By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) So I’m turning 30 on Saturday. This bothers me. I should be above the whole pondering “what does it all mean” thing on milestone birthdays, but it’s impossible not to do. Thirty damn years? Where has it all gone? What have I to show for it?
I see a photo of me as a child—awkward, eyes that hold visions of being something extraordinary, wry smile suggesting I’m up to no good. I am still that child, which saddens me in some ways but makes me very satisfied in others. Part of me hopes I will always be that child.
I’ve never been outside of North America. I can’t ice skate. I’ve never had pastrami. I can’t play an instrument well. I never learned to read.
Hundreds of current and former students who are no longer ignorant to the world around them and who will go on to use the powers I’ve given them to change the world, get rich doing it, and not let me see any of the residuals. Ungrateful little…
Higher weight and blood pressure and cholesterol for the thousands of customers I’ve delivered to. I’m a drug mule when you get down to it. On the plus side I deal with so many incredibly stupid customers that you might thank me for their inevitable coronaries (I actually delivered to a guy who was mid-grabber who took the food, paid me, and was picked up by paramedics as I pulled away from his house. He ordered two weeks later).
Oh, and this gig.
On to your questions (all e-mails and tweets are unedited):
Oh, so you were out of ideas? –@JoeO670
Oh, I get it. Writing mailbag columns is like the author himself just mailing it in, right? Joe recently got married. I might ask him this same question.
Most Viral? Oh, and if anyone uses the name “Braun Mexico” for their fantasy baseball team, they owe me money.
What is the acceptable level of volume and overall tone for pre-game speeches in Adult Rec Sports Leagues? Whether it’s basketball, hockey or even, God have mercy on me, the12” Co-Ed Softball League what’s the take on letting another individual, a peer really, direct the tenor torward effort and desired outcome? –Del Boca Vista Realty
First of all, 12” softball? Are you trapped in a sitcom? Do you also wear elbow and knee pads when riding a bike?
Other than sarcasm, the volume should be no higher than to be heard five feet away, and the tone should be one of anticipation for the postgame drinks to follow or of “Why am I giving a pregame speech amid my amateur peers?”
People who make rec league sports the end-all, be-all of their existence need to be flogged. The purpose is to get some exercise, hopefully have some fun, and maybe have an excuse to get away from the significant other for a few hours a week. But at the end of the day, your half-court hoops league doesn’t put food on the table, your dodgeball game doesn’t determine whether you have to go to work tomorrow or not, and if someone will go on a date with you because that person saw you hit a homerun into the playground past left field, that person is probably Harriet Bird. It’s something that nobody, NOBODY outside that league cares about. When somebody tells me about their rec league accomplishments, I like to tell them about my last bowel movement because both essentially accomplish the same thing. The difference is I don’t wear mine as a badge of honor or have it justify my existence (unless it looks like a celebrity or is in cursive—then I’m texting pictures and bragging).
And a pregame speech? Really? If your teammate thinks he’s the William Wallace of rat hockey, don’t follow that person into battle. He will only embarrass you and make the inevitable losses all the more distasteful for you and satisfying for the normal people on the winning teams. He also probably takes out his frustrations on a family member or pet.
How does one motivate a bunch of out of shape, mildly athletic adults in a flag football league anyway? What the hell can you say to fire up a guy with car payments and popsicles in his freezer? Most of the team finds most of its daily lives to be soul-crushing and are only here because they get cheap beers afterward from the bar that sponsors them, okay, guy whose “Favorite Quotes” section on Facebook is all by coaches? Your speech is actually demotivating most people on your team. In fact, I hope they lose on purpose to spite you and make you bloody your knuckles some more punching your high school scrap book at night. And the nicknames you make up are brutal—call me Teenage Mutant Ginger Turtle while yelling “Clean the glass!” again and I will cut your Achilles. And you’re 32—why is your dad here in the stands?
I hate rec league heroes, which is why I don’t play organized sports anymore. That and because I can’t fold laundry anymore without labored breathing.
