No Time To Be Judgy

Who is the best? Who is The greatest? Who is the The Goat? What’s your top ten this? Who’s your top five that? What’s the greatest movie, song, basketball player? Goat Goat Goat. Here’s a goat there’s a goat, everywhere’s a goat goat.

I saw someone’s name on a shabby old cafe marquee. This person was The Greatest Of All Time at co-owning a restaurant, I presume. Somewhere else, a church had G.O.A.T incorporated into their marquee somehow. I don’t remember the exact context and I don’t have the energy to use my creative license to fake one.

Admittedly, I’m guilty of contemplating favorites, bests, and compiling lists- as much as anyone else. Lately I’m thinking we could take a step back from all this rating business though. We’re all one- all connected.

I watched the most recent James Bond movie with my little brother a week or so ago. He lives in Houston, I live in San Antonio. Nick told me he was going to visit me for my birthday. He asked me what I wanted to do. I’m not feeling very creative these days. It would have been nice to show him the Riverwalk, but it was dark out. The Alamo is a tiny thing one drives by and is underwhelmed. I was tired. We’re all tired.

Ultimately, We ate at Shake Shack and then we went to see No Time To Die, the latest Bond movie.

When I was young, I lived with my brothers and our parents in a rural desert-like place called Valley Center. I remember the night when my Dad showed me and the boys a computer screen with mostly black, grey, and blue colors as he explained that the computer was communicating with other computers- but effectively, we had no internet, or cable TV. We didn’t get a single channel over the airwaves and my parents didn’t seem to make any effort to receive one. The old TV just sat in the living room as a piece of decor, until Friday night when we’d rent movies and eat pizza.

I’d typically find a spot on the floor. Belly-down as my folks explained to me who James Bond was and what he did. He was basically in the British version of the CIA. He was cool, clever, and quite suave with the ladies.

Bond movies were among the good ones. They always delivered. Even the so-called campy, or cheesy Roger Moore versions. 007 films were entertaining, fast-moving, and exciting. Chase scenes, all that. I liked it. We liked it. Maybe you didn’t. That’s fine.

James Bond wasn’t studied in either of the film classes I took in Junior College. During my twenties, when I developed a more pretentious love of films, I didn’t view Bond movies for all their commentary. No special edition DVD’s. No hanging on every word of the director as he reminisces over the day a scene was shot.

I think you catch my drift.

But my brother was coming to town and I didn’t know what we were going to to. We weren’t going to a bar. I decided on Shake Shack because I knew exactly where it was and I trusted the execution of a chain restaurant.

This post is being churned out because I was in bed this morning thinking about the Aston Martin Daniel Craig drives in No Time to Die. Not the ten million dollar silver car from the early 60’s, but the black one from the mid 70’s- the one he drives toward the end. I’ve always liked that car. It looks a little like the original Ford Mustang while also resembling an Aston. In words, that sounds like it might be terrible but I think it’s not. I’ve always like this old, under-stated Aston.

IVER HEATH, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Britain's Prince Charles (R), Prince of Wales meets British actor Daniel Craig as he tours the set and of the 25th James Bond Film No Time To Die at Pinewood Studios on June 20, 2019 in Iver Heath, England.  The Prince of Wales, Patron, The British Film Institute and Royal Patron, the Intelligence Services toured the set of the 25th James Bond Film to celebrate the contribution the franchise has made to the British film industry. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

My little brother whispered over to me in the theatre- which one is that? They’re both awesome, but the subject here is the one one the right.

Oh that’s a 70’s Aston, yeah I’ve always like that one. It’s like a fancy old Mustang.

Toward the end of Craig’s final Bond, there is an homage to the famed opening credits sequence where Bond quickly fires back at the camera followed by blood soaking the screen from top to Bottom. In No Time to Die, Craig (my favorite Bond), re-creates the shot. He’s positioned aesthetically in a cylindrical form in an old, abandoned, nuclear facility in the middle of the ocean when he turns and quickly vanquishes a foe with a single bullet from a small gun. We see it from the foe’s perspective, as we do in every opening sequence since the beginning of Bond.

The recreation of the iconic shot and simply the presence of the old, quieter Aston make this movie “good” to me. And they’re the kinds of details that are attended to during the process by people who love what they do, no matter how much they’re paid. And that’s why No Time To Die is a good movie deserving of a good review- to me, anyway.

The Garage

Two mornings ago Justin met me at the garage. It’s a little one-car thing but he never parks there. He pays his landlord an extra $200/month for a place to keep all the chainsaws, ropes, ladders, tools.

