I am absolutely dying here, as I (like I presume most Clevelanders) am watching the NBA Finals. It might be the quickest way to incite a heart attack. So I've decided to distract myself a little.
I was talking with my buddy Kevin yesterday about what it means to be a dad today vs 30 years ago. He's a dad to three kids,and we talked about how you connect with your kids and how much time you get to spend with them. And I thought about my dad. His influence is all over everything I do (and like). He taught me how to play baseball (and I loved it and was good at it). He taught me the history of the sport. He bought me baseball cards (lots and lots of baseball cards). And Star Wars cards and King Kong cards. He took me to baseball card shows and even let me set up my own table at some of them. It was great earning my own money selling off stuff that I didn't need. He even coached my 5th grade basketball team, even though I was pretty terrible at the sport. And today, he's helping me with my Amazing Spider-Man collection (in return, I get him coverless Batman and Superman stories from the 50's and 60's because he likes the stories).
But one of the coolest things he's done is get me books that I politely ask for during birthdays or Christmas. One year I asked for Edward Levy's Came a Spider. I first read this during my senior year of college. I was at the Athens' library and I saw the title and picked it up off the shelf. I had read James Patterson's Along Came a Spider within the last year, and I'm sure that's why I picked it up. Came a Spider was about a big tarantula-type spider that attacks a young boy, injects its eggs into him, and then they burst out of him and attack a suburban L.A. town. For someone who grew up on movies like Them!, Tarantula, and The Deadly Mantis, this was right up my alley.
I read the whole thing in one sitting in my dorm room that day. As I started, my legs were out and it was light out. By the time I finished the book, it was dark and my legs were curled up under me, and I was probably in the smallest possible human ball as I could be in. My heart was racing, and I knew I had experienced something special. It's probably tied with my experiences of reading Stephen King's The Stand and Gordon Koman's I Want to go Home. Since it was a library book, it had to go back (although the thought did cross my mind to tell the library I "lost" it). So, years later, I asked my dad to get a copy for me for Christmas. It took a couple sittings to get through that time, but I still loved the book. I started it again this afternoon, and if it weren't for this game, I'd be reading it right now (although maybe not, since Game of Thrones is on). But every time I pick up the book, I will always thank my dad for getting it for me.
Happy Father's Day, Pop!