Rep. Michele Bachmann announced that she won’t seek re-election. She will be missed at fairs, carnivals and tractor pulls.
The trouble started well before Jerry Butler was born. Mrs. Butler, Jerry’s mom, started having problems with her pregnancy in about her third month; by the forth month she was bedridden and miserable. The doctors, as well as family members, started to suggest she terminate the pregnancy, but Mrs. Butler was determined to have the baby. As she approached the third trimester, it became unrealistic to think the baby wouldn’t be born early. A quick look at Mrs. Butler in bed made people think of a bloated cow; how could a woman’s stomach stretch so much? Finally the doctors decided it was time to induce labor and deliver the child.
The cesarean section took hours, and the doctors were flabbergasted by what they saw. Jerry was healthy in every way, but his head was the largest one anyone could remember. Jerry’s body was normal in size, which made his head look even bigger. After the initial shock faded, Mrs. Butler was just happy to have a healthy child. During the first couple of years, there were not many problems that couldn’t be addressed. Normal baby clothes had to be altered to fit over Jerry’s head; Mrs. Butler became an expert at adding zippers and snaps to clothes that were made to be pulled on. The Butlers bought a baby carriage made for twins and took the divider out so Jerry and his head would fit.
The hardest and most frustrating period came as Jerry was learning to walk. His head was so heavy he couldn’t lift the weight into an upright position. While all babies have trouble with balance, that trouble was multiplied for Jerry. He learned to place his forehead on the ground and pull his feet under himself. This worked well on wood or tile floors; Jerry could slide himself from room to room without much trouble. It was strange to watch him slide around the house. Slowly, Jerry learned to pull his head off the floor just slightly, but he still couldn’t stand.
When he was about ten, Jerry’s back and neck were getting strong enough to pull his legs up and under himself, and with fast footwork he could stand. It was crazy to watch; Jerry would rush forward and then backward, much like a circus performer trying to balance objects in the air. Jerry wore holes in the carpet from swinging back and forth, while attempting to remain upright. Kids in the neighborhood would gather just to see Jerry stand.
When mere standing was no longer a problem for Jerry, Mr. Butler rigged a bicycle with a huge u-shaped brace that Jerry could rest his head in. As long as Jerry stayed on streets that were flat, things were not a problem, but once, when Jerry went down the hill by school, he gained so much speed, with his head bent forward, he couldn’t make the turn at the bottom, and he shot off the road and into the woods. The local kids were always trying to get Jerry to ride that hill again.
Instead of getting hurt by all this, Jerry decided he could use the weight of his head in a positive way. Jerry took skiing lessons. The lift operators were great to Jerry; they would let a few empty chairs go up and then help him on the chair. Crowds would gather to watch Jerry get off the chair, and once he turned downhill there was no stopping him. Other skiers would move off to the side of the runs as Jerry raced by, going faster than any skier had ever gone, while throwing a trail of snow into the air as if a semi had driven by. You could hear people whisper, “Look at the head on that one.”
Jerry had finally found something he was good at. Until his skiing days, Jerry had always thought he would end up as a mascot for some football team or something. Today, whenever people ask why skiers are so big-headed, I tell them they just want to be like Jerry Butler.
Growing-up in Louisville, Kentucky meant that March was the second most important time of the year; college basketball was in full swing. The road to the Final Four was busy with contenders and pretenders. The Kentucky Derby was the only thing that was more sacred to a Kentucky kid. Back home, during football and basketball season, you picked your colors early; my dad and I wore red and black, just like Oly wears.
Oly was born in September and we welcomed him home to the Cirql H with much anticipation. Louisville football was on a streak and was in the process of completing one of the best seasons in school history. On game day, we would lay Oly between some stacked-up pillows, turn on the TV and let him listen to the announcers.
(I know, I know, don’t worry, Meg read all those books too; we only exposed him for a few minutes.)
That’s where the pencil comes in. Oly was about ten days old when my brother and his family came to meet our new son. It was like a visit from a group of Whirling Dervishes; they twirled and spun through the air as they explored the virtues of the Cirql H. At times, they would stand completely still in some awkward position until the so-called leader would bark out some order, then they would whirl away in different directions.
Anyway, these people, with their pencil, would gather and drink coffee in our guest cabin every morning. I thought they were bonding as a family, but they were scheming. Ya see, this family wears blue, a lot of blue. It’s like they couldn’t find anything to go with their jeans.
I can hear them now, “How long do you think it will take Uncle George to find this blue pencil?” they would have asked.
“It’ll be here next time we visit,” another might speculate.
I’ll tell ya, they weren’t to the end of my driveway when Oly started pointing at the book shelf in the cabin, as if something was wrong, way wrong. That blue pencil was sticking out like a thumb that had been smashed with a hammer.
Over time, as the Cardinals continued to win, I toiled with different ideas on the fate of that blue pencil. Is it destined to write Cards Win a thousand times, or simply be sharpened until there is no blue left? It seems as if it has become a good luck charm in its new home out in the garage.
Oly is 4 months and 3 weeks old and he is nearly crawling. As we watched Louisville basketball last night, in their 5 overtime game against Notre Dame, Oly kept looking at me as if he was saying, “Put me in coach”. Louisville lost and I know we have years until he can sport a Card uniform, but we may have done better with him in the game. Oly’s grandmother GG, was calling at what was nearly midnight and wondering what was going on; she is 80 and still rooting the Cards on. After the loss last night, I think Oly is soft on his commitment to the Cards class of 2029.