Albany Trip

Nate and I have been cooped up in Cooperstown so I thought a day in Albany would be fun. I’ve grown to appreciate our state capitol. Its got the stores and restaurants Nate loves, and a great record store in Last Vestige. So, lunch at Five Guys, some new vinyl and, for Nate, just a few side trips for bathroom pictures.

We had a pleasant drive. Nate is hooked on Sirius XM Radio’s ’80’s station and I listen to it as long as I can before a synth-induced headache takes hold. One of the things Nate does lately is repeat out loud what he thinks he hears, whether in song or conversation. It’s cute but more importantly it shows that he’s searching for clarification in an area of weakness, verbal language.

Def Leppard’s “Armageddon It” came on. After a while, Nate perked up.

“Did they say ‘jelly bear’?” he asked.

“I think they say ‘getting there,'” though I didn’t know for sure. (It’s “are you gettin’ it” for those playing at home).

I asked if he knew what armageddon meant and he said “yeah, destruction.”

Many times I’ll tell Nate a story for two reasons: to see if it takes hold and starts a conversation or to convince myself that a conversation can take place. So I told him about Def Leppard’s one-armed drummer.

“Was that due to armageddon?” he wondered. Pretty funny, but I explained that his left arm was severed during a car accident.

We hit Rotterdam first, to check out a renovated McDonald’s bathroom. All was going smoothly until we headed towards our next stop, a Dunkin’ Donuts on Broadway in Schenectady. Nate had plugged the address into our GPS, but he insisted I go a different way. That led to an argument, but I insisted that we follow the directions to the site he had selected. That’s when he regressed.

“This way! This way!” he yelled in the way he has since he was a little boy. Once he starts using his childish phrases I know that there’s going to be a scene.

“Nate, this is the address you put in. You want me to go the wrong way.” As we pulled up to the Dunkin’ Donuts, Nate realized he’d been there. He got very angry.

“Nate wants a new location!” When he lapses into third person, there’s trouble a-brewin’.

“Stop that!” Now I was yelling. I do hate when he acts like a baby. Of course, he lashed out, trying to pinch (and he pinches hard). Like a flipped switch, he turned calm. Who knows why, but he was gripped by a sudden acceptance. Off we went to Five Guys.

After burgers and fries, it was my turn to have fun. Nate was very patient in the hour I flipped through the racks of LPs. My tendency is to check in with him often, with “Nate are you doing alright?” every ten minutes or so. He was fine, looking at videos. At one point, something fell and, in his cartoon voice, I heard Nate yell “Whoa whoa” as if falling off a cliff. He was OK, but I took that as a signal that it was time to go.

There was one more “toilaroid” he wanted, a Cold Stone Creamery in Albany. We went to the address but couldn’t find the store. All we saw were hospital buildings. Nate handled it well, mostly because he was distracted by the construction going on. 

“They’re doing something to that building,” he said gleefully. When he noticed water dripping from above, he shouted with glee “And it’s peeing!” This was a happy boy.

Lately, Nate has started recognizing anniversaries and birthdays, making sure we all know about them. We were tuned in to the ’70’s station for a break.

“Happy 40th Birthday ‘One Bad Apple.'”  That led me to expound on The Osmonds vs. The Jackson 5. He had no interest in the topic. But when Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” came on, and I told Nate that when the song came out in 1979 I was a high school senior, he really was interested.

He touched my right arm gently (much preferable to the pinch).

“You were?” He was both happy and surprised. “You were a senior when this song came out?”

(One other ’80’s song moment. When Kool & The Gang’s “Misled” came on, Nate, reading the LED, said “Happy 30th Birthday Myseld.” I had to correct that mispronunciation though my laughter).

All in all, we had a great time together: some fighting, some conversation, and some singing along to the radio. Nate’s been trying to sing more, attempting in a low mumble to figure out the lyrics to tunes he’s never heard before. It is quite endearing.

As we pulled into Cooperstown, “Lola” came on. It was the second time that day we’d heard it; they played the whole album at Last Vestige. Listening carefully to the words, Nate piped in.

“Mixed up, huh?”

“Yeah, Nate,  it is a mixed up world”

 “And who’s responsible for this?” A gem! Funny and pointed. Often Nate gets to the very core of things. I fumbled for an answer.

“I don’t know Nate, I don’t know.”

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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One Response to Albany Trip

  1. Pingback: all review » Water for Elephants

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