Raging Dull

By all reasonable accounts I should be on Cloud Nine* today. The Kansas City Royals, my lifelong team, bereft of a championship for 30 years, won the World Series on Sunday. All I have to do is think of Eric Hosmer’s mad dash home to tie Game 5 in the ninth inning, and I get a huge smile on my face or start to tear up. Instant happiness. Last night I went to see Jim Gaffigan in concert with my husband, oldest son, and BFF. We had a great time. He was fantastic. Quote from one of our favorite bits, “Is this worth it?”

But someone today served me up a full-on slice of rage with a side of loathing and an indignation chaser. Literally everything is pissing me off. Granted, even when I’m even-keeled I don’t easily suffer fools, but that’s not usually something that turns my day upside down.

Alex had some questions about the show this morning. “What did he talk about?”

Me: “Hot Pockets.”

Alex (eyeroll): “Did he talk about airline food?”

Me: “No.”

Alex: “Good. Because that is getting REALLY old.”

Eight years old, going on…me. I think that sort of sums up what’s wrong with me today. I don’t have any patience for anyone who is rehashing the same old shit. What set me off started before I’d even left my house this morning – a fairly innocuous comment on a post about the Gaffigan show my friend tagged us in on Facebook.

“…looks like youre hanging out with a bunch of Weiners!”


For the record, my name is Jennifer Weiner. Pronounced “WINE-er.” When I write I use my maiden name for my byline so I’m not confused with the relatively prolific author of the same name. Jennifer Weiner has done rather well for herself, so it wouldn’t be terrible, but no need to create undue confusion. Receptionists at medical offices often ask me if I’m her. Note to Jennifer’s publisher – receptionists at medical offices must be very into “chick lit.” I sense a marketing opportunity. You’re welcome for that free bit of insight about a key demographic. I read Jennifer Weiner’s first book, Good in Bed, a title for which I suffered a fair amount of grief. It was okay, and that’s not a knock against her, but it’s a genre that’s just not really my thing.

I digress. The “weener/weiner” comment is just so ridiculously unfunny. I mean, could you pick any lower hanging fruit than making an obvious joke out of someone’s name? It’s not my name. I wasn’t born with it. My kids get mocked for it constantly. My oldest son, now a sophomore in high school, used to be terribly bothered by it. A baseball pitcher, he intentionally hit a kid once as a 12-year-old when he heard the kid call him “weener” before a game. When I found out why he hit the kid I wasn’t even mad. I was impressed with his control and situational awareness. He’d cleanly retired the first two batters, then plunked the kid with precision on the first pitch with two outs. Now he embraces the taunts, lets his friends call him “penis,” which has taken away all the power of the chirp. You can do that as a 15-year-old who lifts weights and is unafraid of anyone. It’s a little different for younger kids who haven’t developed any coping mechanisms.

I don’t know this person. She’s probably perfectly nice, but her comment annoyed the hell out of me. Not because I was offended, but because of how fucking immature and stupid and preposterously unclever it was. If it were a good joke, I probably wouldn’t have cared. I respect a well-timed and funny insult at my expense. But I have no tolerance for the trite and cliché. I later replied to her comment with a single word. “Hilarious.” She “liked” it. That angered me even more. Because that remark was dripping with sarcasm. And it went completely unrecognized.

The check-out lines at Target over my lunch hour were long. And things went from bad to worse because when it was my turn, the slow cashier handling my lane was replaced by the chatty cashier. I always purposely avoid this woman’s lane. She’s worked there for eons, and she insists on commenting on every item you purchase. I plastered a smile on my face, and prepared for her shtick. As she slid the pizza crusts, pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese across the scanner, I assumed the crash position, bracing for impact.

“Makin’ some pizzas?”

Oh. My. God. Are you some kind of fucking psychic? How the amazing Kreskin did you know that? No. Way. That was. FAN-Tastic. Seriously, chills.

“You know, there’s a recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust. I haven’t tried it, but I need to. I need to stay away from the carbs. The cauliflower is low-carb. I’m supposed to be on a low-carb diet, but everything is made outta carbs! I’m a diabetic. My sugars are just way out of control. Crazy high. I see you got that 25% off apparel coupon on Cartwheel. Lady in line earlier didn’t know about it and I told her all about it. She didn’t have the app and went over to customer service and set it up. I used mine the other day.”

This is a test, God. Right?

