Alameda’s Park Street Art and Wine Fair. We are at the East Stage on the corner of Park and Buena Vista, our third year in a row listening to Petty Theft cover “Into the Great Wide Open.”
In the seventh month I have five jobs: Night Auditor, Chess Teacher, Bouncer, and Summer Camp Creative Writing Instructor in Redwood City. The last two are timely. Teaching chess is inconsistent within the summer, reduced to camps or proctoring tourneys. Concerts at the Fillmore are less so when gigs are played outdoors. I look forward to Big Head Todd and the Monsters.
Since July 15, I have watched reruns of the BBC’s Newsnight coverage of an 18-year old Afghan Army quadruple amputee, previously serving with A Company, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment in Sangin, Helmand Province. The soldiers were outfitted with small cameras. We do not see Mohammed, but we do see the explosion from behind the wall, 300 meters from their base. He is recovered from the blast, medivaced to a hospital where after many surgeries stated how much he wanted to serve his country. Later, the soldiers regret Mohammed’s lack of options, unlike what is available in England.
Ambition is disabling an I.E.D. is risking disability. I am learning not to feel guilty to not have continued the army route. My deliberate scar undeterred and resisting therapy.
In Chess, I correct first graders at the Chinese Christian school that the proper word is “Capture” and not “Kill.” But the boys want to explode the board. How was it my own son has avoided laying gratuitous waste the men on the board. Nearing his 6th birthday, his game is pure tactics, controlling the center, zonal, looking for the pin, developing his opponent’s quagmire.
July 10 was a sports day beginning with the World Cup third place game at Speisekammer, I ordered from the kinderkarte a Gegrillte Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut. For myself, French Fries and a Spaten Oktoberfest. Germany defeats Uruguay (3-2). Perhaps 200 soccer fans crammed the three dining rooms, each screening the game. I enjoyed the thrill of victory, vicariously of course. Alas, the Netherlands.
After the game, at home, while I napped for two hours, I left him to restage the World Cup with chess pieces. When I woke, he watching Diamond League coverage. “Wouldn’t your rather go to the track field?” Of course, he likes to run. We ran his equivalent of 14-1000 yard sprints, or 3 laps around the track. Meanwhile, the Alameda All-Stars (Little League) practiced. I was in T-ball his age. So we watched batting practiced. This was his third time to watch kids slightly older play baseball. Behind the fence at home plate, he mimicked the batting stance, observed the individual rituals. I do not remember ever playing catch with my father. Would he? Is he too young to watch Field of Dreams (1989)?
The other day, I had installed my mother’s new hand-me-down DVD/VCR player. She can savor the many classics acquired in the 1980s, several them bootlegs. Soon, I will watch the original Tron (1982) in preparation for its sequel. I tested The Phantom Menace (1999), in the process, wondered if it’s time to formally introduce my son to the Star Wars franchise, begin with the first episode in the timeline. Would he appreciate the Jedi Knight’s role maintaining the galaxy’s peace, while searching for harmony in the Force? Or would he dream of podracing, unaware of Anakin’s path to the dark side?
Would he think much of the struggle to find balance between proxy parents? One light, one dark? I faintly remember A New Hope (1977) in Atsugi, Japan. Then my memory confuses the captivity with the Jawas with the escape through the ice in Logan’s Run (1976). Again, my father took me to the movies and no one else.
So a trip to Big 5 for Christmas in July presents: two gloves and baseballs, a ball cap. Maybe a bat? because “If you build it he will come” to catch the baseball with his father. He will wear his Iowa shirt. I will wear mine. I read W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe (1982) in my English 1A class. “Wilford Brimley” was a huge baseball fan and veteran submariner. Yes, is he old enough for a ghost story in the cornfield?
The FOCUS at UC Berkeley High School Summer Program introduced me to Christmas in July. A scholarship to attend was gift enough. I am teaching my students in Redwood City, class-consciousness, the relationship between wealth and poverty, questioning the sustainability of the American Dream, the metaphorical car. But for every length of independent driving, a roadside bomb will detonate. How much treasure can cushion the path? There is always someone ahead risking detection.
Tiny Tim’s enthusiasm, infectious positivity. Eager. Avid. Optimism. Yoda’s wisdom refines the Poor Laws, preserve and maintain and nurture my son’s compassion. When I was his age living on a military base, my “heroes” were soldiers, fighter pilots, the first out of the landing craft, the first to be shot on the beach, the one’s raising the flag.
So when my son lauds Ivan Basso, Michael Phelps, Apolo Anton Ohno, J.R. Celski, Canadian Hockey, German Soccer, Tyson Gay, or even Olympic Curling, Lindsey Vonn, Shaun White, Phil Dalhausser, Todd Rogers, Peyton Manning, Butler University Bulldogs, Tim Tebow, Texas Longhorns, Stanford Cardinals, Bode Miller, Shani Davis, Jenny Wolf, the Stanley Cup, he goes the distance to ease my pain.
So you haven’t answered the question: What is your favorite Tom Petty song?