Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Something Came Up

Remember those words. I have heard them twice lately in annoying circumstances. The first time was three days before our first set of summer guests was due. The installation of air conditioning was supposed to take three days—a narrow window of time, but hey, that's us you are talking about. The workmen were due to arrive between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Shortly after 11:00 I called and asked where they were. The scheduling engineer replied, "Something came up". He had, so he said, just heard from Arthur, the crew chief, who was on his way to Chicago. Family problems, he muttered. That is a phrase with which I was quite familiar in my working days. You can't really argue with it, you should not enquire into the nature of the "something", especially with the addition of "family" even though you know it can include anything from a hangover to sleeping in. You swallow it and go on. In this case, of course, I couldn't swallow it. I wanted my air conditioning before six small children and their parents arrived. And I got it. The only problem was that the new crew didn't have time to explain how it worked. But it did work pretty well, in spite of us. (Later on, we got a charming engineer out who was patient and explained it all. I was happy.)

After everyone left, I was so glad that my wonderful housecleaners were due. Not as impressive as it sounds, but two nice women from Poland who understand elbow grease. I dragged out all my cleaning stuff and buckets and rags etc. and just ten minutes before they were due the daughter of one of them called to say they wouldn't be coming because —you guessed it—something came up. And they couldn't come until their next scheduled date, two weeks hence. So I was on my own and it didn't hurt one little bit.

I have not posted here for a while. Any one looking for an explanation?

Something came up.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

It Has Taken Fifty Years

I have finally begun to like baseball. When I first arrived in LA and started my life in the States as a Teaching Assistant, my fellow TA was a delightful man called Joe Margon. Joe was way older than me and had lived in New York with his wife and two children. After he moved to LA he earned a living working for MGM, reading books and plays and giving recommendations as to whether they would make good movies. Somewhere along the way he studied classics and was admitted to the University of Southern California as a Ph.D candidate. That first summer I told him I could not see the point of baseball, which seemed to me like a glorified version of rounders. Now football, the American variety, I could see, but not baseball. Joe looked most upset, but we were way too busy for him to explain why he thought I was wrong. He did mutter something about a game of the mind.

Time marched on and in 1968 we were in Detroit with two small children. If I thought I was busy when the topic first came up with Joe, that was nothing to this time in my life. When I got a chance to read the paper or watch the news, I realized the Detroit Tigers were having a great season and we were watching when they eventually won the world series. Together with most of the population of Detroit (and I suppose with those two small babies) we poured into the streets and we drove up and down Jefferson, beeping our horn. Not probably the smartest behavior.

The Tigers repeated their world series victory in 1984, though I don't think it made much of a ripple in this household. It is conceivable that they will repeat again this year, although you would never guess from the game I watched last night. They lost 4 to 20 to the Boston Red Socks. One of the joys of watching on ESPN is that there is all kinds of commentary, necessary and unnecessary, telling me that this was the worst Tiger loss for 20 years. And I have got my co-habitant telling me all the rules, even the ones I know. My daughter Elizabeth pitched for John Carroll University, her husband Jeff plays short-stop for a church league and their son, Henry, is a real baseball fanatic and Tigers supporter. I just talked to Liz who told me she and Henry (that's him in the Tiger shirt) spent three and a half hours in the emergency room last night after a ball hit Henry in the eye. He's fine.

Now I will revert to my heritage and try to figure out soccer.