Archive for December, 2015


This 89th edition of The Large Man Chronicles is dedicated to all the men and women who travel to make a living.

Just to be clear

I get it. The whole traveling salesman thing must look pretty cool. I have been in every state in the lower 48, a few international spots as well. The first class upgrades, the $75 steaks, the sampling of micro-brewed beers from exotic lands like Tampa and Omaha, the year round golf, the hookers, etc. are better than spending one’s work week in a rail yard, or at a wastewater treatment plant. (I’ve worked those jobs as well) Travel and entertainment on the dime of a third party definitely has its privileges.

Here are some examples of the privileges I enjoyed just last week…


Left my house at 6:45 AM – EST. Headed from Pittsburgh to Odessa Texas, connecting in Dallas, easy check in, plane at the gate, all is good. Should be in my hotel room by 9:00 that night.

Board the plane, take aisle seat, 12B, and wait with anticipation for the beautiful and exotic Brazilian dancer who will surely have seat, 12A, right next to me. When I close my eyes I can see her dark brown skin, the color of mocha. I can see her expressive dark eyes. I can smell the shampoo in her sun streaked hair. I can imagine her accent and her broken English as she laughs at my quirky stories. As I wait for her, I feel bad for this woman who I haven’t met yet, when she discovers that I’m married, and this thing, this connection, will only last for the duration of our flight. We’ll shake hands, maybe share a quick hug, wish each other well, and our time in row 12 on flight 1481 from Pittsburgh to DFW will become nothing but a sweet memory.

Turns out, my Brazilian dancer was a Large white dude, dressed in cargo shorts, a pit stained tee shirt, bottle thick spectacles, and a frown. He looked at the seat numbers and snarled, “I have the window”.

“Of course you do.” I said, with a smile.

My smile was not returned.

This Large, white, non-Brazilian, dude, squished his gelatinous body against the fuselage of our ship, and against me…for 3 hours. I was privileged to have his company.

He was a nice enough man, for someone who wasn’t a Brazilian woman. He worked in the IT department of an energy company in Texas, and he believed the world, our Earth, was flat. He seemed irritated with me when I didn’t give him my approving, “No shit! Really? I never would have thought of that! Makes perfect sense!”

I politely smiled, and nodded. While I didn’t exactly nurture his irrational theories on the shape of our planet, I didn’t make any attempt to counter point his ridiculous reasoning either. I was nice.  I actively listened when all I wanted to do was sleep or read…or punch him in the pie hole so he would shut the fuck up.

At 2:30 in the PM CST, we land. As we approach our gate, the captain spoke into the PA system with an extremely stern, south Boston accent, asking us to remain in our seats and “remain calm” until we are instructed to leave the plane.

Remain calm?

When we stopped at the gate, a few of the people in first class unbuckled, and stood up, (as those people are prone to do, because the rules don’t apply to them) only to be immediately told by the flight attendants (and harshly so) to stay seated . I’m wondering, What’s up?

THEN…2 uniformed, and armed, marshals, board the plane, and with hardened, “not fucking around here” looks on their faces, made their way to the back. I couldn’t see much, but I heard harsh words being exchanged loudly. After a few tense moments, thankfully, 2 people were peacefully removed from the aircraft.

I don’t know if many of you Large Man readers are following the news lately, but adult confrontations in public are a bit discomforting these days. It’s not like a fight over a girl between 2 teenage boys in the high school cafeteria. No one in the back of the plane started the chant, “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT”. Other than the confrontational voices, and the sound of my heart pounding its way out of my chest, it was dead quiet.

It was a scary thing to witness. But the good news was that it helped take my mind off of the 400 lb. IT guy sitting next to me trying to convince me the world is flat.

I still had another flight to catch. I remember saying to myself, Thank goodness all drama is over for THIS day.

What a stupid thing to say. Even to yourself.

My flight to Midland was delayed about 4 hours. I got to my hotel room at 2:15 AM, CST, on Tuesday… which was 3:15 on my clock because I started the day in the Eastern Time zone. So, just a tad under 20 hours of travel time. You good folks can Google this if you like, but one can drive from Warren, PA to Midland TX, in 24 hours, and you can listen to a Jack Reacher novel on CD while you do it. The 400 lb. conspiracy theorists, and the heavily armed law men are only make believe in Jack Reacher novels.


