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  • John M Donovan

This Is Why My Wife Frequently Says "I Can't Believe You've Never Done Drugs"

As Cybil Donovan can attest, I have some weird dreams. One recurring theme is that I'm asked to coach a girls softball team again, but not until the opening day of the season--so not only has the team not practiced, but I don't even know who the players are.


Invariably there's someone on the roster who doesn't belong on a girls softball team. One night it was an old man who wore a rectangular cardboard box. It's hard to swing a bat wearing a big cardboard box but I put him in the lineup and, while he struck out, he tried his best. Last night it was a boy named Williams, who was well past the age limit for the team, though not as far past, of course, as the old man in the box. Another time we were playing in a domed stadium and the other team had a 40-year-old woman from Finland, who for some reason still had youth softball league eligibility. She hit a home run that hit the back wall of the stadium


In last night's version of the dream, I didn't even know the name of the team I was coaching. My granddaughter Jade was on the team, along with a girl I'd coached back in Forsyth, Illinois 24 years ago. She was hitting leadoff and the boy named Williams was hitting second. I was coaching first base. The Forsyth girl reached on catcher's interference. (Honestly, leave it to me to dream about one of the rarest plays in softball.) Williams came up next and went into a weird pre-at-bat ritual of rolling around in the dirt. He then hit the first pitch to the second baseman, but when I looked up he had put on a hipster fedora and sport coat and was running to first while playing a trumpet.


Williams beat the throw and was called safe, but he dropped the trumpet. I reached out and tapped the horn and said "Hey--no more of this."


My favorite line in the dream came before the game started, though. I was going around to all the players trying to find out what positions they played. Someone had penciled "SP" next to one of the girls' names, so when I found her I said "Are you my starting pitcher?" She said she was, and the girls around her assured me she was very good. The next girl's last name was Avila and she had "RP" next to her name, which led to this exchange:


Me: Are you my relief pitcher?

Avila: Yes.

Me: Where do you like to play when you're not pitching?

Avila: Mercy West Daycare.


* * *


Ah well. If you've read this far, you might be interested in knowing that I'm making some pretty nice progress on a novel that might well be called The Smalltown Way. It has nothing to do with dreams but it does take an incisive look at the residents of Colby City, Illinois in the years leading up to the 2016 election disaster.

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