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Your Weekly Hoodoo Thread: Kentucky edition

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Back to the SEC schedule friends, you know what that means...Hoodoo 'em if you got 'em,

Alright folks, we’re past the bye week…uh, I mean, Kent State week, and we’re about to enter the teeth of this here SEC get-down that will determine the ultimate fate of our beloved Crimson Tide in this here season.

To be sure, the road will be rough and full of potholes. We endured one such pothole last week in the injury to our ferocious young starting tailback Damien Harris. That is the kind of thing we as patrons of our beloved Crimson Tide must fear week in and week out. It’s not necessarily the potency of the opponent that causes strife, nay. Rather, it’s the cruel and fickle hand of Fate that leads to our consternation more often than not. To prevent such catastrophes in future contests, Football Loki simply must be appeased.

Therefore, though we play the lowly WampusCats of ole Kentuck this weekend, we must still rally forth with a Hoodoo effort of prodigious proportions. Sure, I know a lot of you are saying to yourselves, “But OWB, I regret that I have but one Hoodoo to give for my beloved Crimson Tide…and I’m saving it for the Natty!” If that is your point of view, then I surely I will not ridicule or taunt. You should be praised for living a clean and Hoodoo-free life. No shame in that at all, for we’re all friends here, no? (Except for you CT4, you’re a sumbitch…I keed, I keed.)

What I will implore your heathen asses to do is take a challenge worthy of Football Loki’s attention. Slug a dram of ghost-pepper hot sauce, create a T-Swift playlist (SQUAD!) and listen to it for eight hours on game day, take the “Liar, Liar” (you know, the Jim Carrey movie) challenge and promise to only tell the truth for a week…no matter how painful that truth may be (some of you simply may not survive this one…proceed with caution). Do it, then tell us all about it. You feel me? Do something, anything, to appease our patron saint, elsewise we may run out of running backs before we get to the LSU game.

Now, without further chastisement, let me, your faithful narrator, initiate this particular Hoodoo tale of woe upon your faithful ears.

This week, I will once again ask you to step into my Hoodoo time mo-sheen…set the dial for the early 1980s, a time when men were still men, boys were still boys, and our beloved Crimson Tide was reeling in the wake of the departure of our conquering king, Coach Paul Bear Bryant.

Back then, though the Atari 2600 was becoming a thing, if one wanted to play what we called a “video game” (pronounced in these here parts as a “vid-ee-yuh game”), one had to hitch a ride to Bel Air Mall and enter the comforting eight-bit bosom known as Aladdin’s Castle. With a mother who was raising us all alone, who had little time for such trivial pursuits in the course of serving as both mother and father to her two boys, such trips were few and far between. Therefore, my brother B-Rad and I were left to more archaic forms of entertainment on the typical day: we played sports; plinked cans with our bb guns; rode our bikes; and built forts of spare roofing tin, bits of retired plumbing and half-rotted, discarded exterior siding.

While we had our fun playing war games and constructing stunt ramps for our various wheeled accessories, one of our favorite past times was playing ball. B-Rad and I were baseball players as youngsters, both of us played park ball through most of our youth. B-Rad was a natural, had quick wrists and great hand-eye coordination, could hit a red grape with a broom handle, could hit whatever anyone threw at him. He could pitch a little, had a good arm, nice heater for a young kid.

He just didn’t apply himself, as was the case with most of the endeavors in which he possessed natural gifts. For example, he decided in a later era to play freshman baseball after a few years away from the sport, and made the starting line-up without so much as a warm-up. Long story short, he never went to practice…the coach hated his smart-assery, but loved his hitting prowess. He made it into one game, and hit two home runs off of the ace starter for local powerhouse McGill-Toolen. Then, promptly after that game, he declared that was tired of baseball and quit the team after calling the coach (and I quote) a “dumb fat fkr with a tiny pecker” in front of the rest of the team. Way to burn bridges, B-Rad. (B-Rad has burned more bridges than Sherman on his March to the Sea…such is his personality.)