Work to do. People to see. Hands to shake. Deals to make.

Out of bed by 6:30, rolling down I-20 by 8:00. Lubbock bound.

I love the sights, sounds, and people of Texas…there is no place like it, and each region has its own flavor, and the west Texas region may be the most distinct and charming. The day was a great day. My work day was rewarding, my activity made a difference. Privileged.

After Lubbock, I made my way to Abilene. While it was a nice day, still, I drove a few hundred miles after only a couple hours of sleep, so a beer, a steak, and a pillow were going to be welcome therapy for all the privileges I experienced over the last 40 hours. There was an Outback Steakhouse walking distance from my hotel.

The thing about Outback is that the one in Springfield, is the same as the one in Madison, and the one in Madison is the same as the one in Franklin, and so on. You get a consistent meal, properly prepared, with enthusiastic and polite service. Across the board, and across the map, it’s rarely exceptional (other than the one in Midlothian VA), and it’s never bad…except for the one in Abilene.

(Are you f-ing kidding me…)

First world problem, I know. In the interest of brevity, I’ll simply say my meal was nothing like I ordered. When this was mentioned to my server, when I was asked,”How is it?”, rather than taking her own action to fix it, she immediately called in her management team.

Three people standing at my high-top bar table, staring intently at my plate, then the one who seemed to be in charge says, “Sir, I understand we didn’t prepare the meal to your liking. Would you like me to do something about it? It looks pretty good to me, seems juicy.”

Really, does it?


Don’t ask me if I would like you to do something, tell me what you are going to do…or better yet. Just do it.

No big deal. Off to bed. Wednesday will be better.


…was better. New faces, new places, and the prospect of new revenue. Doin’ the job I love.

Back to Midland/Odessa.

If you ever find yourself in downtown Midland, give Luigi’s Italian Restaurant a try. The place is always busy, and they don’t take reservations, but it’s definitely worth the wait. If you can, invite my customers, Michael and Blaise, to join you. You’ll enjoy the experience even more. Privilege.

I walk back to my spacious and comfortable room on the 10th floor at the Double Tree, in bed by 10:30…and finally, some real R.E.M. type sleep by 11:00. Don’t even remember turning off the TV.

At about 1:30 AM (CST) I’m dreaming about flying home. In my dream, I’m sitting next to a beautiful and exotic Brazilian woman, with the sun streaked hair, mocha skin, and everything… as I caress her cheek, she playfully smiles at another one of my funny, funny, jokes, she grows fangs and her face contorts into a scowl, and she begins to scream at me at the very top of her lungs. Her howling is loud and shrill and even…almost like an alarm, and every time she screams, a light flashes inside the airplane’s cabin…almost like some kind of strobe.

It’s so startling and real, it jolts me awake. I sit up in my bed, in the spacious and comfortable hotel room, realizing that the Brazilian woman was just a dream, but her earsplitting screams continue.

“Ohhh”, I say out loud…to myself.

The loud and shrill screaming and the flashing lights from my dream were actually the hotel’s fire alarm. I make my way to the door, in only my orange and white striped Tommy John’s and my Pablo Cruise, Worlds Away, tour t-shirt. There is a recorded message on a loop blaring over the PA system: THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. IMMEDIATELY MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE NEAREST EXIT. DO NOT USE THE ELEVATOR. THIS ISN’T A DREAM. MOVE YOUR ASS, LARGE MAN.

I may have imagined some of the message, but the orator was extremely serious. I had to go.

I was about to close the door, from the wrong side, when I realized I didn’t have my room key, or pants. I regrouped, dressed, all under the calming, WHAAH, WHAAH, WHAAH, of the alarm, and the flashing strobe, and the harsh man’s voice telling me not to take the elevator. I got myself together, stepped out the door, and made my way to the stairwell.

Did I mention I was on the 10th floor? Have I ever written about all my knee surgeries? Did I tell you that even though I was in west Texas, it was in the upper 20s outside? Probably mid 30s, low 40s in the stairwell.

