I’ve been thinking lately about how much I miss boys. I had one, once, and I miss that aspect of my life that vibrated around boys. Little ones, with their little boy charm; that mama-adoration to which nothing else can compare. Elementary school ones, who find out what they like and what they don’t right before our very eyes. Adolescent ones, who are torn between the innocence of childhood where they felt safe once, and the irresistible pull of hormonal passions that open all sorts of frightening and exciting doors. I miss the teenage boys who pounced through the kitchen, stopping for a microwaved burrito and a chat with their buddy’s mom. I miss the missionaries and the college boys. And then, I just end up missing them altogether, because they moved on to grown-up man things and don’t really need anything this old house has to offer. But that’s ok. I suppose its how its meant to be. Still, it makes me a little melancholy.
Back when I had my boy, and his buddies who were also my boys by default, we spent many a spring, summer and autumn day at the baseball field. We had the unusual good fortune to have a particularly strong collection of guys right here in our neighborhood. They all went to school and church together, and they played ball together. First rec ball, and then about three fourths of the varsity baseball team at Davis High were boys from our neighborhood. Best friends from the time they were small. They could read each others’ minds, and they were a joy to watch. I could pretty much yell at any one of them like I was their mother, and hug them just as tightly as I would hug John. I love my boys.
I recall the tragic day when, after they had graduated from high school and were off to their various schools and jobs, they returned home one weekend and gathered in our basement. There had been an early snow, well before Halloween. Ryan decided to drive up Farmington Canyon to see if there was enough of the white stuff to do some power sledding the next day. Somewhere in the early hours of the next morning we got word that his car has slipped from the edge of the road and toppled down the canyon wall. He did not survive the fall. Our hearts broke to see our boys lined up in their white shirts and ties, carrying the casket of their friend that week, rather than sledding down the mountainside. I think we lost a bit of our boys that day because they lost a bit of themselves; that part of childhood that got to be carefree and invincible.
Still, there were other times that solidified the cliché phrase, boys will be boys. They couple with the serious matters to make well rounded human beings who end up raising our grandchildren and holding responsible positions in work, church and our communities. Some stories are classics. One came to be on a March morning during their senior year.
The older boys on the Davis High team were called to meet at the ballfield to get it into shape for the upcoming season They had built official cement dugouts, and new red dirt was hauled in. They were to clean out and paint the dugouts, and spread the dirt, trim out the overgrown grass between infield and outfield, position the pitcher’s mound and set the bases. I think there must not have been much adult supervision, though I was not there and couldn’t really tell you. This is all second-hand storytelling I offer. But it came from several reliable sources, so I suppose it to be true. At some point the desire to hit a baseball overshadowed the desire to work (imagine that) and they took turns pitching and hitting as others worked. Jason came up to home plate and Jeffrey or Casey of Tyler pitched. John called little discouragements to Jason, telling him he couldn’t hit it out to midfield, let alone out to the fence.
“Just watch”, Jason commented as he hovered over the plate, stirring the air with the end of his bat, swinging his hips and lifting his left leg when he saw the pitcher wind up.
“You hit that ball over the fence and I’ll run these bases naked.”
Next thing you know there’s a crack of the bat, the ball flies over the outfield fence, and there’s JMC rounding second base, in nothing but his ball socks and cleats.
The fellas raking the grass in the outfield had quite a view when they turned around.
Johnny had the nick name of Hot Socks on his team. Good thing, because the rest of him must have been feeling pretty breezy that chilly morning in March.