Mercifully that exchange ended. In the parking lot a cute two-year-old boy was not being controlled by his mother, and slowly walked right in front of my car as I was trying to leave. Move out of my goddamn motherfuckin way, you little bastard. (My God I’m watching too much Veep. I have Selina Meyer mouth.) Before going back to the office, I decided I needed a little pick-me-up, so I stopped at Starbucks for some iced tea. Ran straight into a brick wall of upselling purgatory. 

Barista: “So are you having anything for lunch? A hot sandwich? Fruit parfait?”

Me: “No, just tea.”

Barista: “That comes sweetened, but we can make it unsweetened by special request.” 

Me: (Special request? That sounds overly complicated. Do I have to fill out a goddamn form or something? We’ll leave the sugar out of your tea, but only after you complete Schedule 2530-IT in triplicate.) “Unsweetened, please.”

Barista: “For only 50 cents more you can upgrade your Grande to a Venti.” At this point she’s waving cups at me.

Me: “Fine.” (If that will end this transaction. Please.)

Barista: “Anything else for you? We have fresh gingerbread cookies out of the oven!”

Me: “No thanks, I’m good.”

Barista: “Do you like music? We have the new Andrea Bocelli CD.”

Me: “That’s ok.” (I haven’t listened to a CD since 2006. Do they still make CD players? You don’t grind the coffee with a mortar and pestle, why are you selling CDs?)

Probably I should not be allowed around anyone for the rest of the day, for the safety and well-being of everyone involved. Unfortunately I have a meeting tonight, and I have to deal with my own children, which is always interesting. Thank goodness it was dark when I drove home at 5:00 in traffic. That’s always a mood booster.


*What is Cloud Nine anyway? What right does Cloud Nine have to be so damned haughty? I bet it just kissed ass all the time, and probably backstabbed the hell out of Clouds Five and Seven to attain its exalted position. Cloud Six is all, “That was my idea, bitch. Thanks for sharing the credit.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2015

Forever Royal

2015WorldSeriesTonight is the first game of the World Series. Let me clarify. Tonight is the first game of the World Series, which for the second consecutive year, includes the Kansas City Royals. To the untrained eye that may not be of significance, but to a lifelong baseball and Royals fanatic, it’s a scenario that has been, for many years, beyond comprehension. Last year’s trip to the World Series was like a dream. Now it just feels like a long, soothing drink of cool water after an exhausting drought. In short, amazing.

Despite years of measured optimism by some sports media, it was impossible to bank on the Royals’ unparalleled farm system eventually paying dividends. We watched too many homegrown prospects turn into elite players, even superstars, only to be traded or outright released when keeping them around became too expensive for the Royals meager pocketbook. Carlos Beltrán. David Cone. Danny Tartabull. Johnny Damon. Jermaine Dye. Zack Greinke. Bitterness and cynicism smothered hope.

For someone who grew up listening to the perpetually contending Royals as a kid on a transistor radio before going to bed on many a summer night, culminating in a glorious World Series win in 1985, the long slide into oblivion has been a decades-long exercise in frustration. So many Royals moments are lovingly stored in the scrapbook of my mind, and were taken out periodically to review lustfully when watching an endless string of losing records and mediocre talent. Anyone remember Sal Fasano? Gil Meche? Pat Tabler? Wally Joyner? Bob Hamelin? Jimmy Gobble?
Those snapshots are what sustained me as a Royals fan. My brother and I were watching the game on TV on the hot July afternoon when George Brett came tearing out of the dugout like a freight train when his seemingly game-winning home run was recalled after Billy Martin and the evil Yankees complained about a little known rule about pine tar on a bat.

I worked at my small hometown radio station in high school, a Royals broadcast affiliate, and loved game days when I’d put the game on the air from pre-game through the scoreboard show, recording promos and post-game wrap-ups. Sometimes when listening to announcers pause for a station identification, I reflexively recite, “You’re listening to Royals baseball on KRSL/KCAY, Russell, Kansas.” Admittedly though, there were more than a few Saturday night shifts during the regular season when a long-running or extra innings tilt pushed past my normal 10pm sign-off, cutting into the time I’d be able spend with friends until my midnight curfew, and I’d root for just someone to win in the name of finishing the damn game so I could leave.

