In ancient daze some 50 years ago or so, my good friend Tom and I would waste some weekends playing one-on-one games of wiffleball in his big back yard on Country Club Lane.

We didn’t bother using those skinny, yellow, plastic-banana wiffleball bats. No way. We wielded wooden Louisville Sluggers instead. Our trusty, hefty, real-deal wood bats were the weapons of choice for our spirited back-yard tilts. Of course, we did use the obligatory, standard plastic wiffleballs: the ones with one half of the sphere containing holes, the other half without holes, perfect for messing up our tender young throwing arms, tossing all manner of wicked junk at one another from close range a few short paces apart. Our respective repertoires featured curveballs, screwballs, knuckleballs, forkballs, and even high-arc eephus pitches, not to mention straight vanilla heaters. Plastic chin music? Beanball city? Bingo! Doink.

One day I ended a hard-fought affair by striking Tom out, preserving a one-run win. When Tom swung and missed to lose the game, I was surprised. Unsurprisingly, Tom was upset, beside himself, hopping-mad, choose any cliche you wish. Yes, Tommy had quite the quick temper. Nothing personal, he just hated to lose...at anything, and we both knew it. Let’s just say whenever Tom got upset, be alert should the proverbial Mount Vesuvius begin to erupt.

Back to the back yard...

The instant Tom realized he’d whiffed, I saw Vesuvius begin to stir. The next thing I saw was Tom’s Louisville Slugger hurtling, I say hurtling, son (a little Foghorn Leghorn lingo), toward my head! It was one of those slo-mo moments when time just seems to stand still. With a seemingly involuntary flick of his wrists, “a momentary loss of muscular coordination,” Tom had sent his bat flying in my direction, flat and level at warp speed! In the nick of time I managed to duck, which rhymes with...

Tom’s wayward Louisville Slugger whizzed right over my head, whereupon it continued its horrendous hurtling until smashing into and through the wooden fence at the far end of the property, thus turning a section of the fence into kindling before finally coming to rest harmlessly in the neighbor’s back yard.

Whoosh! Ker-rack! Jenga!

Tom looked at me, and I at him. We both just shook our heads in astonishment. No harm, no foul, just a little competition between friends...and a little nervous laughter. Not long thereafter, Tom’s folks put in a swimming pool. Capital idea! 

Did Tom ever tame his inner Vesuvius? Nah, it just lay dormant until its next eruption. DUCK!

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