As for me, well, I was a solid defensive player. Played every position on the field during my baseball career. When the team lacked a lefty, I was tapped as the first baseman because of my height and reach. I had the speed to play the outfield. I was bulky enough (by at least a couple dozen Krispy Kremes) to catch. When we did have a lefty on the team, I played third, since I had a cannon arm and could easily fend off attacks at the “hot corner” and turn double-plays with ease. I even played short-stop and second base one season because I was quick and heady…nothing got by me.

But I couldn’t hit for shit. Just never could get the hang of it consistently. When I did make contact, I’d kill it, hit two dingers in the second of my minor league Dixie Youth years. But more often than not, that steady breeze one felt when I was at bat was me taking cuts and fanning out.

Part of it was that I didn’t get the “quick-wristed” gene that one must have to be an efficient hitter in baseball. I just couldn’t understand how to improve. I watched instructional videos, I did all kinds of drills to get better. My father, despite his usual absenteeism (he only came around whenever we were engaged in some activity that he deemed could bring him personal glory), was bound and determined to make me into a baseball player. He built me a device consisting of a sawed-off piece of broom handle, an old shoe string, and a five-pound iron weight. The idea was that one would hold the handle in both hands out perpendicular to the body, and roll the wrists to lift the weight, then wind it back down slowly with resistance. At least 30 minutes a day, I was to continuously roll it up, then roll it down. I don’t know that it ever made much difference, but I had to do it anyway. Such was my father’s mania.

I was probably also stricken with some form of PTSD after having my father criticize and chastise me from behind the backstop each time I was in the batter’s box. When it came to motivations speeches, Tony Robbins he was not. While he wasn’t present for any of the other key moments in our lives, he always made it to my baseball games, if for no other reason than to holler and belittle me from the stands. B-Rad was a baller, so he didn’t catch the brunt of this treatment. But me…Good Lord. He’d embarrass the living hell out of me, so much so that I’d just as soon take three straight cuts at the ball just to be able to get back to the dugout.

“PICK YOUR ELBOW UP, DAMMIT, YOU’RE DROPPING YOUR ELBOW!”

“JESUS CHRIST WHY DID YOU SWING AT THAT? THAT WAS THREE FEET OUTSIDE!”

“GOD-A’MIGHTY, ARE YOU SWINGING WITH YOUR EYES OPEN OR CLOSED?”

“YOU BETTER BE GLAD YOU MAKE GOOD GRADES BECAUSE YOU AREN’T GETTING TO COLLEGE ON A BASEBALL SCHOLARSHIP.”

On one occasion, he came to the dugout before I was to go to the on-deck circle. He had a proposition for me that he relayed in front of my teammates.

“If you get a single, I’ll give you a dollar. A double, two dollars. A triple, three dollars. Hit a home run, and I’ll give you five dollars and take you to Godfather’s next time you come to my house.”

I think he thought that would actually be an incentive, like I had just been sucking it up at the plate to spite him or something. As expected, I took my cuts…1…2…3...and returned to the dugout where I hung my head. Instead of this asshole giving me the “chin up, you’ll get ‘em next time” speech, he (in front of my teammates, once again) said, and I quote:

“Well hell, I guess I won’t ever go broke with you at bat. Your brother maybe, but not you.”

It still stings to think about it, and it has been a perpetual thorn in my side in all of my athletic endeavors. You see, so fragile was (and is) my father’s ego that he saw our every failing as a direct reflection upon his manhood. He saw himself as a flawless bastion of male athleticism (which in itself, was laughable), and when I couldn’t live up to that lofty standard, I was scorned as an embarrassment. That kinda stuff messes with a young’un’s head, ya know?

I’ve long forgiven him for it, though I shall never forget it. I’m thankful for it, in a way, as it’s made me more attentive to my own children and their self-esteem. Now, as I have recently received word of my disenfranchised father’s pending final demise at the hands of a virulent cancer, I can only pray that the Good Lord has mercy on his soul, as I’ve done everything I can to lift his karmic debt from my ledger.