He’d already had about ten cups of coffee he said, and he told me we had an opportunity to make more money up north, where the fires were really bad this year. I heard the word “millions” at one point, which raised a cautious eyebrow. I’m supposed to be the one with my head in the clouds. Justin, he’s all practicality. Redundancy. No debt. Every time I come back to the garage, there’s a new saw or chain, or tool. He’s never watched Shark Tank, but I told him Mark Cuban would salivate over him.

Justin was my neighbor in the months before I moved to Dallas. Over a year ago. I would see him in the garage, plugging away. A worker, about my age. More skilled of course. I didn’t know much about what he was doing but at this point in my life, I know when someone does something well.

When I met Justin, I was working this ridiculous housekeeping job at an international hostel in Ocean Beach. I’ve had so many jobs that I can get a sense of when my time is coming to an end. The “walk-out” being an inevitability. It’s the moment
I run out of bullshit tolerance. The Hostel was some sort of pathetic last gasp. I had nothing left in the tank to deal with hospitality jobs. The hostel was another lateral move. Same crud as waiting tables. The clock was ticking. I don’t have control over the walk-out. My gut takes over and forces me out the door. No notice for the employer as well. They don’t deserve one. They never do.

Dodgers

When the Dodgers won the World Series I was croutched in the middle of the sailboat. In a yogic squat. Really high. Doing my evening thing with the stretching but also listening to the Dodgers broadcast from the distant LA radio station. Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday come through pretty scratchy at times, but I wouldn’t listen to anyone else.

That’s where it all began. Charlie and Rick on the way up the 101. On the way to Morro Bay. Escape.

“MAX MUNCY with a DEEP home run the other way!”

Three years ago. Driving through LA I was like “I’m gonna listen to the whole game.” Back then I didn’t know what Max Muncy looked like. My image of him was a 5’10 stocky black player, not unlike young Tony. Turns out he looks more like Paul Bunyan.

Maybe that was the day I let go of my childhood Padres team and embraced the Dodgers. First drive to Morro Bay? Sure, we’ll make that the day.

I’ve always had an affinity for the Sox, but they were second fiddle to the San Diego Padres growing up. Root for them in the regular season, root for the Sox in the playoffs, cuz the Padres ain’t making the playoffs.

In Boston, the Sox became my favorite baseball team, but I wasn’t rabid. I was working at the ravioli place and playing bass. The youngsters weren’t that into baseball. The 2013 Sox team won me over. It was a team of redemption. The year prior, supposedly they were drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games. They cut the worst offenders before the start of the 2013 year. Then the marathon bombing happened. Papi told the fans that this was our fucking city and the rest is history. I approved of that team.

I returned to my birthplace a year later to the lackluster Padres. I felt obligated to root for them. Why on Earth was Tony Gwynn Jr. not a lifetime Padre? Did they even give him a chance? I know he doesn’t hit like his old man but we need a Gwynn on the field in this broken-hearted town. Why did the fans boo the San Diego Gay Men’s choir when they sang the national anthem? Was that for real?

Meanwhile, the Dodgers. Who are these guys? They’re all good. Every one of them.

I was deep in a yogic squat, eyes closed in the middle of the tiny boat. I was in the entry way to the bed area. Two little beds behind me, one on either side of the hardwood I was crouched on. Charlie Steiner told me to remember where I was. As if he needed to tell me.

The volume was low. The radio five feet up, to the left, felt distant. What was I thinking about? I was half-focusing. I was nervous. My team. And this was MY TEAM. Clayton, Joc, Mookie, Walker- this was my kinda team. My team was about to win the World Series.

I grew up here in San Diego a Padre fan. I was born in the fall of 81, and Tony Gwynn was pretty much playing full-time from that point until I was a missionary for my church in Colorado.

For those of you who don’t know, Tony is one of the best baseball players ever. People like to call him “one of the greatest hitters of all time” or they say he is a great “pure” hitter. I like to draw attention to Tony’s all-around athleticism. His outfield defense was superb and he was a star point guard at San Diego State. (Basketball)

CALLED STRIKE THREE on the outside corner! Charlie bursted. And I, in my squat, eyes closed- I let out a giggle. Then I cried. You probably think I cry about baseball all the time but no, not really. I cried when Tony died of course and I cried when the Dodgers won the World Series.



Left Field

YO, Air-Head!

 

EARTH TO AARON-

 

Uh Oh, We’ve lost him!

 

Maverick’s disengaged!

 

Not again!

 

He’s waaaaaay out.

 

talk to me goose

 

What was it he said he needed last night?

 

He needed a row.

 

Waaaaaaay out in left field.

 

Right, he needed a row.

 

A row for the boat.

 

Talk to me goose

 

Not a paddle, not an oar.

 

You know, a ROW, he said.

 

He ran up the hill, pissed off.

 

Don’t say that word.

 

-Is he even in there? My goodness!

 

HELLO!!!

