Seemingly (But Not) Random Stories

by Kevin Burton

   Where is Monty Hall when you need him?

   When Jeannette and I first got married she carried a purse I called “the purse of death.”

   Monty Hall on his TV show”Let’s Make  A Deal: used to give women in his studio audience cash if they had certain things in their purse.  “Do you have a paper clip” he might ask. “Fifty dollars if you have a paper clip.”

   My wife had everything in that purse. We could have made a fortune!

   The purse weighed about the same as the bat bag we had for the baseball team we used to run. 

   I guess she got tired of hearing about “the purse of death,” so she changed to a much smaller one.  I called that one “the purse of whimsy.”

   Eight years on, the honeymoon isn’t over, but I have stopped naming her purses. The only other memorable purse was the one pushed back in the closet in which she found about ten 37-cent stamps. 

   That sent me to the post office for the smaller denomination stamps that help us equal whatever total a stamp was at the time. I don’t believe they even make those stamps in the age of forever stamps.

   Anyway, here’s to Monty Hall. 

   When I worked in a photo lab in Ohio I had a co-worker who said she wrote songs for Billy Ray Cyrus.  I took her at her word.  Not sure why she would pull that name out of thin air were she making it up. 

   I had heard his name but was not then and am not now familiar with his work.  So now I find out on Wikipedia that he performed “Achy Breaky Heart.”

   There was just no avoiding that song in its day, even for people who are not country music fans.  It appears that was not one of the songs my friend wrote or co-wrote.

   I had a great idea for a Weird Al Yankovic parody of the song. Now I find out there have been several parodies, including one by Weird Al.

   But he missed it!  He did “Achy Breaky Song” about a guy who doesn’t like the song. 

   My idea was a song called “Itchy Bitchy Boss.” 

   I think my idea is not just better, but a lot better.

   Anyway, here’s to Billy Ray Cyrus.

   My mother used to watch baseball with us kids. She wasn’t as coo-coo as we were but she had fun with it. 

   There was a great relief pitcher named Rollie Fingers who played for Oakland, San Diego and Milwaukee. My mother used to call him “rolling fingers,” which come to think of it, isn’t really a bad description of a pitcher. 

   Fingers famously struck out Johnny Bench in the 1972 World Series after Oakland faked an intentional walk. The catcher stood up and held his glove out wide to signal a free pass, only to get back into the crouch. 

   Fingers’ next pitch on the outside corner (or near it) was called strike three.  It probably should have been called a balk. Deceit of a baserunner is illegal. I guess deceit of a batter is not.

   Bench of course played for the Cincinnati Big Red Machine, my all-time favorite baseball team. 

   Bench and Fingers are both Hall-of-famers now, which sort of makes them teammates. And, it has been almost 50 years. So I guess I need to just get over it.

   Anyway, here’s to Rollie Fingers. 

   Also here’s to Regis Philbin, who died last month.  He was very popular, even beloved, for his work on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” and other television shows.

   Here’s to Hans Adolf Krebs, a German physician and biochemist; Thea Astley, an Australian journalist and author and to Conrad Black, a Canadian historian and author.

   Here’s to all that I have mentioned and all others, who like me, have a birthday on Tuesday, Aug. 25. 

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