Ah, springtime! Something about sunshine and flawless blue sky can bring out the exuberance of youth in even the most dried up and cranky of us. The Observer — the dried-uppest and crankiest of them all — couldn't get too upset, therefore, when we saw some young 'uns having a little good-natured fun the other day.
Let us set the scene: Driving to see John McCain at Whole Hog last week, we happened to find ourselves motoring along behind a Toyota pickup. Ahead, the light turned red, and the second the Toyota rolled to a stop, the driver and passenger — both males, wouldn't you know; both maybe 17 and one of them sans shirt — jumped out and began running furiously around the parked truck. One loop, two loops, three loops. Finally, the light turned green. They jumped in, and off they went. Next stoplight a few blocks later, same show: running, laughing, dodging one another as they almost collided at the tailgate. Green light: in and gone.
Back during the winter, old Dried Up and Grumpy might have laid on the horn or (depending on how close to Christmas it was) dropped it in gear and gone Road Warrior on their asses. With the sun shining and the sky a blue glass dome, however, we could only think back to how we used to be young and stupid and full of enough energy that we wouldn't have minded burning a little of it on a stoplight lark.
As we were thinking this, a motorcycle cop roared past. We gave room, and he edged his bike in between the front bumper of the Mobile Observatory and the tailgate of the Toyota. As we turned off, the cop was still following the not-TOO-wayward youths, ticket-writing-hand no doubt set to “stun.”
We hope you weren't too hard on them, officer. They did, after all, manage to kick-start The Observer's annual springtime bout of charity and good will — something we thought had frozen to death sometime back in February.
Speaking of street-scene oddities: Poking out atop traffic on Saturday, in the little sliver of median on University Avenue at Markham: a woman in a turd costume with a golden crown on top. After a few seconds, the costume wearer's smiling face swung into view, along with a sign advertising “scooping poop” or, possibly, “We'll scoop your poop.” The Observer only had a few moments, a few lanes away, to take all this in. Had we been closer and stuck at the light longer we would have had a few questions. Like, explain yourself. (Not really a question, but important.) Why are you wearing a crown? What sorts of things have been thrown at you?
Alas, the light turned green and we were off, left to contemplate scooping poop — which surely we assume correctly to mean pet poop — as a business model. Perhaps these poop scoopers have developed some new scooping technology. The tennis ball hopper for dog waste. Some kind of high-powered vacuum sucker. Probably not, but when we got home and mowed over dozens of paddies of stink in our yard, we couldn't stop thinking about the turd queen.
What The Observer has always loved about baseball is its leisurely pace. Sure, occasionally somebody actually hits the ball, and a few guys down on the field scurry around for a few seconds. But then everyone goes back to their hot dogs and their yapping, and gets on with the business of unhurriedly enjoying a lovely afternoon.
So when The Observer attended our first game last week in the company of our 5-year-old niece, we were pleased to see that she apparently feels the same. Even when she's on the pitcher's mound.
Now The Observer has seen some distracted ballplayers in our time, but our niece elevates it to an art. Fortunately, this was tee-ball, so there was no actual pitching to interrupt the inspection of the weeds at the edge of the mound. Which she did facing away from home plate much of the time, squatting on her heels.
She was generally aware enough to remember that when she hit the ball, she was supposed to run toward first base, but needed the first-base coach to tell her whether she was safe or out. Safe? Time to dance!
Then time to zone out again, this time so completely that, perched on second base, she didn't start her run for third until her teammate coming from first all but shoved her into centerfield.
“It's a good thing they only know to throw to first,” her mother said.
OK, so she may not be the Danica Patrick of the Major Leagues one day. But she'll make a fine fan.