25 August 2011

The Phillies Jersey–A Thank You Note/Story

I recently had the great pleasure of working with the CEO of a company we deal with, along with several other reps. In talking I learned we were both from the same neck of the woods in the north east. We knew the same diners, cheese-steak houses, and all that good stuff. He still resides there. After a long day that led to dinner, a quest to find a karaoke bar, and a limo ride back that included two very drunken passengers the driver threw in with our lot...he told me he would like to gift me with an authentic Phillies Jersey. Within a few weeks, it arrived with a very nice letter. Of course, I had to respond. Here is a copy of the email I sent.



From: Po’Smedley 
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2011 1:37 PM 
To: 'John XXXXXXXXXX 
Cc: 'XXXXXXXXXXX; 'Wayne XXXXXXX; 'Alex XXXXXXXX 
Subject: Thank You
John,

Hello!

Let me first apologize for taking so long to get back to you all concerning the Phillies Jersey.  I meant to get a card and kept getting side tracked.  In the end, it may have worked out for the better if you’ll let me tell you what has happened since I received it.

I was out of town the whole week it was sent so I didn’t get until that Friday, the 5th.

My 4 year old daughter had been chomping at the bit all week, staring at it on my desk, wanting to open it. She may have been the only one more excited than myself to finally be able to open it, which of course, I had to allow her to help. Now…let me back up a bit.

I have only lived in South Carolina for 8 years, after relocating from the Philadelphiaarea. The first time I met my wife’s family, they had one question and one question only. It was not “What do you do for a living?” or “Have you ever been to jail?”. The question was ‘Who do you like?”  In dead silence they awaited my reply. I looked at my wife, who whispered ‘football’ and I replied to my new family, “The Philadelphia Eagles.”  Half looked away in disgust. I think one of them may have actually spit at the ground.  My mother-in-law spoke up. “No, Yankee. College Football.”  To which I replied, “Oh! Well, Penn State.”  Some of them actually left the room at this point. My mother-in-law looked at my wife and said “It’s not to late to call off the wedding.”  I looked at my wife, who smiled at me in a very condescending manner and informed me that I had two choices. It either had to be Clemson or South Carolina. I pleaded for a clue silently and she whispered ‘Carolina.”  I started to say something when my mother-in-law cut me off. “It’s too late. Too late. You’re nothing but a damn Yankee.Carolina. Gamecocks. If you wanna make things any worse or be shown the door, just say Clemson.”

And that was my introduction to the South Carolina. I soon came to discover that my biggest mistake was not acquiring a passport to move here. I might have stood a chance if I knew the damn rules and customs.

Over the past 8 years I have taken a lot of ribbing for being a ‘Yankee’.  I have been called a ‘Yankee’, a ‘Damn Yankee’, and my all time favorite…”Y’all ain’t from ‘round here, are ya?”  My attitude towards all things football has soured over the past 8 years. I have married into a family of freakin’ fanatical-lunatics when it comes to the Gamecocks. I have seen my wife and mother-in-law scream and throw things at the TV. I’ve watched my wife pace the living room for the last two minutes of a game while my then 3 year old daughter hugs my leg and says ‘Mommy’s scarin’ me.”  I usually spend game time at my PC. My wife will talk to me from the living room as if I am sitting right there. “Did you see that?!?!? Did you SEE THAT?!?! Can you believe this shit!!!!” and on and on and on. I usually just say something to show I sympathize with her frustration. Over the years, having gotten a little braver, I may yell back “They should fire him! Fire all the coaches! Did they really do that? Honey, you should write a letter!”   On more than one occasion, these remarks have cost me dinner, long bouts of silence, and even made my mother-in-law mad enough to walk out and not speak to me for a week. (Yes, there are the upsides to my foolishness.)

I’ll give my mother-in-law some credit. She has gotten her own digs in on me. When she over heard my wife and I discussing ‘living wills’ and how I told my wife I did not want to be a burden “Just pull the plug”, she heard my wife go on and on about how she couldn’t. My mother-in-law interrupted her and looked at me. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Noah. I’ll make sure they pull that damn plug even if I have to do it myself.”  Visions of her knocking over doctors and nurses to get to me filled my head as I made a mental note to have my wife keep her away even for the most minor of surgeries.

