I’m in Avondale Park. I’m watching random kids play baseball. The kids pepper the field. Gloves on their knees.

“Hey, batta batta batta!” they all chant. They look like third graders. The third-baseman looks like he has to go pee.

They all look like dreamers. Because that’s what all kids are, really. Dreamers. Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? Do you remember what it was like to get lost in a daydream?

The sun is low. The crickets are out. The pitcher is maybe 8 years old. And I’m falling into a daydream myself.

It’s hard to watch baseball without remembering my old man. My father loved baseball. No. He worshiped baseball. To him, baseball was high art.

Look at Norman Rockwell. You never saw Rockwell painting soccer, or pickleball, or water polo, or the luge. Rockwell painted baseball players. There’s just something about baseball.

My dad was a ball player. As an adult, he never missed a chance to play with a guys his age in some municipal field


I used to go with him to games. My father would consult the cooler between every major play, cracking open an ice-cold can of Ovaltine. And whenever he pitched, I heard ladies in the stands say things like, “Oh, that’s John Dietrich. I think he once played triple-A ball.”

But it wasn’t true. Not entirely. My father tried out for a professional ball club, and lasted only a few days. He was a sidearm pitcher. His pitching was too wild, they said. They rejected him.

But then, my father was a man fraught with rejections. His whole life was rejection after rejection.

He came from an abusive home. He grew up poor. He wanted to be a navy pilot, but he was deaf in one ear, so the navy rejected him. Talk about dreams. His lifelong dream was shattered.

He wanted to be a…

FOR A LONG TIME NOW, people have been sending me emails daily about not receiving my columns via email. This happens even though these people have subscribed, confirmed their email subscriptions, fasted for at least three days, and offered up a ritual blood sacrifice.

Other readers will say that sometimes they receive the column, and other times they don’t. It's hit or miss.

If any of this has been happening to you, you’re not alone. Please know, this problem is not you. In fact, the problem isn’t me, either. It’s El Niño.

Actually, the problem is a computer software glitch that nobody can seem to figure out. And believe me, I’ve spent hours of my life on the phone with technical support, being placed on hold, listening to smooth jazz muzak, trying to figure this issue out. Many of my recent gray hairs come from this.

So as a result, we’re trying out a different email platform to send out the daily column now. The email service is called Substack. We’ll see how it

goes. Who knows, the new software might suck—in which case, we’ll just go back to the other sucky software.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything or make any changes to your email. We've transferred your address to the new service. The only thing you might have to do is make sure these posts don’t appear in your spam folder. However, if the column is not coming to your inbox, you might have to visit my site and resubscribe (Click Here). If this is the case, I'm sorry.

Lastly—I want to stress—this column is COMPLETELY FREE. This column will always be free until I kick the oxygen habit. The reason I mention this is because many other writers (better writers than me) use Substack, and many of these high-brow writers charge for their work. I do not charge. I will not charge. And that…

I’ll call her Rebecca. She’s from Washington D.C. Her email started off like this:

“Dear Sean, I don’t know what to do, my mother just died of brain cancer… I am only 18 years old, and she was all I have left…

“She read your Facebook posts, and I am hurting... I know you can’t help me, but I don’t know who else to tell.”

Well, Rebecca, I took the liberty of contacting a few friends who have stories you might be interested in hearing.

First, meet John. He is 36 years young, he works in food service, and he drives a ‘03 Toyota. He has great insurance. He doesn’t have a lot of money, but he’s pretty happy.

He hasn’t always been happy, of course. His dad died when he was 21 years old. John has quite a tale.

His father was a single dad. They grew up together. They were poor. When his dad died, John went into catatonic shock. He quit leaving his apartment. He ate only frozen pizzas only and somehow—the lucky stiff—managed to lose


But John’s life was not over. After a few years, John met Megan. Megan was six years older, and beautiful. But more than that, Megan was a caregiver for her ill mother, so she understood things. Big things.

Sometimes they would talk. She seemed to be the only human who “got” him.

They were soon married. And finally, John was introduced to the joys of being unable to use his own closet.

“I never thought I’d smile again,” John writes, “but I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.”

Now meet Charry. She is 49. She and her mother were tight. They were so close that for Charry’s senior prom, long ago, she didn’t have a traditional date, she attended with her mother. Which, if you ask me, is bizarre. (“And now presenting the happy couple!”)

Her mother died…

Today, I celebrated International Women’s Day by buying my wife a valuable lottery ticket, potentially worth $20 million dollars.

I had to drive all the way from Alabama to Georgia to buy this ticket because, of course, Alabama has strict laws against gambling.

We Alabamians oppose the lottery. We consistently vote against it. Because, you see, the lottery is sinful. It is offensive to good morals.

If you are caught gambling in Alabama, for example, state officials appear on your doorstep, yank out your toenails with pliers, and force you to watch Jim Bakker reruns.

But this year for Women’s Day, I wanted to give something to my wife that really said, “I love you.” So I drove to Georgia and bought her $20 mil.

Currently, there are only five states in the Union that outlaw the lottery, most do this for sacred reasons. Those states are Utah, Alabama, Hawaii, Alaska, and Nevada.