I read all #TFMB post in a Bill Swerski’s Superfans voice. Is that wrong? –@daveorzach
Yes, because some of my emailers and tweeters are non-Caucasian. For example…
I’m going to take a guess and say that #TFMB happens to also be an acronym for something else. What, I don’t know, though I’m sure it’s something that is profane and will get Adam Hoge fired (I’m looking out for you, Sam Zuba).
And to answer your question, Sen. A.R.G., I don’t have a weave, and if I did it certainly would not be on a baby teddy bear. My teddy bear can get its own weave when it turns 18 and moves out of the house.
Will you deliver to the Nw burbs? #TFMB –@JohnnyDrinky
My route consists of the Southside neighborhoods of Beverly, Morgan Park, Mt. Greenwood, Ashburn, and Wrightwood and all or parts of the adjacent suburbs of Evergreen Park, Blue Island, Alsip, Merrionette Park, Garden Homes, and Oak Lawn.
That said, everyone has a price, and I guess have no problem delivering anywhere so long as the money is right. Assuming you want an average $20 pizza, I would factor in the following if delivering from the Southside to the Northwest ‘burbs:
Food = $20
gas burned = $40
two-hour roundtrip = $50 in missed local tips
emotional stress of the commute/experiencing the Northwest ‘burbs whatsoever = $100
my special appearance fee = $500
tip = $5
Estimated total for me to even consider the service = $715
And your food would not be anywhere near warm.
Top 5 must read books? Also, you think John Kennedy Toole could have been an all-time great author? –Mathew Przybylo
Toole unfortunately was never appreciated while he lived, like many great writers. Had he kept writing instead of killing himself, I assume he would have produced a pretty great catalog because novel writing tends to produce far less one-hit wonders than, say, the music industry. Also, he lived prior to the embrace of satire we see today, and he would have thrived in it had he kept on a few more years.
Top 5 lists are so tough for me because I hate excluding stuff or saying one piece of art is better than another because it’s all so subjective. If I have to…
In no particular order, everyone should read:
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: We are all Lenny, we are all George, and we all have to make a decision that rips our hearts out and throws them in blenders even after being kicked in the face our whole lives. This novel still makes me cry after the twentieth time reading it.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers: Because everyone should be able to tell their life stories this honestly, painfully, humorously, and brilliantly. And when they’re 30.
Hamlet by Shakespeare: Because it’s the best thing ever written by history’s greatest writer. And, like all Shakespeare, it must be seen live as well. Nobody will like Shakespeare if they only read him.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: Because no American novel is more important and because, as Hemingway said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.”
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: Nobody makes bullfighting, drinking, big game hunting, and the philosophy that the world does not give a rat’s ass about you, that you are not special, that you are at most a blip on the great radar, this cool. Even many intelligent women respect Hemingway’s blatant misogyny, too.
Uncle Tom’s Children by Richard Wright: Six short stories that will shake you to the core.
Any piece of writing by David Foster Wallace.
And Kurt Vonnegut.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: It’s 1984 but with a slight sense of humor and lots of sex. After reading it, if you don’t think Huxley predicted today’s society pretty damn well, I can’t help you.
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman: Because you watch TV, and TV has educated you and corrupted you, both beyond repair. And because Postman agrees with me about Brave New World.
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift: Without Swift, there is no The Onion, The Daily Show, or The Simpsons. Without Gulliver’s Travels, there is no word “Lilliputian.”
A Practical Guide to Racism by C.H. Dalton: The funniest book ever written. Ever. I promise.
And most importantly—whatever truly interests you and moves you. Just read, man.
As you can tell, I don’t teach math.
Thanks for emailing, tweeting, and reading. If your question did not get answered this time, that does not necessarily mean I am ignoring it. It may be saved for the next mailbag. Hopefully you’re a slightly better person now than you were ten minutes ago. If not, your loss.
Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.