Enough of that unpleasantness…back to our tale. Alas, in the course of developing as athletes, B-Rad and I were prone to pick-up games with the neighborhood kids…you know the kind. Walk with me, if you will, peer over yonder fence line at those kids in the backyard…

“Hey Jeffro, wanna play ball?”

“Sure!” Jeffro Bodeen always wanted to play. Jeffro was an only child who was doted upon by his “mother” (in a Southern Gothic twist of fate, she was actually his grandmother, as his mother conceived and delivered him at the age of 15 and thus his grandmother and grandfather took on the task of raising him as their own). His mom/ grandma was an edifice of Oedipal child-rearing: she had run both of her natural-born daughters off at the age of 18, but allowed her only true son, Junior, to live in the house with her well into his 30s. She fed him nightly, packed his lunch before he left for his grocery store stock clerk job each morning, paid his car insurance bill, and laundered and ironed his clothes for him without so much as being asked. It was sick, sick stuff.

Because he was the only person under 30 in his household, Jeffro always longed for the companionship of his peers, and B-Rad and I were the likely culprits for social interaction, seeing as how we were of similar age and lived just next door. Our backyard was separated from his extended driveway only by a waist-high chain link fence, and there was little that went on in one another’s yards that went unobserved.

Our yard was one of the few respites for Jeffro, who rarely had the opportunity to drift from beneath the shadow of his mama-granny’s apron. His matron-figure, well, let’s call her Afro Bogey-Togey (or ABT for those into the whole brevity thing). There’s a long story that supports this nomer, but here’s the TL;DR mathlete version: my buddy Mook had laid that name on her one afternoon after he witnessed the perfect, spherical nature of her old-lady haircut (so round was this coif that English scientists could calibrate their instruments from it) and the fiery nature of her Jeffro-directed venom when he didn’t comply with her immediate orders.

So ABT, well, she was not what one would call a trusting sort. No, for this poor psychologically-impaired school secretary (a profession I’m certain that was designed as a Project Paperclip-esque program for concealing reformed transgender Nazi perpetrators within American society after the war…you know what I mean, kinda like dentistry), there was a Boogey-Man beneath every bed, a latent Communist in every neighborhood, a child molester concealed just beyond every drapery. She couched her life in fear that someone would want to abduct her dear Jeffro from the very life she had so caringly crafted for him, a life free of strife (at least free of strife not caused by her), a life in which the freezer stayed populated with copious numbers of Hot Pockets and Transformers were procured by the dozens for her dear son-child.

I can remember on many occasions the ass-whuppin’s this boy would tote when he violated her iron-fisted, draconian rule of law. There was no room for derivation from her order, for the consequences (in her mind) were certain death, or at the very least, kidnapping “just like that Adam Walsh” as I heard her telling my mother over the fence post one day. My mother was of the far more liberal-minded sort: we were allowed to ramble hither and yon, ride our bikes to the grocery store, and fight pitched battles with our pellet guns in the ditch that snaked between the back yards in our neighborhood. Either Momz didn’t see the pure, unadulterated evil inherent in ABT’s world view, or she just figured if anyone was stupid enough to kidnap one of her boys they were guaranteed to return us with an apology after only about a half-hour’s exposure to our particular brand of foolishness. (I mean, hell, the grocery bill to feed us alone would turn any kidnapping of me and B-Rad into a zero-gain situation.)

On this day, as on many others, Jeffro saw this invitation to play ball in our yard as an adventure and a chance to break free of the matronly grip over everything in his tiny world, if only for a short time. After we asked him if he wanted to play, he turned to ABT, who was rocking away on the screened porch, shellin’ peas into a white, porcelain-coated steel tub. You could hear the hard peas plinkin’ the sides of the tub in a distinct “ding,” something that I noticed and took as an indicator of her presence. After all, when she was outside, she was watching us like a hungry hawk. We had to be on our best behavior, lest she perceive our actions as dangerous and, as a result, yank Jeffro ass-first back over the chain-link.

