When my grandfather was ninety-two, he swung at the first pitch he saw. He made contact. What we remember is not the roller towards short, or the stunned cheers of the church-supper crowd. What will not die is the briefest of moments when he broke for first, forgetting his decades. Habits of youth buried came sparking to life. He broke for first, and unless our eyes deceived us, he tossed the bat away and pivoted like DiMaggio. It seemed—the grounder I mean—a luxurious grace, a sidelong benediction to brighten the waiting days.
It’s January and plastic Santa still plays his golden sax outside a store on Jinhuapu Lu. His mechanized twiggy legs are barely hid as they twitch in tandem in his thin flannel pants— Christmas red, of course, and his lips as brown as tofu hang a full two inches behind the sax’s cracked reed. Poor man! Even the dogs— Pekingese, Chihuahuas and others— step around him as they snuffle for a swatch of sun to jazz their bones on this cold day.