At Least You’re Not Butts Wagner

Butts Wagner

Some people around here consider themselves to be poets of some kind or another, or at least that’s what they tell their family as “professional medical test subject” is considered less of a noble calling in this day and age. Really, the last non-Maya Angelou to really make it as a poet was one Theodore Geisel, who turned his verse into children’s books that are belovéd and turned into shitty movies, as a way to support his filthy rhyming habit. His was an exhausting writing process where he went through several drafts of his work before finally settling on the right combination of whimsy, life lessoning, and made up words that are probably actually anagrams for swears. Here is one such draft, originally titled Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are You’re Not Butts Wagner? that was rejected for being too damn depressing:

“When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad…
you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie [Medwick],
you’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more…
oh, ever so much more…
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!”

You’re your parents’ sole baby; you had their attention.
So whenever they’d meet someone new they would mention
All the things you were up to, and what you had done.
It would take them two hours, they’d talk a whole ton.

Every small thing you did filled them with pride,
and you felt their love with every fiber inside.

But you could have been poor, poor, poor, poor Albert Wagner,
whose parents made him sleep every night in a bagner.
A bagner is far less warm than sleeping bags,
on account of it’s made out of old moldy rags.
But his folks saved the space on the big double bed,
for his younger brother, who got it instead.
“Trust us,” they said. “Your brother Honus
Will some day be rich enough that he could own us.
You don’t have his potential.
You’re just not that good.
We’ll feed you and clothe you
like society demands legally we should.
But that’s all you’ll get, Al,” they said with two shrugs,
“now get in your bagner and what watch out for bugs.”

Worse, while desperately trying to fight his removal
from the bed and their hearts, desp’rate for their approval,
Albert barely noticed when some dumb old klutz,
decided to nickname the sad young man Butts.
And despite his misgivings, he never said boo,
like you might have done if in his place were you.

You might have screamed and you might have yelled
Albert poured himself into a game at which he excelled
“Baseball!” he cried, “now that’s the ticket!”
“I’m quite good at this bastardized version of cricket.”
But so too was Honus and before too much time,
His brother surpassed him and left him behind.

Honus became one of baseball’s bright shining stars,
bought houses, woo-bangles, snazzers, and cars.
He moved his parents to a brand new palatial estate,
with a long winding driveway and impassable gate,
while poor old Butts Wagner, died sad and alone.
in the only home that he had ever known.

So when you feel yourself getting down, and feeling sad,
remember some lives are less easily had.
At least people love you and you’re not a putz,
with a brother like Honus and a nickname like Butts.

Mike Bates co-founded The Platoon Advantage, and has written for many other baseball websites, including NotGraphs (rest in peace) and The Score. Currently, he writes for Baseball Prospectus and co-hosts the podcast This Week In Baseball History. His favorite word is paradigm. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBatesSBN.

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9 years ago

This is amazing. And yes, extremely depressing.