Engagement Contract



THIS AGREEMENT (the “Agreement”) is entered into effective as of Sunday, May 25th, 2014 by and between Nathaniel MacHardy, a man (“Party of the First Part”) and Lillian O’Connell, a woman (“Party of the Second Part”). The use of gender terminology and the order of the parties are in no way to be interpreted as relating to hierarchy or preference. It’s just legal mumbo jumbo. Additionally, this resulting union will elevate Robert and Theresa O’Connell to the roles of “Father-in-Law” (Party of the Third Part) and “Mother-in-Law” (Party-of-the Fourth Part) respectively.

WHEREAS, Party#1 desires to enter into marriage with Party#2; and

WHEREAS, Party#2 is OK with that;

WHEREAS, Party#3 is OK with that;

WHEREAS, Party#4 is over the moon and blubbering like a fountain;

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants set forth herein and other good and valuable consideration, the parties agree as follows:

1. Party#1, heretofore to be known as “The future Son-in-Law” until such time as the act of Marriage ends this contract resulting in the removal of the designation “future”, subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, will be responsible for the following:

A. Providing a level and love and support for our baby girl at a level no less than    that of her family.
B. Availability for unlimited technical support.
C. Attend an equitable number of holiday events sufficient to minimize the frequency Party#4 from saying to Party#3 any phrases including or similar to “but, Jackie gets to see them all the time!”
D. A commitment never to vote Republican.
E. Make with the grandchildren, already!
F. To mock Lillian every time she misspeaks during all times that Party#3 or her siblings are unavailable.
G. Stand up for yourself. We’ll let you know when you’re wrong.
H. Be the son we never had…oh, wait…never mind.
I. At any time where Party#2 is railing about something of which you have had your fill, mimic her in a voice like Beaker from the Muppet Show. That should shut her up.
J. Accept your new family as we accept Party#1, Matt, I mean Nark, wait…Nat, yeah, Nat.
K. Laugh as often as possible and share joy at every opportunity. Life is too short for anything else.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed this Agreement effective as of the date first above written.

© Copyright 2014 – Robert O’Connell. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sammy Fucking Sosa

Sosa Flash Mob

We call ballplayers a lot of different things. For some, the last name is sufficient. DiMaggio, Jeter, and Mantle come to mind. The fact that they are all Yankees may have something to do with the impersonality of the big city. The Cardinals from Midwestern-friendly St. Louis have had Stan, Ozzie, and Albert. I suppose Reggie would also qualify, although he’s not purely a Yankee.

There are some players, regardless of their fame who often seem to be referred to with both of their names. Pete Rose would be an example. I assume that neither Pete nor Rose is distinctive enough. I would put Joe Morgan, Ted Williams, and Randy Johnson in this group. Ted Williams is one of the few with multiple nicknames, including The Kid, which shows up every generation or so (Gary Carter and Ken Griffey Jr.) making its use as an identifier somewhat suspect. Randy Johnson’s nickname, The Big Unit is often shortened to Unit, rendering that name pretty non-descript as well.

There are nickname guys, like Yogi, Babe, and Whitey. What’s odd is that the nicknames aren’t limited to the stars. Many Yankee fans will be able to instantly identify Scooter, Gator, Sparky, Goose, and Donny Baseball. I wonder how many can remember Stick, Hoss, Dirt, and No-neck. Abbreviated names are also used, such as A-Rod, Yaz, and Eck.

Not surprisingly, the Yankees murder the Mets when it comes to nicknames. While Tom Terrific may have looked good on the back page of the Post or Daily News, it hardly rolled off of the tongue. I don’t recall any of my friends ever using it while discussing baseball. It goes downhill from there.

