When my cousin Richard turned 50, we held (as my family is wont to do) a roast in his honor. Since he is an ardent baseball fan, my offering was a parody of “Casey at the Bat.” Today he completes another year, and I offer it up again, to share with old and new friends alike.
Richard at the Desk
(with apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)
The outlook wasn’t brilliant at the Insurance Journal that day:
Five stories left to go, but only two more hours to play.
Two writers left with stomach aches, another with the flu.
The editor just wrung his hands, not knowing what to do.
The editor lived out of town, up in Redondo Beach.
But out of town, in modern times, does not mean out of reach.
Out went the panicked signals on computer, fax, and phone…
Everything would work out fine if Richard was at home.
He answered with two stories done, another on the way.
“Relax,” he said. “Remember, these tight deadlines make my day!”
Thus formed a hope which springs eternal in the human breast:
nothing is impossible with Richard at the desk!
There was ease in Richard’s manner as he sat down at his place.
There was pride in Richard’s bearing and a smile on Richard’s face.
By noon, the score was four to two, with only one hour left,
and none who saw could doubt that it was Richard at the desk.
But now the phone rang — twas an in-law whose computer had the fits;
now the other line — a friend who’d lost her lover and her wits;
in walked a cousin desperate for assistance with her taxes,
and suddenly the fax machine was wildly spinning faxes.
The cat plowed through the stacks of paper at his feet.
His wife stood in the doorway, yelling that he wasn’t neat.
The clock kept inching forward, and the truth, we must confess,
was that time was running out for mighty Richard at the desk.
Defiance gleamed in Richard’s eye, a sneer curled Richard’s lip.
Ten thousand thoughts played on his brow; his hands clenched at his hip.
And suddenly there came a sound that can only be expressed
as a gutter-driving-baseball cheer from Richard at the desk.
He put his lovelorn, witless friend on the cell phone with his wife.
He warned his in-law that it was his computer or his life.
He gave a tax book to his cousin, and then kicked out the cat.
This was more than Richard at the desk; it was Richard at the bat!
And now the door is locked inside, and now the phone is dead.
Richard’s fingers on the keys click-clack a dance to wake the dead.
And as the clock hands meet the hour, five stories make their route
to San Diego, and it is only Time that has struck out.
The legends come and legends go; their names we learn by heart,
each one a champion in his field, a lion in his art,
and on that list a name appears that cannot be repressed.
It is the name of Richard, mighty Richard at the desk.
© Deborah Edler Brown
Image by Rob Wood of topendsports