Relativity


Thursday April 18th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   For whatever reason, fate dictated that I was absolutely going to attend the Milwaukee Brewers game this afternoon whether I liked it or not. First, I was offered an extra free ticket by my friend Mark Gumbinger. He and some friends were going to the game, and he was nice enough to ask if I wanted to tag along. I had a gig booked tonight not far from Milwaukee, so I told him I would.

   Then, late last night Mark sent an email saying a few of his rental properties were having flood issues and he wouldn’t be able to make the game. I already had my ticket, but who wants to go to a baseball game alone? I didn’t want to throw away good money on parking just to sit by myself.

   I had already scheduled a breakfast meeting with my cousin Wendy, so I headed to Milwaukee much earlier than I needed to for a noon start baseball game to meet up with her. She’s very fun, and she and her husband Dan came out to see ‘Schlitz Happened!’ last week so I felt I owed her.

   Not only did she buy me a delicious breakfast at The Athens restaurant, she said her son Andy would be at the game and he too had an extra ticket. I told her I already had my own, but I would go and hook up with Andy anyway. He’s been a big supporter of mine, and I am totally grateful.

   I never hung out with that side of the family growing up, but in the last few years we’ve gotten know each other better and I am delighted we did. They’re hard working friendly people and I’m proud to call them relatives. They’re trying to overcome the stench of our family just like I am.     

   Wendy’s father and my grandfather were brothers, and by all accounts her father was an all out   scoundrel. I wasn’t fond of him as a kid, but I didn’t see him all that often. I found out later of an array of ugly exploits, and it made me sick to my stomach. He was definitely from the dark side.  

   My grandfather was one of seven brothers, and was one of few bright spots. Most of the others were lowlifes, reprobates and scumbags. My father was in that category, and he always got along famously with his uncles. I guess we inherit different traits, as my father and I never could find a common ground on any level. He enjoyed the dark side, while I was always trying to escape it.

   Cousin Wendy has always tried to do that too, and has raised a wonderful family. Her kids are all great, and she doesn’t let her past take her down just as I’m trying not to let mine destroy me. It’s not easy to get over a lot of things, and it’s good that we’ve now got each other to encourage.

   I try to stop and see Wendy whenever I’m in the Milwaukee area, and she’s an early riser so it usually ends up being a breakfast at The Athens because it’s close to her house. Sometimes some or all of the family comes along if they’re around, and it’s been a great way to get to know each other later in life when we can appreciate how much we’ve all had to struggle to make it this far.

   It was really fun to hang with Andy at the Brewers game. That’s the most we’ve hung out one on one ever, and I really enjoyed it. He’s a former cop and current bar manager, and he’s one of the most connected people in town. I thought I knew a lot of people, but he’s got me WAY beat.

   One of the people he knows is Bob Uecker’s radio producer Kent Sommerfeld, and those were the tickets we had today. They were great seats, not the typical Bob Uecker seats everyone jokes about. Andy said he’s sure I’ll be able to meet Bob in person eventually, and I’d really love that. It may have taken decades to find them, but I actually have relatives with whom I feel a kinship.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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