Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Dada TV
By Matthew Rose

Turn on the television
Find a station


By Elan Barnehama

(First appeared in ORATORIA Issue 1, December 2017)

I’ve been told this story so many times that it’s like I was there.  Which I was.  Sort of.

We all have to start somewhere.

What happened was that Dr. Steel told my mother she should keep breathing, stay calm, and keep her legs crossed.  In fact, he insisted on it.  At the same time he sent the nurses out to get the floor’s new color television and wheel it into the delivery room so he could watch it along with my mother.

As a lifelong tortured Brooklyn Dodgers fan, Dr. Steel was not about to miss the final innings of Game 7 of the 1955 World Series.  All my mother had to do, he repeated, was keep me inside her for those last six outs.  It had been nine months, he pleaded, so what’s another six outs?  After, you’ll be able to tell your baby you watched history being made.

My mother let out a cry in response to a violent contraction I caused due to my desire to win the battle with her crossed legs and get me the hell out of her.

La forza del destino, Dr. Steel said.  This was finally the Brooklyn’s year.  In fact, he was sure of it.  My mother had other things on her mind.  Like getting me to stop kicking and punching her insides.  As for me, I just wanted to join the party and watch the game.

So, when Sandy Amoros ran down Yogi Berra’s line drive near the left field foul line and then turned and threw a dart to Pee Wee Reese who relayed the ball to Gil Hodges to complete the double play, the entire delivery room staff erupted in thunderous cheer.  Their outburst, easily heard out in the waiting room, prompted my father to push through the delivery room doors to see what was going on with his wife and child.

She’s a trooper, Dr. Steel said as if expecting him.  He proceeded to invite my father to stay and watch the end of the game.  The nurses dressed him in a gown and mask and returned their attention the game.

Though both my parents spoke several languages, neither spoke baseball.  The game was an enigma for those raised on soccer.  And really, they had little interest in learning.  After all, the nuances of navigating their new American life, their third country to call home, their third nationality to embrace, their third planting of roots, left little time to decode the idiosyncrasies of baseball.

I was taking my own overdue seventh inning stretch when in the bottom of the ninth Elston Howard sent a ground ball toward Pee Wee Reese.  The nurses shrieked, the doctor stood up, and my mother took advantage of the commotion to relax her legs.  She let loose a scream which got my attention and I started swimming toward the light.  I popped my head out in time for Reese’s throw sail wide and low.  I stretched my shoulders as Gil Hodges, like Mr. Fantastic,  stretched himself across the diamond and snatched up the ball for the final out.  Brooklyn had their championship.  Finally.

I freed my feet, as the streets of Brooklyn erupted in cheer and revelry.  The doctor gathered me in his sure hands and faced me toward the television so I could watch the Brooklyn Dodgers celebrate, their victory made sweeter perhaps, by defeating those damn Yankees.

Maybe it was because Brooklyn had never ever won a World Series despite seven chances.  Or maybe it was because the World Series had never ever been broadcast in color before.  Or maybe it was because I was the first boy to be delivered after eleven consecutive girls that day that prompted Dr. Steel to hand my father the Johnny Podres autographed baseball he kept in his medical bag and insisted that the ball be placed in my crib next to me. And, the doctor added, put the ball next to his left hand.  They’re going to need a southpaw on the mound.

These were signs, he told my father.  Clear signs, he repeated, in order to punctuate how serious he was, and we must pay attention to signs, he told my mother.  I’m counting on this boy, this Brooklyn boy, your son, he said.  Brooklyn needs him.  The Dodgers are his destiny and he is theirs.

With that, he turned a nurse and had her write out those very same instructions for my parents to take home with them, as if writing them down made them mandatory.  Dr. Steel stood, removed his gown, and shook my father’s hand.  On his way out, he removed the Brooklyn Dodger’s cap he’d been wearing under his surgical cap and hung it on my basinet.


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