Ed Charles – The Glider. Cool name, but what does it mean?
Ed Kranepool – Easy Ed. Maybe he was gliding with Ed Charles.
Sid Fernandez – El Sid. It might be better if he were from Spain rather than Hawaii. He is of Portuguese decent.
Keith Hernandez – Mex. Not Mexican. Spanish and Scottish-Irish.
John Milner – The Hammer. Stop. 624 fewer career homers than the real Hammer, Hank Aaron.
Lenny Dykstra – Nails. How about Jails?
Felix Millan – The Cat. So how come when Ed Ott gave him the Pile Driver at second base, he didn’t land on his feet?
Rusty Staub – Le Grand Orange. Sounds better in French, but what is a grand orange?
Howard Johnson – Hojo. I think this hotel chain is called Le Roof Orange in Quebec.
Kevin McReynolds – Big Mac. He wasn’t. Also, 372 fewer homers than the real Big Mac.
Dwight Gooden – Dr. K. Great nickname, but thankfully he was not able to write prescriptions.
Edgardo Alfonzo – Fonzie. Aaaay!
Zach Wheeler – The Wheel Deal. Oy vey!
Wally Backman – Cabbage Patch. Actually, this one I like.

My family and I moved from Northern New Jersey to South Florida in 2002. In 2003 the local team, the Marlins got off to a slow start. Dontrelle Willis (D-Train), Miguel Cabrera (Miggy), and Jack McKeon (Trader Jack) arrived and the team took off. My son was eleven years old and in Little League. We followed the team together throughout the summer.

I have a friend here in Coral Springs whose sister worked for the Diamondbacks in Arizona. She got him tickets to the July 30th game, here vs. the Marlins. My son and I were able to the bum a ride to the stadium expecting to buy tickets at the gate. The Marlins opened several sections in the upper deck and still, they were selling out while we waited on line. I noticed a guy inside the fence trying to sell two tickets. My son saved our place in line while I went over to see what he had to sell. The guy was with a group and two people didn’t show. He said I’d be sitting right next to him and that it was no scam. He just wanted to pick up a few bucks.

I bought the tickets for five dollars each. The game sold out, an extreme rarity for the Marlins, and the seats were great. We sat in the first row of the second deck behind first base. I found out later that we ended up with much better seats that my friend who had the freebies from his sister. It was a spectacular pitcher’s duel between Dontrelle Willis and Randy Johnson, where the Marlins scored two in the sixth to take the lead and added an insurance run in the eighth. The Marlins won three to one for their sixth straight, moving them to within a game of second place.

The place was electric, and my son was hooked. He played fall baseball that year, and his coach treated the team to one of the Marlins playoff games against the Giants. I was invited as well for helping out with the team. This time we were way up in the upper deck in the outfield, but it didn’t matter. It was another great game with the Giants taking a one run lead in the top of the eleventh. The Marlins won it on a two-out single in the bottom of the inning with Juan Pierre just beating the throw to the plate.

Now that we were fully engaged, we watched every minute of the games that followed. The Marlins finished off the Giants the next night with Jeff Conine throwing out J. T. Snow to end the game. Pudge Rodriguez got up after being flattened first by Snow and then by his teammate Ugueth Urbina (Middle name Urtain, nickname Oogie) and held the ball up to the crowd. On TV, you could clearly read his lips saying, “I got the fucking ball right here.”

All of this is leading up to our greatest postseason family memory. This would not be the incredible Bartman game six against the Cubs. Nor would it be a young Josh Beckett finishing off the hated Yankees. The epic event took place in the National League Championship Series Game Two in Chicago against the aforementioned Cubs. This was a Wednesday afternoon, but was late enough for my wife and son to both be home watching with me.

The Marlins squeaked out a Game One victory in the eleventh inning after blowing a two run lead in the ninth. Brad Penny started Game Two and looked shaky giving up two runs in the bottom of the first. Facing Mark Prior, this was not a time to let the game get out of hand. Prior was eighteen and six for the season and was 3rd in the Cy Young voting. He had also pitched a complete game two-hitter against the Braves in the Divisional Series. The fireworks came in the bottom of the second after the Marlins stranded two runners in the top half. They had also left two on base in the first.