We had a baseball diamond laid out in our back yard, that while not to regulation specs, was good enough for a small, half-acre plot. We even had a home plate one of the neighbors had fashioned for us out of a piece of scrap plywood, he cut out in the shape of a plate and everything, even painted it white. The rest of the bags consisted of a first base (a blue lid off of a margarine tub), second base (the worn-down half-rotted stump of a water oak felled by the winds of Frederic back in ’79), and third base (a black-tar roofing shingle that had come loose from the edge of our porch cover on one of the several occasions B-Rad and I amused ourselves by playing a game called “Don’t Be a Pu$$y, Jump Off the Roof.”)

The pitcher’s mound was a natural swale that ran across the centerline of our backyard like a spine. It gave the needed height for a mound, and we’d taken the liberty of burying a scrap piece of two-by-four in the ground to act as the rubber. It was quite toney for a back yard ball park, and we even had a home run line in the fence that separated our backyard from Jeffro’s sideyard oyster-shell driveway.

As nice a set-up as we had, there were pitfalls inherent therein. One was our laundry room, which was added on to the house well after the original structure was completed. Because of its add-on nature, it jutted out into the natural symmetry of our playing surface, putting its window glass in perpetual danger of being shattered by an errant foul ball to the first base side. I’m truthfully surprised that never happened, though there were close calls too numerous to count.

Down the third base line, our yard was bordered by the fence between our yard and that of our backside neighbor, Jack Cannon, a portly, braggardly Mississippian who entered the war effort at 16 to “faht Nat-sees in Dubble-ya-Dubble-ya-Too” and would spin a tall tale the way a DJ spins records. Jack Cannon loved me and B-Rad, saw us as his grandsons I believe, having never seeded his own family from surly Cannon stock. Whenever he’d see us break out into a ball game, whether it was football, baseball or basketball, he’d leave his push plough idle and waddle his way over to the fence pole, where he’d lean while watching us, shouting the occasional encouragement (or criticism.)

The only other area of concern was what lurked beyond the fence between our house and Jeffro’s: namely, the assemblage of vehicles that were perpetually parked in Jeffro’s driveway. There was, of course, the chariot of the Southern, eldery grand-matron otherwise known as an Oldsmobile Delta 88. During that epoch of American automotive design, cars such as the Delta 88 were big and boxy…which perfectly fit the personality of ABT. Then, there was the obligatory pick-up truck of Jeffro’s daddy- gramps John Paul, a paper mill worker who was content to labor on an eight-hour shift, return home, and immediately immerse himself in his wood shop for hours upon end just to avoid interaction with his domineering wife. To say John Paul was hen-pecked was something akin to calling a channel-cat slippery…in other words, it was a grand understatement.

Finally, parked closest to our fence line was Junior’s most prized possession: a beautiful, shiny, pampered sky-blue K5 Blazer. A man of Junior’s questionable stature did not deserve such a steed, no. She was simply too good for his likes. Junior, in addition to being a pampered mama’s boy man-child, was a general prick in every encounter I had the misfortune of having with him. Once, when playing kick ball in our back yard, I got all my leg behind a swing and put that over-inflated soccer ball well over the fence. It landed on Jeffro’s house, bouncing a few times before beginning its slow roll down the gable and dropping on the driveway. Before I could hop the fence and retrieve it, Junior (hearing the sound on the roof) emerged from the house, grabbed our ball, and retreated back into his abode. I knocked on the door and asked for my ball back, and he (he was probably 20 years older than me) said, “Tell your mama to come get it, I ain’t givin’ it back to you.”

What a prick. He had this kinky-curl semi-permed hair that resembled his mother’s in shape if not in girth. He was a frog-eyed sumbitch with bubble-lips and a push-broom mustache…you know, a real penguin-lookin’ mffkr. I couldn’t stand that bastard, and I did everything I could to avoid crossing paths with his goofy ass.

