Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Favorite Places

 As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

It is hard to look, D.C. sports fans.  Reality is burdensome.

Early returns on Johnny Davis, the Wizards’ first round pick, are underwhelming to say the least.  He looks like “just a guy”.  The Wizards have a bunch of “guys”.  They have but one “dude” – Bradley Beal.  They need more dudes.  They’ve needed more dudes since the late 1970s – literally. 

The Capitals are looking questionable.  Zero: that’s the number of Caps playoff series wins since hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2018.  Alex Ovechkin will turn 37 in September.  A balky hip may claim Nicklas Backstrom’s career; a rebuilt ACL will compromise a part of Tom Wilson’s upcoming season.  Did I say questionable?  I meant dicey.    

Diamond dreams?  There are only nightmares here.  The disintegration of the Nationals, a team that won the freaking World Series 21 months ago and is now the worst team in baseball, is nearly complete.  Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon cashed out.  Max Scherzer and Trea Turner were traded.  These departures only make sense if Juan Soto - a modern-day Ted Williams absent the prickly personality - is a National for life.  Two years from free agency, he's now on the trading block.  Because…it’s D.C.

You know what’s left.  Are you actually seeking solace, some reason for hope in the Commanders?  The Fightin’ Snyders?  Yeah, it’s the NFL and anything can happen, but…just stop.  The ceiling for this outfit is flirtations with a .500 record and no more Congressional inquiries.

From zero to depressed in 250 words - you’re welcome?  A song will enliven the spirit.  “Oh, sing with me, sing for the year, sing for the laughter and sing for the tear.”  Aerosmith demands, in this D.C. sports swoon, that we “Dream On” together.    

Speaking of songs that set the mood, just hearing Julie Andrews belt out “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” lightens the mood and dissolves the tension.  “The Sound of Music” is a cinematic gem, but the musical’s song “My Favorite Things” is a transcendent, multi-generational classic in and of itself.  The song’s message warms the coolest heart, but its smooth, orderly cadence has an addictive quality that has even escaped Taylor Swift’s songbook.  As if “My Favorite Things" needed further validation, legendary saxophonist John Coltrane paid the song the ultimate tribute by recording an instrumental version and issuing an album under the same name – it’s jazz gold.   

My favorite things?  Yours?  Lists too long for a column.  Focus we need, as Yoda might say.  Here’s a favorite things sub-genre to ponder: favorite places.  A simple prompt gets the mind-gears churning.  Thoughts rush in from far and wide – places lived, dining spots, sports stadiums, hang outs or locations where extraordinary things happened.

These are the moments when I wish this was a conversation with you, my dear reader, instead of a typed monologue.  Nevertheless, I’ll press on.  My list of places includes my childhood home, two restaurants my wife and I hold dear, the man caves I’ve fashioned at various abodes, a theater where my kids have gifted me cherished memories, RFK Stadium, Memorial Stadium and a brewery in Baltimore.  That’s the quick list.  Thoughts of each place bring warm feelings, comfort and an involuntary smile – evidence of the magic that happened there and special content each added to my life’s scroll.

Time has altered the physical presence of my favorite places.  The man caves were sold with the surrounding homes, occupied and repurposed by others.  The brewery in Baltimore closed years ago.  Memorial Stadium was demolished.  RFK, abandoned and disintegrating, is in its last chapter.  Others are making memories now in my childhood home.  And as my kids rocket through the teenage years, my time with that school theater is growing short.

Things do indeed change - even favorite things and favorite places.  But new ones get added, lists of “favorites” grow and cherished memories are safely stored in the mind – proof that intangible feelings transcend tangible sources.

Ms. Andrews might conclude with this: “So when D.C. sports bite, when life stings, when you’re feeling sad, simply remember your favorite things (and places) and you won’t feel soooo bad.” 

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