Tag Archives: travel

An Old Friend Has Returned

Long time no see.

Reading books is one of the few things that calms my mind for any given length of time as concentrating on a trivial concern for long moments poses some serious headaches and bones of contention. Losing yourself in a novel is a fantastic escape from everyday tedium, and I find myself getting lost in the wordplay and saucy turn of phrase by any writer with significant skills. 

Despite my love of books, I had to get rid of some of the collected, messy congestion–artifacts of my bohemian demimonde past. I was sorting through some ancient boxes in a futile attempt to pare down this overflowing library when I found a dusty, dog-eared copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five with a baseball card tucked inside and I had to take a blindsided pause.

I had dragged this “bookmark” around from mezcal-soaked Tijuana watering holes where the prostitutes would whisper “primo” in my ear in an attempt at extracting a few gringo dollars for an escort, extravagant Palm Springs hotels where I once kissed a model with a zit on her chin in a wooden jacuzzi, and a hash-smoke saturated Barcelona beach where a Muslim kid tried to steal my passport hidden away in a notebook while I was sleeping. It has ceased to be a simple piece of cardboard to be merely used, thrown away, or disregarded; now it is a dear friend full of memories with untold esoteric, rather dodgy, and borderline dangerous anecdotes to share in an era lovingly thought of as my “roaring 30’s.”

I know very little about the player on the card and have certainly never seen him play. Tommy Harper was born in Oak Grove, Louisiana, and was a central figure in the troubled and recently recognized (by the powers that be) racial history of the Red Sox. He had a dignified, but a rather unremarkable career with 8 teams. (not to be shortchanged–he did hit 31 home runs for Milwaukee in 1970, fashioning a trip to the All-Star game.) I find it rather odd that his career was plagued with a lack of playing time by reason that he was a defensive enigma: his career being metaphorically interchangeable with my own life at the time as I bounced around from place to place with no discernible or long term position in this murky, three-ring psychosis-like memoir of continued existence.