"Are you ever gonna get out of there?" I asked. "I've got stuff to do. Grandpa and me are going to the ballgame."


"It's grandpa and I you ignoramus," my sister retorted, "and I'll be out when I'm good and ready to come out."


"Mom, will you please tell Miss America to stop hogging the bathroom!" I cried. I swear Nikki lives in the bathroom. Why on earth she ever got to have her own room I'll never know. She's never in it. She's always in the bathroom in front of the mirror. The reason I know this is cause I sometimes sneak a peek under the door when no one is around to catch me. Meanwhile I have to share a room with my dumb younger brother.


"Nikki, be a good girl and let George use the bathroom," Mom shouted. "Grandpa's downstairs waiting."


Out stomps Nikki followed by billows of hot, cloudy air. We have a slight shoving match and tongue-wagging contest before I plunge into the steamy bathroom.


"Geez, I can't even see my face," I muttered. "How can I put on my baseball cap? Nikki, you should just move in here and let me have your room."


As much as this room dilemma was usually on my mind, I had more important things to think about today. Today was a great day. Me and Gramps were going to see a game together--just the two of us. I wiped the mirror with my shirtsleeve and placed my cap on my head. My baseball cap is one of my prize possessions. I've molded and shaped the front bill just right and it looks pretty darn smart on me, if I do say so myself! After giving my reflection the once over I grab my glove and head toward the stairs.


"I'm comin Gramps. Nikki was playing beauty queen again in the bathroom," I explained.


"George, my boy, you will soon come to learn that the amount of time a man is allowed in the bathroom is extremely limited," he said. "It's a mystery of the ages as to what goes on when a woman is in there." I figure now was not the time to tell him about knowing a bit on that subject cause I peeked. Maybe another time.


"Well," said Gramps, "are you all set? Got your mitt? Okey dokey. I've got the tickets. We're off then."


Anytime I go to a baseball game is a grand time because it's my favorite thing in the world. But it's even better with Gramps. He must know more about the game than any person ever.


"I sit at the feet of the game of baseball and it teaches me about life," is what he always says. And that's just what he said as we headed toward the but station. I don't mind that he says stuff over and over again. Mom says old people do that a lot and Gramps always says stuff that kind of interests me. Like today on the way to the game.


"George," he said, "did I ever tell you about falling out of the stands at the old Polo Grounds?"


"Nope," I answered. Actually, I'd heard the story hundreds of times, but I let him tell me again while we made the trip to the stadium.


It goes something like this. Gramps was a young "rascal" (as he likes to call himself) spending a lot of his childhood playing in the streets of New York City. He went to lots of baseball games with his buddies. They'd sit in the bleachers and eat hot dogs. Gramps loved to yell at the outfielders from the opposing teams. That was what he did for most of the games. Of course, when a ball headed in his direction he'd jump up and try to catch it. Never had much luck though. His friends all managed to get one but he never did. Once, when sitting in the front row of the bleachers, he was yelling at the centerfielder of the other team when he heard the crack of the bat. He looked up to see the ball heading straight toward him and so was the centerfielder! The race was on. The fielder and the ball were both on their way. Grandpa stretched all the way over the railing holding out his glove to catch the ball. The fielder jumped, the ball dropped and Grandpa fell right over the rail and onto the field! Oh, he was okay, but awfully embarrassed. He looked up from the ground to see the wide grin of the outfielder who was holding the ball safely in his mitt.


"Can't catch a break, huh kid?" the fielder asked him.


Grandpa says the guy wasn't such a bad guy and that he helped Gramps get back in his seat while Gramps' friends sat there and hooted and hollered.


After I listened to a real long version of that story I looked up to discover we had arrived at the ball park.


"Do you think I'll ever catch a ball Gramps?' I asked as we handed in our tickets.


"George, I have great faith that you will catch many breaks during your lifetime," Grandpa advised me. "It is my belief that if destiny wants you to catch a baseball, you will catch one." Grandpa talks kind of funny, like a professor, or something. Grandpa is also kind of a penny pincher so we had bleacher seats.


"Hey look, front row, Gramps!" I said with delight.


"Yes siree, Georgie, I'm a first class kind of a guy. Nothing is too good for my grandson. After you," he said as we shuffled down the row to our seats. "Shall we partake of some fine food fare?" he asked while waving at a passing vendor.


"Huh?" was my brilliant response.


"Would you like a hot dog?" he asked.


"Are you kidding me? Can I have two?" I asked with excitement.


"I don't know George, can you?" he asked just like my teacher.


"Whoops," I quickly answered. "I mean, may I?"


See what I mean? He's always doing stuff like that. Always correcting my grammar. But I never really mind cause my teacher likes when I speak good. Or is it well? Yeah, it's well.


Anyway, Gramps got us hot dogs and sodas and we settled in for an afternoon of good ole baseball. It would have been a great day even if nothing else had happened, but it did. It happened in the bottom of the seventh inning right after the "seventh inning stretch."


"Hey George, all we need is a home run to tie the game, what do you think? Do our boys have the fortitude?" he questioned.


Just as I was about to ask him what the heck fortitude was and, as if on command, I heard that familiar noise.


"Crack!" went the bat as it hit the ball. It headed straight for the bleachers. Gramps and I stood up at the same time and raised our gloves almost as if we were one person. We leaned over the railing. The centerfielder charged toward us and the wall. Now readers, what do you think happened? Well, if you think Gramps and I fell over the wall onto the field you're wrong.


"I got it, I got it!" screamed Gramps.


"No, I got it, I got it!" I yelled in return.


The ball lifted up and over the wall right into a glove. Not Gramps' glove, but mine. I was speechless. There is was, nestled securely in the center of my mitt--a home run ball. My heart lifted with joy and then fell back down.


"Gramps," I said sadly, "you shoulda caught it. You've never caught one." But instead of being sad I saw with surprise the brightest smile on the happiest face in the whole world.


"George, my boy," said my grandfather, "it was your destiny to catch the ball and it was my great destiny to witness it. I am a very happy grandfather to have been able to see you catch such a wonderful break! I share in the glory of your moment."


We turned toward the field and began to cheer the home run batter as he slowly circled the bases. The rest of the day was a blur. I just sat in the warm glow of the extraordinary moment that had occurred.


You know, Grandpa really is something. He was actually happier that I caught the ball He made me feel warm all over with happiness. I actually felt love for everyone and everything--the other team, my little brother, and even Nikki who lives in the bathroom. But I still need my own room!



The Right Direction