Friday, May 16, 2008

Called to Bunt

Clichés have a way of penetrating our language and as a result, our culture as well. If you do a quick search through your MP3, DVD collection or book shelf, you will be bound to find hundreds of labels that are nothing more than clichés.

The Gripe:

Before I started my blog, I knew that in order for people to read it, I had to have a title that was catchy, meaningful and original. Well, two out of three wasn’t bad. As it turned out, “writing the wrongs,” was not as unique of a header as I had first thought. As you can imagine, I was thoroughly disappointed. After entering the name of my blog into a search engine, I was saddened to see that my idea of the perfect name to my first ever blog had been abused to the point that the phrase had been rendered useless, tamed and forgettable.

It was because of moments like this, that I have always tried to avoid clichés, like the plague.

Sayings have a way of becoming the next pop culture buzz slang. However, rather than sulk about my misfortune and idea gone aloof, I decided to change the title altogether to a name less overused in everyday speak and more substantive.

My Solution:

In essence, I traded my cliché for a metaphor which could very well turn into tomorrow’s cliché. I first came across the idea “Called to Bunt” while reading, “All Too Human,” by former Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos, when he recalled a passage that then Governor Mario Cuomo had passed to him from Ken Burn’s book on baseball: “I love the idea of the bunt. I love the idea of sacrifice. Even the word is good. Give yourself up for the good of the whole.”

The excerpt reminded me both of my parents who embody the very concept of this act as well as a purpose that I have been meant to serve.

If there was ever a better line that a fan of baseball and humanity like me could emulate or relate to, I don’t think I’ve yet found it. The thought of “bunting,” represents everything that a baseball player or person should strive towards. The bunt is a simple play but not one envied by those who wish to hit the crowd favored home run. It’s an act that often goes unnoticed. It is an act as selfless as the person behind it.

Oddly, when I think about bunting, I don’t think of baseball immediately. Instead, I think of my parents who have essentially “bunted their entire lives. The immeasurable sacrifices that they made to raise their children were not done by people who wished to be the center of attention. The desire to see all four of us succeed was the act of two parents who would have rather starved then to see us go without.

As a baseball player, I used to hate to bunt. I preferred to swing away so that I could get on base. Now a days I see that it takes special, humble individuals to lay down a bunt even when it often times leads to that person being called out. I think about all of the people that I consider bunters and realize how important they are to the functioning of our society. No, you will not find them in the newspaper or on the red carpet of an awards banquet. Their averages will not be on the top of the statistics leader board or names etched into the Hall of Fame. Bunters don’t do it for the glory or seek the limelight. They do it all for the team.

The name of my blog is “Called to Bunt.” It’s catchy, meaningful and for lack of foresight, original. Still, it is more than a title for a collection of my thoughts and essays, it’s my mantra.

Maybe I should copyright it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Singled Out

I picked her delicate frame up out of the car seat with such amusement as our eyes met halfway in a moment that can only be described as heavenly. The feeling didn’t last long however, as I noticed the after-meal hard candy mint dripping down her tiny fingers while she extended her hand as to offer me the rest. Right then my immediate reaction was… “Oh no my seats!”

Selfish? Definitely. Although I assured myself as a 25 year old with minimal interaction with toddlers, my thought process was as common as any. Then again, I doubt there would have been a blink of the eye had I have been a single mother.

Her mom thanked me several times over throughout the drive home for taking her and the two kids out for a Mother’s Day dinner. Had I had half of the guts of her, I would have told her she had it all wrong, that she was the one that deserved all of the praise. The words “thank you,” coming out of her mouth in my direction landed on my guilty ears and ate my heart out. I couldn’t help but sheepishly reply, “You’re welcome,” as I glanced at my rear view mirror and saw the two beautiful children that she had raised up until that point.

On several occasions I have mentioned my list of heroes growing up. Atop the list have been soldiers, teachers, nurses, coaches’ everyday volunteers and pretty much any hard working person who doesn’t wear a tie and sit behind a comfortable desk all day. After my Mother’s Day dinner with the three best dates one could offer, I couldn’t resist adding another type of person to that list; Single Moms.

Talk about a hero and what great company for my list as she ranks with all of those people who I have grown so fond of and looked up to for all of these years. I don’t think any of them would mind either.

I’ve never really appreciated a single mother as much as I did during my dinner with her wonderful family. I watched her closely as she chose to feed her kids before herself. I saw soups, sauces, sodas and everything in-between fly all over the table and at times spill onto her clothes. Complaints? None. Don’t I feel ashamed now for some drool on my leather seats? In the end, she had the audacity to thank me with the kind of humility you would expect to hear from a Mother Theresa. I didn’t even know God made these kinds of people.

This particular single mother should have received a round of applause from that restaurant as she brilliantly orchestrated a complex evening affair of flying food, crawling babies, hyper children all the while carrying on a half way decent dinner conversation with the other adult at the table. Did I mention that we went to a cook-it-yourself- steakhouse, where she…. (Sound of trumpets) did the majority of the cooking?

Indeed, all single Mother’s deserve more than the hallmark holiday that they share with the rest of the Mother’s who have help. Single Moms deserve their own holiday and much, much more. If the expression “doing God’s work,” ever rang true, it does so without error for what they deal with on a daily basis.

In a world with so many dead beat Dads that refuse to accept responsibility; those acts ought to be thought of as criminal. My view of the world is so much deeper after having spent a loud, sometimes stressful but overall enjoyable dinner with a single mom and her family. I never thought that such an event would be so profound before it took place. I guess if I had to sum up the entire experience, I would say “A single Mom saved my world.”

Thank you to all of you Single Mother’s out there that may have stumbled across this blog. May you know that you are far stronger than you can even imagine. God bless and keep the faith!