At 6:11 this morning, I adjusted the alarm to 6:45 from the customary 6:15. Trying to risk as little alertness as possible, I tried to sneak under a warm pillow as if I never had awoken. I tried to postpone a day that wanted the writing of an “academic” article. A day that preyed on my first waking thoughts: the Cardinals lost last night. Somehow the Padres, after spotting the Cardinals a 5-2 lead, came back with five unanswered runs and won the game, 7-5. Normally I don’t take losing hard – except when my team loses seven games in a row and risks falling out of first place after an unprecedented, two-week free fall.
Only five hours earlier, I ventured to the computer between one and two in the morning, just curious to find out if the Cardinals just may have won. They hadn’t. As I coaxed myself back to sleep, I thought my way around the bases, from third, to short, to second, and only stopped at first – certain that no baseball team had a better first baseman than the Cardinals. Albert Pujols, a mighty Dominican, superstar is about the only thing keeping them from falling out of the tree.
At 6:35, I turned off the alarm clock. Fully awake and tired from worrying about the Cardinals, I wondered how it is that a grown man can care so much about a dumb baseball team, day to day, noon to night, and year to year. Why? I rested in the hot shower and found writing clothes. A worn green cotton t-shirt with the words S.t. L-o-u-i-s C-a-r-d-i-n-a-l-s splayed across the chest. Just as I prepared to head downstairs, I noticed Andrew’s bed. A cat, on top of lump, turned her head in a leisurely way as I walked through the threshold of the room. Andrew, my eleven year-old, rarely makes his bed. Upon further inspection, the lump was Andrew.
“Hey Andrew. Get up. It’s late.” The cat re-positioned herself on Andrew’s hip. “Andrew.”
From underneath the covers, “I’m tired. Go away.”
As I sat next to him on the edge of his bed, I noticed the plastic bag and the molar. Again. Forgotten. The eleven year-old tooth only a day into the world outside of Andrew’s mouth, had offered itself up for trade. A one? A five? What would it take to have that tooth? I’m too old to be a tooth fairy. Andrew’s too old to believe in anything other than teeth for cash. I’m too smart to believe that cash would fuel Andrew’s full recovery from sleeping lump to moving boy. In spite of my misgivings, I reached for the crumpled bill in my bluejeans – a five. I swiftly lifted the ziplock bag, reaching in for the molar. As I stole a glance at the dried blood and slipped the five into the bag, I lifted myself up and out of Andrew’s room, calling over my shoulder, “Andrew I’m heading downstairs. Get up now. I’m loosing my patience.”
Downstairs comes with dogs, coffee, bagel with melted cheese for Will, and indecision followed by cereal like Andrew’s for Natalie. Cereal sits on the counter and we board the van with backpacks, Will’s electric guitar, and Andrew’s sour comment lingering in my mind, “I will have a rotten day.”