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Midnight mind wanders

Life in the Pedestrian Lane

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2007

Copyright 2006, Virginia Walters

I listen to the radio all night, or rather, I turn the radio on when I go to bed and it is still on when I get up in the morning. When I wake up at 2:47 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep I can concentrate on the late-night conversations rather than on what I should have said to the twit who took credit for my idea for the Spring Fling during our sophomore year in high school and what I’d say to her now (which probably will not happen, as I am in Alaska and she is in Florida and never the twain shall meet). Works good, as I usually fall back to sleep by 3:03 a.m. The all-night talk shows are limited in topic. I can either join the outer fringe and debate UFOs, alien abduction and time travel, or I can listen to the far right rant and rave when someone dares to suggest that war is not necessarily patriotism or that the president can not pronounce NUCLEAR or “guv’ment.” Either way, it guarantees slumber again in about 10 minutes.

It was during one of these wakeful periods that I heard a statistic that woke me right up (and it was only 4:23 a.m.). Baseball has 77 players who make $9 million or more a year. Five or six are tied for 77th place and the top guy is making around $22 million. That means if someone makes 8.9 million, he didn’t make the cut. Kinda scary, isn’t it? Figuring an average of $15 million, and nine players per team, a game with two teams could have a player bill of $270 million, possibly more. That would hire nearly 3,000 teachers at top pay in Alaska, and more in some other states. (What else is there to do but mental math when it’s still dark out and you’re trying to be quiet?)

That made me wonder when baseball quit being fun: a pick-up game on the playground, or the spring high school sport, or something to do on summer evenings just before it got too dark to see home plate (when I lived where it got dark on a summer evening). I guess I missed out on when all sports became big business. Football, back in the day, was what my uncle listened to on the radio on a Saturday afternoon in autumn when Army played Navy in the Great Competition. It wound up by Thanksgiving instead of just getting started. Football was for fall and cleared out for basketball around Dec. 1.

I remember being really involved in my high school team’s sports. I think it was a matter of having an investment in the outcome. Everyone knew all the players (I came from a small school) and small town rivalries made the games exciting. I even carried the excitement into the years my own sons played high school sports. I just can’t get excited about grown men chasing a ball around a field or court, and then acting like socially misfit teenagers during the off season. Like mules, they need a whack between the eyes to get their attention then a lesson in manners and social propriety. (Ye gads! I sound like my father.) Or they need a real job!

Late-night radio also has strange commercials. Or at least commercials that one doesn’t hear during prime time (or whatever it is called on the radio). One tells me that I can shrink two dress sizes in 30 days. Nice if I wore dresses. A particular sleeping pill (appropriately advertised sometime after 2 a.m.) lauds its benefits then warns against side effects, one of which is drowsiness — go figure. I’ve never tried sleeping pills of any kind. I have enough trouble being alert in the mornings; I don’t need chemical help to be blurry-eyed and fuzzy.

So now I’m wide awake and might as well get up. I’ve tried music in the middle of the night but I have the tendency to want to sing along, which doesn’t go over too good with my bed partner, especially at 4:30 a.m. He doesn’t sleep well with his head under the pillow.

So I turn on the coffee, check the temperature outside (thank heaven for indoor-outdoor thermometers), and settle down on the couch to read, where I promptly fall asleep. Hubby wakes me at 7:42 a.m. with my neck in a crick, the coffee clicked off and cooling and it’s still dark. He has turned on the kitchen radio and I hear Steve and Coach telling me about some athlete who has signed a contract for beaucoup millions just to show up for the next three years. Let’s see, how many teachers would that be ... .

Oh well. Been there, done that. Might as well get up — again!

Virginia Walters lives in Kenai.



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