I was privileged to walk down 10 flights of stairs, at 1:36 in the AM, Central Standard Time, in jeans and a t-shirt.

It’s kinda funny…I remember thinking to myself:


That’s what I was thinking, but outwardly, I remained calm. There were other people in the stairway, I didn’t want to create any more panic or fear than we were already feeling. Again, I’m not sure how much any of you are following the news these days, but emergency alerts, fire alarms, and flashing lights…not really the fun kind of exciting.

I made it to the lobby. I stepped out of the stairwell, and walked down the hallway to the cadence of the alarm and the accompanying flash of the strobe. As I stepped into the hotel’s lobby, it all stopped.

After 10 flights.

It stopped.


The same “serious” voice said, loudly…almost as if to mock me, “ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR”. Just 3 times. And that was that.

I was given the privilege of taking the elevator back. But when I got back to my spacious and comfortable room, I was too wired to go to sleep. It was about 2:00. I was privileged to have a few HBO channels…it was 4:00 before I could get back to sleep. I don’t remember what I dreamed about, but there were no Brazilian dancers.

I think you get my point.


More stuff happened. Some good, some bad. I had a shitty dinner…warm beer, cold soup, award winning burger – NOT! When I asked the waiter what kind of micro-brews they had, he asked me, “What’s a micro-brew?” Like some kind of a fucking savage.

Oh, and not for nothin’…my daughter’s Christmas concert was Thursday night. Missed it. Privilege.


First thing in the morning, back on a plane. As I waited for another 400 lb. white boy, with khaki shorts, and a pit stained t-shirt, my luck turned. Along came Danielle.

Danielle is a beautiful, young, New England born, business woman. When she walked up and pointed at the window seat next to me, indicating that it was her spot, I said, with a smile, “You have no idea how happy I am to see you!”

“Wow! Really? Why is that?” She replied, with a brilliant smile of her own.

I told her my story. She laughed, ’cause she could relate. Then we chatted about business travel, growing up in the east, the merits and drawbacks of west Texas, and all the different people we meet along the way. It was a pleasant, if too brief, 1 hour flight. That, actually was a privilege.

Connect in DFW, bid the lovely and charming Danielle a safe journey. Hop on the next jet airliner, “takin’ me to my home….” I land in Pittsburgh where it all seemed to start. Waiting by the turnstile for my bag…

…and waiting.

…and waiting.

…and waiting in line at the baggage office.

…and waiting.

More privileges.

Thanks for reading!!

Send me an email at thelargeman@gmail.com

Happy New Year

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So to summarize; in my last tale, I shared with you the sights sounds and smells of football. The football of my youth… what it meant to me, and how I missed it. I tried to explain to you that even though my last game was 38 years ago (almost to this very day), I’m still a football player…and I will always be a football player.

That’s pretty much it.

Some people might wonder why I needed the 1,700 words in our last chapter to tell you what I just summarized in 65…try not to pay attention to those people.

Friday Night, November 6th, 2015

My hometown’s high school football team got a bonus game. I don’t know why or how, but we were able to schedule an extra game against our historical rivals, the Owls of Bradford, PA. (I know what you’re thinking: Owls? Really? What were they thinking?)

This development was especially exciting to me, because I had missed the previous 2 games due to my day job’s travel requirements. The last game I saw under those Friday night lights, was a gut wrenching, homecoming game loss, to a team that our hometown boys clearly outplayed. (It happens. They’re kids). So the opportunity to see just one more, with a chance to end it on a sweeter note was a nice and welcome bonus for The Large Man.

It was cold, as northwest Pennsylvania football games, in November, tend to be. Because it was so cold, and probably because it was a non-scheduled game, the crowd was a bit smaller than usual. Also, there was no marching band, so that made the evening chill a bit more menacing.

I love our marching band. It might be because my daughter has been marching and playing piccolo with this band since she was in 8th grade. My daughter is the greatest piccolo player in the history of Pennsylvania high school marching bands…and although they don’t officially keep these kinds of records, she’s probably the greatest piccolo player in the history of American music.

