The hotel bordered Redondo and Hermosa Beach on a Pacific ocean inlet behind an old stone dike. There were sea lions and gulls squawking in the distance fog. The air was salty and the sea perfectly still as a fishing trawler slowly made its way out of safe harbor. The lodging was faux upscale and overpriced, reminding me of Key West. Most guests get a postage stamp room, offset by the ultimate shower, 400 towels and a hot tub time machine. It’s run by the same group who own Ocean Key House and Little Palm Island in the lower Keys. I was the music man in both places and revered like a demigod. No free drinks but I could eat off the buffet.
That night we traveled to watch the Red Sox play the Angels in Anaheim. It was like Fenway in LA, Red Sox nation is now scaring me, they’re completely out of control and I’m from Boston. The CDC needs to vaccinate immediately to halt their spread or soon everyone will be wearing little blue caps with a red “B” on it. Next day we kicked back savoring the Sox win and as I was looked thru my suitcase near the armoire there was a knock on the door. I rose up quickly and there was a knock on my head collapsing me to the carpet. The armoire door was half open; I hit it squarely with my noggin. As Sue got up to let Keynan in, I was becoming more out of sorts with each passing second. The sounds around me were overwhelming, lights were irritating and I lost track of time. Homer was now speechless and stupid. I tried to carry on but ended up back in bed lying perfectly still for the next 18 hours. This was my first concussion. My head was sensitive but not swollen; I didn’t pass out or vomit so thankfully there was no need for an emergency appendectomy.
It was a timely takedown though; shortly thereafter an article appeared in the Times that said Lou Gehrig did not have Lou Gehrig’s disease. What? He didn’t have A.L.S the devastating neurodegenerative disease that bears his name? It was “something else” and not just random cruel fate? Gehrig’s affliction is being reframed as the result of numerous concussions sustained as a battering ram half back in high school, at Columbia University and during his 14 year Hall of Fame baseball career with the Yankees. It probably didn’t help playing thru all his injuries, a legendary record of 2,130 consecutive games. Lou had skills, great strength and was called “The Iron Horse“for his durability but no horse has an iron head. The article quoted a medical establishment spokesperson saying “concussions and brain trauma are only now being understood.” Okay, now I’m really confused; I have a brain trauma, three days later there’s a re-injury by slightly touching my skull against a shower stall. I have come to realize my head is now as sensitive as my testicles. What has Homer learned? (a) Concussion bad not good, hurt to think. (b) Repeated concussions – fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, we can’t get fooled again. (c) Repeated concussions over years in sports and the military, you’re going to die young and apparently not from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Imagine, he didn’t have his own disease, misdiagnosed with an ailment of the infirm instead of the obvious. Why, because you can’t have a 37 year old American hero die as a result of playing the national pastime. Concussions belong to the politics of the modern primitive mind (see photo above). How else are we going to end films, reinstate quarterbacks, set legendary records, wage war and allow boxers to fight on? Okay, I digress and I need to lie still.
by Stephen Michael Murphy