George Brett has been my baseball hero for as long as I can remember – the day he retired was essentially the day my childhood ended – but Bo Jackson was simply the greatest physical specimen of an athlete I’ve ever seen. When he announced he was undergoing treatment for a hip injury I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I knew it marked the beginning of the end. In college I worked at a hospital where the orthopaedic surgeons who handled sports medicine for the Kansas State University athletic teams were always doing rounds after a full caseload of routine hip replacements and knee scopes. That evening I was working in the admissions office, and stopped one of them on his way back from the surgical floor. I asked him if he’d explain Bo’s injury to me. From what he’d seen in news reports, he said even with the best possible surgical outcomes, that a return to the MLB as the same unstoppable force he’d been seemed unlikely. It didn’t matter. The organization wasn’t going to wait around for him and pay his salary to rehab. Bo Jackson did return to baseball, but the doctor was right. He wasn’t the same player during two partial seasons with the White Sox.

There were some high points during the long wait for the return to the post-season. I was at Kauffman Stadium for the Major League debut of Brian McRae, son of 1980’s great, Hal McRae. He hit a double. My friend, Terri, and I waited around like groupies after a game watching ESPN interview Mr. Brett after an exceptional day at the yard, and swore he was looking right at us the whole time. And when Johnny Damon was called up in 1995 at age 19, I knew he’d be a superstar when I first saw him go from first to third with the graceful speed of a greyhound. That 1995 season they played pretty well. I spent a lot of time at the stadium, heading there after work, buying a ticket for a crappy seat and scampering down lower after the first few innings when it was evident that there would be plenty of empty space. By that time Kansas City had bailed on the Royals, which for me was sad. This is when I grew to despise the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City had been taken over by a sea of obnoxious red and yellow. Royal blue was nowhere to be found. I enjoyed watching former Minnesota Twins Greg Gagne and Gary Gaetti play outstanding baseball for KC, to the chagrin of my Minnesota friend and die-hard Twins fan, who later became my husband.

When I moved to the Twin Cities it was before video on demand or satellite radio. I missed the familiar voices of Denny Matthews and Fred White, and struggled to adjust to baseball in a new market. We returned to Kansas City for games periodically, and I’ve remained true blue, but have raised four boys who have grown up in Twins Territory. I can’t fault them for being Twins fans. They’ve had Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, and Johan Santana. Not to mention some winning seasons. All I had was fond memories of Willie Wilson, George Brett, Mark Gubicza, and Dan Quisenberry. Ironically the Twins have had their own struggles with losing players who’ve gone on to tremendous success. And now when my 15-year-old cheers for the Royals, he’s accused of being a “bandwagon jumper.” To silence his detractors, he proudly posts photos of himself at the K as a five-year-old.

There was a point in time, maybe during a brief Twins play-off run, perhaps after Joe Mauer personally answered letters that two of my kids wrote him, which I thought was an incredibly kind gesture, that I almost picked up a Twins t-shirt for myself. It was right there in my Target cart. And I walked maybe an aisle or two with it in there when I stopped, and thought, this is not who I am. And I returned it to the display. My kids can wear their Twins gear, and I’ll support them, but I couldn’t turn my back on the Royals after all this time.

It’s odd to be invested in October. I’m not used to the butterflies. But whatever the outcome, this team is just so much fun to watch. All year. Not that I wasn’t proud to be a Royals fan before, but when someone notices the signed Eric Hosmer card on my desk at work, or comments about the blue KC visor that I wear when I walk my dog, or shouts out to my sister and me while we were wearing Royals gear in New York during the ALCS, I smile a little bit bigger these days, not sheepishly, and say, yeah, that’s my team. Always has been, always will be.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz  2015

Let’s Play Ball

photo-11Today was the first official night of the baseball season. The fields are finally open and it was a gloriously beautiful spring day. Unfortunately it sounds like Mother Nature is going to kick us right in the seeds later in the week and won’t stop until we’re writhing on the ground in pain begging for mercy. This year I have four kids playing on four different teams, and my husband is the assistant coach for Cameron’s team. It’s complicated, to put it mildly. I really don’t remember much of the evening. It felt a little like an out of body experience.

5:00 – Justin and Alex are eating pizza rolls. Cameron can’t find his water bottle. David is wigging out because one of his idiot friends (I like David’s friends. They are good kids, but as a whole, 7th graders aren’t always the most judicious of creatures.) “text bombed” him, incapacitating his phone because no other texts can go through until each one of the hundreds of texts his friend sent at 7:30 this morning comes through, and they’d been trickling in all day. David’s pulled this joke on others before so he’s getting a taste of his own medicine, though he was quick to point out he hadn’t done it for a year, only did it to “maybe” two people, and only sent 20 texts.

