“Did you know I was related to Lafayette?”

As the B-52s punch their words into my inner ear, “down, down, down…skedubidub…hrrrrr…ahhh..ahhhahhh…Rock Lobstah!” I recall a few minutes ago when a 20-something guy with a crew cut, backpack, and wild look in his eyes walks into the Starbucks on 76th and Columbus where I’m doing my evening news catch-up, drinking the requisite decaf, checking out the Red Sox losing to the Cleveland Indians in the bottom of the second inning live on espn.com, and he taps my shoulder because, after all, I have these antisocial white iPod earplugs in the side of my head that announce, “Please know that I am occupied with a little Alternative Music R&R,” and he stumbles for words, and I think, Uh, Oh, here we go:  This reminds me of London 1985 when I sat in that hotel lobby with brother Jim and college friend Kim and some dude walks in and convinces me that he lost his trumpet – for real, I tell you, and you thought I wasn’t gullible… – and 101507damo_4701.jpgneeds twenty quid (which then was about only $30) which of course I gave him because he promised to send it back to me later to my US home and he even gave me his name and address, which I am sure now corresponded with some ex-foreman at a women’s girdle factory in Yorkshire.  This is going through my mind.  I am thinking: Get ready for the pitch, Man.

But instead he insists he is lost and needs to get access to his Hotmail account and may he log on to my laptop.  He speaks broken English because he is French.   So I consider the fact of the American Revolution and how his country did all those nice things for us.  (After all, since then, the relationship’s been a little…strained…although now there’s a guy in office who might convince the French Language Puritan Nazis to let in such words as “laptop” and “Starbucks” to the rigid lexicon.  So what if YouTube has a video of Sarkozy drunk at the G8 Conference.  President G.H.W. Bush puked on the Japanese Prime Minister, remember?)  We navigate out of my default Windows Live ID screen and away he goes into French MSN and his email account.  He says it’s hard to get to the “web cafe.”

He finds the street address he’s looking for, on West 107th, and asks how far it is.  Walk?  Train?  Taxi?  I ask.  Taxi, he says.  About ten minutes.  He looks comforted, gathers his things.

He does not ask me for money.  He hasn’t lost a wind instrument of any kind.

I am happy.

photo:  damo 4701

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Jeter

The Red Sox are playing the Yankees right now on NESN.  (That’s “New England Sports Network,” Channel 51 on Comcast cable, for you non-New Englanders.)  Karen became a Yankees fan when we lived in Manhattan.  We both remember a woman named Jenny from Trinity Baptist Church, where K and I met, who was absolutely, hopelessly in love with Derek Jeter.  When Karen and I got nominated to serve on some church committees and went away to a retreat center in Rockland County with the rest of the lay leadership, the Yankees were in one of their umpteen World Series.

082907yankeesdr-evil.jpgThey were playing…whoever…just somebody…doesn’t matter, really…whoever they were whooping that year with the bajillions that Steinbrenner pays his players.  But I must admit, it was a pretty exciting game, and we were all taking a break from meeting and Janelle, Karen, I, and many others were huddled around a small TV in the common room and shouting for Jeter and all the others that year, in 1996.  The Yankees went on to win.  Of course.

Of course, I became a Red Sox fan in 2004.  Not after the Idiots won the Series, mind you.  No, it was Game 4 of the League Championship Series, when they were down three games to none against the Yankees and facing extinction for the season as they always do, always at the hands of the Overpaid Boys from the Bronx.

And the Sox won.  And they won the next game.   And the next.  And the next.  And they handed Steinbrenner’s Boys the worst defeat in baseball history, setting a post-season record for the first team to come back from 3-0 in games.  Against the Yankees.

So I figured in Game 4 as they started to turn it around:  Hey, these guys have something.  They have spirit.

And they beat those Damn Yankees, and they went on to sweep the Cardinals.  It was magical.

My friend Barry, a lifelong Sox fan who grew up in Springfield and Quincy, looked in the obituaries a day after the Series win, to see which 86-year-olds had died the day before the Sox won, having waited their entire lives to see the Sox win the first series since their win in 1918 and fallen one day short.

I sense that a few of those folks had seats with a slightly better view than atop the Green Monster.

photo:  Dr Evil