MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF A LAPSED METS FAN

At one time about baseball
There was little I didn’t know
From Tinker to Evers
To Chance to Cano.

But that knowledge has slipped
As I’ve watched the game less
Which I was ok with
‘Till my ignorance caused a mess:

One night I awoke
Suddenly from a crash
That sounded like a baseball
Coming through my window sash.

I squinted to gather
What it really was I saw
Sitting there resembling
A fluffy bear paw.

Sensing my fear it
Spoke first calling, “Child,
You need worry not
For my manner is mild.

At least to you it will be
For you’ve wronged me not.”
“Who are you?” I quaked.
“If we’ve met … I’ve forgot.”

“Some call me ‘Donnie Lipsmack’”
it laughed, “when I’m brash.
But most use my full name:
The Ghost of Don Mattingly’s Mustache.”

Hearing that I sat up and
Gave my eyes a wipe.
Sure enough the ‘stache had on
Number 23 in pinstripes.

Next I learned this apparition
Visiting that night
Had come on a mission
To make an old wrong right.

“I’ve come back,” said the Ghost,
“To settle a score
With the Ghost of Keith Hernandez’s Mustache,
That so-called hirsute legend of yore.

“Long ago we competed
For all the damsels fairest,
Who loved us most because
Our mustaches were the rarest.

And though many eyes then
Stuck to my upper lip
Hernandez’s was always
Considered more hip.”

“But I’m confused, Ghost,
Why come to see me?”
He motioned to the old Keith poster on my wall.
“I figured you’d know where that Ghost might be.”

“Well all I know Ghost
Is Keith’s real mustache lives on.”
And the color drained from him.
“You’re telling me that thing isn’t gone?”

“Not last that I checked,”
“I said, “though it’s been a while.
“I was afraid of this,” he said,
through an upside down smile.

“I couldn’t beat it on Earth
and it won’t join me in the Sky.
The odds, for eternity,
That lip hair will defy.”

The good mood he’d arrived with
Had vanished in a flash.
Then Don’s whiskers’ specter
Began to sound rash.

“I’ll be second forever.
Know what that is? Lame!
Can I go on? How?!?
There’s no way!” he exclaimed.

“We should look it up, Ghost,
There’s a chance I’m not right.”
“M’boy,” he said, “I’m certain
that you’re too polite.

But there is no need
To go on pretending
the reign of Keith Hernandez’s mustache
Will have an ending.”

Like a wind-starved kite
With body language bad,
The Ghost of Don Mattingly’s Mustache
Was sad.

Slinking back to the window
At the spot he’d broken in,
The Ghost whimpered,
“Send me a bill for the glass here, eh, cousin?”

Then like that he jumped out
And I was by myself again.
When I heard a new voice say,
“Ol’ Lipsmack, I’ll tell ya’, he was a great friend.”

Now with my blankets
Thrown over my head
I peeked at the Keith poster
Across from my bed

And saw there popping off
The image on the paper
Hernandez’s mustache,
Though translucent like a vapor.

“But how could you too
Be a ghost,” I inquired.
When the real Keith’s real mustache
Has not yet expired?”

“Au contraire, my good friend,”
he said, “That isn’t true.
Nowadays Keith’s as clean shaven
As the Mets wear orange and blue.

Google Image it if
You need confirmation,
Only now in this Ghostly form
Is the Hernanstache a sensation.”

“Well that means,” I said,
“Mattingly’s mustache’s ghost
Based on my bad info
Just made himself toast.”

“Oh don’t sweat it, pal,”
Keith’s ‘stache Ghost assured me
It will all work out fine for him.
It always does when you’re a Yankee.”

“How can you be sure?” I asked
“They’re not all in baseball heaven.
Keith’s Mustache Ghost laughed: “Because wherever they end up,
when it’s title counting time, they have 27.

And as great as it is
to be an upper lip hair king
In real life or the after
Nothing beats a championship ring.”

It was a good point,
And it was his last.
After that without more visitors
that haunted night passed.

Sometimes still I feel bad
How Lipsmack’s Ghost met his Gillette,
But I bet he’d do the same thing again
Before he’d agree to come back as a Met.

Keith "Sans Stache" Hernandez

SANS ‘STACHE – Keith Hernandez today, with a clean upper lip. If only the Lapsed Mets Fan had known, perhaps the Ghost of Don Mattingly’s Mustache could have been saved. (Photo – Gary Gershoff)

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