5:15 – David leaves for his practice with his friend, whose mom, Julie, is kind enough to agree to go out of her way and drop David off at Alex’s 6:00 practice so Alex isn’t alone while I run Justin over to his 7:00 practice. But then as Barry and Cameron leave for 5:30 practice, Barry tells me to drop Justin off with him because his 7:00 practice is at an adjacent field, then go to Alex’s practice. So I text Julie that never mind, we’re all good. Now I need to get Justin and Alex dressed, which cannot happen without: Sock drama. Athletic supporter drama. Hat drama. Shoe drama. Shoelace drama. Bag drama.

5:45 – I can’t deal with dog drama too, so we leave a very sad doggie looking at us longingly from the stairs. Guilt-ridden because it’s so nice out, I promise her a treat if she’s a good girl. At a red light I peek at an email to see what number field I need to take Justin to. Well, crap. Turns out his practice is not at the same place as Cameron’s. I should know never to trust my husband. Alex is giving himself a pre-practice pep talk. “Don’t fart. Don’t fart. Don’t fart.”

6:00 – Arrived at Alex’s practice. I forgot my damn chair. Text Julie back and tell her to never mind the previous never mind, drop off request is back on. Talk to my friend, Amber, who probably thinks I’m a complete fruit bat because I’m trying to mentally talk myself through all of this schedule shit while sitting there with her. Pinged with an email. Justin’s coach. Oops, he got the field wrong, it actually IS at the same location as Cameron. He’s sorry for the inconvenience. Sorry doesn’t help me much now that I’m sitting there with Justin, have to debate whether to run him back over now or just wait. I decide to wait because Julie will think I’m certifiable if I send another change of plans text. I guess I should have trusted my husband.

6:05 – This coach is a nice guy, but he needs to run a tighter practice and shut down the kid who keeps interrupting, and is obsessed with relaying everything that is said to his sisters. Hold all questions until the end, junior.

6:20 – Interestingly enough, Alex actually spends his time at practice playing baseball instead of talking to girls and playing in the sand. That’s new for him.

6:40 – Justin and I are off. We pass Julie on the way. Things are working out ok. At the next site the parking lot is packed so I park in the fire lane to walk Justin over to find his coach. Yeah, that’s right, asshole in the Explorer, I’m parking here. Wanna make something of it? You’ve got plenty of room to get around so don’t give me your look, I’m on the clock here.

6:50 – Where the hell is Justin’s team? Is it just me, or are half of the suburban dads pretty much an extension of college frat boys? We never really leave high school, do we?

6:55 – Driving back. Phone call. David. Alex is done, where ARE you? Also my phone still doesn’t work. Um, you’re talking to me on it right now, aren’t you? Yeah, but I can’t TEXT.

7:00 – Pick up David and Alex. Drive a few blocks. Drive back a few blocks to retrieve Alex’s batting helmet, glove, hat, and water bottle. David wants to know why God hates him because he’s been praying for his phone to go back to normal, but it hasn’t yet. I suggest that perhaps God is trying to teach him patience.

7:10 – Drop David off at home, wearing the title of worst mother ever because I won’t stay to make him food.

7:30 – Relieve Barry from Justin’s practice so he can go home and feed himself and Cameron. Hang out with Alex watching batting practice. Solid 25 minutes of relaxation.

7:55 – In search of a bathroom.

8:30 – Practice over. All good. Insane, but we survived. Just glad we didn’t have to do it in snow.

8:45 – WARNING. WARNING. WARNING. Justin is about to lose it because he wanted me to make Thai peanut noodles for dinner, which I’m not going to do at quarter to nine. I talk him into settling for a frozen chicken fettuccine Lean Cuisine.

8:50 – Alex wanders into the kitchen. What do I smell? Oh fuck. There’s only one Lean Cuisine. I know where this is heading. He wants one too. I decide to do what is fair, and split it between both of them.

8:55 – DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! Full scale meltdown when Justin realizes he’s not getting the entire contents of the Lean Cuisine. Shut the windows, we don’t need the neighbors to hear this. Alex crying now because he wants pizza too, Justin howling, dog trying to steal food while everyone else is yelling and screaming. David whining some more about his phone.

9:30 – A peace settlement is reached at last. Begin bedtime preparation. Argue over who gets to sleep with the dog. Barry comes upstairs after mopping up the laundry room floor because a sock got stuck in the sink drain, causing the water to back up.

