A gentle breezed wafted — that’s what breezes, or rather, gentle breezes, do, don’t they — over the athletic fields at East Hampton High School last Thursday afternoon.
Over the green expanses of the fields and the orange infields. No one was on them, however, all, however beautiful, was silent. I, for one, was ready for things to begin — the weather had finally come around. Yet the season was over.
None of East Hampton’s teams had made the playoffs, leaving this opaque sportswriter a little bit at loose ends. I decided to search out our boys lacrosse coach to commiserate with him about the previous day’s loss, and Amanda Calabrese, who, as a member of the girls track team, still had some competitions ahead of her this week, and perhaps beyond, led me to him, down the labyrinthine passageways to the science wing.
I said as I tried to keep up with her brisk pace, that the high school reminded me of an airport where, after running down a long hall, you’re told the gate’s been changed, and that you’ve got to run back a quarter-mile the other way, with the clock ticking.
Ticks, by the way, have been out in numbers. Russell Bennett, my co-worker, told me he’d heard it was because the omnipresent snow nurtured massive gestation.
“Not with a bang, but with a whimper . . . with a tick bite,” I said to him, holding up my legs so he could see my black pants enclosed in white athletic socks, and volunteering the information that my cousin from Vermont had just undergone a radical treatment for chronic Lyme disease in Arizona.
The mention of insidious (I went down on that word in the Western Pennsylvania Spelling Bee of 1952, finishing fifth, but was applauded in the press the next day for my insouciance) reminded me that my father had always said I should stay away from the Far East, that there were a lot of insidious diseases there. And he had a liver fluke from World War II to prove it.
“But he didn’t die of that,” I said. “He died on a weekend in a hospital in Bayonne when all the doctors and nurses were partying.”
That reminded Russell of the scores of old people who died in a heat wave in Paris when the city was otherwise deserted and silent, it being August.
“Ces’t la vie!” I said, with a shrug of the shoulders on my way up the stairs. “C’est la mort!”
And more, I hope, to come. Though not this season.
A pity. The fields look so ready.
P.S. Mary, who can bring me back to earth when I get carried away, reminded that if a 74-year-old were to be cast as Hamlet, as I suggested in a recent column, Gertrude and Claudius would probably have to be well into their 90s.
Or maybe I’m just ahead of my time.