brewers baseball and things

In that temporary dwelling

16 Comments

Parents were never mom or dad to us. They were pa-rentals and we were tenants. There were five of us friends and we fended for our own fun. We  climbed fire escapes, slept on rooftops, slipped under fences. We scooped up stones and tossed ’em at birds or anything that moved or didn’t move like our elementary school’s earth science window. We were half way home before the shattering and splintering stopped.

The school never found out, but our little brothers ratted. It didn’t matter anyway because parentals couldn’t do anything right, not even punishments. What they perceived as cruel, we grew to love. 

We had no interest in being Boy Scouts and wearing those ridiculous scarves and pledge pins and yet, our parentals felt all-powerful in denying us what they thought was such a “golden opportunity.”

And so they enrolled us in Indian Guides instead and we loved the names assigned each of us; leaping lizard and stalking bobcat. We were excited to trap squirrels and make fires, build tepees from birch branches and maybe most importantly, we met Jeff Minchkins. He was the sixth member of our assigned tribe and the only one without a father escort because Jeff came by choice, as an exercise of his own free will. He wanted to be an Indian Guide.

We met in each other’s basements. Jeff Minchkins was the only one who moved around, from black leather couch to bar stool, standing and then sitting, but not nervous, more graceful with no father hawking his every move and weighing him down. He talked about things other parents knew nothing about; like Moses J. Yellow Horse striking out Babe Ruth and a team of Mohawks playing in the Quebec Provincial League and the more Jeff talked, the more parents fidgeted and referred to the Indian Guides rule book. They insisted we call them “elders.” 

Each of our basements resembled a bar with a stocked mini fridge, a shiny wood rail and a massive beer can collection; typical Milwaukee relics. The McCauleys also displayed Hartland Baseball Statues and not surprisingly, all of them were Milwaukee Braves – Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Warren Spahn, but what was surprising was the number of them. There were 30 in all, but only of those three players…a battlefield of red, white and blue clones.

Jeff slipped around to the other side of the rail and sat beside a Blatzblatz statue Beer Statue instead. It was strange, almost eerie looking, nothing you’d find in an art museum, but I liked it just the same…a runner sliding into a pile of dirt that looked more like quicksand or vomit, a catcher reaching up to catch the ball or keep his head from pezzing off its axis – a stretchy freak house mirror at the carnival. An umpire in albino Mario stash signaling safe. All of ’em ankle deep in dirt. The catcher with one foot on land, bodies shaped like Blatz beer bottles; one can, one bottle, and the umpire with maybe a fat-mouthed Blatz barrel we didn’t know about?

It was wonderful and Minchkins thought so too because he stuffed the statue under his sweatshirt. No one said a word either. It all happened real fast the next day. We dragged real estate signs, a hammer and a bag of nails to the railroad tracks at the outskirts of town. We dug a hole, 3 feet deep. Minchkins dropped the Blatz statue in. We covered it up and went to work like squirrels, fast and furious, paranoid and industrious:

Fit abandoned railroad ties into 8×12 diamond shape.
Stake four smaller ties as corner posts.
Nail real estate signs to ties.
Incline smaller sign as roof.
Gather up evergreen and spruce branches and
nail them into side walls and roof as camouflage/cop repellent.

We plastered the inside walls with different things over the years –  baseball cards, album covers, beer labels. We drank Blatz beer in there, Miller and PBR as well. We ate all kinds of food. We called it “fort” but there were no wars fought unless inner ones count.

Minchkins stalked us throughout our 20’s and 30’s with postcards at every solstice, never saying much, but there was always a sketch of a tree or moon and a reminder that even our own bodies would come and go but “it” would last forever.

He never explained “it” and as much as it reeked of a religious message we all returned to the fort. I can only speak for myself, but being there aroused a sensation; of fetching water from a well and quenching a thirst I didn’t even know I had.

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

16 thoughts on “In that temporary dwelling

  1. Nice writing, Stevedore.

    I remember ordering a Pabst Blue Ribbon in New Paltz, New York in an off hour when there were just a few straggler college students, and when I ordered it, everybody chortled. I don’t remember if they guffawed, but they sure as heck chortled. They thought it was a riot that I was ordering a beer that was so “redneck”. How can a bottle of beer be inherently “redneck”, anyway? And what the hell is Budweiser? Liquid gold????

    I simply didn’t feel like paying more for Budweiser. Why should I? It’s all piss water, anyway, isn’t it? So who cares? I just wanted a good buzz.

    The strange things are that it’s now “hip” (as in “hipster”) to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, at least here in New York City. Damn hipsters. I sure hate them. So do MOST of the people here in Brooklyn. I wish they would just LEAVE.

    Glen

    • Are the hipsters still on the PBR kick? I didn’t think hipsters stuck with one thing that long.

      • I actually don’t really know. Actually, the PBR thing is something that I’ve just read, not seen. I see them on the subways ocassionally, and they are so transparent, it’s pathetic! It’s like this joke that I made up when I was about 12 years old, kind of a television commercial, where the announcer implores “Hey, Folks! Be a non-comformist! It’s the ‘IN’ thing to do!” Not bad for a 12 year old, eh?

