There was a time, some sixty years ago, that I believed that most families had lives like the Cleaver family, of Leave It To Beaver fame. Mrs. Cleaver would often be seen vacuuming the floor in her dress and ‘high heels’ wearing a pearl necklace and full-makeup. And Mr. Cleaver, mostly wore suits and ties, even while having meals at home. And the rare time you saw them in the bedroom, they had separate beds and always wore pajamas (him) or a flannel nightgown (her), to bed.
That show aired in the 1950’s, and my family had just gotten our first television in 1957, so I was finally able to watch what all of my friends whose families had TV’s watched! All of the shows on the three or four channels that we were able to view were in black and white. As a seven-year-old, I often wondered why my family or my friends’ families on the street didn’t seem to live or act like the Cleaver family. When I asked my Ma why the Cleavers lived as they did – she would reply that it was just ‘make-believe.’
And around the same time, I began noticing commercials for Barbie Dolls. It seemed that every girl either had a Barbie Doll or wanted desperately to have one. I also remember how pretty the doll was and that it was always dressed nicely, which made me wonder if Barbie was any relation to Mrs. Cleaver?
And I never doubted the saying that ‘blondes have more fun,’ especially after a ‘Ken Doll’ was created to be Barbie’s boyfriend. In those commercials, he wasn’t like any of the guys I hung around with on the street or at school – so I finally determined that Barbie and Ken were fictional characters like the Cleavers were and not based on anyone in ‘real life.’ Heck, if I didn’t have two older sisters, I wouldn’t have known or cared to know about dolls. I was more interested in playing sports. Girls came into my focus at the age of puberty (early teens).
Yesterday morning, I knocked on the door of my buddy’s home for the first time. I’ve known Reg since joining a walking club, last September. He’s one of the ‘older brothers’ that I have always wanted and regretted not having. And we seemed to hit it off, right from the start. We have walked together on many walks and shared a lot of stories with each other – and we’ve both been amazed at how similar our lives have been.
However, there are some minor differences: Reg doesn’t use the computer; he doesn’t have an email address; and he’s not on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media platforms – so the only time we previously communicated was during our walks. And although we exchanged telephone numbers (Reg doesn’t have a cell phone, either) some time ago, we had recently spoken on the phone for the first time. And that call was about going to a Vancouver Canadians baseball game at Nat Baily Stadium.
I had purchased our tickets for the ‘nooner’ game scheduled for Friday, August 31st and was calling him to confirm that I had gotten the tickets online. We planned to drive to the game together, and I volunteered to pick him up. I had never been to his place before, but his wife Leslie had emailed their address, so I was all set.
But a week ago, early Saturday morning, I came down with a persistent cough that kept me awake for most of the night. My coughing continued for the balance of the weekend and all of Monday. At about 3:00 AM on Tuesday morning, I awoke and immediately began coughing again – and I knew that something was wrong. I got dressed and drove myself to the hospital at 4:00 AM, worrying that maybe the cancer was back. I wrote a short story about the episode – here is a link: A Smokin’ Story
I took the ER doctor’s advice and stayed in bed all day Tuesday and Wednesday, but made a short trip to the grocery store on Thursday, which left me exhausted. I called Reg on Thursday afternoon and confirmed that I would indeed be going to the game and that I would be at his place to pick him up the next day, at 11 AM. I was hoping that I would be feeling a little better, but at least the coughing wasn’t as frequent or severe.
But on Friday morning, as I pulled up Reg and Leslie’s driveway, I was feeling excited about going to the game with him. I rang the doorbell, and the door suddenly opened, and the surprised look on Reg’s face, turned quickly into a generous smile – the kind of smile that makes you feel special! I followed him into the family room of their beautiful home and met his smiling wife, Leslie.
And that’s when I got this flash of deja vu – the feeling that you’ve been ‘there’ before – even though you hadn’t. And then, the second flash of recollection entered my brain and left me a bit shaken because standing there in front of me, wasn’t Leslie and Reg – in my mind’s eye, it was the Barbie and Ken Dolls, standing in the Cleaver’s family room!
An awkward moment ensued as I became unsure of offering Leslie my hand to shake versus a friendly hug? I do a lot of hugging – as I feel it is a more sincere and less formal way of greeting a friend. I sometimes hug my male friends, but I prefer to give a very firm handshake, as a token of my respect and trust. But at that moment it was all I could do to stop from blurting out what I had just imagined.
So I quickly offered my hand and then just as suddenly replaced it with an awkward ‘first’ hug. I hope I didn’t offend Leslie (or Reg) and I hope when they read this story about them they don’t roll their eyes and wonder what kind of weirdo they’d invited into their home?
We chatted for a few minutes and then Reg, and I headed out to Vancouver.
Reg is a very avid sportsman. He loves the same sports that I do, and we both tape our shows for watching later. He has been following sports all his life, and he is the most knowledgeable person about sports trivia that I’ve ever known. By the way, Reg has walked in every national park in both Canada and the USA – how many people have accomplished that in their lives? And for years, Reg’s beloved dog accompanied him on almost every walk – they were inseparable just like Holly and me! Sadly, their dog passed a few years ago, but I know how much he stills loves and misses that Shelty.
One day, I hope he’ll allow me to write about him because he’s led such an exciting life. But until then, I’ll continue to think of them as the Barbie and Ken dolls, in retirement. However, I’ll never call them Barbie or Ken because I have a dear friend named Barbara, who I nicknamed Barbie Doll many years ago during the MySpace era.
We arrived at the Nat at Noon and took our seats in the grandstands. We had an hour to kill, so we got some refreshments, and I listened to Reg explain the history of baseball in Vancouver. We’re both Blue Jays fans, and he told me something else that surprised me – Kevin Pillar, Jay’s center fielder, played for the Canadians in 2010! He is a walking encyclopedia on sports in general, and I never tire of listening to him.
We toured the facility and got some refreshments. Reg was ordering something healthy to eat (hot dog and beer) while I conducted a group of talented musicians, nearby. Here is the video link: Reg getting lunch
At 1:00 PM, the stadium announcer asked everyone to stand for the national anthems of both countries. As the lady sang the American one, I got a bit emotional thinking about the recent passing of John McCain. He has always been one of my heroes, and I know that there were a lot of Aquasox fans from Washington in the stands who shared the same emotion. And most of the Vancouver Canadians players are American, so I know that they too, must have had heavy hearts.
And then something happened that I have never seen in my life. I quickly grabbed my cell phone and began recording what we were witnessing. Reg said he’s never seen anything like it either! Here is the link: Oh My Canada!
And then the Aquasox unleashed two runs in both the first and second innings. At the end of the third inning, the score was Everett 7 – Vancouver 0. I took a selfie video of Reg and me patiently waiting for the Canadians to come-to-life, but sadly, they didn’t. Here is the link: End of Third Inning
Here are some photos from the game:
The Canadians lost the game, but are still first place in the standings. We headed back for home during rush hour, but I had a great navigator – Reg knows some alternate routes and shortcuts to avoid the usual rush hour traffic.
We arrived at Reg’s place, and we shook hands and said goodbye. I was exhausted but very happy. It was an awesome day, with an awesome friend, at an impressive stadium but without a remarkable Canadian victory.
It’s now late Saturday afternoon, and I’m still in my pajamas, writing this story.
I’m hoping to be feeling well enough to do the scheduled walk at Kitsilano on Sunday morning, but I’ll wait until morning to decide.
Dedicated to my friends, Reg and Leslie D.
Today’s tune (from Danny’s library of purchased music):