Sunday, March 02, 2008

Me, myself, and I

Inspired by my wife's friend Heather's list (and with an assist from my own massive ego) here are 50 Things About Me . . .

1. Butch Hobson, who never saw a bat rack he couldn't crash into, was my favorite Sox player as a kid. My favorite player today is Manny Ramirez, who's the anti-Butch in terms of how he plays the game.

2. Eighteen years after we met at Gannett Hall at dear old UMaine, I still don't understand how I duped my wife into going out with me, let alone marrying me. And the Jenna Fischer comparison a mysterious commenter made a few posts ago? Well, hey, no argument here.

3. My two biggest fears are something happening to my wife and kids, and me failing them.

4. I used to think that had I been blessed with foresight and a trust fund I could have had the career of Bill Simmons. But I've come to realize that he deserves more credit for his talent and remarkable success than he often gets from us bitter Internet hacks. I'd destroy him on the basketball court, however, and I'd enjoy doing it.

5. I ran a 5:20 mile in high school. Nowadays it would take me twice that long . . . on a bike.

6. Five years ago, I could bench-press over 300 pounds. Nowadays I heave up 135 and can't lift my arms above my head for a week.

7. If I could have my kids' picture taken with anyone on the planet, I'd choose David Ortiz.

8. My cat, named after Otis Nixon, is 15. When he goes to the Great Kitty Carrier in the Sky, I'll be sadder than my children will.

9. I haven't played an organized baseball game in 21 years. I still miss it dearly.

10. I once hit 3-pointers on five consecutive possessions in a men's league basketball game to turn a nine-point deficit into a six-point lead (or vice versa), scored 38 points in another game, hit nine 3-pointers in another.

11. Yet my greatest basketball accomplishment is pouring in roughly 2.7 points per game for the 1987-88 Class A state champion Morse Shipbuilders. Just win, baby.

12. Twenty years ago, I played hoops against Celtic-to-be Sam Cassell. He was just as handsome then.

13. I get offended when old friends don't make as much of an effort to keep in touch as I do.

14. I wish I was sipping a coconut-flavored beverage at the Frangipani in Bequia right now.

15. I've been around athletes my whole life. But the toughest, most resilient person I've ever known is my mom.

16. The first record album I ever bought was Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" when I was in fifth grade. The first 45 (I refuse to explain what that is, children) was John Lennon's "Just Like Starting Over." I'll argue that both were fine choices given the era.

17. When people first meet me they tend to think I'm quiet and shy; it's later on that they realize I'm primarily a vulgar smart-ass.

18. My best friend from my freshman year of college died of a brain aneurysm 12 years ago while jogging. He encouraged me to pursue sports writing when I wasn't sure I had the talent or the dedication. I keep his picture in the top drawer of the desk in my home office, and I still think about him often.

19. I refuse to read newspaper stories about people being cruel and abusive to children. I can't comprehend it, and it breaks my heart to hear about it.

20. In the past few years, to my surprise, country has become my favorite musical genre. I think it's because it's gradually losing the hillbilly twang and moving toward the mainstream. Or maybe just because in my old age I'm getting sentimental, and country is nothing if not that.

21. While I find the whole bleepfaced Parrothead thing a little much in an amusing sort of way, I'm a loyal Jimmy Buffett fan and will never grow tired of "A Pirate Looks at 40" or "Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season," among about 40-50 other songs. Got a beach bum's soul, I guess.

22. I can't help but like Kenny Chesney, too, even though he's blatantly dipping his toes in Buffett's Caribbean surf and looks like a hairless cat.

23. When I talk to my dad, the conversation always turns toward baseball, just as it did when I was 8. There's something reassuring in that.

24. The summer before seventh grade, I nearly drowned in the Kennebec River. Also that summer, I fell off my bike pedaling at full speed, tore up my forehead, elbow, and shoulder, and had to go to hospital for iodine treatments every other day. And I got chicken pox. Nope, not the best summer I ever had.

