You Know Me, Pal
By Larry Teren
What are you suppose to do with a thirteen year old nephew for a day? I’ll tell you what you do, pal. You go to the batting cages in the morning and if the weather holds up, eighteen holes of miniature golf at the same place. Then to lunch and wash it down with a matinée movie. But, you know me, pal- I find some way to make it an adventure.
Before going to the batting cages, we gotta agree on a movie. We have it narrowed down to two choices. One is one of them epic Armageddon battles superimposed over a lot of matted background scenes of everyone in the world but the hero getting crushed to death. The other is a sequel to an Adam Sandler and Kevin James comedy. Tough choice pal, huh? Mr. Happy Madison and the King of Queens is gonna win out every time.
The weather is not cooperating too much for the golf game as my left foot develops a limp. No golfing but we do get in a few licks with the metal baseball bat in the cages before it downpours. One ball catapults after another from a mechanical arm that seems to be whipping a hundred miles an hour. The only thing my giant toothpick touches is the air. You know me, pal- I’m no hero so I switch to the slow pitch cage and finally make some contact. Except that without gloves the hands sting like you-know-what. You know me, pal, I feel satisfied with making contact even the slightest with a few pitches and let the last couple just pass by without taking a lunge. I was hoping the stings would cure the carpal tunnel in my right arm but no dice, pal.
The kid also goes for the slower pitch cage when I’m done and is swinging at air like it runs in the family. Since its my dime (or dollars), I advise him to move closer in the box and to move up a bit towards the front. He nods, inches up and after that, he’s hitting like Mickey Mantle. Yeah, I know, pal- those who can’t, teach.
Anyway, lunch comes and goes. (The kid orders a king size hot dog with fries that would have had me ready for a nap until supper time) The movie’s not scheduled to start until 2:00pm on the dot, according to the listing on the Internet and repeated at the theater itself. Being a fool who believes what he reads, pal, we rush to get there and show up at 1:40pm. But, first, me and the kid spend the next five minutes in the car being overly polite to one another. The boy keeps asking me if I’m sure I want to see the Adam Sandler movie. I tell him again and again that it is his choice but he parries with, “but which do you prefer, my dear uncle?” Don’t you hate disgustingly polite kids, pal?
Finally, after threatening to just stay in the car and go back home, we agree on seeing the comedy. Once inside past the theater doors, you’d think we’re at the airport waiting in line to drop off luggage and go through security. Greeting us is a snake-shaped human chain that coils two or three times. There’s even a couple of self-service thingamajigs for those who want to use their credit cards to buy tickets and avoid doing the conga. The last time I stood in line to watch a movie is 1972 to see The Godfather. You know me- why pay when you can get it for free on tv, huh, pal? But, three cashiers are on the ball and help us get in to our seats by 2:00pm. Great timing, right? Wrong, pal. We gotta sit through fifteen minutes of blasting commercials like you see on tv as well as previews to upcoming movies you know your’re never gonna pay to watch.
Anyway, the movie is kind of dorky but hilarious. My nephew keeps putting his hands up each side of his face while cringing and saying, “oh, brother.” No, pal- not at the movie- at me. He says I’m embarrassing him with my loud laughter and talking back to the film. I tell him that for sixteen dollars I have a right to show exuberance for the experience. He says that’s the last time he’s letting me take him to the pictures.
So we agree to go bowling the next day while he is still in town. I bowl a ninety-eight the first game- c’mon, pal- I haven’t bowled in a few years. The kid bowls a sixty-seven and I’m strutting like a peacock while reminding him he bangs the ball too much on the floor. I even show him how to approach the alley and like Fred Flinstone smoothly lay the ball down as it glides across the polished lane.
So the next game I figure I should get back to my regular 130 average except that on the third frame when I bend down the back locks up and it hurts like you-know-what. So, now the rest of the frames I gotta bend down real low painfully and then release. End up with a seventy-eight. Yeah, whaddaya gonna do, pal?
The kid- he bowls a two-hundred five and thanks me for the tips on his movement. Yeah, pal- like I say, those who can’t, teach.