My wife doesn't understand this, I tried to explain it to her. But I couldn't find anything of equal emotional value to my baseball glove. Her wedding ring symbolizes our love, but would she really miss it? Would she miss it like one does there baseball glove that they have had for 20 years? It's history with me, my youth and the deep down hidden (very hidden) belief that one day they will need an older man to play 3rd base in the majors and I'll get that call, I'll finally get that call. She's only had the ring for 10 years.
I had to ask guys I knew to borrow a glove. One guy offered me his wife's glove. It's pink. A bit of me died inside. It's locked away slowly rotting. I want my glove back. I can't find it. I don't know where it has gone to. It's made it through moves, through children, through dogs. It's finally gone and now I feel a bit lost.
20 years of togetherness has bonded us. It didn't so much as fit my hand but molded itself to it. I always knew where the glove was in relation to my arm, I could always tell if I could reach a ball hit my way or not. If I could get a glove on the ball, I had a pretty damn good chance of making the play. It was an unspoken partnership. My glove promised to protect my face, to make catches just outside of my range. I promised to secretly love it, to oil it when necessary and to use as a pillow when needed. Now it's gone and I don't know where it is.
I turned down the wife's glove and was lucky enough to find a buddy that let me use his. I am disappointed. It's a rag tag thing that has received no care. It appears to have been purchased at a garage sale that featured some sort of riding tractor attachments. It's not broken in right, it sits weirdly like a kid with a bad under bite. There is no padding to speak of, almost as this particular glove has given up and wishes only to be locked in a garage somewhere and forgotten about.
It doesn't fit my hand well. The inside is cracked and scratchy. I have big sausage fingers and I have to almost pry open the finger holes which makes me feel like I am somehow violating this poor mutant thing. The thumb is caked with dirt from years past and it gets in under my fingernails. I keep tightening the straps on the thumb but they don't tighten enough. I feel like I need to go down to the river and just drown this poor thing in a mercy killing. Guys who love their gloves would understand.
My old glove fit perfectly. It caressed my fingers, snuggled my thumb. It had just enough padding to protect my palm while still allowing me to feel the ball. It made that satisfying "pop" when I caught it just right. I really miss my glove.
I played tonight with my borrowed glove, the second time I have done so. I could blame my many missed grounders on a lack of range and a sedentary life style, but deep down I believe I would have had everyone if I had my glove. A ball was hit just to my right tonight. I put the glove down fully expecting the ball to hit the webbing. It didn't. It went right under it. This wouldn't have happened with my old glove. I also dropped an easy foul ball. I barely had to move. The thing is, it hit on the outside of my glove, on the top. I didn't drop it so much as just knocked it out of the air. I can't feel where this glove is, how much range it gives me. I should be playing with my hat.
Look, I know that I am older now and that 40 is about to become my new best friend. I don't have the foot speed that I once did, my range is now measured in inches and my arm is comparable to a rusty metal grate that makes weird sounds when I wave. But I could have made those plays if I only had my glove, my sweet sweet glove.
Hossmom says I should just go get a new one from a garage sale. I told her that she could buy her bras like that from now on as well. She is currently not speaking to me about the glove anymore. I'm glad. It's better to keep your inner pain buried deep inside so that your soul rot doesn't bother the neighbors. I don't want a glove that hasn't been cared for, that hasn't been oiled, tied with a ball in the middle and slept on under the mattress for a week. The one's at garage sales have obviously never been loved and I just can't use a glove like that.
I'll get a new one and we'll start a new relationship. We'll learn together. I'll find out what it can and can't do, I'll let it meld to my palm and I'll learn if the webbing can give that ever so gentle hug that a baseball needs right when it's coming at your face. In return, I'll keep it oiled and cared for, I'll make sure the bindings don't fray or that the dirt is cleaned out of the finger holes.
We'll grow together towards old age and maybe, one day, I'll be able to catch that foul ball. My grand kids will come to me many years from now and say "grandpa! I can't find my baseball glove! Can I borrow yours?"
I'll look at them, proud of where they are headed. I'll be lost in my emotions as I see them travel through my same path when I was young. I'll touch the top of his head and say "No. This is my glove. Go get me some whiskey."