Clippings by Karl Lindholm: Doctor Baseball sings a bedtime song

Boring. Same thing, year after year.
For nearly 10 years, I have offered the same item for the service auction at our church:
“Go to a Lake Monsters Game in Burlington with Doctor Baseball”: four people, everything included — a ride to and from the game, tickets, program, hot dog/beer, pretentious inside-baseball conversation.
The minimum bid is $100. The actual value: “Priceless.”
That’s me, “Doctor Baseball.”
You’d think I could come up with something else, some variety. Ida and Handy, who ran this year’s auction, challenged me to offer a second item, perhaps in addition to the baseball trip. They played to my ego, citing my many talents, my broad interests, and fascinating long life.
Such a variety of services were donated for auction this year, like three hours of yard work, taxi service (five round trips), piano tuning, guided hike, flower arranging, six yoga classes, bike tune-up, an hour of musical entertainment, and so on.
But I came up empty. What I have to offer is a trip to a ballgame. That’s it. Every year. Don’t get me wrong, I always have a good time. I love going to Lake Monsters games in Burlington with friends.
I have already been thinking about next year. I’m committed to doing something new and different — and have two ideas that are especially promising.
Here’s what I plan to donate next time: “Lunch with Karl at his favorite place.” Minimum bid — $25. Actual value — also “Priceless.”
Of course, my favorite “place” for lunch is my car.
See, just before noon, we’ll park across from the Middlebury Market and I’ll buy lunch for the two of us, along with the Boston Globe. I’ll turn the radio on to Vermont Public Radio and we’ll listen to “Vermont Edition” with host Jane Lindholm, a daily ritual for me.
We’ll eat, and read, and listen to the radio. Timeless pleasures. We’ll trade sections of the Globe — I’ll even let you have the Sports Section first.
One rule: no talking.
OK, that’s one. I have another service item in mind too, one truly based on my special gifts and experience.
“One week of bedtime songs from Uncle Karl.” Minimum bid — $100. Actual value: Priceless (of course).
This one needs a little explanation.
I have four children, ages 18-36, grown up now. When they were little, I loved putting them to bed. I was really good at it. I used to sing them to sleep (though, in truth, I often sang myself to sleep — “Dad’s asleep. Again,” they would report).
I think this one is a real winner. Overworked parents love a break at bedtime. Uncle Karl will sing your kids to sleep while you relax at the end of the day.
Actually, I don’t sing that well and never in public. I can carry a tune, sort of, but I have a three-note range. Kids don’t care. From ages 1-6, they can’t tell if you’re any good and they don’t understand the words anyway, which can be a good thing.
I have an eclectic repertoire, heavy on tunes from the 1960s, and earlier. I know six songs all the way through and bits and pieces of a few dozen more.
I like to start with Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right.” Then I go to “Love Minus Zero” (“My love she speaks like silence/without ideals of violence/she doesn’t have to say she’s faithful/she’s true like ice like fire”). Beautiful when sung soulfully, like I do.
After that, I render a couple of old Kingston Trio songs that I have known since I was a teenager — “Scotch and Soda” and “Sloop John B.” I also know all the words to Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” and “Both Sides Now.”
Scotch and soda, mud in your eye,
Baby, do I feel high,
Oh me, Oh my, do I feel high
Dry Martini, jigger of gin,
Oh what a spell you’ve got me in,
Oh my, do I feel high . . .
They sleep like, well, babies.
I told a friend about this great idea, but she was hesitant. “Are you sure parents want some strange old guy sitting in their kids’ dark bedroom, singing to them? Won’t the kids be scared?”
“No!” I reassured her. “It’s not a strange old guy. It’s me, Uncle Karl. Scary? Me? Don’t be silly.”
I’ll be sure to let you know when next year’s service auction is, so you can tell your friends about these exciting opportunities.

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