My neighbor, Gerry, the British guy who came here 23-years-ago, has a beautiful wife, a very nice home (that he keeps up like a palace), three wonderful adult children, and seven grandchildren. His two grown sons and his one adult daughter were all born in a coal-heated flat in the "South of London," wherever the hell that is. His two eldest grandchildren, a boy and a girl, were born in England but raised here in the US.
I usually enjoy Gerry's company, and he is always the first neighbor to show up whenever I have a large lawn project, or something around the house needs fixing. He's friendly and bright, and I enjoy chatting with him about England, even more so since I began writing for an online publication out of the UK.
Gerry and his wife are the hits of every seasonal, neighborhood party. The women folk flutter about him like butterflies to nectar flowers. His lovely wife brings home made scones and bread pudding, bangers and mash, and other English comfort foods to parties.
Now listen here: I get "bangers" and mash.
There is nothing odd about serving sausages with taters and fired onions, all covered in brown gravy. But what the fuck are scones but fallen, failed, friggin biscuits anyway? So they're made with butter; they're still just biscuits for God's sake.
It ain't the flippin food the women get all het-up about!
It's their goddamned accents that make Gerry and his wife so popular.
And here is why: West Virginians, and in fact, all Appalachian highlanders are accused, by the rest of the US, of having the accents of the marginally dim-witted. So when someone else, other than a fucking Yankee, shows up in these hollers, who speaks even more incomprehensible English than we hillbillies do, we invite them to be spokespersons at our parties.
I had a point there but lost the sum-beech in the writing.
Anyway, it ain't Gerry's wife's cooking; it's their accent that makes them so popular. Nothing else explains it, at least not to my satisfaction. And Gerry is too sly for my liking. He gets all the neighborhood kids to come to his field to play "football." Well, they ain't playing any kind of football I know of-it's fucking soccer! And all I know about soccer is that it is indescribable.
Anyway, I got picked by the neighbors to coach the Little League team. I asked Gerry if we could practice baseball in his field. Well, he said we could. We laid out base paths and an infield. A bunch of us guys tilled and fussed over the field until we had an excellent practice field complete with a raised pitching mound, decent back stop, the whole nine yards with the exception of lights for night play.
I'm a baseball purist. Lights are not necessary. Neither is the goddamned designated hitter for that matter.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah, we get the kids divided into three teams (one of them has girls playing in it, something else women have stolen from men) and we have the kids showing up after school to practice baseball.
The uniforms were delivered and I put on my Tornado Red Legs uniform; and if I do say so myself, I look particularly good in a baseball uniform. Life is good for me for once.
We have the two (boy's) teams out in the field and I'm giving a standard lecture on moving the base runners by laying down a sacrifice bunt. The kids are into it, too! We're working baseball fundamentals. I'm feeling like the reincarnation of Sparky Anderson!
Then Gerry comes out onto the field from the sidelines and stops everything by asking the kids if they know what a real batsman is. Do they know what constitutes a real pitch?
Before I fucking can react (because I'm fucking flummoxed that the limey bastard has the nerve to interrupt Sparky Anderson's sage baseball wisdom, while in his super-cool uniform), Gerry has produced what appears to be a junior high school wood shop teacher's corporal punishment paddle, and some croquet balls and is teaching the kids some game called cricketry-rirckety, or some such shit.
Within seconds (well maybe it was 30 minutes-I couldn't tell because time seems to stand still when you find yourself trapped in the fucking twilight zone), the kids had scraped off the regulation pitcher's mound, tore up the second base bag, and driven in some overgrown croquet wickers and were "building a proper pitch" under Gerry's direction.
Next thing me and the other uniformed baseball coaches knew, we were anachronisms: the kids were now "bowling!" They were whacking at the croquet ball with that paddle thingy and when they hit the fucker they ran back and forth, back and forth between the wickets.
Fuck me with a stick in the ear, but I know I heard normal, American kids having fun playing whatever the hell silly game it was Gerry had them playing. And what is worse, all of the really good looking, thin, exceedingly hot, neighborhood women, women who never bothered to come out to watch Little League practice, were now crowding the sidelines to watch Gerry coopt baseball practice.
I left my field of dreams and slunk home. I hung my hardly used Tornado Red Legs baseball uniform in the closet, next to my unused Tornado Tornadoes football coach's uniform.
Did I forget to tell you the kids don't play American football anymore since Gerry got them playing soccer?