Archive for July, 2002

He’ll be Missed

ted.jpgHe stopped playing baseball more than 11 years before I was born, but when I heard that Ted Williams had passed away last Friday morning, I felt tears welling up behind my eyes. I’m not sure how it is possible for me to feel nostalgic for a man I never saw play, but I do know that chills were racing each other up and down my spine when Ted rode out on his golf cart to throw out the first pitch of the 1999 All Star Game in Fenway Park.

I think that I could have simply been responding to the fact that, in New England at least, Ted Williams is a LEGEND. Throughout my life, I have heard my father, my grandmother, and just about every sportswriter in Boston tell stories about how great Ted Williams was. It seems like everyone in New England has a story to tell about Ted Williams.

My favorite story has to be the one Jim Bouton told in his book Ball Four about Ted Williams when Ted was managing the Washington Senators. I don’t have the book in front of me, but as I remember, Bouton wrote that Ted would take batting practice with his team and while in the batting cages would be yelling, “I’m Ted #$%@%$# Williams!” BANG, a ball would explode off of his bat towards the bleachers. “I’m the greatest @#$#% hitter in the world!” POW, another ball would disappear in the far reaches of the stadium. “I’M TED #$%^@$#% WILLIAMS!!” BANG!

I saw an interview conducted later in his life where Ted denied that story, saying that he never used that kind of language. Despite his denials, every story I have ever read about the subject tells me that Ted was an artist who used profanity the way some artists use paint or clay (this line has been blatantly stolen from A Christmas Story), so I tend to believe Bouton’s account. The reporter, however, just obediently nodded his head in agreement with everything Teddy Ballgame had to say.

The reporter’s response is pretty typical of Ted’s relationship with the press in his later life. It’s my impression that Ted’s relationship with the New England press improved greatly as he aged, his hard edges softened a bit, and his image was transformed from “jerk” to a “loveable old curmudgeon”. The old reporters who had dogged him during his playing days, with whom he had a fairly stormy relationship, were replaced with a new crop of reporters who clearly idolized him. These new reporters were quick to explain that their idol’s earlier difficulties with the press and the fans during his playing days were mostly the fault of the old reporters, who were overly critical of the superstar.

Things haven’t changed that much in Beantown, however, because those same new reporters recently wrote numerous articles that were very critical of current Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez for not recovering quickly enough from a broken bone in his hand, and for the fact that Ramirez wears earrings.

Ted’s relationship with the “Knights of the Keyboard” aside, the facts remain that there have been few, if any, figures in the world as accomplished in “manly” activities as Ted Williams. He was an incredible hitter, by all accounts an incredible fighter pilot, and a superior fisherman (I think he’s in the Fishing Hall of Fame, too). He was John Glenn’s wingman in the Korean War. These accomplishments made him an easy hero for many people, like me, who spent their formative years playing baseball and “war”.

New England loves its sports stars, and The Splendid Splinter (I’m betting that people didn’t use that in everyday conversation) was an icon here. He may have been born in San Diego and died in Florida, but Boston was Ted’s town. Now the loveable old curmudgeon has died, leaving a hole in our lives where a hero used to be. I never saw him play, and I never met him, but I know I’ll miss having him around.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 26 Jul 2002 No Comments

I’m Engaged!

That’s it ladies.  Please disperse.  Tim McCaffrey is off the market, and no amount of pleading or tears will bring him back.

 Yes, the rumors are true.  I am engaged to marry the Megger.  She’s beautiful and wonderful, and I can’t imagine being without her, and now she’s going to be my wife.

 Phew.  One of my friends, when told that I was going to ask the Megger to marry me, asked, “Is she going to say yes, or slug you for taking so long to ask?”  For the record, she said yes, but it was a fair question.  For those of you who are interested, I tell my side of the story below.  For those of you who care less, go back to espn.com.

 I left work early on Wednesday and picked up the ring.  I would like to say that, upon first seeing the completed ring (three princess cut diamonds with a white gold band), I was overcome with emotion and heard thunderclaps or bells or whatever, but the truth is that I just kept thinking, “I hope she likes it, I hope she likes it, please let her like it.”

 The moment I took the ring into my possession, my stomach began churning out three times more acid than is necessary for digestion, and I think someone was practicing origami on my intestines.  I’m not sure, but it was either nerves or the raw bacon I ate for breakfast.  Anyway, I climbed into The RB and began the trek to The Homestead, the Megger’s parents’ house, to ask their permission for her to marry me (Everybody together now:  “Awwwww!!)

