sometimes i see things that i just can’t help staring at. it’s rude. it’s impolite. i try not to do it in public. but in the privacy of my own home, it doesn’t seem to hurt much. in these waning days of the football season, i’ve been watching a ton of football fluff on the various sports channels (particularly a series on the nfl network called missing rings). i’ve also been sucked into another show called playbook which is described by the nfl network as a program that uses “exclusive access to coaching film” to “give fans an in -depth look at the match-ups and how each team looks to exploit the other.” as a football junkie, one might assume that i tune into the show to learn the ins and outs of competing teams. but, no-sir. i tune in for one reason. to stare at brian baldinger’s right digitus minimus. i can’t help it. indeed, i found myself this past season actually seeking out games on fox that baldinger was calling even though i didn’t care a jot nor a tiddle about either team on the field, all the while ignoring the fact that baldinger is one of my least favorite color commentators. i would mute the tv and hope the network would cut away from game action and show the booth just so i could catch a glimpse of baldinger’s right digitus quintus. his right fourth finger colloquially is so jacked up that it makes me feel like a vicarious arthritic barometer. if i’m visually locked into his digitus V, i can accurately report the atmospheric pressure and predict high pressure fronts with some modicum of accuracy.
it was when a commercial break came on that my hypnotic lock on baldinger’s pinkie was interrupted and i realized that my habit of staring in-house was indeed dangerous. my daughter, who is a very live wire of a three year old, had been lying silently and statuesquely on the couch beside me with her head in my lap. this is so unusual and out of character for her that asked her if she felt well. she assured me that she was ok. and then went silent again. i should have known something was up, that this was indeed my child. after a couple of minutes she said, “hey, papa. why do you have a charlotte’s web inside your nose?”
“i don’t know, buddy,” i said, “but it is really not polite to stare.”