Skip to main content

Like a Rhinestone Earworm

By Tim Hayes Hunched over the keyboard, a deadline bearing down upon me, the search for the perfect word proved elusive. Even wearing my well-worn Radio Shack headphones, tuned to pure white-noise static to block out any distractions, my brain cells refused to click, connect, or cooperate. And it sure as hell didn’t help that […]

That Face

By Tim Hayes On a warm late August evening, while standing in front of the main auditorium building of my brand-new college campus, mere steps away – unbeknownst to me – approached the source of my first and only heart attack.  Figuratively, that is. A magician or hypnotist or something would be performing inside shortly […]

Asking For It

By Tim Hayes Watching the Grammy Awards back in 1983, something happened that stuck in my head all these years since. The Australian band Men At Work won the award for Best New Artist, having scored No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Living In a Land Down Under” and “Who Can […]

The Intersection of Artistry a...

By Tim Hayes The theory goes like this.  The left hemisphere of the human brain controls logical, linear, sequential thinking, while the right controls the more creative, artistic, and expressive. Some blending of these two counterbalancing poles of thought, impulse, and action goes on constantly, of course.  But for most people, one type of thinking […]

Blank Canvass

By Tim Hayes Having driven past this little enclave a million times – and that’s an exaggeration, but not that far from reality, actually – I found myself there at last, standing next to a friend, who rapped on the faded, splintered screen door of the rusted trailer home, perched along a muddy bank of […]

Faith of Our Fathers

By Tim Hayes I am a lapsed Catholic. That statement gives me no satisfaction, no pride.  But it does give me some hope.  At least I’m not a former Catholic.  Not yet.  But that line is a lot closer to being crossed today than at any other time in my life. My sisters and I […]

Then They Came For Me

By Tim Hayes TV host Lou Dobbs this week said he supported the White House’s decision to ban a CNN reporter from a press event for asking President Trump questions earlier that day.  “My question is, who the hell are you?” Dobbs said after reading CNN’s statement about the ban. “The president does insist on respect.  It’s about […]

Someplace Special

By Tim Hayes Over the past week, clients and associates and friends – none of whom had ever known or been introduced to each other – crossed paths three times.  As George on “Seinfeld” would cry, “Worlds are colliding!” but it didn’t surprise me at all.  It’s absolutely a non-event, par for the course. And […]


By Tim Hayes Poseidon in Greek mythology and Neptune in Roman.  Sumandra in Hindu, Tefnut in Egyptian, and Mazu in Chinese.  Heck, even Aquaman in the comic books. All gods of water, the liquid source and sustenance of life.  Entire cultures worship water for its irreplaceable role in keeping the planet alive.  We twist a […]

Beware the Brain Fart

By Tim Hayes Seated in a giant semi-circle of metal folding chairs, clad in a starched white dress shirt, black slacks, and clip-on necktie from Sears, I awaited my turn in the citywide spelling bee. The bee took place in a cavernous auditorium within what had been known as the Buhl Planetarium on the North […]

Flag Day Funk

Flag Day Funk

By Tim Hayes A couple of weeks ago, heavy rains and strong, gusty winds tore through our little corner of the world, blowing window screens into the driveway and snapping the cord that held up our American flag outside the front door. This past Thursday, June 14, I finally got around to restringing the pole […]

Of Poetry and Pie

By Tim Hayes My friend Tom and I sat at his mother’s dining room table, agonizing over this accursed high school English assignment – reading Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”  And as though that weren’t tortuous enough, our teacher expected us to actually think about it and offer our own personal analysis of the various characters’ […]

Turning Violet Around

By Tim Hayes Everybody knew about Violet. A longtime employee, Violet carried a pretty sizeable chip on her shoulder.  She enjoyed creating havoc.  She had a masterful way of pitting her peers against each other one day, then uniting them in vocal opposition to their shared manager the next.  She had perfected the art of […]

Sacred Space

By Tim Hayes This would be a special day, so I wore my best suit and favorite tie.  On this day, I would be meeting a personal hero.  I didn’t want to let him down, after all he did for me and my family. Standing amid a group of other professionals in a special section […]

Converting Nostalgia Into Acti...