Last year, while at Myrtle Beach, I purchased a Notre Dame hat. It survived my vacation but has since gone missing. My mother-in-law likes to ask me ‘Whatever happen to that stupid hat you bought at the beach?”  If I were half a man, I would have jacked her up in the recliner and demand she tell me what she did with it. Someday.

So…where are we. Yes. My daughter pulled the Phillies jersey out of the box for me. She ‘oohed’ and ‘aaahed’ over it. Having never seen the Phillies or even know who they are, it was clear that my Yankee genes were present in her. The force is strong with this one. She asked to try it on and I assisted her and watched as it swallowed her little four year old frame. She insisted I button it for her. Once buttoned up, she decided it to go model it for Mommy. From the kitchen I heard ‘What the hell is THAT?’ , to which my daughter replied ‘It’s Daddy’s Philbie Jerzee. “  and added (And I swear I teared up) “Isn’t it booootiful?”

My wife came out into the living room. “You know this is gonna cause trouble, don’t you?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Momma.”

“Yeah, Momma. Why? Will she want one? I don’t know if I can get her one, but if she really wants one…”

My wife waved me off and went back to making dinner. My step-son then came into the living room. He stopped and stared at my daughter. He turned his head to the kitchen and shouted “How come he can have THAT and I can’t have a Florida Gators shirt?!?!?” He then proceeded into the kitchen to his doom. He has not been seen or heard from since.

After begging Journey to give me the jersey back, my wife announced she was to upset to cook dinner and we should go out. She suggested a pizza place in Ballantine we had recently gotten take-out from. Despite the constant harassment, my wife does understand my plight, my desire, my need to find a pizza down here that tastes the way pizza should. The kids grab their shoes. My wife goes and does the make-up thing (sigh. Another late supper.) and I change my shirt.

Of course, I put the Jersey on. My wife came back into the living room to announce she was ready (Someday I will get up the nerve to say ‘That was fast. Only one coat?) see’s me in the jersey and I and the kids spend the next five minutes chasing around the eyes that rolled out of her head so we can put them back in and eat supper.
On the drive there she is kind enough to point out that I am a complete idiot for wearing the beautiful white jersey with red pin stripes to an Italian restaurant. “You know you’ll get sauce on it.”  All I could do was smile and nod and say “We’ll see.”

We arrive at Tonella’s Pizza. I hold the door for my wife and the kids. As I enter behind them and take no less than four steps into the main dining room, I hear a female voice say ‘Nice shirt!’ I turn to see a smiling waitress a few feet away looking at me and I smile and say ‘Thank you.”  I hear something come out of my wife’s mouth that’s’ half sigh and half horse with indigestion, followed by ‘Here we go.”

After another waitress takes our order, a gentlemen of good quality and excellent taste (who I believe was the owner) stops at our table. “Great shirt!”  I reply again, “Thank you!” He looks at my wife. “Is this your first time dining with us?”

Now, my wife, is the Queen of southern sarcasm. She’s good AND she’s fast. It’s rare she misses an opportunity. And she does it with more grace, sugar, and sincerity that you hardly realize what has happened until you look down and see the dagger that was just painlessly inserted between the ribs that are intended to guard your very life-source.

“Actually, “ she says, “We had take out once and liked it sooOo much we decided to come on down and eat in…..” I smile at him and eye her as she continues “..but if one more person compliments that thing he calls a shirt, not only will we not come back, we will get up and leave.”

The poor man did not even feel it. He laughed. To which my wife narrowed her eyes at him.
There was now an awkward moment. He held his smile, but I thought I saw little beads of sweat pop up on his upper lip. “Gamecocks?” he asked, forcing his smile not to fade.
My wife smiled and through gritted teeth calmly said “Go cocks!”

