1. “Chub” Leeds was so funny. How could anyone have possibly been funnier? No one could quote lines from those hot college comedies like him. No one was a wilder, crazier drunk.
“I’m a par-tay animal,” he screamed at the top of his lungs during the grand finale to Moustache Publishing’s annual holiday party. He placed a lampshade on his head and raced toward the photocopier.
“Gonna Xerox my badunkadunk! Who wants some of this action?” he asked the dozen or so uninterested coworkers around him.
He made ten photocopies and waved them about in the manner of a fin de siècle newsie trying to drum up interest in Joseph Pulitzer’s late edition. “Really, who wants some? Last call for alcohol, so finish your whiskey and beer! Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?”
He went home that night believing that he had done a great thing. Of all the ways to think about his performance, that was one of them.
2. The voters gathered on Christmas Day to select a handful of worthies for induction into the Hall of Champions. The controversial slugger J.P. Crackerjack, who had admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in an effort to bolster his record-setting homerun totals, headlined the ballot.
“No way I’m voting for that son of a bitch,” said grizzled pro wrestler Eddy Jacks, Sr. Several years ago, Jacks happily cast his ballot for light-hitting infielder Terry “Cloth” Tyell. Tyell, it was revealed, most likely molested his own daughter as well as several other children.
“He had a lot of hustle,” Jacks explained. “You’ve got to look past the numbers sometimes, got to look in a man’s heart. I looked in ‘Cloth’ Tyell’s heart and I liked what I saw.”
So did fellow voter and sports aficionado the Handsome Senator. In addition to voting for Tyell, the Handsome Senator had also supported the candidacy of fleet-footed outfielder “Turkey Shoot” Jones. A convicted murderer with many unsavory acquaintances, Jones was a leading contributor to the Handsome Senator’s political action committee.
“If anybody belongs in the Hall of Champions, it’s ‘Turkey Shoot’ Jones. Everyone deserves a second chance, and there’s no denying that ‘Turkey Shoot’ exemplified the kind of sport skill that wins championships. In other words, he was a winner who went out there for the sole purpose of winning. You tell me what that murder he may or may not have committed had to do with baseball,” the Handsome Senator told a handful of journalists at the Hall’s press conference.
“What about J.P. Crackerjack?” asked ace reporter Trace Crabtree.
A sneer distorted the Handsome Senator’s symmetrical physiognomy. “What about him? He’s a cheater.”
“But surely you can’t deny the amazing statistics he compiled. He hit more home runs than anyone who ever played the game, ‘Herc’ Broadsides included,” Crabtree persisted.
“What do a bunch of numbers mean? Anyone can make up numbers. 56, 99, 133. See that? I just made those up. J.P. Crackerjack brought nothing but shame to the national pastime.”
Far from the action, J.P. Crackerjack sat in front of a tiny LCD television in his dirty rathole of an apartment. Baseball, which meant more to him than life itself, had already taken his wife and children from him. Now he awaited a call that hundreds of jealous, jilted men were trying their damnedest not to make.
3. “It’s awfully hard, giving up potato chips as my New Year’s resolution,” Emily told me. “You know how they say you can’t eat just one? They’re so right about that.”
“It sounds like such a tough choice,” I said, even though I had given up my mother’s love without so much as batting an eyelash or shedding a single tear.
“Oh, it is,” she continued. “Ohvuh, don’t get me started. And ranch dip? Wow, it’s almost too much.”
I opened the bag of Baked Lay’s she had placed on my desk and began eating them. “Almost,” I said, grinding one of those tasteless flakes between my teeth.