Converting Nostalgia Into Action

By Tim Hayes I grew up in a great place, in a great time.  Mt. Oliver Borough, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, to be precise. The old-style corner store, run by the older couple, who’d extend your folks credit until payday, and who aired their family business all day in front of their loyal customers.  […]

A Study In Trash

A Study In Trash

By Tim Hayes Would you trust a bunch of 12-year-old boys, armed with brushes and stencils and buckets of oil-based paint, turned loose on the utility poles of your local municipality’s main business district? Well, they did in 1973.  And pockets of proof can still be seen, barely, all these years later on a handful […]

Mushrooms: A Love Story

By Tim Hayes “Would you look at this kid?  He could be a brain surgeon.” The chatter from my parents around the Formica-topped kitchen table became nothing more than background noise.  Important work lay before me.  Lengthy, precise, essential work. Picking microscopic chunks of mushroom out of that evening’s tuna casserole dinner entrée, that is. […]

Archie and the Hose

By Tim Hayes In my old neighborhood, green space remained at a premium.  We had a small backyard, a strip of grass beside the house, and a tiny patch in front. To prove the point, we had a manual push-mower from Sears.  No gas engine, no extension cord, just you and any kinetic energy you […]

Making God Laugh

By Tim Hayes The fellow in the front seat of the car probably was thinking about dinner that night.  Would he go out?  Maybe just grill up some hot dogs, stay in, and rent a movie on pay-per-view? The lady wanted to get her bicycle across the street.  Maybe to get back home, maybe to […]

Aiming for Them

By Tim Hayes The blue Buick Regal sped down the highway, its undercarriage rattling, its shock absorbers pleading for sweet mercy.  Spring in Pittsburgh, and the potholes had begun to bloom. There I sat, feet on the pedals, hands on the wheel, mere days after passing my driver’s test and becoming a licensed operator of […]

This Is The Only Day

By Tim Hayes We had only been married about two or three years, living for the first time at an appreciable distance from any family, and broke as hell. After finishing dinner at the all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut Buffet one evening, we carefully loaded some slices into a carryout box to serve as lunches and maybe […]


By Tim Hayes A comedian I saw on TV not long ago did a full five minutes on sleep, and how ridiculous it would sound to aliens trying to understand us earthlings. “Okay, so you mean that these creatures, the very top of the food chain around here, with brains that can outperform any other […]

Claustrophobic Costanza

By Tim Hayes Okay, so we drive up to Rochester, New York, just the two of us, to see our daughter at college.  We purposely chose this particular weekend because it fell in the middle of a slow time of year, no holidays, no heavy traffic on the New York Thruway.  Just an easy up-and-back […]

Tracy the Brave

By Tim Hayes I can’t even begin to imagine the courage required. Picture this.  A Catholic elementary school, grades one through eight.  About 400 students in all.  And every single one of them white.  Sure, they broke out by family heritage, the Germans outnumbered everyone else, but you had Italian, Irish, Polish.  Most of Western […]

A Little Neighborhood Hole in ...

By Tim Hayes Everybody needs one.  That place you find that fits your style.  That serves up great food.  That makes you feel at home every time you walk in the place. We found ours about a year after we moved back to our hometown of Pittsburgh, more than 25 years ago.  This little hole […]

Angel on the Line

By Tim Hayes In the (then unbeknownst to me) waning days of my final corporate PR employment, a full 18 years ago now, I found myself sitting in slack-jawed amazement while listening to a speaker bowl over a ballroom full of people. My reason for attending this event tied to the fact that I had […]

Free and Unfettered

Free and Unfettered

By Tim Hayes In the new film “The Post,” the Nixon White House in 1971 attempts to squash release of the Pentagon Papers, a secret and unflattering government assessment of the Vietnam War.  The administration threatened the publisher and editor of The Washington Post with contempt – a federal offense, punishable by imprisonment – should […]

