The Breakfast Table

Baseball, Hot Dogs, and Whale Blubber

My dear Joni:

We are starting to sound like Ann Heche and Harrison Ford in Six Days, Seven Nights, which makes me worry that our readers might miss the affection beneath our disputatious needling. So let me assure them that this is how obscure newspaper commentators keep themselves amused whenever they meet. Our families are still vacationing together next month in Branson, right?

Yesterday’s Little League event was only a practice–just keeping the well-oiled machine in tune. But it did have the mood-elevating effect you had hoped it would. I’ve been doing this for six years now, having started reluctantly, out of disgust with a bad coach, and found I liked it. There aren’t that many chances for adults today to spend a lot of time getting to know kids who are not their own, and they are great fun to be around. Anyone who is pessimistic about the future should try coaching kids: It’s a foolproof antidote. Even when you lose.

That’s my homily for the day. On the subject of school shootings, I take comfort in the vigilance of police in Burlington, Vermont. After being informed of a threatening note found in a middle school restroom, they blew up a suspicious container that turned out to have been holding a clarinet. Vigilant cops are not confined to New England. An off-duty suburban officer left his Mustang convertible idling at a gas pump in a dicey neighborhood of Chicago at 11 p.m. Monday while he went next door to grab a hot dog. While he was there, a guy jumped in the car and started to drive off, forcing our hero to fire his service revolver nine times in alleged self-defense–though the only two bullets that found their mark hit the car thief in the back, killing him. Don’t police academies administer IQ tests?

Alas, sister journalist, you continue to weasel out of my overrated/underrated game. Anthony Lewis and Maureen Dowd may or may not be good, but you can hardly say the latter, clutching her new Pulitzer Prize, is underrated. And your charitable nature, I note, precludes you from suggesting anyone for the most overrated columnist. Well, if you want to know my choices–and time is running out, this being our last day–you’ll have to do better than that.

Have you done the whale blubber taste test? Or is that a question that should not be asked over breakfast?