely a successful ballplayer to a legend. And the 755 homeruns, whether Aaron asked for it or not, became a platform for awareness, for change and for opportunity.

We have all heard the stories of the 3000 letters that Aaron received nearly every day, most of which came from racists threatening his life and the life of his family if he broke Ruth's record. Rather than cowering in the corner, Aaron became more outspoken. He rose up and forced the issues of blacks in baseball to the forefront of media focus.

In the meantime, his entire life changed. All for a homerun record? Or to make an impact that would be felt far into the future?

Sectret Service agents stood watch over him and he slept at the ballpark because it was the safest place for him. Yet he maintained his strong work-ethic and self-discipline. Aaron never stopped striving for the next level. To some, that might mean breaking a record or winning another Gold Glove or being elected to another all-star team. And Aaron did all that. But in the face of controversy, Aaron demonstrated the tenacity to push through and to keep working to get to an end that would be better for him and for those that walked in his footsteps.
When Aaron's record was set early in the '74 season and as he crossed homeplate, mobbed by teammates and a couple of fans who breached stadium security, he said, "Thank God it's over."

Battle worn, Aaron breathed a sigh of relief and gave his mom a good, long hug. And then his life went on.

After baseball, Aaron worked in player development, continuing to influence baseball's future. He lobbied for the hiring of more minorities in baseball as well. Aaron dedicated much of his time to charitable work and along with his wife established a foundation to help educate underpriviliged youth. He continued down the path onto which he was launched by those 755 homeruns.

Aaron said himself that records are made to be broken. No matter how they are broken... it's inevitable. But let's not let history lie simply in the numbers. The history should be the story behind them. Aaron also said, in this midst of his own homerun chase, "I don't want them to forget Ruth, I just want them to remember me."

So tomorrow or next week or over the next few months of the 2007 season, as new records are born, let's not forget the past that got us to this place and the men who made it possible for us to be here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's not that I don't care... I just really don't care

Deep down, there's a part of a man that craves a nagging woman.

(Here come the emails...)

Many men judge how much a woman values them by how much she meddles in his life.
Perhaps there is a fine line between nagging and caring. And maybe I have it ALL WRONG. But it's been my experience that because I don't nag, men think I don't care. And the truth is I don't care... about a lot of things.

I don't care if other women fawn all over you. I don't. Really. I think it is fantastic. It may be vanity but I LOVE it when women LOVE my man.
I don't care if you don't take out the trash. I don't. Really. I would rather not haul that crap to the curb and I probably won't. It will sit there until you are good and ready. And it won't bother me.

I don't care if you want to go out with the boys. I don't. Really. PLEASE GO OUT WITH THE BOYS! I want to hang out with my friends too. What's good for the goose really is always good for the gander.

I don't care how often you cut your hair or cut the grass, if you leave your socks on the floor or if you've called your mother lately. Ok, maybe I care if you've called your mom but all of those other things, in the grand scheme of life, are really small and not worth the worry. Really.

There are things I DO care about, things that bother me, things that, if I had to live with them, I would nag you about. But at the first sign of those things, I'm usually out the door. I am all about heading it off at the pass. Thinking you can change a man (or a woman for that matter) is ridiculous. You, plus the stuff that drives you nuts, equals a recipe for disaster.

But, I am not going to pester you about the small things. In fact, I probably won't hassle you about much. You're a grown man. You've been living for a while and have survived doing it your way. It's not that I don't think my way is better... (You had to know THAT was coming.) I just figure your way got you this far! And if you can't figure out when you need to get your tail out of bed to get to work on time or that it's your coffee habit that's keeping you up all night... Well, then, I don't know that I care to be with you anyway.
So just because I don't nag... it doesn't mean that I don't care. I just really don't care to nag.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Scott Baio is 45... and Single

Scott Baio, of “Charles in Charge” and “Happy Days” fame, is launching a new show with VH1 called “Scott Baio is 45… and Single.” On the show, Baio hires a life coach to help him discover why he has been unlucky in love. He even goes back to former girlfriends to find out what’s wrong with him.

