Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ten things I wish I hadn't done

In the underrated Albert Brooks film "Defending Your Life," Brooks is on trial in an afterlife waystation after he is killed in an accident in L.A. The trial is to determine whether he has conquered his mortal fears and therefore eligible to move to a more evolved state of existence. During the trial, the prosecutor shows vignettes of Brooks' life on a big screen, including a montage of stupid things he had done. It looks like a slapstick reel, and the two judges in the courtroom start snickering.

The prosecutors could create a pretty good slapstick reel for me, too. Here is a random list of 10 real-life scenes from my life:

1) When I was about 10, I used to take a running start and leap on a chair in the center of my bedroom so I could fly like Superman. Once, I placed the chair directly in the doorway, smacked my head on the jamb and nearly knocked myself out.

2) When I was 25, I asked a woman to a Pat Metheny concert (shaddup!). She said yes, but when I went to get tickets they were sold out. I asked her if she wanted to do something else and she said, "Oh, no, that's OK." Three years later we did go on a date, and we eventually got married. Pat Metheny was not on the wedding mix. I outgrew him by then.

3) As a sophomore at Cal State Northridge I played in the Matador marching band. Just before the pregame show at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I bent over and split the back of my black toreador pants right down the seam, exposing my tighty whities. I had to ask the really hot wife of our band director, over whom I routinely drooled, to re-sew the seam in front of my band mates. She and I later went to a Pat Matheny concert.

4a) As a rookie ball writer in 1988, I was covering the Mets-Dodgers National League Championship Series. Dodger Tim Belcher threw a gem in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. I ran into the home clubhouse, saw a huge scrum of writers surrounding a player and asked, "Was that the best you've seen Belcher pitch this year?" All the writers stared at me as if I were an idiot. So did the player. It was Belcher.

4b) Twenty-two years later -- last Saturday, if you must know -- I asked Buster Posey how good Barry Zito's stuff looked from behind the plate. Posey said he wouldn't know. He played first base that day.

5) When I was 15, my family and our neighbors went to Lake Tahoe. My sister and her friend got me to wear a T-shirt that read, "Hi. I'm Henry from Los Angeles," thinking it would help me make friends. All it did was make people hope I was getting the special education I needed.

6) At Cal, I routinely played in all-night poker games during finals week, which explains why I'm a sportswriter today.

7) In my mid-20s, I played in a semi-regular touch football game with colleagues at the Oakland Tribune. Though I weighed over 200 pounds, I volunteered to play cornerback. I was chasing a receiver on a "go" route. Knowing I was beaten, I just raised my arms and started waving them hoping the receiver wouldn't see the ball, which is patently illegal. My penalty was greater than 15 yards: The football hit me in the back, I toppled to the ground, tore cartilage in my left knee, sprained the anterior-cruciate ligament and, for good measure, fractured my right arm hitting the ground.

8) In my 20s, I had a date with a woman I really liked. I took her to a museum in San Francisco to see an Ansel Adams exhibit and to dinner. We had a great time. She actually asked me what was next on our date. I took her to my place and . . . insisted she watch my new "Reefer Madness" video. Never saw her again.

9) When I was in college, lots of folks had a bumper sticker that read, "Warning, I stop for small animals." I bought one for my car that read, "Warning, I speed up to run over small animals." The resulting vandalism to my Datsun B-210 was both expected and ruthless.

10) Actually bought a Pat Metheny album.


  1. Well, dude, I still lilke Pat Metheny, although it's been years since I actively listened to him. My first girlfriend and I were both quite into Pat. I also had a Datsun B210 ('74) -- blue, hatchback. Thanks for the memories.

  2. I had no idea who the hell Pat Matheny was. I looked him up, it's Pat "Metheny" with an 'e,' so I quit my search. I figured if you can't remember how to spell the guy's name right, he can't be that good.

    It's August 3, do the Giants make the playoffs?

  3. I had a '76 Chevy Vega that I once took to Earl Scheib's for a paint job. I think it cost more than the car.

  4. Henry, Henry . . . you do make me laugh.

    P.S. Who's your Meryl Streep?

  5. I'm disappointed no mention of Band Camp in here.

  6. I still like and listen to Pat Metheny.

  7. Henry --

    I remain confused about Number Two on your list. Do you wish you hadn't asked the young lady to the Pat Metheny concert in the first place, or that you you'd waited until you actually had the tickets in your hand, or are you wishing you didn't ask her out three years later -- after which she became your wife?

    I won't even ask the next logical question in that sequence...

    Although I love your blog -- and your coverage of the Giants -- I do hope your good wife doesn't read this post...

  8. Re: 4b
    you were asking about Mota

  9. LOL @ 4a. I have one like that--Arizona Fall League 07, I went into the Scottsdale clubhouse asked Brian Anderson if Sergio Romo was around. Anderson points across the table to Romo. Sergio gave me a lot of good-natured shit about that.