“BYE BYE LOVE.” A SILVER FRAMED PHOTOGRAPH WORTH FAR MORE THAN 1,000 WORDS ENTERS THE LANT COLLECTION.

CHRIS WELSH, ONE PHONE CALL, AN AUTOGRAPHED BASEBALL CARD, AND A SURE-FIRE MARKETING DEVICE YOU SHOULD BE USING TO MAKE MORE MONEY… BUT AREN’T! ‘HOW I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT.’

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note.

When we left the Dolphin Seafood Restaurant that evening in 1981 it was pouring buckets. The car was blocks away; we had no umbrella; not even a newspaper to cover our heads. Within just seconds, we were soaked. Decisive action was necessary… and fast.

Any port in a storm. Dramatis personae.

There are just four people in this tale. First Chris Welsh, major league pitcher. His beautiful girl friend. Me, tale teller. And you, the immediate and ultimate beneficiary of this incident, now part of the literary repertoire and dinner party conversations everywhere. Let’s get down to specifics…

It all started with a phone number and my desire to have my prospects call me any hour of the day or night. Thus, my direct “call me now” message was plastered on everything from my pens, calendars, brochures, ads, proposals to my business cards (unrepentedly flashy with my count’s coronet in real gold; I kid you not) tee-shirts, envelopes, memo pads. Get the picture?

I liked cool cash and needed copious amounts given my (admittedly) lavish tastes. Keeping the telephone red hot with calls from “I want a piece of you and your brain, Dr. Lant,” prospects was an essential part of my international Master Plan. And get this, the more times I put my moniker and phone number on every bloody thing under the sun, the more responses I got…and the richer I got. It was oh so sweet… and even my fiercest competitors were forced to admit, I was one cool dude.

Then one fine day, I got a friendly call from a guy named Chris Welsh. Didn’t know him. But he wafted some salubrious incense in my direction; lathering me with schmaltz sufficient to choke a horse. Of course, I liked him from that very first compliment… for Chris had all the persuasive moves and that all-important gift of the gab; perhaps a Kindred Spirit.

“The Unabashed Self-Promoter’s Guide.”

As it turned out, Chris was in Cambridge for an important family event. He had a few hours to kill and decided to spend them judiciously in what was then my favorite bookstore, Wordsworth, a grand place which allowed me (and the rest of their fiercely loyal clientele) to hang out, find a chair and thoroughly check out a potential purchase, or sit oblivious on the floor, no offense taken if bottom nudged by others immersed in A Book, a thing of telling force and compelling language. It was an incredible place…

… Not least because it stocked my books and placed not merely one order but, over time, many, many more. What’s not to like? In this place of tales, dreams, reveries where the best and most lyric words were to be found all around you, just fingertips away, Chris Welsh found… me! And (never underestimate this key point) he also found my phone number along with this ultra clear, ultra important message: “I am standing by to hear from you RIGHT NOW. Call me and see for yourself.” I meant every single word of this resonant declaration… and Chris, feeling the force and power of my adamant statement, knew it, too.

He called.

I answered.

He told me he was on Brattle Street, at Wordsworth, and had just purchased a handful off my (weighty) tomes. Could he drop by and have me autograph them; a request no real author, no matter how eminent and renowned, can ever resist… because they know the power and importance of people like you… and so do I. Customer regard is essential for success, cannot be duplicated, and is always welcome, always and whenever.

Wordsworth being just a hop, skip and a jump from my crib hard by the Cambridge Common, Welsh was punctual to the second. I liked that too.

Chris Welsh, charmer, purveyor of my first and only signed baseball card.

Before continuing my tale, I need to make what my many friends would regard as a completely superfluous and unnecessary mea culpa: namely that I don’t know a baseball from a grapefruit, even if my (much valued) life depended on it. There, now you know the worst. Excoriate me, condemn, disdain, but remember I could have taken the Fifth… but chose brutal honesty instead.

Chris Welsh and me, Kindred Spirits.

Chris and I got on like a house afire. Born April 14, 1955 his (comparative) youth allowed me to tower over him, big brother like. More to like and more still when he asked to see all my books and bought all the ones he didn’t have. Like I said, what’s not to like?