Now Junior, he loved that K5. Doted on it the way his mama doted on male-children. Given that Junior had not entertained any lady friends to speak of, I surmised that this vehicle satisfied the role in his life that a lovely woman would have filled. Being less-than-attractive and socially handicapped by years of matronly doting, he probably couldn’t have convinced a woman to date him on the regular, and if he had, said woman would probably not pass muster with his domineering mother.

When he wasn’t at work, he was fiddlin’ with that Blazer. I don’t know how many coats of wax that sumbitch put on those blocky blue fenders, but it was enough to give Simoniz a bump in stock value. He polished those broad windows so much that I figured he’d worn them egg-shell thin. He vacuumed her innards daily while the stereo played top-40 hits loud enough that we could hear (but not so loud as to raise the ire of his dear mama). He changed the oil every 1,500 miles, “just to be safe,” he had told Jeffro.

We didn’t give it much thought as we wound up our game that day, as we just wanted to soak up the sunlight and get a few practice cuts in. Of course, there were only three of us, just enough to field a batter, pitcher and fielder. It wasn’t a problem though, given the limited size of our playing field. Jack Cannon had been tugging the vines of his cuyote squash, dropping the green, gnarled-up specimens down from the reaching vines high in his pecan tree. When he saw us warming up for a game, he ceased what he was doing and peg-leg-waddled over to the fence, where he took up a prime spot down the left field line.

Right as we were about to get started, we heard the “plink-plink” of pea-shelling come to a halt, followed soon after by the harpy-call.

“JEFFRO, COME ‘ERE NOW, BO!

Jeffro, attentively, broke out and bounded over the chain-link fence like a jack-rabbit on ephedrine. He disappeared behind the screen door, which fell closed with a loud “CLAP.” We heard the muttering, the sound of protestations, louder muttering, and then silence. Jeffro emerged from the screen porch and hopped back over the fence.

“Let’s hurry up, Mama said I have 30 minutes.” He was downtrodden, but hell, 30 minutes was better than no minutes. “Oh, and she said be careful, don’t be hittin’ balls over into our yard. May hit the cars.”

Whatever. It was never really a problem before. We’d be fine. Plus, because we were worried about breaking mama’s window glass, we were going to be using a tennis ball. Made it harder to hit, too, but we knew a tennis ball would limit any damage we would do to my mother’s property.

Jeffro batted first, seeing as how he was most likely to have to leave early. The way we played with three people was everybody got 20 pitches. An out meant no points, a single was one point, and a home run was two points. Whoever had the most points after taking 20 pitches was the winner. Simple enough, right?

Now Jeffro, bless his heart, the boy didn’t have an athletic bone in his body. He was swingin’ that bat like he was cuttin’ firewood, no artistry, just brute force and poor coordination. B-Rad and I giggled, he managed to make contact a couple times but popped it up, and I (as the fielder) reeled those bad boys in. He eased one single past me down the right field line when I cheated left, and we credited him one that was really a foul, just to make him feel better about himself. Two points for Jeffro.

I rotated to pitcher, B-Rad to the plate, Jeffro to the field. B-Rad was killin’ it. He was making good contact, swatting that ball all over the field and running poor Jeffro damn near to death. I was purposely keeping the pitches high on B-Rad as I knew he was a threat to go yard, kept it high and inside on the hands so that he couldn’t get any juice behind it. It worked, as he ended up scoring 11 points, all off singles, none of dingers.

It was my turn. While I had problems as a batter when at the park, for whatever reason (probably the reason was my loud-ass father wasn’t barking down my neck) I could make enough contact to be competitive at home in the yard. The first pitch Jeffro threw me was a hitter’s pitch, low and away. I took a big cut…and absolutely crushed it. I got ahead of it and drove it high and to the right. As it was a tennis ball, it took off like a rocket, shot over the house and assumedly, into the front yard.