Paul Bako, batting eighth, led off with a single and Prior sacrificed him to second. Kenny Lofton singled to center, scoring Bako. After Lofton stole second base, Mark Grudzielanek grounded to second with Lofton moving over to third. Sammy Sosa came to the plate with two outs and a runner on third with a three run lead.
Now, I’ve never been a Sosa fan. Every time he did that hop-skip thing out of the box after hitting another home run, I would say to whomever was in earshot, “If I’m pitching, the next one is going in his ear.” I probably even said it out loud when watching a game by myself. I have softened slightly over the years regarding Cadillacing a homer, but not much. And for some reason, Sosa’s little dance frosted me more than any bat flip.

My wife would be considered a “casual” fan. She watched from her hospital bed as Gary Carter hit two home runs on the day in 1986 that our oldest daughter was born. She lived and died with me during the Mets postseason run that year. I wasn’t even sure she was paying attention when Penny worked the count on Sosa to one and one. On the next pitch, Sosa hit a rocket to center field. It traveled about 500 feet in a couple of seconds, only stopping when it hit some sort of TV structure built well beyond the centerfield wall. The centerfielder, Juan Pierre, didn’t move an inch and the baserunner, Kenny Lofton was seen shuddering on camera.

I was still wincing myself when I heard my wife shout out, “Why are they pitching to Sammy Fucking Sosa with first base open and two outs?” The look of shock on my son’s face is etched in my memory. His mother is not what I would call laid-back, but she certainly can be called controlled. She’s gets just as inflamed as the rest of us in a crisis, but she’s the one who keeps her head and prevents the rest of us from getting arrested or expelled. Also, foul language is an extreme rarity for her, particularly the F-word.

Needless to say, from that moment on, no one in the family could ever mention Mr. Sosa’s name without including his first and new middle name. It’s in the family lexicon for good. You can blame Brad Penny’s lack of control, or a bad call by Pudge Rodriguez. You might even question Jack McKeons’s strategy. The real culprit here is baseball. In the most subtle of ways, it can mix strategy and passion for even the casual observer. By the way, if you were wondering from before, it’s Gene “Stick” Michael, Horace “Hoss” Clarke, Dick “Dirt” Tidrow, and Walt “No-neck” Williams.

© Copyright 2014 – Robert O’Connell. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bob O’Connell is the author of Flash Mob, a comedy-romance-mystery set in Montclair, New Jersey. He is a career educator and humorist. He has three children and currently lives with his wife in South Florida. You can find his book through www.flashmobthenovel.com.  

Strange Jew in a Strange Land

Sammy Davis Jr Flash Mob

I am Jewish and my wife, Theresa is Catholic. Technically, she is a free agent, but is considerably more devout than I. As a matter of fact, she recently started going to an Episcopal church, primarily because she liked the people better. Ironically, having been born of a Jewish mother, according to Jewish law, I am a Jew now and forever and nothing can change that.

Now, I frequently tell my wife that I feel she might be an anti-Semite. Before I go on, I should state for the record that I can be kind of an asshole, and this would be an example. What I find amusing is that her anger at this charge comes so quickly and sharply, that I further use her defensiveness as evidence of my original charge. (This is something assholes do quite frequently). An example might be us driving down the road and passing some obviously Orthodox Jewish men. I typically wave and shout, “Whassup, my brother!” For some reason, (and I have my theory) this really frosts her. My son did it once and she nearly drove into a canal.

I explain to her that whether either of us likes it or not, these actually are, in a way, my brothers. She then proceeds to display her religious credentials and to disparage mine. You might wonder how we got married in the first place and how we dealt with the issue of raising our kids. It was pretty simple. I agreed to have them raised Catholic.

