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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

BULLET JOE


BULLET JOE
 
I’ve had several different monikers in my life.  As a young boy my brother’s friends called me “Turtle.”  It had nothing to do with speed; they claimed I looked like a turtle.  I never saw that, but as an old man, I sometimes look in the mirror and yes, there is a certain turtle look.

In college I was “Jowls” a bit more complicated and maybe I will someday post on that origin.

The name I disliked the most was my high school name, “Bullet.”  This name was given to me by my best friend Charley.  Why is it that best friends will tag you with a name you dislike?  I tried to nail Charley with “Asshead,” but it never stuck.

Bullet sounds like it could be a cool nickname, but in this case it was not.  To make matters worse, for some reason my name was not merely Bullet, but it was spat out in a derogatory manner, “Hey B U L L E T, what’s up.”  I hated “Bullet.”  You cannot let people know you hate a name or it will stick forever.  I think it was obvious that I hated that name, and that is why it chased me all the way to college when I finally lost it.

Bullet came from baseball.  I loved baseball, but I did truly suck at the game.  I played Lacrosse right up to eighth grade, and I was pretty damn good at it.  My baseball playing was limited to plastic wiffleballs. 

My first shot at real baseball was a pickup game in the eighth grade.  I could not hit because I was afraid of getting beaned with a hard ball.  I did get a chance to pitch.  I pitched to one batter, Doc Waller, a ninth grader with fearsome power.  My first two pitches were clobbered, but they were clobbered foul because I threw them so slowly Doc was way ahead of them.  My third toss I reared back and tried to put everything I had on it.  The ball popped the catcher’s mitt even before Doc swung and missed.  Everyone’s jaw just dropped, they never saw a pitch that fast.

The next year, my family moved from Long Island to New Jersey.  I followed them, because that is what fourteen year olds did.

Westfield New Jersey did not have a lacrosse team.  In the ninth grade they only had baseball.  I was not one to sit out a sports season so I went out for baseball.

I knew I could not hit so with the memory of that Doc Waller fastball the year before I decided I would try to pitch.   I had one tryout.  Asshead (I know, it never caught on, but I owe him) was the catcher. 

“Dude, do you have a curve?”

“I can throw a spinner.”

“A spinner?  What the fuck is that?  Does it curve?”

“No, it just spins a lot.”

“Shit, do you have a fastball?”

“Sure.”

“OK, let’s see what you’ve got.”

I reared back and put everything I had on the pitch.  Now if a pitcher has a really fluid motion and perfect timing he can throw flames and it looks like he is hardly trying.  That is what happened with my Doc Waller pitch.  This was a new year, I put everything I had on the pitch and it left my hand late, bounced one foot in front of the plate and had little speed on it.

Asshead pounded his mitt.

“One more with some zip, see if you can reach the plate.”

I could not.  Four more tries and I could not reach more than one foot in front of the plate.

The Yankee star pitcher of that time was Bob Turley…“Bullet” Bob Turley who was known for his blazing fast ball.  Asshead could not resist.

“Hey ‘Bullet Joe’ one more, see if you can reach my mitt.”

I could not.  I did not make the team. 

That friggin name stuck. 

That name makes me Cranky.

12 comments:

  1. So that's how you got the Cranky name. Bwahahahahahahahaha.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  2. Perhaps you should have owned it. But I guess that kid of confidence is hard to come by when you're young. I hope you punched Asshat in the ribs when you passed him in the hall.

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  3. The only nickname I ever had was Dustbin, given to me by my sisters as I'd eat everyone's leftovers when I was a kid - luckily that name didn't follow me outside of the house!

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  4. If you had just quit after that Doc Waller stunner, it would have been an awesome nickname.

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  5. I want to know how a ninth grader gets the nickname "Doc."

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  6. Maybe you should have tried croquet? :) For what it's worth, my nickname was/still is "dumbass". Maybe that deserves a post of its own some day.

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  7. At least it wasn't "chucker." Did you try out for basketball?

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  8. My nickname was egghead and brace-face. Kids can be so cruel lol.

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  9. I was and always have been Goof.. Though I can also manage a respectable Animal.And Rowf, though that was short lived

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  10. I never really had a nickname growing up and sometimes wondered if I had missed out. After I was married though, my husband started calling me 'Bud'. I finally had a name of my own, even if it was a pet name from my husband. 'Bud' didn't feel as cliched and over used as say 'honey' or 'sweetums', I liked it because it felt more unique for a husband to call his wife such a tough sounding name.

    One day after years of being 'Bud', my husband and I attended a company picnic. As he introduced me to coworkers and their various wives, no doubt unimaginatively called 'lovey' or 'baby' at home, I began to notice something off, something that at first I couldn't put my finger on. Then it hit me, as my husband would greet a coworker he would say 'Hey Bud! How ya been?' or 'Hey Bud, over here!' I was confused at this offhand use of my special name. I confronted him and asked what was he doing, what in the blue blazes was going on?! He was as perplexed as I was, "I call everyone Bud" he said.

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