Beefsteak Blossoms

Beefsteak Blossoms

By Tim Hayes Our eldest daughter, an accomplished professional woman now, with two bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, celebrated a birthday this past week.  Our pride in all she has done and become has no bounds.  This story occurs some years ago, when she was a lot smaller and the world seemed a lot simpler. […]

Show Towels

Show Towels

By Tim Hayes Nobody’s supposed to touch them.  Ever. They’re the bathroom “show” towels.  You know, the ones hung there just for show.  The ones that get thrown in the washer twice a year, along with the curtains. The show towels have no practical use, no primary working function.  The idea of drying one’s hands […]

A Single Tear on a Silent Nigh...

By Tim Hayes Nothing felt right that Christmas Eve, and it had put me in a bad mood. I followed my parents, sisters, and grandmother into church for Midnight Mass, only to find that “our” pew – the one we had populated for years – had been usurped by a bunch of “twice-a-year” Catholics.  So […]

The Secretary

By Tim Hayes “The Secretary is coming.  The Secretary is coming!” It marked the first time I ever saw grown men panic in a professional setting. My first foray into public relations, after three years working as a newsroom journalist fresh out of college, occurred with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, or PennDOT in the […]

Magic Puck

By Tim Hayes Gosh, we really thought this idea would work.  Ah, to be young and foolish and fearless again. We – meaning my fellow members of a corporate communications team and I – had somehow convinced a regional executive to don a hockey sweater and gloves, grab a hockey stick, and slap-shot a puck […]

Plum Pudding

By Tim Hayes Of all the things I miss about Thanksgivings spent as a kid, few can be felt more keenly than going to my Aunt’s house with her family and mine sharing the bounteous feast together. First off, I loved this Aunt.  She was naturally funny, warm, expressive, and embracing.  I always felt happy […]

Celebrating the Second Fiddle

By Tim Hayes “Oh, for cryin’ out loud, you have got to be kidding,” I said to no one, while driving down the highway the other day.  “This is getting to be just stupid.” The thing that got my dander up?  An announcement on the radio that around-the-clock Christmas music was about to begin.  The […]

The King and Queen of Hallowee...

By Tim Hayes The trick-or-treaters will soon be upon us, primarily elementary-aged urchins chaperoned by their parents, politely ringing doorbells mostly in the fading sunset, while local police cruisers slowly make their rounds to ensure safe passage. It’s all so…uneventful.  Rote.  Predictable.  Shrink-wrapped for your protection.  Some communities have parents drive their cars into big […]



By Tim Hayes As a professional writer, I place a special priority on the proper use of the King’s English.  It’s how I’ve made my living for more than three decades, raising a family on it. Most words we all use in life float by, unremarkable, unnoticed, serving their purpose and quickly forgotten, tossed down […]

Spinning Beach Ball of Digital...

Spinning Beach Ball of Digital Death

By Tim Hayes You’ve seen it.  Hanging there, suspended in space and time.  Rotating, revolving, silently mocking you and your foolish plans.  Ha-ha!  Bathed in the primary colors of the rainbow, seemingly full of fun and mirth.  As if. But you know better.  Oh, yes.  You understand.  This is nothing to toy with, even though […]

I Don’t Think So

By Tim Hayes “Is this really necessary?” I asked my boss over the phone, one Sunday morning. “Yes, I expect you in here this afternoon,” came the unmistakably unsympathetic reply. “How about after dinner?  We’re having people over this afternoon,” I pleaded. “The pitch is tomorrow.  We’re not ready.  Get in here as soon as […]

Stencils No More

By Tim Hayes From behind the louvered doors of an inset bookcase in our dining room, my sisters and I would occasionally pull out a reference book.  Not to look up anything of interest, mind you, but instead to draw all over it. Actually, that’s not right.  We wouldn’t draw on the book itself.  First, […]

Have We Met?

