“Kmart, Ghosts, and Going Home Again”

How a Story About Baseball Connects All Three

“Big Kmart”

Somebody, somewhere, sometime said, “You can never can go home again.” I thought of that cliché when I came across the photo “Scott Street #2” when I was organizing some photos a while back. It is a photograph of an apartment I lived in many years ago. The building is long gone. A strip mall stands in its place. That photo and that cliché got me thinking about idea of home and what it means. Is home a physical place or an emotional state of mind? Can we go back home? Would we want to if we could? As I got to thinking about these questions my mind drifted to Kmart. What? Kmart you ask? Why Kmart? Hell, I got to thinking the same thing.

“Scott Street #2”

Kmart was a common shopping destination during my formative years (which was quite a while ago). Before Wal-Mart, Target, or Meijer I made many a trip to Kmart either with my Moms or by myself. I could bore you with a long list of purchases (from my second G.I. Joe action figure, Snake Eyes, to a tie for my first part time job) and memories (the joy of buying my parents birthday gifts or the thrill of looking at prints from my first roll of Kodak 110 film developed at the photo counter) but that’s not the point. Let’s just say seeing Kmart stores being replaced by other store fronts or being demolished rubs some of my sentimental nerves pretty raw.

Yet, those sentimental memories of shopping trips long past couldn’t have been the only reason Kmart came to mind when I got to thinking about the idea of home. I kept wondering why this photograph of an old apartment building got me thinking about Kmart? I found the answer tucked away on one of my bookshelves. “K Mart” is the title of a short story from W.P. Kinsella’s Go the Distance Baseball Stories, a book I read over twenty five years ago. I decided to pour myself a tall glass of Wild Turkey Rye, think about the six homes I lived in during the last twenty five years, reflect on the personal impact of once mighty retail chain that has all but disappeared from our consumer landscape (check out my 1.21.23 post), and reread Kinsella’s short story. Although the title of the Kinsella’s book would lead you to believe it is a collection of baseball stories, it is really much more. Yes, baseball serves an important role in each story, but Kinsella uses the game as a means to address larger issues. “K Mart” is about friendship, the concept of home, the ghosts of one’s past, and how baseball connects all three through the years. There is a line from the story I underlined all those years ago that holds as true today as it did then: “Carrying the leaden ball of what-might-have-been deep within us is not a punishment but a lesson.”

There are some homes I can return to, others I can’t. Some I want to return to, others I don’t. The same can be said for those ghosts (people and events) from my past that float in my periphery, always there but just out of sight. This line from Kinsella’s baseball story serves as a reminder that home (whatever definition you chose to use) is always with us.

-K-

Hip Flasks and Other Accessories

A Drinking Man’s EDC

For the serious drinkers (those with a historical bent to their bending elbows) today is a day of infamy. Today is the anniversary of the start of Prohibition. Some consider it the starting pistol for our nation sprinting head first and hell bent into the Roaring ’20s. In honor of speak easies, bootleg whiskey, hip flasks, flappers, and Outlaws who defied Prohibition I thought I would share my Drinking Man’s EDC (that’s ‘Every Day Carry’ for those of you not in the tactical know).

“A Drinking Man’s EDC”

As I’ve said before, if you are going to do any serious drinking then you should be serious about your drinking. My EDC isn’t anything extraordinary, but it currently addresses my drinking lifestyle. What’s in your Drinking Man’s (or Womans’s, or Whoever, as long as your are old enought to legally imbibe) EDC?

-K-

“The Beauty of Bourbon”

Walker Percy on Bourbon

You don’t need a reason to drink Bourbon, and nobody should ask you to provide an excuse for wanting to drink Bourbon on a Wednesday afternoon. But if you do find yourself wanting reasons and/or feeling pressured to provide excuses may I suggest “Bourbon” by Walker Percy. Percy’s essay discusses the beauty of a shot of Bourbon.

As the first line of the Percy’s essay sates, “Bourbon” is not written by an expert (so the know it all whiskey snobs out there can go elsewhere). Instead, Percy provides us with an overview of the beauty of Bourbon and the benefits of knocking back a shot. These aesthetic benefits range from enjoying the taste to dealing with the “…anomie of the late twentieth century…” (and several points in between). Percy also provides us with several examples of how Bourbon played a variety of roles in his life. These examples provide those of us who imbibe Bourbon an opportunity to reflect about the various roles Bourbon plays in our lives.

Percy’s examples got me thinking about some of my own experiences with Bourbon. I remember my Pops buying a few jars of moonshine in Harlan County decades ago (I wonder what Percy would have thought of the taste). I think of canoe and camping trips with a bottle in my backpack, of weddings and funerals with flasks being passed around. Bourbon played an important and unique role in each of these and many other memories. If you put each of Percy’s aesthetic benefits in a checklist, I would be able to tick each box. If you enjoy an occasional (or frequent) shot then Walker Percy’s essay about the beauty and benefits of Bourbon is for you. And if anybody asks for a reason or excuse for why you enjoy that shot paraphrase Percy and let him or her know the effect of the shot is secondary to the joy of the shot.

-K-

“Bourbon” from Signposts in a Strange Land by Walker Percy

New state-new address-new job-new year. Why not start anew?

-K-

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