I haven’t posted in while, spring always raises the hair on the back of my neck. I get that slight metallic taste in narrow recesses of my throat and I wonder how much longer I should stay in a place. It is always an odd moment in the year, as I watch another school term pass for my daughter and wonder aloud – how does one plan for spontaneity? Are a series of actions required to define a vision? Does adhering to a specific philosophy still enable random motion? Is a quest still important beyond the moment in which is lived? Do ideas have merit because they are lived or because they are successful?
During my first year of college, one of my good friends was a fellow skinny pre-architecture kid named Donnie, but we called him Slim. The housing administration of our college sifted through their grand wisdom and chose his random twelfth-floor-dorm assignment by some manner as obtuse as tossing a pepperoni onto a pizza. I have no other explanation for why they placed him with a talented yet juvenile baseball catcher, named Eddie Fitzpatrick, for a roommate.
Now Eddie was born the same year as I and raised in southern California. If I recall correctly, he arrived at our fair Mississippi River shore via a baseball scholarship. Something about his love for the game ingrained in young Eddie the desire to constantly swing items whilst walking across campus or even to the cafeteria for meals. He alternated the objects from day to day and was rarely seen without one or the other. These items included first and most obviously a bat and second, though, more surprising – a hammer. This wasn’t just any hammer, however, this was a fine wooden-handled job that had his full name neatly engraved near the base.
He liked the women and for the most part… the women seemed to enjoy his company as well. Slim and I assumed that the hammer must have been a gift from one of his lady friends and he kept it as a memento to remind everyone that his virility was worthy of rewards (and more obviously a good swing as well). The majority of the guys on our floor, however, were thoroughly unimpressed. I hate to nail-down one defining feature that may have turned his neighbors against him, but I dare say it was the endless supply of penis jokes with accompanying visual aides. At one time or another, every door on the twelfth floor was randomly knocked-on in the early morning hours and the occupants awakened by Eddie asking if they dropped their keys. The confused and still half-asleep unwitting participant would look to Eddie’s hands held close to his waist and holding something that most definitely did not resemble a set of keys. Then and only then as one was trying to remember how to cast the door shut would a glance at the floor to the sight of Eddie’s pants around his ankles trigger the internal recognition of a sick joke.
After a number of these repeated occurrences a group of residents took it upon themselves to penny Eddie into his room during the early morning hours. Now to penny one into a room the door must open inward (it also helps if the frame is metal and the door is solid) in order for a couple dozen pennies to be wedged between the frame and door rendering the inhabitant unable to open the door and thus trapped to consider their own brand of idiocy that led to such a revolt. Unfortunately the plan did not have the desired response due to the fact that Slim had an early class and Eddie was sleeping it off in the nearby girls’ dorms. To make it up to Slim, I stole the great hammer of Eddie and gave it to him as a reward. He in turn broke the head from the tool and placed it on Eddie’s pillow; then returned the handle to me to avoid incrimination.
The following semester both Eddie and Slim transferred to new schools. Slim spent the next year at a community college a hundred miles west and Eddie took a baseball scholarship at a hard-line fundamentalist Christian college in mid-eastern Tennessee. Every time I have moved over the past ten years, I have run across Eddie’s headless hammer handle. Recently, I thought of him again, while going through boxes and finally decided to dig-up a bit of information on our fair baseball star.
I learned that Eddie was number 33 in the 1997 college draft. He was picked-up by Pittsburgh in May and released by the Phillies roughly ten months later. From 1998 onward he has strung-together a career of minor-league ball teams, retiring twice to pursue assistant coaching gigs at small unheard-of Christian colleges (I can only assume his sense of humor has cleaned-up). It is this last part of the story that I find the most interesting. He never gave-up on baseball. I mean come on Eddie; you didn’t even make it beyond your first season in the majors. Why didn’t you just quit? Then I hear everyone in my own life asking similar questions. I swear to Christ if one more person asks me if I still paint – my next masterpiece will be engraved on the hood of their car.
I told a relative, the other day, that my family and I were considering a permanent move back to Montana. We’ve been thinking it is maybe time to stop and smell the glaciers for a dozen or so years. The response to my revelation was – “what would you do?” Well, pretty much what I’ve always done – make art. I could care less about much outside that realm. I guess Eddie and I have that in common. We live in the moment of our actions. I have a feeling that if we met today, I’d like him a lot more than I did back in college. I respect someone that doesn’t stop living his or her dream for the sake of insufficient financial success. These past couple years, when some one asks me what I do for a living – I simply respond, “I do what I do, the money eventually follows”. – North