Playing Catch with Strangers
A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes of Age
Heliotrope Books 2017
There comes a time in every man’s life when he’s got to grow up. Personally, I found growing up very hard. I went to college and fell in love with it. And what’s not to love? You meet really interesting people (some very attractive, if you get my drift); you get to yak about really fascinating though useless stuff into the wee hours (and sleep late!); you can play pick-up basketball at nearly any hour of the day (“I got next”); there’s a lot of beer to be drunk and, um, other things to be ingested (some of which will, so you are told, “expand your mind” or something like that); and you don’t really have to work (other than the job you get to raise the money to buy the aforementioned beer). Oh, and the dining hall (a really magical place) always had soft serve!
It never occurred to me to leave this youthful paradise of irresponsibility. So I didn’t; I went to graduate school where I continued to live that indolent life for nearly another decade. And even when I was done there and got my first “job”, I continued to live more or less like I did in college well into my 30s, a kind of over-educated man-child.
Eventually, though, there was a reckoning. And it was rough. I’ll spare you the sad, painful details.
Happily for Bob Brody and his lovely family, his reckoning came sooner and he handled it with much more grace that I did. But our stories of growing up are of an American-male piece. He tells his tale in a wonderful series of vignettes in his new memoir Playing Catch with Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes of Age (Heliotrope Books, 2017). They are at moments funny, touching, instructive, wise and always heartfelt. And (spoiler alert!) the entire set ends well, because Bob grows up to be a very responsible family man. And a great writer to boot!