 In typical Tim fashion, I hadn’t called to tell them that I was coming (I wanted it to be a surprise), so there was a chance that the trip would be a waste of time.  Further complicating the situation was The RB’s penchant for breaking down at key times (see some of my previous columns for the lowdown on dastardly deeds of The RB).  As a result, the other drivers on the Mass Pike were probably wondering why the man in the red Jeep next to them was continually patting his dashboard and pleading with the heat vent.

 The RB, probably realizing that a breakdown at this point would result in a trip to the scrap yard, generously allowed me to safely arrive at The Homestead.  One funny thing is that as I pulled off of the highway and onto The Homestead’s street, I heard REM on the radio singing It’s the End of the World as We Know It.  No kidding.

 Luckily, when I arrived, I found both of her parents at home.  Their antennas went up when they saw me show up unannounced without the Megger, and I think that her dad was afraid that I had come with bad news, because he got an “Oh @$#%” look in his eye.  Luckily, the look disappeared when I asked their permission to marry the Megger, and they both graciously gave their consent.  Some reports have said that I got choked up while asking them, but I will neither confirm nor deny these reports at this time.

 Now that permission was granted (and you can’t exactly back out once you ask the parents for permission), I had to wait until Friday night to ask the Megger what she thought of the idea.  The time did not exactly fly by.   At least 236 times during that period, my friend Dan would walk into my cube at work, check his watch, then walk out again without saying a word.  The rat.

 Also, between Wednesday and Friday night, the Megger kept coming up with reasons to call her parents.  It seemed like every time I talked to her, she would tell me that she just got off the phone with her mother.  Her mother must have been about to go crazy.  I was convinced that between me acting funny and the Megger talking to her mother, she must have known something was up.

 Friday did, eventually, show up.  While getting ready to go to her house, I hid the ring box in my right sock, because I didn’t want her to see the box bulging in my pocket (Is that an engagement ring, or are you just happy to see me?).  My pants were loose enough that the box was well hidden, and my sock (ok, to be specific it was my roommate’s sock..mine were all dirty) was snug enough that the box wouldn’t come tumbling out at an inopportune time, although I still checked it about 5,000 times before leaving my apartment.

 When I got to the Megger’s apartment, we were sitting on her couch sipping red wine when I realized that I was sweating in an uncontrollable fashion, despite the relative coolness of the room.  She noticed.  “Why are you sweating so much?”

 “It’s damn muggy in here.  I can’t believe how muggy it is,” I lied.  At that moment, I also felt as if the ring box had crawled down my leg and was sniffing around the couch looking for kibble.  Had someone slipped LSD into my wine?  I excused myself and went to the bathroom to wash my face and check out the box, which proved to be firmly secured in the right sock.

 We eventually finished the wine and walked to our favorite little restaurant for dinner.  It’s really just a glorified pizza place with checkered tablecloths, but the food is excellent, and it has always been a special place for us.  We had a great dinner and a nice bottle of wine and some nice conversation (I was going to great lengths to appear normal, but later she said that I seemed “distracted…I am shocked that she didn’t figure this out).

 Side note about the restaurant:  They only take cash.  I discovered this one night when the Megger and I decided to take her parents out for dinner.  When the check came, I triumphantly snatched it from the table, having FINALLY won the battle of “who will pay the check”.  I never, ever, ever win this battle.  I handed my credit card, along with the bill, to the waitress.  She looked at me as if I had excrement smeared on my forehead (who knows, maybe I did) and said, “Cash only” (the “you idiot” was unspoken, but it was there).  Seeing that the cash section of my wallet was empty, Meg’s grinning Dad pulled out a wad of green and happily plucked the bill from my defeated hand.

 That story is the reason why, when the Megger told her mother that we were going to this restaurant on Friday, her mother said, “Don’t forget to bring cash.” 

 My original plan was to have her sit on the bench where we first kissed (which is on the way back from the restaurant) and for me to ask her there.  When we got to the bench, I politely asked her to sit down with me for a moment.  When we sat down, however, I noticed that there were about 652 drunken people standing outside of bars and restaurants all around the bench.  I didn’t feel like performing for these people (HEY IRMA!  WHY’S THAT GUY ON HIS KNEES?!), so I immediately asked her to get up and continue walking to her apartment.  I’m sure that at this point, SHE was wondering if someone had slipped LSD into my wine, but she agreed and we continued walking.

