The Bard of Hollantown Ponders Football

MILTON BATES

September 03, 1993|By MILTON BATES

Fats Drobnak, my somewhat ancient friend, was pensively munching a burger when I stopped by Winterling's last weekend.

What's happening? I asked.

''What' happening,'' Fats replied, ''is that it never ends.''

Oh, that's an overstatement. I'm aware that hot weather troubles the obese, but Labor Day approaches.

''I'm not talkin' about the heat. I mean namin' the football team which gettin' it is a maybe at best.''

No, Fats. That's been settled. The fans have spoken loud and clear and it will be the Ravens.

''Yeah, they spoke all right but they're not the ones comin' up with the green. And even Boogie or Glazer, they don't call the shots, neither. It's the NFL money men do that, right?''

Yes, but I've gathered this is not a top priority with you, Fats, and with the poll results in the matter will recede from public view.

''Wrong. That's what I meant about never ending. The guy who writes the colyum on the inside page, the one with the mustache, he's runnin' a pome contest about it now.''

Surely, poetry doesn't interest you?

''Not much, although I can rhyme pretty god. I learned a lot from Hymie Pressman. But my poker buddies in Hollantown, they're showin' me samples and thinkin' they're gonna win. Get their names in the papers and all.''

Really, I wouldn't have imagined. Can you share a few?

''Sure. This is Stash's; he's still broke up about the old team:

In fifty-nine we won it all

And then Mayflower came to call.

A midnight snatch!

Still angry? Natch

But we'll be back two years from fall.''

A respectable effort. Any others?

''Well, Luigi, he's the one says if we don't get the name back he ain't buyin' any tickets. So he comes up with this:

Take your pick from Crabs to Ravens

Balmer town is full of mavens

Yes, names abound

But it's the sound

Of 'Colts' that will fulfill our cravin's.''

That does convey his message. Hardly of contest-winning caliber, yet surprising in a way. I've met Luigi and never took him for a man of letters.

''Who said he worked for the Post Office? Drives a hack for Mister Phil down on Clinton. But that don't mean he ain't deep.''

I had no intention to offend, Fats. Thus far, I'm a bit impressed. Are there any more such gems?

''Here's one I can't figure. Don't even rhyme:'

John to Raymond. Six!

Old hopes kindled but, alas,

Past is not prologue.''

Poignant, Fats, but surely neither you nor any of your friends penned this?

''No, it was Leo's daughter, Kate. Always seemed like a nice kid, but turned out to be a lawyer. You try to raise 'em right, but you never know. Anyway, it makes no sense to me.''

Don't fault her. It's a haiku, an unrhymed Japanese lyric poem. In all, a legitimate endeavor. And you, Fats, did you make an effort?

''Yeah. That Rhino thing steamed me, so I took a stab with this:

A T-shirt on which is adorned

A vile quadruped which is horned

Is one that we'll shun

In this land of the 'hon'

Just where'd this dumb idea get borned?''

Wait a minute. You wrote that?

''Well, I got some help on the first part but the last line -- that was all me.''

Ah-hah! You're such a many-faceted lad. Hey, Bill, another burger for my buddy. How'd you like it, Fats?

''On your tab?''

Absolutely.

''Medium well. And while you're at it, throw in a fries and another Natty Boh.''

Milton Bates writes from Baltimore.

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