10:00 – Lights out. I cannot do this every night. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013

20 Questions

I love baseball, so a few weeks back when a friend had five tickets to a Twins game that he couldn’t use, I jumped at the chance to go. I actually hadn’t been to a game yet this season, and it coincided with Justin’s birthday, so it was fun to get out for one of the last games of the regular season. Cameron already had plans to go to a sleepover, Alex isn’t into baseball and would have been restless, and Barry was annoyed at the Twins because they weren’t very good this year, and were way out of play-off contention, so that left David, Justin, and me. David invited his friend, Mark. That meant I had one more ticket. So I sent a text to my fabulous friend, Julie.

Julie is not at all a sports fan. Not that she’s a delicate flower or anything; she’s seen Alien vs. Predator at least 20 times. But baseball is decidedly not her deal. But she hadn’t been to the beautiful new Target Field yet, and was totally on board for a night out with my oddball crew. A minute after she accepted my invitation, she texted back, “Do they do the sumo suits at half time? Or whatever?”

Um, no. This is apparently something she’s seen at a St. Paul Saints game, a local Northern League team. Probably not at “half time” though.

When I told David that Julie was taking the extra ticket, he replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” (Julie doesn’t treat kids like kids, and is therefore a fan favorite.) Soon she told me that she was engaged in a text conversation with David, and had no earthly idea what he was talking about. “Something about a perfect game and Mauer or someone else doing something. I’m just totally agreeing with him. That seems the safest course of action.”

Before we left to pick her up, I called to see if we could swing by earlier. She asked me what I was wearing. “Are flip flops okay?”

I assured her that the dress code at an MLB game was pretty much wide open. When we arrived, she was thoroughly impressed with the architecture and elegant design of the stadium. And between harassing the boys about girlfriends and such, and doing juvenile stuff that made Justin’s little one-sided dimple show when he smiled at her goofy antics, she continued to ask random questions that amused me to no end. Such a newbie.

They were selling programs and scorecards as we walked in, “What the hell would you want a pencil for?”
“To keep score.”

“What are they shooting out of those air cannons?”
“Probably tee shirts.”

A player’s bio on the big screen. “That guy looks old. 24? Is that his age?”
“No, that’s his number. On his jersey.”

The line score. “Ok, so 251, what does that number mean?”
“Twins have two runs, five hits, and one error.”

“What IS a perfect game?” (A fair question.)
“When a pitcher doesn’t allow any hits or any walks.”
“How often does that happen?”
“Very rarely.”

Goofy drunk guys behind us trying to rally the team by yelling, “Rrruns. Rrruns. Rrruns!”
“What do they mean by ‘runs?'”

They’re so adorable at that age with their questions and curiosity!

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Parental Guidance Suggested

The summer after eighth grade I coached a younger girls’ softball team. Technically I suppose I wasn’t the head coach because a parent volunteer had to be, but I was the one who ran all the drills, made the line-ups, and well, did the coaching. At the end of the season the team won first place in the league tournament. The girls really improved a lot that year and that last game was an exciting one.

We were presented with a team trophy, which the girls all wanted to give to me. I was really honored and felt good about what we’d accomplished as a team. And then the mom “coach” whose main role was basically to haul the equipment around because I was 14 and had no car, took the trophy from me and kept it herself. Her stated reason was that she should have it since my family was moving at the end of the summer.

Wonder where that trophy is now and if it ever really meant anything to her? To a 14-year-old kid that trophy would have been a special reminder of the last summer she ever spent in the town where she was born and raised, where all of her memories of being a kid were sown throughout the years. To that shy 14-year-old girl, who had never been a leader of anything, it was a big deal.

As my kids progress through their sports careers I’m finding that nothing can suck the life and enthusiasm out of kids quicker than an adult with a misplaced set of principles. Whether it be the guy who is trying to live vicariously through his kid, or the obnoxious blowhard who hassles the umpire every game, or the mean girl who turned into a mean mother, it’s the adults who can’t act like mature adults who ruin it for everyone.

Fortunately individuals like that have been the exception and not the norm, but when you do run across them it’s difficult to find the right answers. Difficult to know how to react and how to help your kids work through it. I suppose in a way it’s a good exercise for kids to know what type of behavior not to model, and because they’ll be subjected to idiots, windbags and bitches for the rest of their lives, so they may as well learn coping strategies at a young age. But wow, how I wish people could grow the fuck up.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


Dog Days Of Summer

You can only take so many baseball pictures before they start to all look the same. So this week I started photographing the dogs that come to the kids’ games. Some I got to know or say hi to, some I grabbed surreptitiously using my longer lens.

