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  • Staying in the Game:A Memoir, chapter 1.
  • Michael Steinberg (bio)

Saturday, September 3, 1985

Three A.M. Saturday morning, Labor Day weekend. I'm behind the wheel of my beat-up Chevy Blazer, wearing a red-and-gray striped softball jersey, with "Holden Electric" scripted in crimson across the chest. In the passenger's seat, my wife Carole, a white cotton ball stuffed in each ear, is dozing off. The tape deck blares out a medley of Beach Boys songs from the Endless Summer album, my favorite road-trip music. Still five hours left to go on this crazy, impulsive excursion.

We left Sutton's Bay, a chichi Lake Michigan resort town at 10 P.M. last night, en route to Houghton, an old northern mining town located on the western tip of Michigan's fabled Upper Peninsula. It's an eight-hour drive. And we're out here halfway between whistle stops like Manistique and Munising because my former softball mates—a fast-pitch team I'd played on and managed for 15 years—is competing in the state finals for the first time. Their game starts at 9 A.M. And as much as I hate to own up to it, I desperately want to make it there on time. My dilemma, for which I take all the blame, is that Carole and I are booked on a transatlantic flight from Detroit to Paris, and the plane leaves on Monday afternoon at 4 P.M. That's less than three days from now. What the hell was I thinking when I made this knuckleheaded decision?

With Carole, what you see is what you get. Her artless appearance matches her calm, unaffected demeanor. But I know I'm testing her composure. I may have already pushed her too far. Carole stirs. I turn the music down.

"Hey, I hear the Upper Peninsula is gorgeous at this time of year," I say. [End Page 161] She yawns and pauses for a long moment. "Is that why we're driving through it in the middle of the night?" she says, her lower lip curling into a tiny frown.

"We'll make it back for the flight, I promise."

My Adam's apple knots up before I can even get the words out. Carole rolls her eyes, turns her head toward the door, and sinks back into her pillow. She's been on to me for a long time. This dance, in fact, has become all too familiar to both of us. [End Page 162]

Michael Steinberg

Michael Steinberg, Founding Editor of Fourth Genre, is an award-winning personal essayist/memoirist. For more information, visit



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pp. 161-162
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