25. When I was in fourth grade, I got busted sneaking off school grounds at lunch to go to Lincoln Street Market and buy a hot dog and a couple of packs of baseball cards. (Why? Because hot lunch in 1980 sucked, that's why. A kid could only take so much Shepherd's Pie and tinfoil-wrapped pizza.) Instead of confessing, I went with the "it must have been another kid that looks like me" defense, and when that Rusty Hardin-caliber argument naturally failed, I lied and said I had the okay from my parents to do it. My masterstroke: A forged permission slip in broken cursive saying something like, "My sun Chad has permishun to by hot dogs at lunch so you can leave him alone now so he can go by hotdogs at lunch. And baseball cards also. Thanks, Mrs. Finn." Needless to say, my scam soon ended with a tearful confession in the principal's office.

26. I'd rather sing like Sinatra than play left field for the Red Sox. Maybe.

27. I love living in Maine, yet absolutely despise the winter. I'd just as soon stay on the couch until the thermometer tells me it's 75 degrees outside.

28. I haven't been to church in 20 or so years, yet I say a prayer of thanks every night.

29. In college, I saw Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler do standup, before they were both superfamous and filthy rich. Seinfeld was more polished (he rattled off about 10 one-liners when a bat suddenly flew on the stage), but Sandler was more fun.

30. My happiest moment as a Boston sports fan: the immediate aftermath of Ruben Sierra grounding out to Pokey Reese. The World Series was the icing.

31. Saddest: Finding out about Len Bias's death on the last day of school in 1986.

32. A couple of times per summer, I drive over to the dilapidated old Maine Guides ballpark, just to remember when.

33. I'm useless when it comes to working with tools. Come to think of it, my wife probably would say I am a useless tool.

34. I have no discernible talents other than throwing a nasty Wiffle Ball screwball, yet when I was young I always figured I'd someday be famous for something. Doesn't everyone?

35. I have a ridiculously accurate memory for names, faces, and details, but can't remember where I put my car keys and wallet.

36. Regrets, I have very few. One: I wished I'd lived in California for a year or two like my younger sister did. I've never lived outside of New England.

37. My hair started going gray in my mid-20s, and I'm well-acquainted with Just For Men. The damn stuff is like Ash Brown battery acid.

38. Concord, N.H. seemed like the drowsiest place on earth in the nine years I lived there - I think last call was at 8:30 p.m. - but it feels like home when I go back, more so than my real hometown, Bath, Maine.

39. I haven't eaten a hot dog in at least 20 years, and I haven't eaten at McDonald's in at least 15.

40. Being a dad is more exhausting and fulfilling than I ever imagined. What they say is true: You cannot possibly understand it until you experience it.

41. My real name is Charles, and a lot of my buddies call me Charlie, which is my old man's name. I don't mind.

42. My entrance music would be "You Could Be Mine" by Guns 'n' Roses.

43. My first semester of college, I pulled a 0.9375 GPA. That did not make the Dean's List.

44. The one CD that has never grown even temporarily tiresome: "White Ladder," David Gray. It's the unofficial soundtrack for the last 10 years of my life.

45. I know it's a cliche for a dude my age, but I can't deny it: my all-time favorite movie is "Swingers." "Boogie Nights," "Office Space," and "Almost Famous" are among my other personal Best Picture nominees.

46. During a summer when I was around 15 or 16, I had a staph infection that caused a couple of layers of skin on my face to blister and peel off. Despite my frequent public cries that I was not an animal but a human being, people still looked at me like I was the Elephant Man.

47. First concert I ever saw: Billy Joel, January 1984, Cumberland County Civic Center. Second concert: Duran Duran, a few months later. I'm fairly certain me and my buddy who roped me into going were the only guys there, including the members of the band.

48. When I was in sixth grade, my doctor told me I was going to grow to be 6-foot-6, minimum. I'm 6-3 and still waiting for that last growth spurt the stupid quack promised me.

49. I often say the most fun I had in my life was my sophomore year of college . . . which kind of annoys my wife, since we met my junior year.

50. I consider starting this blog one of the smartest things I've ever done, though I'm starting to think this post might be one of the dumbest.