        I mean, there used to be this blog called “Die Hipster” and now for some reason it’s only a “personal” blog, although the anonymous guy who wrote it still has a Twitter account and he conveys his thoughts on hipsters that way. I never even HEARD of a hipster until I moved from Queens to Brooklyn. The only time I ever heard the word “hipster” was in “Seinfeld” twenty years ago, when Elaine used to yell at Kramer and call him a “hipster doofus.” That was a great show!

        But I just don’t get it. What, do they REALLY wear glasses that don’t have a prescription to them? Really??? Who would do that??? I mean, WHY??? Wearing glasses SUCKS! Believe me, I knew that firsthand when I was in high school!

        And on the subway, they’re always reading the same book by Jean Paul Sartre. Gee, they’re REAL individuals! What they are is BORING and pretentious! Of course, there’s LOTS of boring and pretentious people on the subway. I’ve moved out of many a subway car and risked my life walking between subway cars when I hear some valley girl moron talking and talking. “So, like, I was walking down the street, and, like, I saw Tyler, and I was, like, what are you doing here, and he, like, said, well, I’m like walking down the street, have you got a problem with that, and I’m, like, well, you’ve got a lot of nerve passing me on the street, and it was so, like, funny, like, because, like, what a lot of nerve, and, like, you should be doing so and so and blah blah blah blah.” By that point, I’m in the next subway car. WHAT HAPPENED TO REAL PEOPLE WHO TAWK LIKE THEIR FROM BWOOKLYN OR DA BRONX, LIKE MY FOTTA AND ME????” You can’t even get a decent egg cream anymore, because no one in Brooklyn, where it was INVENTED, even knows what it IS???? What ever happened to Jewish/Italian/Irish Brooklyn and the accents??? Why are they being replaced by these drones who have the brains of tomatoes and can’t even tawk da English languwij da right way, or at least SOUND like a New Yawker, I mean, dis IS New Yawk, isn’t it???? If you don’t know the right way to pronounce what you drink in the morning correctly (cawfee) or the thing you walk on a leash (dawg), den yoo have no right to be livin’ in Noo Yawk!

        My rant is over. I just had needed to get that off my chest.

        Glen

    • Thanks Glen. Ya know, I’ve been called Steverini and Stevereno, but never Stevedore and well, I like the sound of it and I love the sound of the words “guffawed” and “chortled” which are hardly ever used any more!! In one of the stories in Dreaming .400, the main character gets hooked on words like that, words he had never heard before. It really opens his mind to reading and even writing a little bit.

      In that I’m from the suburbs of America, I am kind of removed from this hipster versus original inhabitants conflict, but I’m definitely on board with “just wanting a good buzz” at discount prices.

      • My favorite hipster jokes involves the Islanders move to Brooklyn:

        Q: How did the hipster end up dronwing?

        A: He was into ice skating before it was cool.

  2. They have a term in the good ol’ United of Kingdom used when something just takes your breath away and you have no other reaction available to you–“gob-smacked”. This, with Spahnie and bits of Peter Pan, Mathews and bits of “Stand By Me”, Indians of varying authenticity…well, I am flat-out gob-smacked.

    • Thanks so much for saying so and gob smacked to boot! What an expression! An old friend of mine from Milwaukee. (I guess that in itself is worth sharing – a friendship that lasts a long time, that is.) He lives in Oregon now and recently sent me news that he found one of those Blatz statues 30 feet from his house. That’s all the info he gave me.

      • The bloke shot my fox there.

      • Good to hear from you Marie! Anyway you could provide some cliff notes to that; the bloke shot my fox? Always interesting. I think if you and wk sat down for a coffee, I would record the conversation and enjoy months, maybe years of unraveling the metaphors and analogies.

      • I mean he got to something before I did – the term ‘gobsmacked’.

        The first time I typed that it came out as ‘godsmacked’. Proverbs 3:11,12 I guess.

      • i don’t know any proverbs from memory so I looked that one up and it blows my mind how so much can be in so few words; the discipline and rebuke of a full human life; from the whine of “why me!“ to full acceptance. Marie, you continuously amaze me.

  3. Hey Steve, I’ve noticed that you’re pretty good at this writing thing. So damned good, in fact, that it makes me want to chuck everything I’ve ever written into the garbage can and weep.
    As WK said, this just takes my breath away.
    -Bill

    • Don’t do that Bill, throw things you’ve written into the garbage that is. Send them off to to a publisher instead. I don’t want to sober up your much appreciated enthusiasm with a fortune cookie, cool autumn breeze, but I really believe that no two people write alike and maybe that’s stating the obvious…whatever. I could never write what you write, the insights on society blended into memories of your past and that’s just the tip of what you do.

  4. Steve I love the word game of pa-rentals and tenants and mostly the indian tribe story. Connecting back to our ancestors as children is fundamental in our connection to our roots, nature. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • What a great surprise. Thanks Elmira. Often times it’s not clear what the theme of a story is while writing. Only after, when looking in the mirror, being a board the equivalent of a ferry boat, drifting backwards away from that shore, from where we’ve been, we can suddenly see that place in its entirety.

  5. That statue is a thing of beauty in a John Waters-esque sort of way. My house is full of “tacky” things that are absolutely dazzlingl to my eyes. I refuse to live in a Crate and Barrel world.