Friday, March 9, 2018

"The Greatest Gift"

This post is about a thing.  Just so you know that I know it’s about a thing and not about something that matters. 

It’s only a thing.

But what a wonderful thing it is.

By contrasting example…

When I was a kid, I wanted a Bowie knife.  I did not actually need a Bowie knife, as there were few grizzly bears roaming Toronto, necessitating protection from a knife, which, being sharp on both edges, could do serious damage “Up” and “Down.”   

I had coveted owning a Bowie knife after seeing it in action on the TV western series, The Adventures of Jim Bowie, who, according to the show’s theme song was “… a bold adventurin’ man” whose “… blade was tempered, and so was he!  Indestructible steel was he!”  Which made no sense.  His blade was “indestructible steel”, not Jim Bowie himself. 

But who cared about a dumb theme song?

I wanted that knife!

After the passing of my father, my Uncle Irving was my surrogate “Birthday Wish” provider.  When he asked what I wanted that year, I dutifully registered my request: 

“I want a Bowie knife”, I said, with unwavering certainty.

And on the following birthday – my twelfth –

I got one.

The thing is,

It was the wrong Bowie knife. 

I mean, it was a nice enough Bowie knife; it had a genuine “bone” handle.  But it was achingly smaller than the massive Weapon of Danger wielded on television. 

Though I was appreciative of my uncle’s generosity, my crushed expression betrayed the inevitable heartbreak of, “What happened to the big one?” 

(I would later carry that knife on canoe trips.  But with that comparative toothpick, there was no sense whatsoever of roaming the wilderness unafraid.  My mini-Bowie would make grizzly bears chuckle.  Before they devouringly tore me to pieces.)



I am considerably older.

Though I am still saying what I want for me birthday.

A brief explanatory backstory….

On a visit to my family in Toronto some years back, I was shown an official wooden baseball bat, purchased during a visit to the hallowed Hall of Fame in Cooperstown that had my great nephew Adam’s name printed on it. 

That’s what I wanted for my birthday.  (Making it clear I wanted my name on the bat and not Adam’s.  Looking back, that was probably the mistake I had made concerning the Bowie knife.  I was not sufficiently specific, winding up with a comparative dinky one rather than the authentic original, “As Seen On TV.”)

The years passed.  And though I received many magnificent birthday gifts, I did not receive the bat of my hopes and dreams and deep down deepest desires.  (An exaggerated descriptive, suggesting I really wanted it.)

This year, however,

I got it.

I have a bat with my name on it.

And it is exactly what I imagined. 

I am grinning now, just thinking about it.

And, in fact, I don’t have to “just think about it.”  It is right behind me, sitting in my office.  It is all I can do to stop typing and take that long wished-for possession into my hands. 

You know what?  I’m gonna do it.  Excuse me, a second.



I just hefted it.  Checked out my name stenciled on the barrel.  Took a couple of preliminary “practice swings.”  Pantomimed a bunt. 

You know, I have never taken an actual full swing with my…

Hold on a second.


Okay.  I will not be doing that again.  My back just went, “Stop it!  You’re old!”   

But it doesn’t matter.  I am totally ecstatic.  Because, with this luminous example,

I got one hundred percent what I wanted.

What a rare and sublime experience this is. 

You request something. 

You receive it.

And it is everything you imagined it would be.

Sometimes, I am watching TV and it’s just resting beside me, within easy, available access.  Sometimes, I just touch it, a solid reminder that it’s there.  Sometimes, I suddenly grab it, get up, and take a serious stance, eyeing the pitcher, awaiting the delivering “heat.”

Sometimes, I just carry it around, like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men.  It is barely imaginable.  Me and a movie star – doing exactly the same thing!  

Only my experience was better.

Tom Cruise hefted an anonymous bat.

My bat is monogrammed!

Philosophers talk about “The Good.” 

Nailing that down, they proceed upward to “The Perfect.”

How would I define “The Perfect”?

Well for openers…

How’s this?


Tom said...

I too have a personalized bat right behind me in my office, leaning up against the wall in a corner. You've inspired me to go over and heft that "Genuine Tom Thomas Louisville Slugger." You've also warned me I'm too old to take an actual swing with it.
I didn't request the bat; it was a gift we TV crew members received at the conclusion of the 1984 Baltimore Orioles season. I actually carried it onto the plane and flew home with it, back in the days before people realized potential weapons weren't hand luggage.

John A. Hillerich IV.2 said...

Pretty damn cool!