And he vanished. I mean, he VANISHED. We didn’t see him the rest of the night. I imagine he is in the same black hole that my step-son had been banished to.

She looked at me, still smiling. “Is that why you wore it?”

“Huh?” I smiled.

“Cause you knew this place was run by Yankees. Is this old home week for you?”

“Look, “ I start, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t see the problem.”

“You wouldn’t.” She smiled. “I hope your happy with yourself.”

I started to protest when a young busboy (who could have been the owners son, the resemblance was so uncanny) shot by our table and shouted ‘Nice shirt, man!”

Well, we did NOT get up and leave. You see, Tonella’s has THE best damn pizza I have had since coming down to South Carolina. It’s so good, my wife is hopelessly addicted to it. I am sure, in some way, this gnaws at her every time she gets a craving for it or is eating it.

What bothered her the most about the whole night was that I made it through one calzone, half a pizza, and my salad without getting a single drop of red sauce on my jersey. I went home and put the shirt away. (Well hidden from whomever may have taken my Notre Dame hat)

This past weekend was my birthday. We went to Myrtle Beach and took the mother-in-law with us for the week. For my birthday, my mother-in-law likes to take me out (all of us out) for a big dinner. My hope is that one year, before she is gone from us, she will actually ask me where I want to go to eat. We have often ended up at Southern style cooking restaurants that have very little I will actually eat and no matter what style or cuisine, it’s always a buffet which I am not a big fan of. This past Sunday, she wanted to take us to Crabby Mike’s seafood buffet (which, I must say, is pretty nice). When I stepped out of the hotel room with my family, my mother-in-law was waiting in the hall. Her eyes fell upon my attire. She looked at my wife and pointed at me. “What is THAT!?”

My wife whispered “I toooollld youuuu.”

I smiled at my mother-in-law. “My birthday. My shirt. Let’s go”

The silence on the way over was odd, considering I was with the only two women I knew that could carry on six conversations at once, nag a teenager to death while doing it, and micro-manage every man within ear shot all at the same time. When we got to Crabby Mike’s, I held the door for everyone and then stepped in behind them.  There were not one, but three hostesses at the podium, who in unison smiled at me and said ‘Nice shirt.”  My mother-in-law turned to my wife who quickly said “Get used to it. Apparently there are more of them down here than we thought.”

We got through dinner fine, paid the bill, and headed back to the hotel. On the way, my wife wanted to stop for some sunscreen and bottled water. We waited in the car as she ran into Walgreens. After a minute, my mother-in-law says “We’ll need milk. We gotta have milk for Journeys chocolate milk. Will she remember? Maybe you should go in and remind her?” Having already opened the car door, I said ‘No problem and went into the Walgreens.

I found the milk, grabbed a half gallon, and then proceeded to look for my wife, should she already have a half gallon in her possession. I strolled down the aisle caps, gazing down the length of each aisle for my wife. On the third aisle, I was spied by a clerk who was stocking some shelves. She smiled and pointed  “Nice shirt!”

Two aisles away, in the very quiet Walgreens, I heard my wife yell “Who the HELL toldyou to get out of the car!?”

The clerk startled for a second. I looked ate her and whispered “It’s okay. That’s my wife.” I ran my index finger over the Phillies logo and whispered “She’s a Gamecocks fan.” The clerk smiled and winked as my wife called out from further away. “I have everything, so get your ass and your shirt up here or I am leaving without both of you!”

So…thank you. Thank you and everyone else who chipped in for it.  Thank you for the jersey and all the compliments I get on it. Thank you for this wonderful gift from home.
I don’t have the words to express the joy it brings me or to describe the added pleasure I get out of driving the rednecks around me ,who love me, insane.
All I ask is one favor. Save this email. Just in case I suddenly fall off the face of the earth. Tell law enforcement to start the questioning with my mother-in-law and work there way down from there. Actually, if they can find who has my Notre Dame hat they’ll not have to look any further.



Thank you,

3 comments:

  1. Excellent job Po. Looking forward to more !!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you! I hope you come back for more.

    ReplyDelete