 When we got back to her apartment, I asked her to sit on her front stoop with me for a minute.  She was so busy giving me a “What’s wrong with this guy, it’s cold out, let’s go inside” look that she dropped her purse and all of its contents on the steps.  She bent down to pick them up, and I took the opportunity to get down on one knee and free the ring box from my tired sock. 

 Once she finished stuffing all the stuff back into her purse, she sat down on the steps and noticed that I was still on my knee.  I said something to the effect of, “Would you be my wife?”

 She said, “Of course!” and began to cry as we hugged.

 We went upstairs (so that she could call her mother for the 70th time in two days), and celebrated with a bottle of champagne that I had hidden, on ice, in the back of The RB.  Since then, I think we have both just had permanent smiles on our faces.

 She loves the ring. 

The Day to Day Grind Tim 25 Jul 2002 No Comments

Hot Flashes

Life has been so busy interrupting things the last couple of weeks that I haven’t had a minute to sit down and write anything for both people who read this web site. So, because it’s easier and quicker, time for a dot, dot, dot column.

…Remember that guy Mike, who was going to move in to my apartment? Well, when he met our landlord, he told them some things that he didn’t tell us. For example: He is a drifter who never stays in one place very long, he is 45 years old (I thought he was in his mid-thirties), he doesn’t own a bed or any furniture. The landlord got spooked (reasonably enough) and gave him the kibosh. It made me feel pretty dumb that I hadn’t gotten any of that information before agreeing to live with the guy. Sam Spade I ain’t.

In desperation, we then begged Jen (the girl who had also looked at the apartment) to move in. We had really wanted her the whole time (no, really), but we were so anxious to get the spot filled that we didn’t use common sense. Surprisingly, she agreed, and moved in on June 1. She’s nice, and we gave her a free hand to completely overhaul the décor of our apartment (if you could call it “décor”, it was more like “Caveman”). Gone are the days of bare windows and Playboy shower curtains. We now have drapes and nice end tables and everything…

…I’m trying to move the cable bill from my former roommate’s name to my name. I called AT&T Broadband (very modern-sounding hi-tech name) to do this, and I was told that they would have to mail a form to me. Despite his company’s vast resources, the customer service dude couldn’t fax nor email the form to me, and there is no way to make the change online. The dude promised that it would only take a couple of days for the form to arrive, via the hi-tech US Postal Service.

After a week and no form, I called back and got a customer service woman, who contradicted the previous dude and told me that the form would take a couple of WEEKS to show up (apparently they have eschewed the US Postal Service in favor of the Pony Express). If that was in any way inconvenient for me, she also suggested that I could travel to one of their “conveniently located offices”, during work hours, WITH my old roommate (good thing he didn’t leave the country) to fill out the form. She then offered to sell me high-speed DSL service. I told her no, thanks, that I was looking for something along the lines of high-speed customer service…

…The people at my work put together a couple of kickball (yes, kickball) teams, and we joined an organized league. My buddy Matt designed shirts for the league with a big bull’s-eye on the back, and we’ve been having a lot of fun playing the games. I think the best part about playing in the league is telling people about it and watching them do a double take and say something like, “KICKBALL? Really? Who plays KICKBALL, anyway? Do you have any openings on the team?”…

…Speaking of work, we have one bathroom that we call “The Executive Bathroom”. It is so named due to its location next to “The Executive Conference Room”, not because it is reserved for executives. Anyway, The Executive Bathroom is located directly next to a row of cubes, and it is considered bad form to accomplish anything other than #1 there (or, as my mother would say, “go wetties”), because the poor people in the neighboring cubes have to deal with the aftermath (people are encouraged to make use of the “Back Office” restroom).

However, there is one person in our company (we think it’s only one), who repeatedly has serious industrial accidents in that bathroom. He then closes the door so that there is just a crack of an opening and DOESN’T LEAVE THE FAN ON, so that his essence just festers and ages in that room, with no avenue for escape. If some poor person should happen to walk into the Executive Bathroom following one of these chemical spills, well, the feeling has been described as “being slapped in the face with a brown glove.” We call this scoundrel “The Phantom”, because, despite our vigilance, he has not yet been caught. But we will catch him, oh yes, and there will be RETRIBUTION (Mooohahahaha). Beware, Phantom…

Ok, that’s enough for now. Next week I will tell you about my latest experiences with the @#$!$!#$@ RB, and hopefully soon we will have a new site design in place.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 12 Jul 2002 No Comments