From Uncle Brandon to little Harper/The Red Line

Dear Harper:

If you’re anything like me, and genetically you should be at least a little like me, you’ll probably get bored some years from now and try to figure out what the world was like on the day you were born.

I could just send you a copy of Monday’s newspaper, but I have some time on my hands now, so I’ll tell you what the world has been like lately. My readers might not like that I’m writing an entire column to my newborn niece, who won’t be able to read for some time yet. After all, a lot of people have nieces and nephews and don’t push their work to the side to talk to them (but maybe they should). Besides, you’re my first one, and as your Uncle Brandon, I feel as if I am obligated to share with you as much wisdom as I can. By wisdom, I of course mean silly nicknames, grilling tips and fish stories, whether they’re about fish or not. I am confident that when I get a chance to meet you in person, I’ll be ready to convey this wisdom. I’ve been well trained.

You were born on a Sunday night. I don’t know what the weather was like where you were in Texas, but here it was shockingly decent. Too decent, you see, because I didn’t want to get killed by a 100-pound clump of snow falling off the roof of some downtown building before I found out you came into the world.

You share a birthday with, among other people, Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space), the rapper Bow Wow and soccer star Clint Dempsey. I look forward to the day that people born on March 9 get to say they have the same birthday as you.

I hope you’ll get to see the town where I live some day. Your dad went to college here, and your mom was a basketball player in high school, so maybe you’ll put it together and play basketball here. I’ll let coach Cameron know where she can start her recruiting board for the Class of (gulp) 2032.

Maybe you’ll just play high school basketball, and that’s perfectly OK. I hope by the time you pick up the ball everyone realizes that a chance to stay active, work as a team, develop skills on and off the court and represent your community is much more important than trying to win a scholarship. I’m not going to get my hopes up, but your parents are pretty smart folks, which means you’ll probably get a bunch of scholarships whether you develop a three-point shot or not.

Maybe you’ll pick up a volleyball or a discus or a swim cap. That’s great, too. Just stay active. I don’t do a good enough job of that, and I know it and I regret it. I’ve got all summer to work on that, and you’ve got your whole life. Then again, you’ve got a lot of things to figure out, so we’ll leave first steps for another column.

Maybe you’ll pick up a script for a play or bow and arrow or a paintbrush or a tuba. That’s perfectly good, too. Though you do get bonus points for the tuba. Your grandpa can help you with that.

There are certain things that I, as your uncle, feel obligated to remind you. First, as long as you live in Texas, a lot of your friends are probably going to tell you to cheer for the Dallas Cowboys. Don’t do it. Those guys ruined a string of my birthdays in the 1990s.

Now, they’re pretty harmless, but nothing good can come of being a Cowboys fan.

Your new hometown has a Minor League baseball team. I hope your Mom and Dad bring you to a game when you’re up to it. Baseball’s a great thing to get excited about – it’ll break your heart but only for the winter. I also hope Mom and Dad remember to put sunscreen on you when you go to the ballpark. Your Mom and your Dad and your Uncle Brandon all have red hair and we know that if you don’t put on the SPF 400, you’ll look like a little raccoon by the third inning. That’s the price we have to pay to look fantastic, I suppose.

And just remember that. You look fantastic and you are fantastic just because you’re you. I hope you end up on the sports page (or its 2020s equivalent), because that’s my job. But if you never show up in a box score, you’re still going to be an All-Star.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.