"The third time's a charm" is a little saying we have over here in the States that means if you haven't been lucky enough to succeed at what you're doing in your first two attempts, chances are that the third time you try it, you'll most likely hit pay dirt.

Well, I'm living proof that in some instances, that just isn't the case. To use a baseball term, I seem to be having one of those long "at bats". Anyone familiar with the sport knows what that is but for those who don't it's when the batter keeps fouling off pitches left and right and makes the pitcher work really hard for an out. Sooner or later, the pitcher might get tired or make a mistake and the batter manages to reach base by either getting a hit or drawing a base on balls. On some occassions, the batter will even knock one out of the park. Either way, they get to play for another day and another at bat.

People have been asking me if this latest escapade was enough to scare me yet. Was I finally ready to make some much needed changes in my otherwise seemingly hedonistic lifestyle or was I still trying to make myself self destruct? I usually try and answer with a swagger and a grin that hedonism was one of the few things I was good at and I'm gonna hate to give it up. After all, I am the macho, ex-jock, former Marine (none of us are "ex's), larger than life kinda guy and it would be perceived as some kind of weakness if I didn't sneer in the face of danger.

Folks, the trouble with all of that is, I'm also human. I'm human and I'm scared. I'm as frail and questioning as the next person who looks at themselves in the mirror and asks "What will become of me?" I can't imagine inflicting pain on anybody but myself but maybe by doing that I'm also hurting those around me. Some changes are in order.

I don't know exactly what they are but some are obvious. Stopping smoking comes to mind immediately as does actually realizing that doctors might have a clue as to what they're talking about. I come from one of those long lines of people that thought that going to the doctor was another form of "weakness" and that I could just about heal myself of anything unless it was an emergency. These days, I seem to be turning into some kind of "emergency freak" though. It's not a good thing.

Then there's the wee one to think about. When she visited me last Sunday for a couple of hours and it was time to go, she gave me a hug that I think we both wanted to last forever. Whenever I start over-indulging myself, I'm gonna think about that. I need to see her face everywhere I go whether she's with me or not.

A couple of days ago, I was a little angry that some of the people I considered friends didn't call or visit me when I was laid up. They knew the circumstances but then I got to thinking "What do we really share?" Whatever it is, or whatever they think it is, I thought it was more. Maybe anger isn't the right word either, maybe it's more like disappointment. This last couple of months have been rough on all of us. We've seen two friends leave us way too early and maybe for them, the third time would've been too much. Che sarà, sarà.

Well, folks, to use a bad sporting analogy, the count is three and two and it's the bottom of the ninth. I've fouled off my fair share of pitches and the pitcher is staring me down trying to either fool me or blow one past me. Let's hope he's getting tired or I've seen enough of him that I can read what he's going to throw.

I don't want to head back to the dugout, not just yet anyway.

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