Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Came in Here for the Special Offer

Spent a not inconsiderable amount of time yesterday afternoon in a sporting goods superstore-the kind so large it has its own zip code and border security force. It's been a long time since I've gone browsing for sporting gear.

As a kid I had a Whitey Ford pitcher's mitt-a right-hander's model which, since Whitey was a lefty, was quite the rarity. Every off-season, I'd stick a baseball in the pocket and my father would put a small amount of neatsfoot oil on a rag and I'd rub it in good, use those rubber bands kids in the Sixties used to hold up their shin guards when they played soccer, and stick the mitt in the back mousetrap of my bike. Then I'd wait for Spring. Probably similar to the routine that A. J. Burnett went through yesterday morning, though he probably also refrigerated the leftover whipped cream.

I have zero business in a sporting goods store. The only place more useless is my being in a hardware store-or, as they're called now, a 'home improvement store.' FWIW, I improve our home every weekday morning when I leave for work. My wife, Sigrid, is the handy person. I'm not even allowed to have tools-much less a charge plate from one of those behemoth stores. I LOVE when we go into one together and the folks on the floor start talking to me about the Finnegan bolts and Johnson rod adapters. It's a guy thing and I'm as close as they can get. She has to tell them to talk to her as the blank look on my face isn't enough of a clue....

All I wanted to see was what the store had for pedometers-the one I have is that classic example of 'you get what you pay for' and had pretty much spit the bit last week. I passed a whole section dedicated to darts which, and spare me the angry notes, I'm not really sure is even a sport. I mean, let's face it, is card playing a sport? How about slot machines? Folks play them all in bars across the country, but still. And don't give me that 'it's on ESPN!' crap-they broadcast spelling bees and unless we're talking jungle rules, that's not sports.

It took me over an hour to find pedometers-past all the fishing stuff, the running shoes, the not running shoes, the bicycles, and footballs, soccer balls, something called a golf ball adjustment tool (I did NOT stop to explore). My favorite item may have been the heart rate and pulse monitor with GPS; the box said it was manufactured to comply with NASA specs which sounds vaguely bogus as I have to assume the Johnson Space Center knows all of it astronauts would be in the capsule or in the space station in the first place. GPS for astronauts is like having FIVE run-flat tires for your car. With a starting price of $129.99, it did get my heart racing and I had a sudden craving for Tang.

I flagged down an associate in a short-sleeved forest green sport shirt with the store's name above the right breast-in this instance perhaps more than a little overshadowed by same, to help me locate the pedometers. She conceded she had no idea where pedometers would be but to be helpful yelled to a colleague 'this old dude is looking for a Ped-OH-meter-we got any?' Preferably something other than the old dude model, which they did, and I noted the prices and headed for the exit to do some comparison shopping elsewhere. Funny, I suspect unless I use GPS even if I cannot find a single pedOHmeter anywhere else on earth, I won't be able to find my way back to that sports superstore, dude.
-bill kenny

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