And then The Big Announcement, namely that Chris Welsh, born in Wilmington, Delaware, was one of the gods of creation, a certified, real baseball player with teams and colleagues who were all household names. Now at this point, our burgeoning kindred spiritship could have crashed and burned. But it didn’t, not by a long shot. Why? Because I never condescend to merit, whatever field it’s in and I have known all my life that my ears are my most important marketing asset. I wanted to learn; he was glad to teach me. And so the only major league baseball lecture of my life commenced.

Dinner at the Dolphin.

Given my complete and utter lack of knowledge and interest in major league or any other kind of baseball, I have to tell you I was proud of myself; my questions practical, short and to the point, the better to camouflage my sad relationship to the Great Republic’s great past time. And so we passed a useful, companionable hour or so. He then invited me to dinner, ordained the cuisine and asked if he could bring the lady of his life along. Of course, for I am of “the more the merrier” school of entertaining.

And so the night progressed, the lobsters just so, the Chardonnay crisp, the conversation witty, sharp, with that necessary dollop of malice the best raconteurs use to turn conversation to a practised art form.

“”I Love A Rainy Night.”

But all good things come to an end… but not always when, how or where we might suppose. Thus I return to that moment of aquatic superfluity along Massachusetts Avenue in a storm that wouldn’t quit. My new friends said they’d drive home as they were, a pair of drowned rats. I wouldn’t hear of it.

And so we walked home, Gene Kelly like, not missing a single puddle. In Harvard Square, we bought pounds of cheap candy, the kind you only share with your very best friends. Thus we arrived chez moi… with a problem.

“Showers washed all my cares away.”

We were all wet, very wet, needing to do something right away. And so each in turn retired to my Roman-style bath, the better to doff their sodden clothes and wrap ourselves like so many enchiladas in big fluffy towels. Thus did our unexpected evening pass in high good humor and too much sugar for all, until it was time for Chris Welsh and his inamorata to get up, dress and depart.

That was when he autographed one of his San Diego Padres baseball cards and handed it to me with a grin and these immortal words: “Five hours ago you were just a name on a book cover, now my girl and I are getting out of your bed”.

All true. And that’s why I shall never ever take an umbrella to any restaurant on a rainy night and why I whistle Eddie Rabbitt’s 1981 tune, “I love a rainy night,” as a kind of incantation summoning serendipity.

“Well, I love a rainy night… You know it makes me feel good.” I hope it always will.

Envoi

Chris Welsh pitched for the San Diego Padres (1981-1983; Montreal Expos (1983); Texas Rangers (1985-1986); Cincinnati Reds (1986). Known as “The Crafty Left-Hander” because of his distinct style, he has been a sports commentator for the Cincinnati Reds for many years. He remains as charming and affable as ever.

About the author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is well known internationally as the author of over 1000 articles and over 60 books. He is arguably the most well-known author of his generation. He has touched the lives of millions of people worldwide with his inimitable prose style. To see all of his works go to www.drjeffreylant.com.

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‘BERRIES ARE NICE’. THE LUSH RIPENESS OF STRAWBERRIES AND THEIR SWEET RED ALLURE.

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. This is a story about a fruit so rich that once you start thinking about it you cannot rest until you are eating some… popping them into your mouth as fast as you can, crushing them… letting the richness of its sweet, sweet juice drip down your chin… glad to have all you can eat… joyfully careless about what you waste… for there will always be strawberries enough for you… you are absolutely sure of that!

But as Deana Carter knows, the lush abundance of strawberries is not unlimited… and so she twangs her tale of high summer, desire, a taste so sweet it maddens you and never satiates… producing a wine you can never get enough of… a strawberry wine… a wine that you can never forget… though sometimes you wish you’d never come to know.

And so, I have selected for today’s occasional music “Strawberry Wine” by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison, released in August, 1996. Nashville record companies found the song overly long, controversial, and not memorable enough. But when Carter sang her heart out about the summer, the boy… the strawberries and their wine… the record won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. Go now to any search engine and listen to it. You’ll find yourself remembering… you’ll find yourself craving… you’ll want their taste again… the berries always see to that…. for they are an imperious fruit.

Her Majesty’s strawberry.

On a picture perfect summer day one August I was in Scotland, in the Highlands, at Balmoral… a country castle conceived by Prince Albert, the beautiful German prince loved obsessively by Queen Victoria. For an American used to the White House with its layer after layer of security, Balmoral comes as a rather unnerving shock. “Security” consisted of a single guard, unobtrusive, reading a newspaper. There might be, there must be more… but that’s all I ever saw. He barely looked at us.. smiled… and waved. Thus does Her Britannic Majesty tell you she is beloved of the people and doesn’t need a legion of centurions to protect her… unlike the president of the Great Republic who always needs more… and more.