Because my wife and I have had a kid participating in Friday Night Lights for the last 4 years, attendance is not an option. Why would it be? I still get a thrill every time I see that kid march onto the field, under those sacred lights, playing with her besties, being a “geek”…in the most awesome and proud sense of that word. I only wish my Mom had been able to see it one time (in this life), she would have loved every minute, and she would have cherished every note. I would have loved to share that with her.

So anyway…back to the game. This last game…

We won. That was good.

Because this “last game”, really was the last game. The announcer took some time to introduce and honor the senior players one last time. Then at the end of the game, the underclassmen formed 2 lines for the seniors to walk through, took off their helmets, and held them high as their teammates walked off that hallowed ground for the last time. It was a moving and powerful moment.

The “moving and powerful moment” was amplified by the soundtrack being played over the PA system, (remember, no marching band tonight) the song being played was Kenny Chesney’s, ‘Boys of Fall’. Until this night, I was not familiar with the song.

If you are not familiar with the tune, take a break, go to YouTube, or some on demand music source, and acquaint yourself. It is as beautiful a tribute to this game as anything I have ever seen or heard. And the timing of its play on this night was perfect.

So as I’m taking in this touching scene, hearing this song, watching these boys; my attention was drawn to one…#60. He’s a big kid, and just a freshman. I was watching #60, and watching his body contort and twitch as he watched his mentors, his elders…his friends, assemble for that last walk. I watched his face torque up a little, and then he reached up and wiped his eyes, doing his best to hold it together as he watched his brothers walked past.

I think #60 gets it.

The story of how #60 got here is ironic for a few different reasons, mostly because it’s something I predicted 3 or 4 years ago.

Ever since #60 was old enough to understand the words being spoken to him, he has been told to be gentle, or be careful.

“Be nice, (#60), that kid is smaller than you, sweetie, you have to be gentle”.

So #60 grew up to be a very big, very careful, and very gentle kid. He followed all the rules, he did his best to be calm, kind, and gentle, in all circumstances.

When he was 4-years-old, he was the size of a 10-year-old, and his uncles, and older cousins were totally jacked with excitement when they were considering the potential damage this kid was going to do to our family’s annual Easter piñata.

“Let all the other kids go first. It’s going to be over when (#60) gets his swing”.

When #60 took his turn, he gently tapped the Easter Bunny piñata, that was it…just a kind little tap. Everyone laughed and laughed. It was a family joke for years. It just wasn’t in #60 to hit something, he was supposed to be gentle, so he was.

When #60 was in 6th grade, I had an opportunity to talk with him about what school extracurricular activities he thought he might try to participate in. He considered basketball (tallest kid in the school, cut from the team…not aggressive enough). He participated in student government, and he played rec league soccer. I asked him (with permission from his mom) if he thought he would be interested in playing football. I explained to him that his size would make him a valuable asset to a team, and that he should consider it.

He told me, “I don’t really like football. I don’t really understand it either. I don’t think I would be good at it.”

“Fair enough”, I replied. “So answer me this; we live in a small town in western Pennsylvania, football is a big deal here. It’s very possible that you could be just walking to class one day, walking down the street, you could be anywhere, and one of the middle school, or high school football coaches are going to see you, see your size, and ask you to consider playing. What are you going to say?”

He contemplated what I said, pondered my question, and answered with unwavering confidence, “I’ll just tell them ‘Thanks, but I don’t like football’, and I’ll tell them my parents won’t let me play”.

I said, “OK. I think you should be prepared for that conversation. It sounds like you’re settled and grounded. I respect your decision.”

This seemed to make #60 happy. He was rehearsed, and prepared. We discussed the possibility every fall, and he remained steadfast, “No football for me! I don’t like it, I don’t want to like it. I won’t play!”

Flash forward about a year, maybe a year and a half, #60 was on the middle school track team, throwing the Frisbee (I think in track and field, they call it “discus”) and the spear (they call that a “javelin”). He was finished with an event, walking towards the locker room, when he was stopped by a stranger.

“What’s your name, young man?” asked the personable, yet imposing figure of a man, who #60 had never met before.

“I’m Jack” replied #60 as he extended his hand. “Who are you?”

As they shook hands, the stranger said, “I’m Coach Latimer, my players call me Coach Lats. I’m the high school football coach. You’re a big kid, have you ever thought about playing football?”