That’s right. Nevada outlaws the lottery. The state that is home to Las Vegas. The only state where prostitution is legally

practiced within licensed brothels; where public intoxication is allowed; where public nudity is not only legal but strongly encouraged by local clergymen, has outlawed the lottery. Thank God.

Alabama is not far behind. The lottery has no future in the Twenty-Second State. I recently interviewed an Alabama lawmaker about this hot-button issue, asking whether Alabama would ever have a lottery.

“Probably not,” said the official. “Gambling was outlawed in the 1901 state constitution, and most of the state has a religious opposition to it.”

It’s important to note, these laws haven’t stopped ALL forms of Alabama gambling. You can still place bets in Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka.

“But remember,” the lawmaker adds, “if you gamble in those places, you must be prepared to drown in the Lake of Fire.”

So I drove to Georgia.

I crossed over the state line and I found a place that…

A little breakfast joint. Birmingham, Alabama. The birth pangs of summer are in the air. Alabama feels like a Monet. Trees are pregnant with blossoms. Birds are everywhere.

On my way into the restaurant, I see a man seated on the sidewalk, weeping. A young woman sits beside him, rubbing his shoulders. I’m wondering what’s wrong. I’m probably staring, even. Which isn’t polite, but I can’t help it.

The first thing you should know about me is that I am very nosy person. I get this from my mother. I have my black belt in rubbernecking.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” I overhear the man say. “I can’t believe it.” Then he blows his nose into a hanky. The young woman just cries with him.

Nosy, I tell you.

Inside the restaurant, the young waitress tells me to sit wherever I want. I sit in the corner so I can see the people in the place.

Because I am a longtime people watcher. Nosy people usually are. Put me in a crowded airport and I could die happy.

My waitress today is

a young woman with the tattoo of an infant footprint on her forearm. “What does the tattoo mean?” I ask.

“It’s my daughter,” she says. “She died shortly after she was born. It was a neural tube defect. She wasn’t even two days old, she died in my arms.”

“What was your daughter’s name?” I ask.


“I’m sorry.”

She thanks me. Then she takes my order. I order three eggs, over medium. One order of bacon. Hash browns. And white toast, for sopping material. It’s vitally important to have sopping material at breakfast.

The waitress leaves and I am left looking around the dining room, observing. It’s your typical morning café, with a typical cast of characters. Workmen. Corporate people. Travelers. You name it.

I see men clad in business clothes. One of them is Facetiming with…

“I am a little old woman who lives in an assisted living facility…” her email began.

Her following message was about the length of “War and Peace.” She is a woman who is as sweet as Karo syrup. But—and I mean this respectfully—brevity is not her strong suit. Reading her email took me three or four presidential administrations.

“I had a baby when I was fourteen…” she wrote.

The 14-year-old gave birth in the singlewide trailer that belonged to an aunt. The delivery was in secret. Nobody knew her son existed. Least of all her immediate family.

Finally, the aunt put the child up for adoption. It was impractical for a girl of 14 to raise a child. This was a different era.

The goodbye between mother and son was almost too much to bear. The 14-year-old held her infant in her arms when officials came to take him away.

Over time, the girl grew into a woman. The woman grew into a wife. The wife had three kids. The wife’s husband made decent money.


moved into a nice house. Her children did pretty good in school. Her offspring grew up to be successful and handsome and beautiful and well-off and happy. Fill in the blank.

But the woman had a void in her heart.

“A child is a piece of you, physically. Like an organ. People who’ve never had kids can’t understand.”

She dreamed about her son. Every night. Without fail. In her dreams, she could see him. She watched him grow. She saw saw his smile. She heard him speak. Once again, she cannot explain what she means. But she tries.

“It’s like a radar,” she explains. “My soul was sending out a radar signal, and I think God was sending me radar signals back.”

I took a break from reading the email. I still had 78,000,000 words left to read before finishing her story.

So I’ll…

I sat in the old woman’s living room. It was a gaudy block home. The walls were outdated pastel colors, á la 1986. She was smoking menthols.

She knows she shouldn’t smoke, her daughter wants her to quit. Eventually, the old woman says she will.

“Quitting smoking ain’t hard,” she said. “I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

She is 93. By her own admission, she’s never been religious. There are no Bibles in her house. No cute embroidered scripture verses on the walls. She’s tough. You can see it in her face. The lines on her cheeks tell the tale of a life spent in the company of hard work.

She worked in cotton fields when she was a girl, in Georgia. She worked in a textile mill when she was a teenager. She survived two husbands. One of which abused her. She raised six kids. And she did it without any help, thank you very much.

She tapped the four-inch ash on her menthol 305. “I always thought, ‘Hey, if God’s real, he

damn sure don’t care about me, so why should I care about him?’”

And that was her philosophy. She didn’t bother God, and he mostly stayed out of her way.

Her mind changed when she turned 50. It was a pivotal year. The doctors found breast cancer. It was a cruel joke on God’s part, she said.