Henry is a cutie, but thought he was all tough growling at some spaniels.

I think this bulldog wants a piece of someone.

My dog, Penny, being a good girl.

Storm, the unofficial mascot for Cameron’s tournament team.

I think this one’s name is Willow.

More beagles!

Another dog named Storm.

I thought she might be a long-haired dachshund, my sister says probably a “dorkie.”

Big, stately and fluffy.

This little guy was busy playing with grass and wouldn’t look up.

This is Ray. Ray is a bit temperamental.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


In The Big Leagues Now

“Yeah, I was in the show. I was in the show for 21 days once – the 21 greatest days of my life. You know, you never handle your luggage in the show, somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains.” — Crash Davis, Bull Durham

Justin plays in a 5-6 year-old tee ball/coach pitch baseball league. He’s been lighting the ball up lately, so a few weeks ago when the league coordinator asked coaches for names of a few kids who could be subs in the 7-8 year-old machine pitch division, his hat was thrown into the ring. And tonight he got the call. Up from the minors to the big leagues, where you can strike out, they keep score, and your teammates don’t play in the dirt. At least most of them don’t.

Struck out his first time at bat. Pitches from the machine come at ya a little faster.

He’s all business in the field.

Second time up he takes a ball to the legs. Someone asked, “Did that hurt, Justin?” He replied, “Yeah.”

Back on the horse. And made contact. Looper toward first base.

Thrown out at first, but not for lack of effort.

Settling in behind the plate.

He waited all day for his big moment, and at one point said, “Mom, this is a lot of pressure tonight.”

In ready position at third base.

His team, the Red Wings lost, but at least they didn’t have to forfeit. A fun game!

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Now that the boys are becoming more and more active in sports, it feels as if we’ve been on a non-stop tour of youth sports complexes of the Twin Cities and outlying areas. This weekend we saw action at three different venues in Rochester, Minnesota.

Some of these places are shiny new and you can tell a lot of planning, money and time has been poured into making them inviting locations to pull in tournaments and keep them in constant use all summer long. With all the expertise out there, there is a common flaw in all of them. That is the limited access to decent drinking water.

A trash can at the Rochester Youth Sports Complex. Waste bins at another site were overflowing with almost nothing but plastic water bottles.

I’m far from a crunchy, tree-hugging earth mother, but if there is one thing I hate it is bottled water. In a society where clean drinking water is available almost everywhere, bottled water is such a waste. I understand that it’s occasionally convenient when there is nothing else around, but that is part of the problem. These are places where kids are playing sports, getting hot, and needing to keep hydrated. I’m no engineer, but it can’t possibly be that difficult or expensive to install fountains or taps in locations around these multi-acre parks when they are being built. Some facilities don’t even have a drinking fountain in the main concession or building area. That’s how I found myself refilling water bottles in a disgusting bathroom sink over the weekend.

Last year I attended a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field in late July. It was a make-up game that was originally scheduled in April on Earth Day. So everything was “green” themed. It was also a sweltering noon game, with heat indexes reaching over 110°. We planned ahead and brought along water in refillable bottles. Problem was, there was one single water fountain available for six entire sections of seating. So the choice was to either wait in line for half of the game to refill, or buy a plastic bottle of water for $3.00. How many plastic water bottles from that afternoon alone ended up in a landfill somewhere? The onscreen messages of “sustainability” were lost on me that day.

So if you’re going to lament childhood obesity statistics, and start in with bans on soft drinks, like in New York City, or constantly preach the message of reuse, then civic leaders need to make it possible for people live those messages. Does anyone know someone looking for an Eagle Scout project? Or are you affiliated with a community service organization looking to promote healthy living? Then I found a project for you. Work with city authorities to implement a goal of having easily accessible, clean, cold tap water at any place where people gather, particularly summer events, schools, and sports activities.

I’d do it, but I’m just the visionary. I hate to get bogged down in the details.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Nattering Nabobs Of Negativism

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I have a very low tolerance for yammering idiots. Unfortunately sometimes you’re in a confined space (airplanes, grocery store lines, theater, sporting event) where you have no viable means of escape. Tonight at Cameron’s baseball game I had the distinct pleasure of being subjected to the inane gabfest of a couple of rocket scientists sitting behind me. A regular Algonquin Round Table.

