Even though I was enjoying my time with three year-old Jonathan, being a house-husband was more work than I thought it would be. He was going to Thompson Station Daycare three times a week which allowed me to pursue my writing and co-writing with various Nashvillians the other four days. I hooked up with Sean Patrick McGraw, a songwriter I had met in L.A. a few years back. Sean is a very talented singer/songwriter who is now still out there on the road living the dream. He has a single out now called I’m That Guy, which is a rocking little country ditty. Unfortunately, it is the same cookie-cutter mold of most of the other country songs these days with lyrics about beer, trucks and girls in cut-off jeans and cowboy boots. Sour grapes? Maybe.
Sean and I wrote a few really good songs together, one in particular that I liked called Halfway to Linda’s House, a story-song of a first unrequited love—how the protagonist never got any further than halfway in the relationship. Even though the songs were good, I thought the songs I write solo were far superior. I started playing the Nashville circuit of writer’s nights and whatnot and was beginning to get a following. I knew it was time to make a record. First I had to acquire some recording equipment and that was going to take money. Universal Data was dying a slow death since places like Staples, Wal-Mart and Office Depot had the same things I sold at much cheaper prices. I couldn’t compete with the Sam Walton way of doing business so I hung up my entrepreneurial shoes.
I figured I would get an insurance license and go into selling health and life. If you had a license you were legit, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong. After passing my insurance test I got a job at United Benefits, another generic name of a fly-by-night company in the same mold as Central Supply, my old typewriter ribbon joint in Hollywood. If you ever saw the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross, written by David Mamet and starring Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Alan Arkin, you would have a good idea what United Benefits was like. Cutthroat lies and deception was the name of that tune. At least they provided leads, which, depending upon how much product you sold the week before determined the quantity of prospective customers. I usually got about ten. Some salespeople got as much as twenty-five. I would average about three hundred bucks a week, not the greatest, but it was enough to save for a tape machine and a console, maybe a couple of microphones. I had enough guitars—maybe seven at the time. This was a few years before I discovered Ebay. I was buying and selling stuff from the paper, The Tennessean, it wasn’t as good as The Recycler in L.A. but it was all there was at the time in Nashville.
I didn’t have as much time to devout to my songwriting now and my pedal steel playing was getting a bit rusty. I found myself booking all my appointments near golf courses. That way if the customer didn’t buy the policy I would say, “That’s okay, I’ll call you later,” and would book over to the nearest course. I didn’t get very rich but my golf game was getting spot on. I was thinking about going pro. I was forty-three years old and if I played every day I could maybe make the Senior’s Tour (now called the Champion’s Tour) in six and a half years.
On or around New Year’s 1996, Donna and I wanted another baby. We practiced a lot. But on that evening in early January after an intense lovemaking episode I knew. I was right, she was pregnant and the baby was due in early October. Being the old fashioned type, we again didn’t want to be told the baby’s sex. Surprises were good, as long as the baby was healthy. Donna had the usual morning sickness in the spring and the summer months in Tennessee were unbearable. Of course Donna kept working right up until the time her water broke.
She was admitted to Williamson Medical Center on the first of October. This was during the baseball playoffs and fortunately her room was like a suite at the Hilton with a refrigerator, hard wood floors and the best thing of all—a television. In the early afternoon of the second, she went into labor. The Cleveland Indians were playing the Baltimore Orioles in an afternoon game at Oriole Park at Camden Fields. It was game two of the American League Divisional Series. The Orioles won the first game ten to four.
While I was helping Donna with her labor pains by getting her ice chips and placing a wet washcloth on her forehead, I was sneaking peeks at the game. Why not? It was the bloody playoffs! In the bottom of the fifth the score was one to nothing in favor of the Orioles. Brady Anderson lead off with a solo home run to make the score two nothing. With two outs and Orel Hershiser on the mound, Palmeiro singled to right and then he walked Bonilla. Man of first and second, two outs. Ripken strode to the plate and promptly belted a single in the hole between third and shortstop. One run scored and there was man on first and second. The Eddie Murray stepped up to the plate and hit a towering fly ball deep down the left field line for a double. Bonilla scored easily but as Ripken was rounding third I knew there was going to be a close play at the plate. Even though Donna was panting and getting close to delivering the baby, my eyes were riveted to the television. When I saw Ripken slide into home plate and the umpire’s right thumb went skyward I couldn’t believe it.
“He’s OUT?” I shouted. Donna looked down over her enormous belly with confusion. She thought I meant that the BABY was out. At the bottom of the ninth, at two-thirty p.m. he was. I was beyond ecstatic and forgot all about the game—well, almost. It was a beautiful baby boy we named Daniel Harrison Haymer. Jonathan thought it was cool to have a little brother even though he cried a lot and, at times, didn’t smell so good. By the way, the Orioles won the game seven to four and would advance to the American League Championship against the New York Yankees who eventually won the World Series beating the Atlanta Braves four games to two. It’s good to have one’s priorities in order.