PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Cotwald Man

Cotswald-Road

Have you ever repaired to the Cotswolds? It should come as no surprise to you that I have. People like me – and Taylor Swift – have a affinity for the place, though to be honest I'm embarrassed to admit that until about three months ago I had to guess in which country one would encounter the Cotswolds. England made sense. Or maybe an island protectorate of England in the middle of the ocean that I'd never heard of.

But where, exactly, does one find a Cotswold, and how many Cotswold units make up the greater Cotswolds?

The people who run the world want you to think of the Cotswalds as a region in the southwest part of England populated with quaint, little villages made of the local limestone. Ha! It is much more accurate to describe the Coltswolds as a harrowing network of narrow, one-lane, two-way country roads meant to test your driving meddle. Here is where you bring your family to experience the thrill of not knowing if they will be involved in a crash of the vacation rental car that you declined insurance on. And yet they are so jovial about it, laughing from the back seat as you peer around corners trying to move the car along to your destination without ramming it into a car coming in the other direction. Which would be easy! There is only room for one car on these roads, so when two come upon each other, one or both must pull off the road. Simple enough, except there is nowhere to pull off, what with eight-foot-high hedges trimmed within inches of the paved roadway such that they nick the car's sideview mirror regularly.

I don't know what it's like to be ferried around little English towns by a driver who's spent 44 years driving on the right side of the road and now must drive on the wrong side, but my kids do. When we rented our car at London's Gatwick Airport, we made the decision to have only one driver, and for better or worse that was going to be me. My aging brain was now supposed to sort out how to do everything in a car backwards?

So much more to say, but I haven't posted anything for – what – months? Getting this out there so people like Huatsu know that I'm still alive, and so Richard can see that I visited his home country. 

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Magic

You may not yet know of my finest hour as a baseball player, but let me tell you about my worst hour.

I had had some success as a Little Leaguer, which you probably already figured based on how I have maintained my sporting physique throughout the decades. I played on a team sponsored by Covino Brothers in the majors division of the East Syraucse, New York Little League. My skill back then was that I could judge and catch fly balls in the outfield. Sounds easy, I know, but many of my teammates were terrible at it. I wasn't a good hitter or a particularly good fielder, but most of the time I could judge where a fly ball was going to land and arrive there before it touched earth. My little league coach thus dubbed me "Pat the Magic Glove."

Not joking.

Call this the early- to mid-1970s, so maybe ten years after Peter Paul and Mary released Puff the Magic Dragon. It is only now that I realize that my skinny coach, who yelled at us bumbling fools in a British accent whilst guzzling milk straight from the waxed carton as a remedy for a stomach ulcer, might have been referencing that song when he dubbed me Pat the Magic Glove.

It is amazing how many Little Leaguers can't catch a fly ball in the outfield. They see the ball in the sky a hundred feet ahead and immediately run toward it, only to discover that it has a secret source of extra propulsion that causes it to sail right over their heads, pushing across four runs. I encountered this situation early in my Little League career enough times that I stopped running in and just let the ball come to me. Presto! I caught almost everything that was hit at me in left or center field.

So, they made me an infielder. I was, after all, Pat the Magic Glove.

Fielding screaming grounders that will knock out your teeth if the ball takes a bad hop and shagging lazy flies involve completely different skills. I much preferred being out there where the ball comes in on a noticeable arc most of the time. In the infield, especially on the left side, the ball came off the bat at 1,000 miles an hour from only 65 feet away. But like it or not, I was now an infielder.

One day, a kid from three houses down, Eddie Franz, who was playing on an opposing Little League team, hit a grounder to me at third base, which I fielded and threw across the diamond, hitting my sprinting neighbor square in the back. It must have stung something terrible because Eddie was in tears, thanks to my awful aim. This error got into my head, and when another ball came my way, I totally booted it.

From then on, I was incapable of fielding a ball or making an accurate throw in the infield. A short time later in that same game a ball was hit between me and the shortstop that I could easily have reached, but I pretended I couldn't get to it, knowing that they don't charge you with errors when you can't get to the ball. Best to let it go than have it bounce stupidly off the heel of my glove or have me throw the ball into the stands. I heard one of the parents holler, "The third basemen didn't even try to field it!"