I was raised in my grandparents Kosher home, but did not go to Hebrew School or have a Bar Mitzvah. I was more of a cultural Jew. Unfortunately, I did not follow the path of the great Jewish scientists, or that of the great Jewish musicians. I took Physics and Chemistry and played the saxophone in the band, but I just wasn’t that good at either. I did however; follow the path of the great Jewish comedians. The Marx Brothers, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, the Three Stooges, and Woody Allen were my heroes. I always assumed that the Bible was written by Jewish comedy writers and was taken as the gospel as part of some tragic slapstick accident.

Since I never had any religious training, I spent a lot of time searching. I wanted my kids to have the background that I didn’t have but couldn’t effectively provide it. Imagine my luck in falling in love with someone who could do so, along with the added bonus that she was Catholic. I wanted my kids to have a religious upbringing in the easiest religion to reject when they got older. JACKPOT!!

There were a few cultural adjustments along the way. When I first brought Theresa home to meet my grandparents, she expected the third degree regarding her religion. In reality, my grandfather was so far to the left politically, that he was far more concerned about her political preferences. Like most Jews, a conversation in my house went something like this…Someone would pontificate on their point of view at a rather high volume for people not calling hogs. When that person had to swallow their food or their voice faded due to a lack of oxygen, someone else would jump in. Of course the first person never stopped talking. Within seconds, we had a real Tower of Babel thing going on. Being raised to be polite and to not speak until spoken to, I don’t think Theresa opened her mouth at my house during the first three years of our relationship.

Things were equally awkward for me at her mother, Marie’s house. Theresa is from a blue-collar family who had very little interaction with Jews. I was somewhat of a curiosity to them. We worked quickly through the easy stuff…”Oh, Bob, can you eat this?”…”Oh, yes, we often eat bread.” When we were all at the table, sometimes someone would ask a question that no one knew the answer to. It would get quiet and I would look up to find everyone staring at me like I was the World Book Encyclopedia. It’s surprisingly hard for an obnoxious, know-it-all Jew to hide those characteristics for long.

Another event at Marie’s house caught me by surprise. My grandparents were educators and we had more school supplies in our house than Eberhard Faber and Dixon Ticonderoga combined. Marie, Theresa, and her sister Judy were in the kitchen preparing a meal while I was watching TV. An ad came on, I have no recollection what for, and it provided a phone number for more information. I called into the kitchen asking if there was a paper and pencil handy. What followed could have been a sketch on any comedy show. The three of them proceeded to tear apart the kitchen going through every basket, cubbyhole, and junk drawer. About 15 minutes later (14 minutes and 30 seconds after the ad was over), Judy come breathlessly into the den holding a nub of a golf pencil that had been sharpened with a kitchen knife. I thanked her and thought, “These people are different from me.”

Over the years, Theresa and I attended many religious services of many denominations. We’ve been to Holiness Baptist (with laying of the hands and getting the spirit), Baha’i, Hindu, Sikh, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and of course, Jewish and Catholic. Once, we went to a “Bar Mitzvah” at a Messianic Jewish temple for one of our son’s friends. As a Jew and atheist (it’s allowed), I considered these people to be wrong twice. There is no religious dogma in Judaism, so there can be no blasphemy. This was close.

I think that our kids have fared pretty well as religious mongrels. My daughters were able to go on a Birthright Israel trip for nearly two weeks and saw nearly everything in the Holy Land. My son hopes to go this summer. They sang and played with the church choir for years and taught religious education classes. My son is dating a Jewish girl and in an odd twist, on the night that she went to Disney World to see Mickey’s Christmas Celebration, he was at the Hillel Chanukah celebration, glomming a free meal.

I guess I should really lighten up on Theresa. She has been very open-minded. At least 1% of our holiday decorations are Chanukah related. My son has his red badge of courage (a circumcision). I’ve come to accept that she does not think that all Jews are obnoxious, know-it-all, loud, and pushy assholes.

Just me.

© Copyright 2014 – Robert O’Connell. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.