I’d have married him. When I was about 12, I had the biggest crush on him. Scott Baio and O.J. Simpson… (Now we know where MY problems lie…) I didn’t realize that men had the same insecurities as women about being single when seemingly everyone else is married. In the VH1 description of the show, they say that Baio is “staring down the barrel of middle age” and he’s in a “mid-life crisis of mythic proportions, wondering why he's still single, alone and still unable to settle down…”

But at this stage of the game, I have to ask, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? So you’re 45 and single… You are CHACHI for Pete’s sake! You have dated Pamela Anderson and Heather Locklear! But Baio says it’s time for him to decide if he wants to be a lifelong bachelor after all or if he wants to bite the bullet and marry his current girlfriend. I bet his girlfriend feels fabulous about the fact hat it took an eight-week series on VH1 for him to figure this out. I, for one, cannot wait to find out what he discovers.


I want babies.

It’s that simple.

My mom cringes when I throw around the idea of having children without ever having gotten married. I have other relatives who are very supportive and many of my friends openly encourage me to do whatever is going to make me happy.

The fact is that I am approaching 40. I have friends who HATE IT when I say that but it’s true. And there isn’t a line of eligible bachelors outside my door. So while I would really like to find someone who gets me, elope and have some kids, I don’t have a lot of faith that that’s going to happen in the next couple of years.

Sad story? Don’t feel sorry for me. My life to this point has been far from traditional. I don’t do things the same way other people do. I am not wired the same way. That’s probably why finding someone who really gets me is so damn hard. I would be a great wife, a fantastic companion and while I’d be disappointed by never getting to experience a traditional relationship, it’s not going to break me. But I’d be a great mom too. I know because I have had a little part-time experience helping raise my friend’s kids. (She’s a single mom of 7.) I have hugs to give and knowledge to impart. And, there’s a selfish part of me that would like to have another ME around. So, a life without kids? That would break me.

How do I go about this idea of having babies on my own? A male is OBVIOUSLY necessary in this process. There are a lot of options. There’s always the cryogenics bank. For a small fee, you peruse a menu of men, choosing qualities like hair color and eye color and height, picking ethnicities and educational backgrounds and some places even let you see a baby picture of the prospective sperm donor. And there is the option to have some one you know donate. That would be an awkward conversation for me. “Look I can’t get knocked up on my own and I need your help…” I could just… get knocked up! People have done it in the throes of passion, in moments of irresponsibility, unknowingly… Why not do it on purpose? Well, I feel a little strange about that too.

With each possibility comes a laundry list of questions and things to consider too. The number one question no matter which route I take will be what do I tell my kid about his/her father? I guess you cross that bridge when you come to it but I’d like to have an answer before I even jump into this. And if you know the guy, what is his role? Do you even tell him? Or do you go about your business and not give him the opportunity to be a father. I mean, he might want to be. But would I want him to be?

I obviously don’t have all the answers. I am open to suggestions though. The one thing I know for sure is that I want babies.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Ride

This weekend, prodded by my friends who feel that I am far too pessimistic, that I don't know how good I am and that I don't believe anything good will ever happen to me... I decided, against my better judgement, to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I fell into the trap of foolish optimism. That decision led to a two day roller coaster ride that took me to an unbelievable high but plunged me deep into reality a short time later.

I suppose that's what life is all about... Highs and lows... Twists and turns... Life is about the ride.

Jumping on the roller coaster takes guts, courage and at least some sense of optimism. You wouldn't get in the car if you didn't initially hope for the best outcome. A lot of people don't get on the ride. They watch from the bottom. Some of them make it through the lines of people and when they have the opportunity to board, they change their minds. Others get on but they are satisfied to sit in the middle.

I used like to sit in the front car. There was a time in my life when my cup overflowed optimistic. I liked the feeling of charging up the steep hills and the rush of air that hits your face as you sail back down at breath-taking speeds. But I learned, through far too many experiences, that sitting in the front can lead to disappointment. So I moved to the back of the ride. The last car... Perhaps it's age and the wisdom that comes from it. But I have learned to watch the people that go before me and learn from their experiences. I recall my past and what happened before so when I hit the hills, I hold on and just before the down fall, I take a deep breath.

