I play baseball on Sundays. Okay, it’s softball. And it’s co-ed. But they line the base paths and keep score and everything. At any rate, this past weekend I was standing in center field, stuffing another wad of Big League Chew in my mouth, when my life flashed before my eyes.
Because it was a particularly nice day – sunny, upper 70s, breezy – Leigh Ann and I decided to bring Nate to the game, and now she had him with her in the stands. Before I go any further, I should note that Leigh Ann is a FIERCE MAMA GRIZZLY when it comes to protecting our little man. To illustrate this point: you know that Grizzly Bear video Colbert uses in the Threatdown?
Well, that Bear would crap its pelt if it ran into Leigh Ann.
Anyhow, if you’re a parent you know what comes next – i.e. the moment where you let your guard down for one second. Someone in the stands asked Leigh Ann a question and she reflexively turned to answer. As she did, the batter – who I will not ridicule here for being unable to hit a ball pitched underhand – fouled the ball straight back, up and over the backstop, and on a direct trajectory for my 5-month-old son’s forehead.
Standing some 300 feet away, I watched this unfold the way you might watch a murder unfold through binoculars – unable to do anything but no less affected. Someone yelled. Another mother screamed. And Leigh Ann, by the grace of whoever invented pumpkin ice cream, turned her body just enough that the ball whizzed harmlessly by, thereby saving us both from a life of therapy.
Ho ho ho.
Later that night, I was flipping through channels. F/X was playing the movie Face/Off, which I’d heard was poop-on-a-stick-bad but had never actually seen. So, fool that I am, I watched the first scene. In it, Nicolas Cage is a hitman trying to take out John Travolta. He’s got Travolta in his rifle sites, but Mr. Saturday Night Fever is playing on a carousel with his son, so Cage is having a hard time finding an open shot. When at last he thinks he has one, Cage pulls the trigger — only the bullet goes in to Travolta’s back, out through his chest, and straight into the boy, knocking them both to the ground. Travolta spends the next few moments not crawling away for his life, but cradling his dead son’s body and crying.
It made me angry. Not because it’s a laughably over-acted scene – it is – or because John Travolta is the world’s most obvious closet case – he is – or because Nicolas Cage used to be in good movies – really, he did. No, it made me angry because it made me imagine what it would be like to cradle Nate that way. And in doing so I was suddenly and acutely aware that I now had an incredible vulnerability. And that I would always have it. And that hack directors like John Woo would be able to exploit it at their pleasure.
Luckily, the Final Four was on another channel.