Two brothers stared intently, their heads tilting at 45 degrees. Clearly, the hanging monitor offered a better, closer view of talent on stage. Eyeing the same screen, my bet is Hal and I saw different things. H probably focused on instrumentation. No doubt he studied the guitarists, their fingerwork. Try as I might, though, I saw the rings—the wedding rings. And I asked myself again: how is it everyone in this world is coupled, even these road-weary burnouts….but not me?.

I don’t care like I used to; I really don’t. But I notice; it’s hard not to. And I think about it too; it’s hard not to. That having been said, today, more than ever, I understand.

It bears mentioning that that the one common thread I’d noticed in Saturday’s acts, (from Sam Minus Dave through Creedence), was that all four fossils seemed to sense, to accept that their true glory days had passed. Still, they bled of gratitude, oozing joy at the opportunity to just be out there, in the arena…playing. They seemed to know their places in the grand scheme of things; they seemed content.

It’s occurred to me—just since the concert—that instead of worrying about why I’m not in a relationship, instead of counting the wedding rings, I’d be better served if, like the musicians, I just accepted my place in the sun. Fact is, when it comes to romance, I’m no kid anymore. Do I not, though, have value? I’m like the young pitcher that has a good career (the back of my baseball card would show 22 years with my first team), and then, relegated to the bullpen, finishes up bouncing from team to team, quite often at mid-season. But I still have value.

I am, in baseball parlance, the perfect “middle reliever”.

No longer young enough to plan a lifetime with someone, not fiscally up to the “closer” role, it occurs to me that, again…I’m the perfect middle reliever. Indeed: factor age and finance from the equation and who better than I to keep someone in the game until she gets to her late innings? ESPECIALLY when her starting pitcher got knocked out!

I’m not only reasonably nice, but with a modicum of charm, three or four innings? Cake.

Names aren’t necessary. We all get it. Run down the relationships (should I term them “interim interactions”?) that I’ve had since ’95. What did they have in common? Each and every lady had pulled her starting pitcher and after a while…there I was. Safe, (dare I say refreshing?), I’ve been their optimal middle reliever, their perfect pathway to final innings—their segue to times when, rebalanced, they again risked their hearts.

It’s not a bad gig…really. Middle relievers rarely win, but they never lose. They walk into messes, bring stability, rarely get Saves, but never get booed. And they make friends wherever the go.

They’re in the game…playing…like aging guitarists…playing.

Some middle relievers, by the way—in the twilight of their careers, get to the World Series.

And some of them win it.

And for that they get rings.


  1. ABL says:

    After all this time I am still moved by how beautifully you write. And remember in real life beware of the wedding rings…some are there to attract those whose morals are not worthy of playing on any team.

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