Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Sunday Memory Drawer - What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

I just might be thinking about that question in this vintage photo.  Do kids get asked that anymore today?  I was regularly pummeled with that poser.

"So what do you want to me when you grow up?"

Go away, please, you inebriated relative, you.

Truth be told, I did have some answers to that query.  And they changed over time as I grew up.

Catch me at the age above and I think I know what I might have said.

I wanted to be a projectionist at the RKO Proctors movie theater in Mount Vernon, New York.

Oh, I wasn't that specific.  I would have gladly settled for the same job at a variety of theaters.  The Loews in Mount Vernon.  The Kimball Theater in Yonkers.  The Wakefield on White Plains Road in the Bronx.  I didn't really care.  

I just wanted to be in a place where I ran movies all day and all night.  So I could watch them all.  I had motion pictures on the brain.  Let's face it, I could read the New York Daily News movie listings at the age of four.

A few years later, I started to be a bit more practical.  If you asked me at the age of seven or eight, the response was definitive.

I wanted to be a veterinarian.

Okay, so I'm becoming a bit more useful.  Helping animals.  In my mind, how cool would this be?  To meet all sorts of pets during the course of a given day.  So what if the two pets I had been entrusted to were dead?  The goldfish that jumped out of the bowl and rotted on the baseboard of my room.  The parakeet named Happy who flew away when I inadvertantly left the kitchen screen window open.

I was above that all now.  I wanted to be a pet doctor.

This was the dream until I got my very next pet.  A birthday gift of a beagle which I named Tuffy.  Before you think I'm an animal serial killer, Tuffy lasted eighteen wonderful years.  But, early on, my parents decided that she needed to be spayed.  So there was an overnight surgical visit to the vet and I was so convinced that my beloved friend was going to die during this procedure that I developed sympathetic pains with the school nurse.

Tuffy did survive and my dad brought her home the next day.  She was bandaged, sore, and still groggy.  Sticking out of her abdomen were the metal stitches from her wound.  To me, it looked like she was wearing a wire coat hanger.

The doctor had put that in there?  

I decided right then and there that being a veterinarian was no longer in my future.  If I needed an occupation, I would like to do what one of my father's second cousins did for a living.  He never seemed to go to work.  I can get into that.

It was about at the age of twelve or thirteen that writing started to call to me.  I've already written here about attempting a sitcom script when I was in the eighth grade.  My mother found it and read it.  I doubted she laughed.  The first critic I would ever encounter.

One English class project was to write an original short story.  I did so but used the characters from "Get Smart," which was still in reruns.  The old bag who ran the class probably had not watched them.  She didn't laugh either.  The second critic I would ever encounter.

I began to think that trying to write funny stuff should be left to Rob, Buddy, and Sally on the old "Dick Van Dyke Show."  My focus would shift ever so slightly to a different kind of writing.  And when I began to seriously look for colleges, I sought out those universities that had a specialty in journalism.

This was the longest and most sustained career path to date.

Ideally, I wanted to be a sports reporter.  And it looked like Fordham University would fill that bill admirably.  They had a campus newspaper.  There was a full-blown radio station attached and, for Pete's sake, Vin Scully had worked there.  

I decided to enter this world in both varieties.  Print and broadcast.

Entering the Ram newspaper for the first time, I realized there were lots of others with the same dream.  I was not going to be a one-man-band.  And, while I knew baseball like the back of my hand, there were a multitude of college sports that needed to be reported on.

My first assignment was a tennis match.

Really??  I was even more bored than the people who ultimately read my lackluster account of somebody beating somebody else.


Things weren't much better at the radio station's sports department, which I joined and then concentrated on.  You see, they also covered stuff other than baseball.

I was a spotter for the broadcast play-by-play crew during a football game.  Except I never spotted the right guy making the right tackle.

I did color announcing for a junior varsity basketball game.  The only color I provided was the red on my face from one mistake after another.

When I got the chance to do play-by-play for a Fordham baseball game, the results were so bad that I think WFUV did lose their FCC license for a few years.

A long time dream was over.

I'd have to write other stuff.  Like this Sunday blog piece, for instance.

Now, if you asked me right then and there what my two or three fantasy jobs would be, I would tell you the following.

1.  I'd like to create a television situation comedy.

2.  I'd like to work for a major league baseball team.

3.  I'd like to write or put together some piece of work that told a story about baseball.

Decades later, all three of those dreams are still in active play.

What do I want to be when I grow up?  

I'll let you know when I get there.

Dinner last night:  The terrific Stadium Club pre-game buffet at Dodger Stadium.

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