And so in due course, my friend and I found ourselves in the magnificent park, expansive, serene, as lovely a place as Earth provides. And in the park I found a kitchen garden… the Queen’s garden… and in this garden I saw a strawberry, huge, perfectly ripe, ready to be eaten. And so I reached down to pluck it and enjoy… whereupon I felt a strong hand pulling me up and heard my friend’s voice, no longer amiable, but commanding, imperative, stentorian: “Do not touch that strawberry…. that is the Queen’s berry!” And I realized what being a subject of the Windsors meant, whilst I was the child of revolution and lese majeste/. And so the uneaten berry remained… for the delectation of the Queen.

Even dukes get only leaves.

I was crushed but as my friend was driving I had to give way, and gracefully, too – or else.

Then I had a thought that cheered me up. Even the grandest members of the nobility couldn’t eat of the Royal fruit with impunity. They had to make do with the strawberries’ leaves. And no, I am not making this up. A duke’s coronet proves my point. When a man becomes a duke (and there are only 24 such people in the entire realm of Great Britain) he is entitled to a silver-gilt circlet called a coronet. It features eight strawberry leaves — not one more and never a single one less. Thus does the sovereign elevate ambitious members of the aristocracy… and keep her strawberries for herself.

Other gentlemen of high rank and title are also entitled to strawberry leaves on their coronets. And here there is a most curious conundrum: marquesses who rank just below dukes in the peerage of the realm are entitled to four strawberry leaves… but earls, who rank below marquesses, get eight. What can this mean? For peers, as you may imagine, are protocol mad… and scrutinize their inferiors for any indication that they are claiming rank and privilege to which they are not strictly entitled. You can be sure there’s some fiddle going on here… but if the marquesses are in a pet of high indignation, they have but to look far down at the viscounts and barons who have not a single strawberry leaf between them… and that’s just the way these marquesses mean to keep it — “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”.

Strawberry leaves mean strawberry tea.

Fortunately, there is more you can do with your strawberry leaves than wait for the Queen to make you a duke. That, after all, could be a long time coming since the last non-royal duke was his grace of Westminster, in 1874. It’s true that her present majesty when a young woman offered to make Sir Winston Churchill duke of London… but he declined and there the matter rests, perhaps forever.

And you’ll agree, this situation could be more than irritating for those who every morning see in their looking glasses, not milord this or the right honorable that but… His Grace the Duke of… resplendent in ermine and strawberry leaves.

These men, well bred for hundreds of years, offer the correct aquiline features, the correct pedigree, with generations of the right fathers and acquiescing mothers, masters of every arcane procedure, the right words and impeccable cravat, these men I tell you are smoldering with rage, aggravation, frustration, worthies all marooned in the wrong time. For them, each of them only the calming propensities of strawberry leaf tea will do… poured in a fragile cup of Minton, delivered by Nannie who always knows just what to do. “Have some more sugar, ducks. There, there, it’ll be all right.”

And so does Nanny, who loves you best, goes out with wicker basket on her arm, to the places she knows well, where the fresh wild strawberries grow or the sweet woodland berries. Take 1 tablespoon of dried rose petals, 1/2 teaspoon of yarrow, 1 teaspoon of strawberry leaves, a pinch of mint or blackberry leaves. Add 1 cup of boiling water and allow to steep. Choler cannot long exist in the presence of such determined coziness.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).

It was perhaps in pursuit of these ingredients that Emily Dickinson, mistress of opaque language, stepped out, “Over the fence” …

“Over the fence — Strawberries — grow — Over the fence — I could climb — if I tried, I know — Berries are nice.

But — if I strained my Apron — God, would certainly scold! Oh, dear, — I guess if He were a
Boy — he’d — climb — if He could!”

So, let’s leave it like that, for as Deana Carter sang, “It’s funny how those memories they last. Like strawberry wine… (when) The hot July moon saw everything” and the strawberries were there, bright and beckoning, just over the fence.

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb

‘I’VE BEEN WORKIN’ ON MY REWRITE, THAT’S RIGHT.’ AN OPEN LETTER TO A YOUNG FRIEND WHO WANTS TO BE A SCRIBBLER.