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From the Valley: Ut tiggy I said to my brother


Life is about perspective. Not a huge revelation, but a starting point for this column.

Several months ago, I watched the 1940 semi-classic movie “Knute Rockne: All American.” Irishman Pat O’Brien played the legendary Notre Dame coach.

I’d seen the movie several times before, but it’s been awhile. Noteworthy, is a scene I’d never paid attention to in the past, but now, it stuck out for its absurdity. My ‘perspective’ was different.

Near the end of the movie, Rockne is on the sidelines coaching … somewhat differently from the fireball person we saw earlier in the film. The audience is made aware that time and health had taken its toll.

He’s portrayed as a pitiful caricature of himself, slumped in an old-time wheelchair, replete with plaid blanket around his legs. Draped in a heavy wool coat, with hat and scarf, the picture paints a once robust coach reduced to a decrepit old geezer with the end, obviously, close at hand.

He’s surrounded by a throng of overly-concerned sycophants, and as he tries valiantly to spur his team on (I think he said “Let’s go, you guys”) one of them reacts in horror at the supposed stress he was bringing upon himself.

Reminding Knute that his youth was a thing of the past, the alarmist chastises him: “Knute, Knute! You’ve got to stop! Remember you’re going to be ... (get ready for this) … 42 years-old on your next birthday!”

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I kid you not. The speaker wasn’t being facetious, it was meant as a serious warning.

Rockne was forty-one years old, and yet, they were ready to put him in storage alongside dinosaur bones and the Dead Sea Scrolls. For God’s sake, I’ve got leftovers in the refrigerator older than that.

Perspective: When I was on the front side of that number (42), and saw the movie, it meant nothing. Now, it took on a whole new meaning. Apparently, it’s not what you’re looking at – but where you’re looking at it from.

Next: I seldom admit that I appreciate modern wizardry, but I do like texting. But talk about frustration: I use this ginkus regardless of the fact that my finger-tip encompasses and presses any 1 of 5 different letters surrounding the targeted area 95% of the time.

This past February, my brother,Tim, and I were texting back and forth. Both of us, at the time, happened to be dog-sitting for family members. Tim was taking care of our nephew Mark’s dog, Rudy. (Mark is the son of my other brother, Mike … and yes, his dog’s name is Rudy Valley.)

At the time, Mark was in Chicago doing “some shooting.” And talk about embarrassing, for the life of me, I can’t remember if Mark is an actor or a hit-man.

I had my daughter Melissa’s family-dog, Roxie. They (my daughter’s family) were warming their toes in the warm beaches of Puerto Rico, while I stood outside in a snowbank begging their dog to take a pee.

Back to the text: “Wow,” Tim said, “where are we in our lives? We’re both sitting home, babysitting dogs for the weekend and texting each other.”

“You’re right.” I texted back, successfully, after only 8 tries.

“We should” he quickly responded, 40 minutes later, “get on that TV show ‘The Biggest Loser’. What’s happened to us?”

He continued, “I am laughing out loud at my own joke. I wish there was a shorter way to tell you that.”

“Ut tiggy.” I shot back, showing off my ability at speed-texting.

But he was right. Twenty years ago, we’d have laughed at the suggestion that either of us would be sitting home babysitting someone’s dog for a week. And content to do it.

It was that perspective thing again.

By the way, “Ut tiggy” was supposed to be, “Tim, didn’t Rudy play for Notre Dame? Ask him if Knute Rockne is still alive.”

And that’s the way it looks from the Valley.

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