That Gate Can Swing Both Ways

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 02:33 PM.

Listen, if life was fair Brussel sprouts would taste like a Snickers bar. Rain would fall only at night. The guy in the lane in front of you would never need a price check. Kidney stones would dissipate before they got stuck. And we’d all been born rich.

            I’ve been hearing this discussion since way before the Pope became a Catholic. They used to kick it around right regularly in the front room up at Bill Argo’s Gulf Station. Mostly it dealt with hog prices and weather. The former were perennially low and the latter was always too wet, too cold, too dry or too unpredictable. Some declared it fate. A few figured luck played a hand. One or two cussed it. Most shook their heads and accepted it as just a part of being here.

            The unfairness of life has touched us all. In the early spring of 1958 I proudly shoved my hard earned quarter through the ticket window out front of the Park Theatre. I waited impatiently for my change. The lady that Mr. Clericuzio had hired to handle the money pointed to a freshly painted sign advertising the increased admission price of twenty-five cents. You’ve got to be kidding me! It had been fifteen cents all my life! I needed a dime back for the popcorn and drink. Where was “right, justice and the American way” here?

I was going to have to enjoy “Old Yeller” on an empty stomach. I got as close as I could to the front and settled in. I don’t remember the cartoon, the newsreel or any of the coming attractions. But I knew something was dreadfully wrong right after that lion roared and the Eiffel Tower flashed across the screen. Old Yeller wasn’t a city dog! This picture show was about some skinny necked girl name “Gigi” looking for the right man. Every time she got remotely close to finding him, someone would break out with a song! Half of it was in French!

            You talk about unfair! I was out a whole quarter. I didn’t get nothing to eat. Someone had lied to me about what picture show was playing. And I don’t know to this day how Old Yeller died. 

            Nobody has to tell me about the twist and turns of life.

            But there is another side, some think possibly providentially provided, to this bouncing coin. Me and Leon were playing “pitch” in the back yard. We were backing up and throwing an old baseball further and higher with each toss. Daddy warned us about the car. We were more intent on the roar from the Yankee Stadium crowd. I was almost under the black walnut tree in the Boaz’s yard when I let go with a mighty heave. It was errant from the get-go. And I couldn’t pull it back! Leon raced over to the driver’s side of the car but I’m not sure Willie Mays would have had a chance. 

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