Things are getting back to normal.

May God forgive me for the number of times I’ve thought that.

At last, I’m among the few, the proud, the fully vaccinated. Sometimes a man doesn’t know he feels bad until he feels good again. I didn’t realize what a burden that infernal coronavirus was until that vaccine lifted it from my shoulders.

In the past year, I’ve gotten used to being lonely. It’s nice to be able to put aside the facade of bravery in my brave front.

To take wildly out of context the words once made popular by no less than the philosophers George Jones and Tammy Wynette, “We’re gonna hold on.” Jones co-wrote it with Earl Montgomery, and all I know about the latter is his last name is my middle.

As Roger Miller, by way of Waylon Jennings, wrote about a woman in a way that applies to a virus, “[It’s] been a long time leaving, but [it’ll] be a long time gone.”

Here’s the sportswriter’s secret. I love the ballgames, but I love hanging out at them even more.

Last night I enjoyed talking with coaches and fans so much that I missed a pitching change. That kept me up a little longer.

It was worth it. Every journalist gets accused of wasting time when the wasting is actually the best use of it, particularly when he gets to be a professional smart alec otherwise known as “columnist.” Unless, of course, you don’t like my columns, in which case, you probably think additionally I was wasting time.

I tuck things away, such as, don’t eat before a Laurens baseball game because the hot dogs are fantastic.

A great time to think up a lead is waiting for the freight train that almost always crosses Main Street when I’m on the way home from the county seat.

People will talk NASCAR anywhere. It must have something to do with me.

I’m now suitably distant that the young drivers have gotten old and I don’t know most of them anymore. They have become cardboard cutouts, and they wouldn’t if I ever talked to them instead of only seeing them when they’re flattened out on TV like Matthew McConaughey in a vending machine.

I don’t know ’em anymore, but in my defense, I know I don’t know ’em.

It took Ernest Hemingway semiconscious – me, not him, who is long unconscious – to get this column going; that, plus a mug of coffee and The Mavericks on Bluegrass Underground.