Friday, April 20, 2012

Today I saw my childhood hero in the flesh.  It was a completely strange experience.

I grew up idolizing George Brett.  I didn't even really follow baseball, but I knew about the pine tar incident and I remember being vividly impressed by the way he came charging out of the dugout like a man about to commit murder.  I had a 1985 World Series pennant hanging up in my room.  He was also, in my mind as I'm sure as in many others, the embodiment of Kansas City, which for me as a child was a wonderful, far-off place where my grandparents lived and I associated with Christmas and presents and summer road trips and cousins and just generally everything fun.  I don't even care about his latter day weirdness.  

Lyndsey and I got up early this morning to go get some coffee at this place called Hi Hat, a nice little coffee shop that happens to sit in a ritzy part of town.  It's a tiny place with room for like three people, literally, to stand inside.  I think it used to be a gas station.  It's also rumored to be one of George Brett's regular hangouts.  Anyway, we took our coffee out onto the patio, where there are several tables.  There was no one else sitting outside, so we sat down at the big table right in the middle of the patio; the only one with an umbrella over it.  Later, as people start to show up, this middle-aged guy (who I'm going to call Yuppie #1, or Y1) walks past our table kind of giving us a look.  He walks over to another guy (Y2), looks at him and shakes his head.  The other guy goes "I know, I guess they don't know the code."  Direct quote.

I suspected that I committed some kind of suburban faux pas, but I couldn't figure out what it was.  Was it because I had my library ID around my neck?  Do rich suburbanites scorn blatant displays of employment in public service?  Should I have worn gym clothes, as all the younger people seemed to?  The table next to mine was discussing who they hired to do their landscaping.  Can he somehow divine that I am not a property owner?  WHAT DID I DO?

Whatever the case, he sits down behind me and I forget about him.  His table starts to fill up with balding, middle-aged dudes wearing fleece or sports jackets (Y3-6) and they start talking about, you know, whatever.  One guy tells a story about how he witnessed a car crash and a bunch of "immigrants" scattered out of one of the cars.  I guess he checked their passports.

Then I see Lyndsey's eyes kind of get big.  We had watched the Royals game at my grandparents' house the night before and George Brett was interviewed, so he was fresh in our minds.  She looked at me and goes, "there he is."  I turned around and there, looking like a six foot piece of chewed-up beef jerky, is George Brett.  He and Y1-6 commence doing a crossword puzzle.

A CROSSWORD PUZZLE.  Why is a living legend like George Brett doing crossword puzzles with a bunch of d-bags?  And more importantly, WHY ARE THEY SO TERRIBLE AT THEM?

Y3:  "1996 movie featuring Michael Jordan."
Y5:  "Yeah, and Bugs Bunny!  What was that movie?"
George Brett:  "Space Ball."
Y3:  "Doesn't fit.  We'll come back to it."

OH GOD.  GEORGE BRETT, MY GEORGE BRETT, DOES NOT KNOW ABOUT SPACE JAM.  I briefly consider turning around and giving them the answer, but I don't, because I am too nervous, mainly due to the fact that it is now dawning on me that Lyndsey and I are sitting at the table that is normally reserved for George Brett and his Terrible Crossword Crew.  We are basically usurping the King of Kansas City's territory.  My mind is now reeling.  George Brett is a regular human being and I am sitting in his seat.  

The universe can hold no more surprises.

Also everyone in Kansas City that I tell this story to is not impressed at all.  I think it's a bit like seeing John Mellencamp in Bloomington.  Everyone just kind of doesn't care.  But I do.  I'm gonna take my mitt to Hi Hat next week and see if George will hit me some grounders.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Today is the last day of my fourth week at the Johnson County Library.  Everyone I've met so far at work is collegial, smart, and focused.  I don't fit in at all.

Ha!  Only joking.  Aside from a bit of shock at being told "no" for the first time in five or so years (with good reason; I was trying to assign myself more work than I probably could handle), I like my new workplace very much.  It's the kind of library that's not afraid to try things, not afraid to challenge itself.  The decision making process is incredibly democratic, with people at pretty much every level having input into which projects move forward and which projects get shelved.  And people top to bottom really seem to care about the library, and are not just slogging through yet another work week.

Our new hometown of Kansas City is also treating us very well.  My Aunt Julie and Uncle John, with whom we're staying, are excellent hosts/landlords.  There is always beer in the fridge, dinner is always ready when I get home from work, and there is occasionally a baby to play with that I like very much now that she has learned that my beard is not a harbinger of death or danger.

Tonight we're heading out into Kansas City's Crossroads District for First Fridays, where we may or may not end up seeing Murder By Death, who are from Bloomington.  Small world.  Tomorrow we're going to hang out at the Jarboe Initiative, an awesome project being carried out by fellow Athenian Nick Ward-Bopp.  Really small world.