Wednesday, December 08, 2004

There's Only One...

...Steven Ger-rard!

"(Liverpool) has to be in the Champions League for the finances alone, but also for all the players this is where we want to be playing and where we want to be seen."
--Steven Gerrard, Liverpool captain

Nine minutes from crashing out of the Champions League group stage, needing two--TWO!--goals to advance, the Cardiac Reds, and their captain, come through. Neil Mellor in the 81st (okay, that's two--TWO!--vital goals from Mellor in two weeks; Armaggedon is clearly just around the corner). And a vicious 30-yard strike from Gerrard four minutes from time. Really quite unbelievable. The footballing equivalent of a two-outer. Worth, in this case, about £5m. Brilliant.

As an aside, Beyer Leverkusen also advanced to the knockout stage, meaning Champions League football for US International Landon Donovan, who re-joins the German club on Jan. 1. DaMarcus Beasley's PSV Eindhoven also moves on (Beasley's scored three Champs League goals for the Dutch leaders). Invaluable experience for the two young stars.


Jay Brown held his 10th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. It was one of those events where the anticipation of a boy was nearly too much to take. For me, at least. When the big day dawned, my parents sent me off with $10 for video games and skee ball, a large sum back in those days (you know, before cable TV). At some point during the proceedings, I lost a five-dollar bill. Distressing, but not fatal. Full of innocence and hope, I asked a cashier if anyone had turned in a five-dollar bill, 'cause I lost one. He, raging with acne and teen-age contempt, sneered at me, making no attempt to conceal his bitter laughter. "You've got to be kidding," his manner shouted. I don't recall what he actually said. The look was enough to make my eyes well up quickly. But the worst part was a feeling in the pit of my stomach, like a hole had been cut out of it. I'd lost something at that moment. I couldn't articulate it to any degree, but I knew I'd lost it forever.

My churning insides soon turned to dread, as I feared telling my parents that I had wasted half of the large sum of money they had given me. Much to my surprise, their reaction was one of empathy, of drying my now-flowing tears and bathing me in consolation. Sometimes us kids don't give our parents enough credit (which all changes when YOU become the parent).

Really, from that moment on, I've never taken anything that wasn't mine. I've found wallets, jackets, bags of groceries, and once, famously, had a $200 Vegas feast unwittingly comped to somebody else's room. I have always returned such "found" money. It doesn't make me a saint. It's just a natural consequence of what happened to me way back in the '70s.

So, what am I to do with the money (yes, $5) I just found on the sidewalk outside my building? My first thought--really--was to give it to the security guard at our front desk in case someone came looking for it. Thought 1a was, well, that's five extra bucks for the security guard. So, I decided against that. I resolved to give it to the first homeless person to approach me (and the over/under on my walk from the office to the train station is generally 3). But wait!

Not two--TWO!--minutes after finding the cash, I return to my desk and my boss comes out of his office and says, "Does anybody have $5 I can borrow?"

I gape at him. And then I'm up and telling the entire office the story.

He didn't take the fiver, though, after I told him it was ticketed for some lucky panhandler.

Life is strange. Hadn't thought about Chuck E. Cheese in years.


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