I was exposed. No longer would anyone call me Pat the Magic Glove. 

I survived that experience and went on to play Babe Ruth ball, and later made the high school team. But never again was I put in the infield, to my great relief.

One day I'll tell you about my finest hour. 

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Looking Ahead

When I die, some 50 or 60 years from now, I wonder what people are going to miss most about me. As a horse-drawn hearse carries my time-ravaged corpse to Forest Hills cemetery, where no cost has been spared to inter me in the old section of the grounds beside e.e. cummings or Eugene O'Neill, or, in a pinch, beside the restauranteur Jacob Wirth, who cleverly named his German schnitzel joint "Jacob Wirth's," will the weeping masses following ponder the impact I had on the American psyche writ-large? Will they remember me for having led a massive biking revolution in the lower 48 states?

I don't think so. They will be thinking, "Why didn't he explain to his family how to work the irrigation system? He was asked a thousand times!"

I often wish I could secure this and everything else in my brain onto a memory chip so that future generations know how I get the hood to stay shut on my 2008 Mazda 3 (spray some Liquid Wrench onto the latch, folks). Well, not everything in my brain. Can you imagine the size of the memory chip that would be needed for that? OK, maybe not that large. And anyway, I don't want to save everything in my brain. Just the useful and not totally embarrassing info so that if an 18-wheeler jumps the median and ends it for me, my family will know how to load more line into the Weed Whacker.

I'll admit, part of me wants to take this and other secrets to the grave, or at least threaten to do so. As friends and family gather around my death bed and try to coax out of me secret dinner recipes, golf tips, and credit card account passwords, it would be kind of funny to feign attempting to mouth words, then go suddenly limp like people do in classic movies.

"He's gone!"

But I'm just pretending, and when they go to pull the sheet over my head, I will use all the strength I have to say, "Wait. Wait. I'm still here." This will happen several times before I eventually relent.

One way or another, I am definitely not handing over my smoked rib recipe. 

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Advice To A Young Motorist

Arriving at a red light two days ago on my trusty Surly Straggler, a scene began to unfold that was not unlike one I have witnessed a hundred times before. I am in a painted bike lane with motorists on my right and left. The light for the motorists in the right lane changes to green, and the second car in line doesn't move. I figure this guy is staring at his phone.

I tend to give the texter or internet browsing person a heads up that the light has changed by waving them onward. "Go forth, young texter." But this gentleman (I don't know him; is he really gentle?) is not staring at his phone and seems to know that he has a green light. Still, he doesn't move.

A cacophony of car horns; hollering; curse words abound. Still, he doesn't budge. I realize that he is in the wrong lane, wishing to go left, not right, so I direct him to move forward and sneak ahead of the cars to my left so that the angry motorists behind him have an avenue and a chance to move on with their lives. "Go there!" I say, pointing. "Go there!" He rolls down his window and says something like "Don't tell me what to do."

By this point the people behind him, starting at a green light but stuck behind what is either a person asleep or a disabled vehicle, are exasperated and start to issue their nastiest invectives.

He finally moves ahead as I had directed him, and as the car behind him finally is able to move the driver hollers angrily, "Get the fuck out of the way!"

There was another cyclist with me, and I said to him, "I was just offering him advice."

The cyclist turn and said, "So was that driver behind him." 

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Daily Haiku

 

Cats oft’ void their guts.

They cough out fur balls. They puke.  

We tread carefully.  

 

College Tuition

We dig ourselves a deep hole

Need a second job.

 

Now that I’m sixty

People think I’m a wise man

Probably, I’m not

 

I’m in my Fifties

But tomorrow I’m Sixty

Will need a sports car

 

My PCP Says

“Keep doin’ what yer doin’”

Prob’ly I should not

 

It’s St. Patrick’s Day

We eat beef that has been corned

Whatever that means

 

Robots and A.I.

I will make use of these soon

To do my taxes

 

Strange Oscar night end

Pacino failed to mention

Best pic nominees

 

Who’s this Katie Britt?

Scary. Wierd. We could have used

A Trigger Warning

 

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