Al Batt: Summa cum laude grad would have worn a baseball glove

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

It was an endurance test for bladders.

Muhammad Ali said, “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.”

Al Batt

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A graduation on a lovely May day was a highlight reel of shining moments. The ceremony included a plethora of robed students with more degrees than The Weather Channel. It seemed longer than it was because that’s what those things do. As the graduates paraded across the stage, grabbed a diploma and had their mug shots taken against a portable golden wall, some students were reserved, nearly somber, some appeared dazed and others were joyous. My loved one had a smile like a wave across a slop pail. She was a happy dance in progress. She graduated summa cum laude. I misspelled summa cum laude when I was in college.

Each year, I’m asked what advice I’d give a graduate. The same person asks each year. He’s my imaginary friend and a fellow graduate of Codswallop College. His name is Pookie. That’s right, Pookie. You can name your imaginary friend whatever you want; mine is named Pookie.

Here we go, Pookie. I spend a lot of time at high school softball and baseball games played at a four-ballfield complex developed in farmland and encircling bleachers. Errant foul balls keep fans on their toes as “Heads up!” echoes across the land. At one location, the foul balls targeted me. I had three horses in the race, so to speak, so I walked from one field to another to yet another, watching family members. The foul balls found me wherever I was. I’d left my suit of armor and my baseball glove at home. A spinning ball charged me. I attempted to snatch it out of the air with one hand, but the ball struck my palm and bounced away. I forgot it’s two hands for beginners. I tossed the ball back, hitting the top of the fence, nowhere near a player, coach or umpire. I’d lost something off my fastball—the “fast” part. I sprained an earlobe on my self-guided tour of Humble City.

No more drool pools on your desks while trying to find value in the philosophical problem presented when Schrodinger took his cat to the vet, who said, “I have some good news and some bad news for you.”

It’s good news you’ve graduated. The tassel was worth the hassle.

Everyone is a walking camera today. A woman showed me her new cellphone with a 100X zoom. We have all become spies. The camera allows a close-up photo from far away. If you ever feel the need to pick your nose, do it while hiding in a closet where a camera can’t see you.

Always give 100% unless you’re donating blood.

No matter how much you want to flaunt your flexibility, never chew your toenails in yoga class.

People will dangle the world in front of you and try to convince you that they have the power to make it shiny. Most of them will be overactive on social media and will not have graduated summa cum laude. Ignore them.

If you get an email promising to teach you how to read maps backward, it’s spam.

Don’t give advice. Do what I say, not what I do.

I walked to my car after dodging 47 foul balls. As I was about to open its door, a phone rang. It wasn’t my phone’s ring, but it was nearby. On the ground, next to my left foot, was a phone ringing its OtterBox off. Some of us drop the ball, others drop the phone. I picked it up and answered it. I expected it would be a telemarketer, but it was a youth wanting to talk to his father. I told him I was a poor, wayfaring stranger who wouldn’t hold the phone for ransom. He said he’d call his mother, who was at the game. He did and the owner of the lost phone called me back on his wife’s phone. I answered his phone again. You never know when you’ll be called to do something unexpected. Expect the unexpected.

I returned the new phone he’d just purchased that day.

I used two hands. You should, too.


Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.