My friends call that pessimistic. I call it realism. I know what CAN happen so I prepare myself.

In spite of all of that wisdom and age and experience... I thought for just a moment that perhaps good things can happen to Michele. Maybe I have served my time in disappointment. Maybe my number is up! I thought it was my turn for the fairy tale, for the happy ending. The stuff that doesn't happen to me, appeared to be happening. My reservations were cast aside by my cohorts. And I jumped on board... in the front car.

For a day, I lived a dream. The ride was exhilarating. It was a little scary at times but I let go. I threw my hands in the air, threw caution to the wind. It felt amazing. I was soaring.

But the ride came to an unexpected halt. Someone slammed on the brakes. And it was over.

I felt a little jerked around and I am a little bruised. And I felt really silly for having thought that this ride would be any different from the others. It's the same route, the same rail. The ride doesn't change.

It will be some time before I get back on the roller coaster. And when I do, I might sit in the middle for a while... Seat belt on, holding on tight... I might even close my eyes.


People are always looking for something better. "Better", more high tech electronic gadgets, "better" cars with "better" gas mileage, a "better" job... But could the endless search for something better leave you with something less than stellar or even worse, nothing at all.

Many are looking for "better" offers or "better" opportunities. Sometimes, you hope that a "better" group of friends will invite you out so you don't have to go out with the same old crowd again this weekend. In fact, even when you have good offers and good opportunities served up by good friends, you keep one ear near the phone just in case a "better" situation presents itself. And you're fully aware that you do it and don't feel bad about it at all. Do you equate people with stuff in your effort to find what you believe is "better?"

What if what is better is what you've already got? Yet your lack of attention or inability to stop looking for a moment for something "better" inhibits your ability to recognize that you have it already. The constant, frantic exploration of what's out there occupies so much of your time that there are few hours left to enjoy what you have and to see its potential. It's possible too that when you take up the "better" offer, you are missing out on something that was really meant for you in the grand scheme of your life. You pass up life-defining moments because you are so busy hoping for something better.

At the end of the day, you could have a lot of stuff and a lot of people in your life. But none of them are the "better" things or people you have been seeking. When you are unable to find fulfillment in all of your stuff and in all of the people around you, you might realize that you've really got nothing at all.

Bettering yourself and your environment is not entirely bad. But I submit that we should focus a little more on what we've got. Better might be standing right in front of you and you don't even realize it.


Hailing a taxi, in many cities across the country, is second nature for people. For many, it is their primary mode of transportation. But in midwestern cities like St. Louis, taxicabs are not always readily available.

As a child, I rode with my mom in a taxi a few times. But she would have to call the cab company and set up an appointment for them to pick her up. And then, on the way home, she would have to do the same. She couldn't just step off the curb and wave her arm.

There has been a lot of controversy in St. Louis over the last couple of months regarding drinking and driving. Some very vocal people have stepped up and said they don't understand what the big deal is. People, they say, should just take a taxi.

Well then, we should make it easy for them to take a taxi. It shouldn't cost me almost $40 to get a ride to my house IN THE CITY from a downtown bar. And I shouldn't have to walk 2 or 3 or 4 blocks to find one.
We also need to assure people that leaving their cars at a bar or a party when they go home is OK. I don't know how we erase the stigma of leaving the car you brought with you and taking a cab when you leave but we have to find a way. People leave the firends that they came with to hook up with strangers all the time so one would think this would be a relatively easy task. But I understand it... a little. Two friends of mine have had cars stolen from the parking lot right across the street from our favorite hangout. And, as my loyal readers will recall, some idiot TRIED to steal my car twice.
In the end, I guess cab companies can gouge you at the meter because getting a safe ride home, no matter the cost, is better than being dead. And your life should be worth more than your car, so leaving it behind should be worth the risk.

That said, it would be nice to find a safe and secure and relatively cost-effective way to save lives.

Last night, I drank too much. It's not the first time and it won't be the last. I left my car behind and took a taxi home. When I woke up this morning, I was thankful to be alive. And, I'm only a LITTLE worried about my car.