Gratuitous shot of my son hitting the ball.

I was treated to gems like this.

“Why didn’t he call the infield fly rule?” (Well, for one thing, the ball was hit into the outfield.)

“The colors of the Rangers uniforms make sense because I think those are the Texas Rangers colors.”

“Put it where you live!” (This was some kind of shout of encouragement to a hitter. I’ve been watching baseball for over 30 years and have no clue what that could possibly mean.)

“Do you know what a ‘quorum’ is?” (He was talking to a kid, presumably to educate him. *Facepalm*) “It’s something used in the Senate. Like a majority.” (A quorum is decidedly not a majority, it’s the minimum number of a group that needs to be present to pass a law.)

Then there was a lengthy, graphic, and frankly, nauseating, discussion about eyebrow trimming. (These were two rather out of shape and inching toward middle age men.) Then something about NBC’s Andrea Mitchell editing comments from a press conference, and a reference to Grey’s Anatomy where the name “Dr. McDreamy” was uttered.

And along the way they were being assholes about our team when we’d make mistakes. Like when a ball was hit back to the pitcher and he started to throw to third before realizing it wasn’t a force play and the kid didn’t have to run, but by then it was too late to throw to first for the out. Their reaction? “HA! HA!”

These are nine-year-olds, not Major Leaguers.

On another play our shortstop didn’t charge a ball that was softly hit, resulting in a late throw to first base. The runner was safe. And loud enough for parents and kids alike to hear, they were saying things like, “JEEZ! HOW STUPID. LOOK AT THAT KID JUST SIT THERE AND WAIT FOR THE BALL!” Charming. This was the one time their wives intervened. “Shhhh! There are parents sitting around here.”

I just wish stupid people couldn’t talk. That would make it so much easier for the rest of us.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


The Bright Side: Ice Skates Would Be Worse

Tonight David and Cameron both had baseball games at 5:30. David’s was local, Cameron’s was 15 minutes away. At 7:00 Justin and Alex had a practice for their team, coached by Barry also local, but not at the same park as David. I’ve learned to start the dressing out process no later than 4:15 for this to go remotely well.

Justin is always gung-ho to get started, sometimes he even gets himself ready as early as 3:00. Today he wanted my help. Jersey, supporter, and pants are never an issue, but when it comes to his socks and shoes, it’s never easy. He must have heightened nerve sensitivity in his feet because I’ve never seen anyone so picky about the seemingly simple task of putting on a pair of socks. I managed to get the first baseball sock on with no complaints. The second one. Not so much.