 

Holy Mackerel, he really is on another planet this time!

 

What was he saying the other night?

 

talk to me Goose

 

He wanted to live in the country, on a farm.

 

Right! But the next minute he wanted the city.

 

Yeah, he wanted to live downtown.

 

The plaque for the alternates is in the ladies room

Fish Day

 

You gotta do certain things on Saturdays, like put the sausages in the freezer.

Delington, is that a euphemism?

My last day was a Saturday. The big day! The biggest day of the week. Sunday off, thank goodness! Saturdays are real busy with all the Tufts kids and everything.

So, Saturday. My last day. I walked over to The Deli. Davy was long gone. It was dusk, summer in beautiful Somerville. Closed for an hour or so. Davy had cleaned up real good. The slicers were clean, the knives were clean. The counters, everything was nice and clean. I opened the fridges and looked at the stacks of turkey and capicola and I thought that perhaps it was the last time I was gonna be doing this.

I was so charged up, but it was this quiet moment and I remember thinking that this was a big deal. Not that I had really lost my temper this time. I kind of knew that was a big deal, the temper thing, but I was going to have to process that later. There were going to be a lot of changes. What was really on my mind though, as I looked at the provolone and manchego, was that I would not be opening the fridge doors anymore. No more fish days, I knew that was big.

Fish Day, Delington!

They called my stacks of meat Delington Stacks. I was proud of them. They were nice and tight. I’d try to stack slices like salami, that came in a tube, back into the cylindrical form they arrived in. Chris and Davy did a fine enough job. It didn’t really matter, but their stacks were easily distinguished from mine. Their salami slices hung out a centimeter or so. No big deal. But I thought I did it well and I was proud of it because I didn’t feel like I did a lot of things very well. I knew it was a silly thing but what can you do?

Sam named me Delington. Aaron Delington. Chris was named Chris Delis. Delis plural. Davy was The Duke of the Deli, or Deli Duke. We listened to Bruce Springsteen, Rancid, Goo Goo Dolls, and a lot of other bands that are too cool for you.

Interview

PRESIDENT RICHARDS
(Directing Davy toward a simple chair) Have a seat David. (He lowers himself to the chair behind the desk.) I talked with your mission President. He’s filled me in. How are you doing?

DAVY
I’m alright.

PRESIDENT
You’re alright… Alright….well your family, they’re not alright. I talked to your aunt. I don’t think she’s all right.

DAVY
(perks up a bit) You talked to them?

PRESIDENT
Well, I have. Your family is pretty broken up about this.

DAVY
…I’m sorry.

PRESIDENT
You’re sorry? You don’t look sorry. I don’t exactly see a face of remorse David.

DAVY
…It wasn’t an easy decision to make.

PRESIDENT
Decision? You decided to sleep with a girl. You were a representative of Christ’s Church in these modern times and you decided to have intercourse with a girl. I BET such gross disobedience wasn’t an easy decision.

DAVY
Well, I lost faith in the church out there. For about the last year I was trying to figure out how to go home.

PRESIDENT
You didn’t consider praying, asking God for faith? You didn’t consider obedience to his commandments? Clearly you didn’t consider obedience after your display of gross misconduct.

DAVY
Actually, I think I gave it a good shot.

PRESIDENT

(mockingly) You gave it a good shot. Hmmmmm. You didn’t even complete your mission. (elevating his voice) A good shot! You have no idea what a good shot is David! You haven’t finished college. You haven’t gotten married. Kids? You think your faith was tried? Your patience?

DAVY
That was a large part of my decision, I wanted to leave before I had a family. I’ve seen what happens when a parent decides to leave the church after having kids.

PRESIDENT
Well that’s just ridiculous. You wanted to leave before a family was involved. Sounds like you never gave it much of a chance.

DAVY
I think I did.

PRESIDENT
You think you did. You gave it a good chance. You decided to leave the church a mere few months into your mission and that was a “fair chance.”

DAVY
Yes President, I think I was a very good missionary, and a very obedient missionary. And I did pray, and ask God for faith.

PRESIDENT
And…what did you hear? What was his response?

DAVY
I don’t believe I heard anything.

PRESIDENT
Hmmm. So after five months or so, you just throw in the towel?

DAVY
Well, yeah.

PRESIDENT
Yeah…Hmmm. You know the Lord doesn’t make it easy for us David. We don’t just ask him for a testimony in his Gospel and get it overnight.

DAVY
I know. I was very obedient before my mission though as well.

PRESIDENT
You were?

DAVY
Yeah, I think it was very important to me.

PRESIDENT
And how do you know you gave it this great effort, David?

DAVY
I saw the other missionaries out there. They didn’t take it as seriously as I did.

PRESIDENT
How on EARTH can you know such a thing?

