Monday, January 28, 2008

The new office

You may recall that during last year's American League Championship Series, I began the bittersweet process of painting my youngest son's former bedroom. Out with the Cleveland Indians theme.

Since then, Carolie has done a great job turning it into her office.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

When friends disappear

Kurt and Ann, our neighbors across the street, are calling it quits and putting their home up for sale. They're the last of the neighbors here that we could reasonably call friends, at least enough that we'd have informal chats over a beer, without the need to have planned in advance.

I haven't realized until lately how much kids contribute to the relationships parents have with one another. They're the ones who end up introducing us to the people who will be our friends and bonds that are first formed by the common cause -- our kids.
When the kids disappear, a mechanism disappears, too and one day you wake up and realize that you don't really know anybody anymore.

Take my onetime best friends, John and Debby. John was in our wedding. We've known each other since college. When we were deciding to move from Massachusetts to Minnesota years ago, one of the reasons for not moving -- after proximity to family -- was John and Debby.

A couple of years ago, their only son was killed early one Sunday morning. I didn't find out about it for a month and after traveling back to New England to see them, we haven't talked since. Phone calls, e-mails, and letters go unanswered. No kids, no friends. They've moved on.

"There's really no reason for us to stay here," I said to Carolie last night, making more of an observation than establishing a plan. Still, I'll miss sitting around on the bench with Kurt, as much as I miss the days when you could walk around the neighborhood and stop in for a chat.

The airport life, I hope, will take up part of that vacuum. Last night, I was over at the airport and decided to stop in at the hangar of David and Mary Maib, who are building an RV-10. There was no reason, other than to just say "hello." In this case, our "kids" are actually are airplanes -- or our airplane projects -- but the benefits are the same.

I feel bad for Kurt and Ann. I still feel bad for John and Debby. But in the darkness of an early morning, shocked awake by thoughts of disappearing friendships, I admit to mostly feeling bad for me.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My Buddy LeRoux story

Buddy LeRoux is dead and as befits Stirrings these days, that brings up a story about the time I had a confrontation with him . Hmmm, I see a theme emerging here (See Norman Mailer post).

LeRoux was an interesting guy because at one time he was the trainer of the Boston Red Sox (and the Boston Celtics, too) and somehow he managed to worm his way up the corporate ladder to the point where he was an owner of the team. He was a terrible owner, although I enjoyed watching the team just about every night.

I worked at WHDH in Boston, and Carlo Lagrotteria, the president of the BoSox Club just happened to be one of the bosses at WHDH. So he would come through the newsroom every night and say, "who wants tickets?" In his hand was about a 6" stack of tickets.

I was single at the time, I had no reason to go home, so I would walk over to Fenway and plop myself down in the WHDH seats, 5 rows behind the Red Sox dugout and think about how, at a young age, I had achieved every dream I ever had. I was working in radio, in Boston (OK, so I wasn't a sportscaster; big deal!) and I was sitting in the nice seats at Fenway Park on many an evening. I loved Boston. I loved that life.

But I digress...

One day, we needed to get ahold of Buddy LeRoux for a story. I can't remember what the story was but it was probably about something utterly stupid that Buddy LeRoux had done to screw up the team.

We tried all day to get in touch with him but he wouldn't return our calls.

A friend of mine on the staff, Bruce Cornblatt (another story about him here), who would later to go on to be the producer of Later with Bob Costas (for which he won an Emmy), told me, "leave a message and use my name."

Now, I was young at the time and did not know that when someone says "use my name," what they really mean is, "call and leave a message and say I told you to call."

So instead, I called the Red Sox front office and asked for Buddy LeRoux and when the woman said, "Who's calling?", I gave the obvious answer.

"Bruce Cornblatt," I said.

The next voice I heard was Buddy LeRoux's.

"Hi, Bruce, how are ya?"

In a moment of panic, I quickly evaluated whether I could do a good Bruce Cornblatt imitation and that collided head-long with the moral upbringing my parents had provided to me and so I stammered, "well, ummm, Buddy, this isn't Bruce, really. It's Bob Collins."

God, you probably already know this about the guy who arrived up there today. But that guy swears, God. I swear to God, God, that guy swears.