the other day i turned this way, then that way and then said what the heck and decided to walk up the hill we call a mountain here – Mount Royal. i seen this guy and i asks him if he has a favorite tree in town and he looked at me kind of sideways funny and said,
“who the fuck are you?”
the silence that followed was kind of a thumping silence, a buffalo stampede in my brain and well, i’m no hero, don’t carry no gun in my holster, not even a safety pin, but my grandpa once walked across a clatter bridge barefoot in the falling rain and i remember that like a steal sign from the skipper so i says to him,
“My favorite trees is at 507 Victoria Avenue. Do you know of it?”
He was looking at me almost upside down funny at that point and said in a real mocking voice,
“Yeh, of course i know it. Heinz 507, you dumb ass.” Then he copped a loogie and shot it not too far from where i was standing.
“1957 Braves,” I said, surprised to hear my own voice being so confident and certain and what not. i started thinking for a second that….I don’t even wear deodorant I use rubbing alcohol, 99 cents a bottle cuz there’s no smell, just neutralizes my foul odor. I think that’s where my coping ability began. All those choices lining the grocery store and pharmacy shelves, all the capitalism machinations, all the toilet flush fragrances and kinds of pens, pencils, t-shirts and shampoos and i settled on vinegar, rubbing alcohol and arm n’ hammers for just about everything, well not everything. I need shoes and that’s another obstacle but with rubbing alcohol, i had a beginning.
“1957,” I repeated. “Year the Milwaukee Braves won the World Series and 507 is close enough to 57, helps me remember the address, but it’s more about the tree or trees. Two of them are evergreens, must be 100 Red Wood feet high in the Montreal sky and the other one, I don’t know what kind, but its canopy covers the entire 507 Victoria house and the next house too. The lawn is bathed in shadows.”
“Are you some kind of tree hugging faggot?” the guy asked. He was in his mid 20’s, looking kind of mean.
I didn’t know what to say, but then I said, “I like to get naked with them.”
“Well I’ll be damned,” he yelled, “You are a tree hugging faggot and a baseball one to boot.”
That’s when it happened. My arms transformed into branches and i shot up 6, 7, 8, 9 feet and wasn’t stopping. It was like time lapsed photography. I was turning into a tree, but without roots so there was some flight involved and as i reached a comfortable cruising altitude, i remembered what a guy at work had told me. He used to care for a big garden, but stopped caring when his wife died, but he said, “gooseberry and rhubarb keeps coming back.” And then after that he told me people call them “perennials.”
That kind of blew me away, that rhubarb and gooseberry grow in Montreal so that’s exactly what i yelled down to this guy, “that gooseberry and rhubarb grow in Montreal.” I could see the him shaking his head and waving his arms, but he shot me a thumbs up too and i got the sense that we were OK, as in we each had our own breeze to follow.
I of course took advantage of the flying opportunity and turned the tree’s steering wheel towards Miller Park, arriving there sometime last week, just as the Miller Park roof was closing. I tuned my walkman to 620 WTMJ and could hear the Brewers long time radio announcer Bob Uecker saying in his midwest twang. ” you betchya folks; we got some weather rolling in.”
Well, as the roof was closing, Jonathan Lucroy hit a long booming home run and i got to wondering if anyone keeps track of these kinds of home runs, the ones that happen with the roof opening or closing because it does change the wind and what not and baseball fans sure do love factors.
Uecker then said something about the odds being so darn low for anyone to make it up to the major leagues and even if they get there, the clubhouse is then gonna be filled with all kinds of cocksure alpha males making it even tougher to stay.
I thought about being alive, about getting another day as being sort of like making it to the major leagues. I thought about meeting that guy earlier and us talking about trees and gooseberries and me enduring his barbs and insults and then turning into a tree as kind of a way to stick around the major leagues.