And just as #60 had rehearsed over and over again whenever his Large father brought up the subject, he was about to say, “Nah, not really…football just isn’t my thing”.

He looked Coach Lats in the eye, and said, “Sure, I mean, I’ve thought about it. I think I’d like to try.”

“Well that’s great! We have a bus that takes kids from the middle school up to the high school for weight lifting. It’s a voluntary activity, and you would be welcome to join. We just need a permission slip from your one of your parents. I’d love to see you there!”

#60 was less “steadfast” when face to face with Coach Lats’ charm.

“OK. I think I’d like that. I’ll talk to my parents tonight. Thank you.”

I was out of town when this chance meeting (that I predicted, but did NOT orchestrate) went down. Later that evening, when my son (#60) called me to tell the story, he was as excited as a lottery winner. When I asked what changed his mind, he didn’t really have an answer. I held the phone in my hand, looked at it, shook my head and laughed. Kids.

Talking to his dad over a 3 year time frame: “NO…I don’t think so…just not my thing…I don’t like it”
Talking to Coach Lats over a less than 5 minute time frame: “OK!”

And so it began.

I could write a book about #60’s August. (And I just might) I didn’t know how it was going to go, I didn’t know how this kind and gentle giant was going to react the first time he got knocked on his ass. Nobody knew how he was going to work through the pain, bumps and bruises of his first full contact practices, and then 2-a day practices. He was going to have to endure all of the brutality of the sport, before he ever understood or could comprehend the beauty of the game. I have a lot of admiration for the adults who found a way to coach #60 through August of 2015. I have a lot of appreciation for a handful of older kids who encouraged and helped him. It was tough, but somehow, #60 made it.

And then…
On a muggy August evening, at the first scrimmage …

Coach Lats called his name, putting #60 in at defensive tackle. It was a rough debut, but #60 entered the fray head up, and head first…nervous, but unafraid. As a father, I will never forget that moment.

He also entered the fray to sincere and enthusiastic cheers and “whoops” from his teammates…his brothers. After getting pushed around a few plays, he came off the field and was greeted halfway by some seniors, congratulating him on his first action. When I asked #60 about it the next day, how it made him feel to have that support, he looked me right in the eye, and a single tear rolled down his cheek, “You have no idea, Dad. It’s hard to explain. It’s like I’m the biggest person in the room almost everywhere I go, but I always kinda feel invisible. But now, I don’t know…I feel different. I feel like I belong. You don’t know what that feels like.”

Well…yeah, son, I do. I know exactly what that feels like.

I didn’t tell him that, I just let it be his. It’s his time now, and believe me, he has earned it. I didn’t think #60 would make it through August. That’s an accomplishment I will always respect. Not everyone gets to be a football player, but #60 does. This second half belongs to him, and his piccolo playing big sister.

I don’t know if #60 is going to be a good football player, or a great football player, or just a football player. Time will tell, and it’s his own journey.

Here is what I do know: You need 3 things to be a great football player. You need talent. God provides most of that…you can certainly develop it, but to be great, some Divine assistance is usually necessary. You also need a little starch … a bit of a mean streak. It’s not a game for the “gentle” or the “careful”. But above all, you need passion. You need passion for the game, passion for your teammates, and passion for the moments they create. You need to play this game with passion. Without passion, it’s just a sport.

We’ll see if #60 can uncover and develop those first two, but he has the passion. #60 showed it as he honored his senior teammates, as he struggled to contain that emotion on their last night, his last night with them, and his first night truly understanding that he’s a “Boy of Fall”, a football player… and he will be for the rest of his life.

So here we are…it’s the second half, and I’m back on the bench. This time, it’s the best seat in the house.

Thanks for reading.

Well it’s, turn and face the stars and stripes
It’s fightin’ back them butterflies
It’s call it in the air alright yes sir we want the ball
And it’s knockin’ heads and talkin’ trash
It’s slingin’ mud and dirt and grass
It’s I got your number, I got your back
When your back’s against the wall
You mess with one man, you got us all
The boys of fall

‘The Boys of Fall’
Written by Casey Beathard and Dave Turnbull
Recorded and Performed by Kenny Chesney

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