Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

February 27, 2014


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Life is about perspective. Not a huge revelation, but a starting point for this column. 

Several weeks ago I watched the 1940 semi-classic movie “Knute Rockne: All American.” Irishman Pat O’Brien played Notre Dame’s legendary “Fighting Irish” coach, Rockne (who was actually Norwegian).

I’d seen the movie several times before, but it’s been awhile. Noteworthy is a scene I’d paid little attention to in the past, but now, it seemed absolutely absurd. My perspective was different.

Explanation: Near the end of the film, Rockne is on the sidelines coaching … somewhat. The audience is made aware that time and health had taken their toll. He’s portrayed as a pitiful caricature of himself, slumped in an old-time wheelchair, replete with plaid blanket around his legs. And 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 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 wasn’t even 42 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), 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. Talk about frustration though: I use this ginkus regardless of the fact that my fingertip encompasses and presses any one of five different letters surrounding the targeted area 95 percent of the time.

My brother, Tim, and I were texting last weekend. 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 another 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 beaches of Puerto Rico, while I stood outside in a snowbank begging their dog to 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 pictures of our charges cuddled up on the floor.”

“You’re right,” I texted back in only eight tries.

“We should,” he quickly responded, 20 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 speed texting ability.

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 how Knute Rockne is doing.”

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

Tom Valley is a Medina resident. Contact him at tvalley@rochester.rr.com. For information about Notre Dame, contact Paul Mullane at Mullane@Mullane.com or Mullane Motors, Lockport, N.Y.