Justin: “What’s that RED THING on my sock?”
Me: “It’s just a little string stuck to it, I’ll get it off.”
Alex: “Can I take a bath?”
Me: “No. You can after baseball. We need to get dressed now.”
Justin: “It feels WEIRD! You’re supposed to put this part on the TOP!”
Me: “Fine, let me see it.” (I adjusted the bottom of the sock to make sure the seam was on top, and not bothering the bottom of his foot.) “There, is that better?”
Justin: “Yeah.”
Me: “You put your shoes on while I help Alex.”
Justin: “But YOU have to tie them!!!”
Me: “I know, you just put them on, and then I’ll tie them.”
Alex: “Mom, can you put ponytails in my doll’s hair like Dorothy?”
Me: “Sure, just let me get you dressed first.”
Alex: “Ok.”
Justin: “TIE MY SHOE!!!”
Me: “Hang on just a minute, I’m putting on Alex’s stuff.”
Alex: “I don’t know if I really wanna do baseball tonight.”
Me: “Sure you do. You said it was fun.”
Alex: “No. It’s not fun. You just have to stand there.”
Me: “Well, we still need to put on your uniform. Where are your socks?”
Alex: “I don’t know.”
Justin: “TIE MY SHOE!!!”
Me: “Ok!” (I tied his shoe into a neat double bow.)
Justin: “NOT LIKE THAT!!!”
Me: “What’s wrong with it?”
Justin: “It’s sticking out!”
Me: “What is?”
Justin: “I don’t like that sticking out like that. Do it again!”
Me: “Fine.” (We repeated this four more times before I’d had enough.) “It’s fine now. I need to go downstairs and see if Alex’s socks are in the dryer. You put on your other shoe.”
Justin: “NOOOO!!! HELP ME!!!!” (I heard echoes of his shouting and pleading for help as I went downstairs to find socks. Cameron was on the computer.)
Me: “Cameron, aren’t you getting dressed?”
Cameron: “What time’s my game?”
Me: “5:30 and it’s in Victoria. Start getting ready.”
Cameron: “In a minute.”
Me: “Have you seen Alex’s socks?” (I rummaged through laundry baskets, the dryer, and Cameron’s drawers, but found nothing. I did see remnants of black baseball socks that had been cut into two pieces because Cameron has been using the tops of socks as sweatbands because I haven’t taken him to Sports Authority to buy real wristbands.)
Cameron: “Mom, his socks aren’t in my room.”
Me: “How many baseball socks did you cut up?”
Cameron: “I didn’t cut any up. Alex’s socks aren’t in there.”
Me: “I know that. Just answer my question. How many socks did you cut up?”
Cameron: “None!”
Me: “Cameron, you’re lying. There are at least two sock halves sitting here on your dresser? How many did you cut up? Did you cut up Alex’s?”
Cameron: “No!”
Alex: “Mom, can you fix my doll’s hair now?”
Me: “As soon as I help Justin.” (I tied his shoe again. This time he was fine with it.) “Put on your other shoe now.”
Alex: “Now can you do her hair? And fix her leg too.”
Me: (Dealing with Barbie’s hair and leg needs and calling Barry.) “Do you have any more baseball socks in your team stuff?”
Barry: “Why? I put all their socks in their drawer.”
Me: “Cameron cut up a bunch of socks and I think he might have used Alex’s, I can’t find any.”
Barry: “They’re folded in a ball in the drawer.”
Me: “Cameron’s drawer or Alex and Justin’s?”
Barry: “In Justin’s drawer.”
Me: “No, there was only one pair in there.”
Barry: “Can’t I just look for them when I get home?”
Justin: “MOM!!!! I can’t get this SHOE ON RIGHT!!!”
Me: “Fine, Justin’s losing it anyway.”
Justin: “What’s WRONG with this stupid thing???”
Me: “Just settle down, I’ll get it. (I adjusted his shoe one more time.)
Alex: “Can you fix this ponytail? It came out.”
Me: “In just a second, let me tie Justin’s shoe.” (Again I tied a nice double bow.)
Justin: “IT’S NOT TIGHT!”
Me: “Yes it is.”
Justin: “NO!!! I can still wiggle it.”
Me: “I’ll tighten it, just relax.” (I tied a tighter double bow.)
Justin: “That part isn’t straight!”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Justin: “I don’t know, that’s not the way it goes.”
Me: “Justin, this is how I’ve tied your shoes for four weeks now, what is the problem?”
Justin: “I don’t know, it’s just not supposed to be like that.”

Seriously, what is wrong with this knot?

We literally had a variation of this exact conversation after I retied his shoe at least ten times.

Me: “Justin, this is the last time I’m doing this. Like it or not, I’m done.”
Me: “Then you’ll have to wait for your dad to get home and he can tie it.”
Justin: “HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT RIGHT!!! I want YOU to do it!!”
Me: “No. I’m done.” (I went into the bathroom to put my hair up into a hat. Justin started beating on the door.)
Me: “Then take it off and put it back on again. There must be some sand in it.”
Me: “That’s what you need to do to fix it.”
Justin: “I NEED YOU TO HELP ME!!!”
Me: “No, you don’t. Just take off your shoe.”
Justin: (Banging on the door.) “NOOOOOO!!!”

With that I stormed out of the bathroom, forcefully sat him down for a time out, and told him not to move until his dad got home. Meanwhile I had to fix Alex’s doll’s hair again, pack a bag with water, food and bags for Penny, and make sure David and Cameron were ready. As I was doing this somehow Justin was miraculously able to resolve the shoe conundrum on his own. Barry got home, found socks for Alex, and order was restored. Until I told David that since his game would likely finish around the same time as Cameron’s, he’d have to stay at the field for 15 minutes or so until I could pick him up. This was apparently tragedy of epic proportions because even though he could sit and watch part of the next game, or hang out with one of the multitudes of kids he knows who would likely be there in between games, an extra 15 minutes at the ballpark was too difficult for him to fathom. Before he had much of a chance to protest, I dropped him off (But only after turning off the radio at his insistence because Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson was playing.), and was on my way.

This should not be that complicated, people.