Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Can I Drive?

For TigerBlog, there was a long time when a trip pretty much anywhere in the Ivy League other than Columbia, Penn and maybe Yale meant an overnight stay.

Gradually, TB ventured further and further into the up-and-back philosophy, which meant leaving day of event and coming back when it was over.

He started with a trip to Cornell, back when he was still in the newspaper business.

Tim Bennett, who has spent the bulk of the last 20 years or so with Yale athletic communications, was an intern at Princeton, where he was the baseball contact, among other sports.

Princeton was playing Cornell in a season-ending doubleheader with the league title on the line - this was before there were two divisions, TB recalls - and Timmer (as everyone calls him) was going up and back for the games. TB decided to tag along and write a story for the paper.

To help get out of there faster after he had written his story, TB helped Tim call some of the other newspapers, back when actually calling the newspaper's sports department and speaking to a human being was a daily part of athletic communications work.

Anyway, TB was calling the Star-Ledger, and kid in the newsroom on the other end of the phone
was asking TB to go through the entire box score, even though he was only going to use a sentence or two. So TB decided to try to cut to the chase, which was surprising to the kid, which led to this exchange:

TB: So and so was 3 for 4 with a double and a triple.
Kid in newsroom: What was his other hit?
TB: Huh?

It's possible TB said something sarcastic after that. Actually, it's probable.

Once he'd gone up and back to Cornell, he started to do so to other schools as well. Brown, especially one Yom Kippur way back when. Harvard, the day there was a field dedication up there for lacrosse and the game was at 7 at night.

He even did it for Dartmouth once, also for lacrosse. That was pushing the envelope of how far he'd be willing to drive in one day, he's pretty sure.

All of this brings TB to yesterday, when TB and TigerBlog Jr. had to make a five-hour trip for a school function. The point of this story isn't the function itself; it's the getting there and back.

Most of the time that TB has made these drives, it's been to Princeton athletic events. He's written this often in the past, that he has estimated that he's driven so many miles to games that he could have gone around the Earth at the equator multiple times.

He's taken TBJ with him many times in the past. In fact, it's been one of the absolute greatest parts of TB's life, to take TBJ with him to so many Princeton games through the years of his youth. When TBJ got a little too old for it, TB felt a void, and a sadness, knowing that his son had outgrown that wide-eyed joy that comes with being a kid.

But now? There's a completely different element to it.

For all those trips, all those miles, TigerBlog drive, TBJ rode along. At first, it was in a car seat, back when he first went to watch Princeton-Lafayette football one day long ago and sat there perfectly still for three hours, without fidgeting, whining or anything, which led TB to believe that he was on to something here.

Eventually, he outgrew his car seat. And eventually he was old enough to sit in the front.

And now?

TB and TBJ rolled out around 7 am yesterday, which mean that TBJ, like most teenagers, was asleep in about two minutes. After he woke up, about an hour and half into the ride, he said his most common sentence these days: "Can I drive?"

And so TB turned the keys over to his son.

On the way back, TBJ offered to let his father drive to start out and then he would take over once he'd finished eating his Wegman's pizza.

By the time their day was over, they'd driven more than 10 hours together. The split was about seven hours behind the wheel for TBJ and three for TB, who loves the passenger seat by the way.

It's not always easy for a parent to be in the car with their child behind the wheel. When TBJ first started driving, TB found himself reaching for an imaginary brake pedal a few times.

Yesterday? No. There was TBJ, out on the highways, passing trucks, getting passed himself by some others, putting the cruise control on and going from there. One white car zoomed past him, which led TBJ to what TB believes was his first career moment of minor road rage, which itself was followed by a state police car that pulled the white car over, leading TBJ to think that there is justice on the road.

TB even fell asleep for a few moments when the hour got later and later. He was awakened by his son, who was singing "Hungry Like the Wolf" as the Duran Duran song played on the radio.

At various times on the trip, they took turns playing their personal favorites on their iPhones. TB always struggles with his son's musical tastes when it comes to telling which one is the name of the band and which one is the name of the song.

As for TB's music, TBJ puts up with it, even likes a lot of it, and while he says he has to draw the line at "Les Miserables," he mysteriously knows all of the words to "Do You Hear The People Sing."

Maybe TBJ likes it because clearly TB's musical taste is far superior.

Or maybe he heard it so often at such a young age, back when he was in the back seat, driving with his father to game after game, mile after mile along the same roads that he was now driving on himself yesterday.

TB was fine in the passenger seat, even as he couldn't help remember back to those days when his son couldn't even reach the pedals, let alone use them - and how those days are now behind both of them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TB, in its own way, this column is one of your best ever. By the way, do you occasionally take LMTB on your road trips?

Do what you can to spend time with her now because, in just a few years -- right on biological schedule -- she will refuse to be seen with you.