Life imitating life…and it’s ugly!

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021

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In his 1889 essay, “The Decay of Lying,” Oscar Wilde, the well-known Irish poet and playwright, is famously credited with the line: “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

If Mr. Wilde – who died in 1900 at age 46 – were alive today he might want to consider reconstructing that phase by saying that life imitates life.

Case in point is that the violent acts currently being carried out on our streets on a near-daily basis are spilling over to venues where we once felt relatively safe.

As an example, this past Saturday night’s Major League Baseball game between the visiting San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals was suspended in the sixth inning when shots rang out just outside Nationals Park.

I didn’t watch the game live, but did see a snippet of video on Sunday where you can clearly hear – “pop – pop – pop” – the telltale sound of gunfire. It was loud enough – even in a crowded stadium – that the homeplate umpire froze in his tracks.

ESPN reported that the gunshots caused panic among fans inside the stadium, some of whom ducked for cover, hiding underneath tables and behind seats as announcers warned people to stay inside the park.

“It was just a chaotic scene,” umpire crew chief Mark Carlson told The Associated Press. “We heard what sounded like rapid gunfire. We didn’t know where it was coming from.”

According to a spokesperson with the Metropolitan Police Department, there was an exchange of gunfire between people in two cars outside the Third Base Gate at the stadium. Three people were injured, including a woman attending the game who was struck while she was outside the stadium. Her injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.

Meanwhile, two people who were in one of the cars later walked into a local hospital with gunshot wounds and were being questioned by police investigators.

The Nationals initially announced there had been an incident outside the stadium and posted a message on the scoreboard telling fans to remain inside the stadium.

About 10 minutes later, the team tweeted: “A shooting has been reported outside of the Third Base Gate at Nationals Park. Fans are encouraged to exit the ballpark via the Centerfield and Rightfield gates at this time.”

Arman Ramnath, 27, a recent law school graduate from nearby Arlington, Virginia, said he and a friend were sitting on the third-base side of Nationals Park when they heard what sounded like fireworks.

“We weren’t sure what it was. Then everyone started ducking,” Ramnath said, speaking to an AP reporter.

Ramnath said he and his friend ended up hiding behind the seats for five or more minutes. After a while people started getting up and leaving, he said, but stadium announcements told fans to wait. Eventually they were allowed to leave.

“It felt very surreal. I wasn’t really sure how to react,” Ramnath said. “I mean, you hear about it … but you never expect it to be something that could affect you.”

Another instance of life imitating life with a tie to sports comes on the golf links. By watching a bit of The Open Championship (the world’s oldest golf tournament held annually in the United Kingdom) this past weekend, I was reminded of a column I wrote a decade or so ago about the confusion found in certain terms used in this particular sport.

The announcers will say that a golfer has the ball “lying under his feet.” To me, that would seem as an impossible shot to hit, not unless the golfer raises his foot off the ground. Even then it would seem they stood a good chance of whacking their foot with a club.

They also talk about “good lies” and “bad lies.” All I know is what my mom taught me at a very early age – all lies are bad! I would have a red and stinging backside if my mom caught me telling a lie.

There’s also the term – “preferred lie.” I could have used that with mom to explain why I chose not to tell the truth. However, in golf it’s a rule which allows a player to improve their lie by being able to lift, clean and place their ball within one club length, not nearer the hole from where the ball originally lay without penalty. That’s just way too confusing for me to comprehend.

And there’s the “unplayable lie” where the ball is impossible to play such as in a thicket or stuck in a tree.

It seems to me there sure is a lot of lying going on out there on the links.

I’ve also heard the golf term “fried egg.” At first I thought a player was enjoying a breakfast biscuit prior to the round. I later learned it meant a ball that was half-buried in a sand trap.

And did you know you can “punch” in golf? I thought it meant trading blows with your playing partner if they made fun of your style of play. However, it really means taking a low, controlled shot into the wind. It is made by slamming the club down into the ball with a short swing.

I’ll leave you with one last “life imitating life” sports story.

During the final leg of Stage #2 of the Ladies Tour of Norway, four women managed to break away from the rest of the field in this annual bicycle race. They managed to fashion what appeared to be a commanding 30-second lead with only five kilometers remaining until the finish line.

However, to their dismay, they were forced to come to a complete stop at a drawbridge that had to be opened to allow for a boat to pass, a time-consuming process that allowed the other riders to erase their 30-second deficit.

As fate would have it, none the foursome with the once insurmountable lead failed to crack the top finishing spots of that particular stage.

As they say….that’s life!

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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