We hunted for that ball for a few minutes, but we knew Jeffro’s window was closing. We couldn't find that damn ball anywhere. I figured that so great was the velocity of that ball coming off of my bat that it evolved into pure energy and dissolved into the aether. We searched a couple more minutes, then gave up.

“I think I have another tennis ball under the shed.” I looked, but it wasn’t there. Then I remembered, our cockapoo Buddy had shredded it in a fit of rage one day. I looked through our outside toy bin, and the only thing I found was a softball I’d found in the woods behind the fence at the ball park one day.

“I guess we can use this softball…better than a baseball, right?”

“Aw man, that ain’t fair, too easy to hit a softball,” B-Rad protested.

“We gotta use it, guys, I ain’t got about but about five more minutes,” retorted Jeffro.

“He’s right, let’s just use the softball.” B-Rad had a point, but I didn’t want the game to go for naught, and I knew that ABT would be fire-and-brimstonin’ Jeffro back over the fence any minute now.

I stepped back to the plate, and Jeffro tried to over-hand the softball to me. Bad plan. It squirreled out on him and headed right for me. I turned away from it, and the slowly moving knuckle-ball hit me square in the buttocks.

Jack Cannon barked from the fence line.

“Boy, you caint throw no softball lahk a baseball…you goan hafta throw it underhanded.” He made the motion of an underhanded throw, and Jeffro nodded in affirmation. He tossed a few practice throws to get his range, and I stepped back to the plate.

Ball was coming…I stepped into it and gave a huge cut. Swing and a miss.

“Hoo-HOOO, BOY! Y’uns shoor missed that-un! Weren’t even close!” Jack Cannon hollered at me, my face warming red.

Jeffro chucked another one my way, a high-hanger that seemed like it was in the air for ten minutes. I tried to be patient, and took another big ole chop at it, the way I’d swing at a fast-moving baseball. No dice, cut right under it.

“BO, YOU CAINT HIT!” Jack Cannon chided. “I THOUGHT YOU WAS A BALL PLAYER? LOOK MORE LAHK A BALL BOY!”

B-Rad and Jeffro giggled. This shit was quickly becoming fkd up and repugnant. I stepped back and took a practice cut or two, trying to imagine that slow moving ball coming at me from an up-to-down trajectory, visualized myself meeting the ball with the bat, the sound it would make as it snapped away from contact, the ball sailing over the heads of B-Rad and Jeffro as they watched in awe. Okay, I was ready. I stepped back to the plate.

This, my friends, is a testament to the power of positive visualization. (This is gonna be some zen-ass-shit, right here, so buckle up.)

I saw the ball leave Jeffro’s hand. I tracked it as it rose, the seams turning as it hurtled through the air. I watched it rise, and just as it hit its peak and began to descend, I cocked my elbow and prepared to swing in rhythm. The ball fell towards me, and I began to move the bat, matching the speed of the tumbling ball as it rolled through the air. Everything felt right, everything was in rhythm. I could see the contact, I could feel the contact, I could hear the contact…I was the contact.

The ball snapped off the bat and took off with a “pop” as I cut through it solidly. The explosiveness was shocking to Jeffro, who instinctually ducked and looked upward. I could see the eyes of the onlookers (B-Rad and Jack Cannon) rolling upwards while tracking the ball, a Hayley’s Comet propelled on its infinite course by sheer childhood athleticism. That ball had “homer” written all over it (like Clay Travis), as it split the air and made quickly for the fence between our ball park and Jeffro’s yard. It was slow-motion sports poetry, and all were in awe of that sphere breaking through the humid Mobile air at pert near the speed of sound.

It was so beautiful that I had forgotten the potential consequences. As the ball began its descent and the trajectory became clear, I came to, awakened from my reverie by the disaster that was about to befall me.

That so-called “softball” was making for the spotless K5 the way Reuben Foster cruise-missile’s quarterbacks. Everyone present at that moment knew what was coming next, and no one knew quite what to do about it.