DAVY
I just, I mean, I could explain, but I think it would be a waste of time…(more confidently) I was very devout President. I woke up on time every day. I studied the scriptures. I even filtered my thoughts. I made a great effort, and I just think that compared to most of the other missionaries, and members back home, I think I gave a lot of myself.

PRESIDENT
How do you have any way of making that determination? And even if it was true, you know the Lord doesn’t make anything easy for us.

DAVY
I know, but I had to make a decision. And I decided that this life we have is it, and I want to live it outside of the church. Now is the time… like I said, before I had a family to tear apart…I’m sorry President.

PRESIDENT
Don’t apologize to ME. Back to your decision. This “decision” you made. You decided to sleep with that girl. You made the difficult “decision” of having sex? You decided you were done with the church and that it would be a good time to engage in pre-marital sex.

DAVY

No…(shows he’s slightly irritated) I told you I lost my faith about a year ago.

PRESIDENT
Why didn’t you say anything then?

DAVY
I didn’t know what to say. I was afraid. Like everyone tells me, I’m so young. It’s hard to navigate this.

PRESIDENT
Afraid of what? How we’d respond? Don’t for one second think that a young man such as yourself can shake the faith of me, or your Mission President.

DAVY
I was afraid of how my family would respond- like you said, they’re pretty broken up. I knew they wouldn’t like it.

PRESIDENT
Your decision.

DAVY
Yeah.

PRESIDENT
So why exactly did you make your decision Davy? Why did you decide you were going to leave the church?

DAVY
I…it just didn’t make sense.

PRESIDENT
What didn’t make sense?

DAVY
I don’t know-

PRESIDENT
YOU DON’T KNOW!!!???

DAVY (A bit more assured)
Well, none of it made sense.

PRESIDENT
“None of it?”

DAVY
Blacks not being allowed to have the preisthood until 1978. Women’s roles. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being gay.

PRES
(sighing, frustrated) There isn’t anything wrong with being gay… Is that it Davy, have you been having homosexual thoughts?

DAVY
I don’t think I have to be gay to think there’s nothing wrong with being gay.

PRESIDENT
So that’s it. You just don’t believe in any of it. You reject it because it’s inconvenient.

DAVY
I think it’s the opposite really. I think it’s inconvenient to reject it.

PRES
Is that so young man? You reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ because you feel that it’s incorrect and you’ve figured out the truth on your own. Well, what do you believe then? Tell me, what have you found? Why are we here? Who put us here?

DAVY
I don’t know.

PRESIDENT
You don’t know. (shaking his head, sighing) You don’t know. But you know that (He authoritatively thrusts his index finger to the top of the desk) THIS church isn’t your thing and that you can sleep with girls now. Sounds pretty convenient to me. Sounds pretty arrogant actually. (He lifts his index finger from the desk and points it at Davy) You are very arrogant David.

DAVY
I have a question President

PRESIDENT
What’s that?

DAVY
During a stake conference “talk” you gave,  you went on about cleaning clocks.You were walking about your pal on the offensive line and you smiled and said “Boy we sure cleaned a lot of clocks.” Pure joy on your face President.

PRESIDENT
What are you talking about? What’s your point?

DAVID
Why was that necessary, to say that you sure cleaned a lot of clocks? It wasn’t a priesthood meeting. Families, little kids, toddlers crawling under the pews. And you cleaned a lot of clocks? Why say that?
And I’ve heard that before, arrogant. I know ya’ll like that one. You love the “it’s about you” line. I’m making it about me. I guess. I decided to think independently. I am selfish in that respect. What’s in my head is mine and you, nor anyone else will take that from me. And it leads to a confidence that can come off as arrogant. You think I’m arrogant, fine by me. People on the other sie of the fence give me a little bit of that too. I know I need to be humbled at times. That’s what my brothers were there for, you know, keeping me in line. Not you though, cochise. You don’t keep me in line, not any longer.

PRESIDENT
Now Davy you were disfellowshipped, NOT excommunicated. You watch your words.

DAVY
WATCH MY WORDS? WATCH MY WORDS “PRESIDENT”? Yeah, as a matter of fact I do watch them. You trying to call my bluff? I’m doing this for attention, huh? Is that it? I have some line drawn?

You know what? My old man, never heard him talk much. Not nearly as much as ya’ll. So I watched him closely, know what I mean? I paid attention. And one time, at dinner with some folks from out of town, my Dad was asked about church, you know cuz he was a member during the time he was married to my mom. The woman asked my Dad his status. My old man said he had no idea.

PRESIDENT
YOUR POINT, DAVID???

DAVID
(Stands up and points back at the President) I don’t give a shit what you do with my status, cochise. It’s a name in a FUCKING computer.