Here was a woman who had raised children, who was about to retire. She had finally reached a time in life when she was supposed to be on Easy Street. And along comes aggressive ductal carcinoma.

The woman pauses, then falls into a coughing fit, which finishes with her spitting a gob of mucus the size of a regulation softball into a handkerchief.

“I thought I was as good as dead.”

The old woman says she lost her will. She quit trying. She woman freely admits she did not…

You might not know this, but today is a national holiday. A day when our nation traditionally puts aside our differences, stands together in solidarity and brotherhood, from sea to oil-slicked sea, and we celebrate our most cherished national pastime.

Pound cake.

That’s right. Today is National Pound Cake Day.

Frankly, I did not know today was National Pound Cake Day until a reader named Phyllis Ratliff, of Oneonta, Alabama, brought this to my attention. Phyllis reminded me that today is a critical day in our native heritage.

“We must ask ourselves,” writes Phyllis, “how many pound cakes sacrificed their lives defending our privilege to celebrate this day?”

Phyllis is absolutely right. Pound cake is an expressly American dish, right up there with Velveeta, and Budweiser. And yet nobody in the news media is even talking about this issue.

One columnist demands to know why.

Contrary to popular notions, apple pie is not our flagship American dish. Forget apple pie.

Apple pie originated in England during the 14th century, shortly after the birth

of Cher. Back then, English peasants were so poor that most historians believe the first apple pies were made with apples harvested from the stalls of nearby horse pens.

Pound cake, on the other hand, is an American cake. It originated right here in the North American colonies. The first mention of pound cake comes to us in a cookbook entitled “American Cookery,” published in 1796 (HarperCollins).

So this morning, I, for one, am choosing to celebrate this holiday by eating a wedge of pound cake that is roughly the same thickness as the unabridged edition of “Gone With the Wind.”

Pound cake is in my DNA. I have been eating pound cake since I was six minutes old, which was all my grandmother’s doing.

In the hospital delivery room, shortly after my birth, my Granny and her church-lady friends showed up with baked goods and greeting…

I received a seething email from a man in Baltimore, Maryland. He apparently has a political bone to pick with the state of Florida, and he read that Florida is where I’m from.

He wrote: “...Florida is a stupid state, the most [deleted] up state in this country… I don’t think [Floridian] idiots deserve to be a state at all in my opinion.”

Well, I normally wouldn’t respond to a message like this, but I detected a slightly negative tone in the above email.

Granted, we Floridians have our problems. We are a unique state. And by “unique,” I mean that we are completely insane. But insanity is not the same as being “stupid.” Stupid people are uneducated, oftin using terible grammer.

But you know what? We Floridians are also polite, at least in West Florida. In fact, we don’t even use the word “stupid.” It’s offensive. If we’re going to call someone stupid, we usually say, “Well bless your heart.”

What irks me as a Floridian is whenever people from Baltimore stereotype

me. Often, people assume that all Floridians speak Spanish and wear shorts year round. Which is ridiculous, sometimes we wear thong underwear.

I am proud of my homeland. Whenever I travel throughout the U.S., I find myself homesick for the nostalgic pastimes of the Florida of my youth. Such as, for example, head-on collisions.

Florida motorists are responsible for 79 percent of the auto accidents in the U.S., and we work hard to maintain that number. Florida is the only state where you can witness vehicles traveling both directions in the right lane, many of which are state employees.

I have totaled three cars in Florida. Each time, the cause of accident was that the driver ahead of me was a motorist who did not use a blinker and was also, technically, my immediate family member.

Something else I love about the Twenty-Seventh State is our wildlife.…

Before we got married, my wife and I had to take a mandatory church marriage class. The Baptist church would not marry anyone without this rigorous class because the church ran the real risk that unschooled young couples were engaging in premarital relations, which could lead to dancing.

The idea was: After eight weeks of rigorous marriage training, couples would receive an official certificate, trimmed in gold, with their names on it. And this certificate would prove to the world, without a doubt, that couples were spiritually, and emotionally prepared to take the multiple choice exam in the back of the book.

Keep in mind, this certificate wasn’t a marriage license. This was a “Baptist pre-marriage class certificate,” from the back of the “official Baptist marriage workbook,” purchased for $24.99.

Within the Baptist tradition, you see, you can’t do anything without first obtaining a certificate and unanimous committee approval. Even Sunday greeters are required to attend a four-week class that teaches them to properly, with true conviction, look a wayward reprobate

in the eye and say: “Here’s your bulletin.”

Thus, my future-wife and I arrived at the fellowship hall each week to participate in courses that prepared us for cohabitation.

These courses featured many “fun” games which the workbook termed “marital building exercises.” Many of which were developed by professional marriage book authors—some of whom had been married to the same person for as long as one year.

One such exercise was the Egg Test.

In this game, the future-bride (Jamie) balances an egg on a spoon clenched between her teeth. She wears a blindfold and walks across a room.

Then, the future-husband (me) stands on the opposite side of the room (over by the piano). He uses ONLY his words to guide his future-wife through an obstacle course made up entirely of folding chairs which represent the confusing Maze of Life.

Tacked to the chairs are Post-It notes, labeled…