B-Rad began to break for the fence, as ever the ball player, he thought he could make a play on the ball and snag it over the fence top. Jeffro, well, he was a cowering, quivering bucket of puddin’ by this time, looked like somebody set his cotdamn teddy bear on fire. And Jack Cannon…well, let’s just say for a totterin’ ole vet, that sumbitch covered the 100 yards or so between the fence line and his back door in a time that would make Kenyan Drake proud. He didn’t want any part of what the wisdom of age had told him was about to unfurl. (Oh yeah, Jack, everything’s fun and games until some shit goes down…then what? Mffkr was all “meep-meep” like the dang ole Roadrunner.)

I couldn’t do anything but watch the inevitable…and hope for the best.

That hope was unfounded, however. The softball proved its whole life was a lie by being hard enough to shatter the front windshield of Junior’s K5 Blazer. It didn’t just crack it, the way an errant rock on the highway would. The softball punched completely through it, leaving in its wake a perfectly round, softball-sized cookie-cutter hole surrounded by spidering shatters.

For a moment, the only sound I heard was silence, intermittently broken by the tinkling sounds of broken windshield fragments falling into the floor board of the Blazer. B-Rad had long since reversed course, diverting from the fence towards our back porch, the only area which supplied shelter from the soon-to-be probing eyes of the neighborhood folk.

After a moment, Junior opened the storm door on the side of the house, and shock spread across his face. He began staggering towards his cerulean baby, stammering in disbelief.

“Mah…what hap…I can’t ev…NOOOOOO!”

It was a sad scene, to be sure. This over-nursed baby-man had never seen such adversity, such devastation. He was like the diaper-headed rancor keeper in Return of the Jedi after Luke head-spikes his 20-ton pet.

Then I heard that screen door spring open, and before it could slam shut, ABT was on a mission, making a bee-line for the switch-bearing privet in the corner of the yard. She snatched off a lithe-limber branch, and with ninja-like precision, stripped all the ovate leaves away in one supple flick of the wrist.

“JEFFRO BODEEN, GIT OVER HERE, NOW!”

He didn’t want to go. Who could blame him? He knew what kind of ass-whuppin’ he was about to have to tote on behalf of my errant ball. She didn’t even want “facts” or “reasons.” No, she was thirsty for blood. Nobody…NO-DAMN-BODY…was going to assault her baby boy’s pride and joy and get away with it, hind parts unscathed.

He approached the fence, and by some trick of the Living Force, she snatched him clean over the chain-link without barely laying a hand upon him. She lit into him with quick, sharp blows from that deadly switch, and his howling was matched only by the melancholy sounds of Junior vocally mourning the death of his windshield.

Hearing the commotion, Momz emerged. She looked at me sternly.

“What in the hell is going on out here? Why is your brother laying spread-eagle on his belly on the back porch?”

I calmly explained what had happened. To my surprise, she didn’t chastise me, other than to say, “Oh come on OWB, you are smarter than that, use your head!”

She went on to tell me how I would be expected to cut the neighbor’s grass to work off the cost of the windshield, which was agreeable to me. After all, I didn’t mind cuttin’ grass, and I was just glad I wasn’t Jeffro on that day…or ever, for that matter. Dude was fkd up somethin’ horrible.

I had to apologize to Junior, who just scowled at me through sobs. “What did you think would happen you lummox, just ‘cause it’s called a ‘softball’ don’t mean it’s soft, you dummy.”

Okay, okay, I deserved that one. Duly noted. I promised to pay off my debt as they saw fit. In the end, apparently Junior had something you adults refer to as “insurance” that paid the exorbitant cost of the repair in large part. In good faith, I still gave their yard a free cut, just to demonstrate my remorse and square up on karma.

So there Loki, soak up my embarrassment and self-loathing, bathe in the anxious sweats of my childhood baseball career. Such is our relationship…it is truly give-and-take.

Hail Loki…Roll Tide.