So I'm walking the dog this sultry morning -- bearable enough for now, but with the promise of combustible heat behind every puff of breeze -- and I round a corner, and suddenly, on that same breeze, comes the very soundtrack of summer.
Hey, battah-battah, hey, battah, hey ...
To paraphrase Robert Duvall in "Apocalypse Now": I love the sound of chatter in the morning. It smells like ... Wildcat baseball.
And, yes, there they are on that hot dusty diamond, and every bit of it flings me back to my childhood, when I held the unofficial title of Worst Player In Wildcat History. I was that kid out there on the mound, stepping carefully on the rubber, pivoting, stopping in mid-pivot, and then awkwardly lollipopping the ball in a suborbital arc not unlike Alan Shepard's first space flight.
The ball sails six feet over the batter's head. The ump squawls, "Ball! Take yer base!"
Ah, Wildcat. I think of summer, that's what I think of, all those hot mornings languishing in left field, all that terror at the plate as the other team's 9-foot tall pitcher (or so it seemed) reared back and threw the ball heaven knows where.
And so the dog and I stop for a time, in a provident swatch of shade, and just watch. So little has changed: The uniforms, the hey-battah-battah (because, as any Wildcat kid knows, chatter is integral to the game), even the way the kids who aren't playing at the moment lose interest after awhile and starting looking at my dog or the sky or their parents, or just nothing.
And then comes the line of the day, from one of them.
He's one of the ones checking out my dog behind the backstop, bored, and the news has just come down that he's not going to get to bat this inning. And, being far too observant of grownup-to-kid dialogue than any 9 or 10-year-old has any right to be, he immediately begins to wail, or at least mock-wail.
"You're crushing my dreams!" he cries. "You're crushing my dreeeeaaammms!"
And I walk away, chuckling, awakened to one more immutable truth: Kids today are still just as smartass as we used to be.
Somehow I find that comforting.