Robert Louis Stevenson must have been a Mets fan. As this season of earned and expected greatness dwindles away...so it seems are the Mets hopes to even get into the playoff.
Although I try to steer away from sports in my columns, today's edition is...in a twisted way, both related to football and my beloved New York Mets. So, submitted for your approval, is the strange circumstances of a roller coaster Jekyll and Hyde night I had a few years back.
In March of 2005, my friend, crime author extraordinaire Charlie Stella had a book signing party in a bar across the street from the Empire State Building. I had visited my mom during the afternoon and timed my party arrival to be fashionably late. My excitement grew steadily as drove against the bulk of the lower Manhattan traffic...until I was about twenty blocks from the target area. The next 45 minutes of inching along dampened my mood and I was completely pissed when I found out that parking was going to cost a fortune, ($32.00 for almost 4 hours).
But as soon as I walked into the bar, (I think it was called McHottigan's or Moe's Tavern or something like that) I knew...I had stepped into; aspiring author heaven.
Charlie is what people in the bar trade call a happy drunk. In fact; amongst other happy drunks, Charlie shines above them all. In his happy way, he introduced me as an up-and-coming author to his inner circle of author friends. The ones I spoke to (and there were many) warmly accepted me as a member of their "club."
Charlie and I went to High School together and were teammates on the Canarsie Chiefs football team (1970-1972). He said he invited a couple of other players and one showed up as I was chatting with the "Queen of Noir," Vicki Hendricks. She wrote "MIAMI PURITY" a book I enthusiastically recommended in "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND" shortly thereafter.
Unfortunately for me, the ex-teammate who showed-up and I didn't get along in High School. He was so self-absorbed in his off the field exploits, that he never acknowledged the fact that he almost never stepped ON the field. Nevertheless, I approached Mr. Cool and I was happily surprised that despite being a wealthy computer executive living in Bangkok, Thailand, he was earthy and fun to reminisce with. All things were going so well when he dropped a bomb on me that made me want to hug him.
In our junior year I dated a girl from another high school and she surprised me by attending the Erasmus game. We slaughtered them and when the game was over, the spectators rushed onto the field to congratulate us. In the height of my glory, she surprised me by emerging from out of the crowd to hug me on the field. That moment has ALWAYS been one of the highlights of my life!
Well as I'm strolling down Memory Lane with Mr. Cool, he brings up that game and says, "When your girlfriend ran on the field and hugged you, I was so jealous." You could have knocked me over with a feather. My great moment, 33 years later, was made better by the most unlikely source.
Later, while basking in the euphoria of talking shop with authors and having my on-field hug remembered; Charlie calls me over. He's with a group that includes other successful writers such as; Jason Starr, his author girlfriend (I forgot her name) and an author/illustrator with an Irish brogue named Pat . We are all exchanging funny stories when someone brings up spring training and the New York Mets.
KURUDAVE once told be a joke about the Mets and I had retold it with great success, several times. So I was confident that these drunks would appreciate it. Well the joke bombed! I told it right...they all listened with big smiles and when I got to the punchline, their collective jaws dropped and they looked at me like I was a depraved lunatic.
In just a matter of seconds I went from first to worst on the self-esteem meter. In the car, it was a long self-deprecating drive home. When I called Charlie a few days later, he didn't remember my joke and said his friends liked me.
Oh, you want to hear the joke, eh!
Its the custody phase of a divorce trial and judge asks the nine-year old boy, "Do you want to live with your mother?"
"Why?" asks the judge.
The kid says, "Because she beats me!"
"Oh," says the judge. "So you want to live with your father."
"Why don't you want to live with your father?"
"Because he beats me!"
The judge ponders the situation and says, "They both beat you?"
"Well," the judge says, "if you don't want to live with your mother or father...who do you want to live with?"
"Judge, I want to live with the New York Mets!"
"I'm sorry son, I don't understand...why the Mets?"
The boy shrugs and says, "The Mets don't beat anybody."