Apples and Oranges

We took Robbie to Oswego yesterday to start college (Nate, Robbie and I went on a visit there two years ago:

It was wonderful to move him in – his records, fridge, etc. – and his room is big enough, with a wonderful view of Lake Ontario. After sending him to Brazil last year, dropping him off 2 1/2 hours away from Cooperstown is a breeze.

Still, Nate was concerned that we would all cry. That is what happened when we parted at Albany Airport last year. Sweetly he attended to Karen, very solicitous as he patted her shoulders and periodically checked that she was OK. She was.

While I took great pleasure in saying goodbye to Robbie, knowing he was about to begin his adult life and the four years of college that are bound to shape him forever, I couldn’t help but compare Nate and Rob.

Yes, I revel in Nate’s distinct character and embrace his unique achievements. Yes, I have written before that while I may bemoan the missing pieces of Nate’s life, he doesn’t. Still, Nate lived at home while he attended SUNY-Cobleskill, while Rob is out in the world. Rob is mostly mature, Nate is far from it and may never get there.

To prove that point, we headed out of campus towards downtown Oswego. Yes, there is such a thing. Nate had six toilaroids (bathroom pictures, to you new readers)  he needed to take. Could there be a more glaring sign of how Nate is, in some areas, treading water?

Actually, there can. We saw Azteca Mexican Grill, a restaurant that looked underwhelming from the outside, but turned out to be excellent. Nate’s been venturing into the world of Taco Bell, and it seemed like he would do well at Azteca. He enjoyed the chips, but ordered chicken fingers and fries from the children’s menu (12 and under). When they came, he gave them a suspicious sniff and said, “Uhh, I’ve had enough food.”

I offered him some spanish rice, which he picked at. Karen handed him a chicken flauta. Nate took it in his right hand, grabbed a chicken tender with his left, and put them both to his nose for a smell test.

He decided the tender was the lesser of two evils and took a dainty, experimental bite. Immediately he made the motions of getting ready to throw up. He gagged, his eyes popped, his cheeks expanded like Dizzy Gillespie’s. It’s never pretty and panics us all.

He eventually  settled down, excused himself and reemerged from the bathroom minutes later. Whether he heaved or not we still don’t know for sure.

Rob was a mile away with his roommate, at the onset of his adult life, no turning back. Nate is a million miles from that. Sometimes the contrasts are hard to bear.


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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2 Responses to Apples and Oranges

  1. Kathy says:

    You know if every child was the same life would be boring! I think it is the differences in all of us that make our families special. It is wonderful that Rob is off starting college but it is wonderful that Nate went to college. Adult life is over rated most days so don’t rush the kids they will be their own kind of grown up in their own special way in their own time.

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