By Tim Hayes In the late ‘90s, December posed a special challenge.  Three kids under the age of 10 and Christmas on everyone’s radar.  My wife and I would make at least one, usually two, trips to the only store that to this day can wrench me from a dream state into wide-eyed alertness at […]

Happy Accidents

By Tim Hayes Dock sat, unmoving, nearly unblinking, on the spare rollout sofa bed in his sister’s cellar in Atlanta. The ‘70s-era Sears color TV, the ones that served as a monstrous piece of furniture, complete with sharp-angled heavy wood casing and channel knobs the size of baseballs, flickered over in a corner of the […]

Bell & Howell & History

By Tim Hayes It must have been a birthday party.  Whether one of mine, or that of one of my sisters, it really didn’t matter.  We all had the same experience. Staring into a set of blazing, blaring, iridescent super-bright white lights – eyes watering, squinting, pleading for help that remained an eternity away – […]


By Tim Hayes On a scorching late August morning, our high school marching band’s drum section, yours truly included, gathered under the limited shade of a withering tree at band camp, to work on our cadences – the drum patterns that the entire band marched to during parades and when coming onto or off of […]

West View Days

By Tim Hayes It came around every late May or early June.  A day of deliverance.  A day when school took a backseat, even though it fell on a school day.  The annual school picnic. In Pittsburgh during the 1960s and ‘70s, the public school districts held their annual picnics at Kennywood Park, an amusement […]



By Tim Hayes My parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents gathered in the modest home that Friday evening – ostensibly to celebrate a cousins’ second birthday, but really just to be together after such a shattering day.  November 22, 1963. John F. Kennedy was murdered just after I had turned three.  Obviously, I have no personal […]

Progress Hurts

Progress Hurts

By Tim Hayes Walking through the storied Oak Grove of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), my college alma mater, this past week, the inevitable came to pass. I had known this day would arrive for more than a year, but hoped against hope that it might somehow get postponed indefinitely.  But there it was, plain […]

Troubled Water

Troubled Water

By Tim Hayes We filed into the musty, ancient classroom, smelling of floor wax, chalk dust, and crushing boredom.  The room, not me and my fellow fourth graders, that is.  The last class of the morning, right before lunch, and the mental and physical energy in the room had sunk nearly as low as our […]

Stop Digging

By Tim Hayes If it’s true that in space no one can hear you scream, then it is just as true – if not more so – that in business or politics, unless you have a distinct and compelling message, no one can hear you at all. Our society drowns in information.  Want proof?  Check […]

The Joys of White Noise

The Joys of White Noise

By Tim Hayes Imagine about 30 people sitting practically elbow-to-elbow in four rows of desks, most of them either on the phone or talking to someone in the room, with two men at the front of the pack, screaming for – or at – individuals standing beside them, while phones rang and general aural mayhem […]



By Tim Hayes One week every summer, from age 9 to maybe 12 or 13, I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house about four miles away as the crow flies – but at least four thousand light-years away when it came to the dynamics of that house versus mine. I grew up with two […]

There She Was…Smiling At Me

There She Was…Smiling At Me

By Tim Hayes This Monday, July 10, marks our 35th wedding anniversary.  This essay is adapted from a column first published back in the early 1980s when I worked as a newspaper reporter, which tells the story of that day – and why, 35 years later, she still knocks me out. * * * About […]

Gone Batty for Fireworks

By Tim Hayes As with any true-blue American, our family loves to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.  Just as John Adams wanted us to. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, on the eve of signing the Declaration of Independence, July 3, 1776, he wrote that the occasion should be commemorated “with […]

Beefsteak Blossoms

By Tim Hayes In the moderately sized backyard, shovel sliced into earth across the rear corner, off to the right.  The heel of a tennis shoe-clad food pushing the blade into the ground, to reveal the black soil beneath. Before long, a 10-by-10 foot patch had been cleared, then tilled carefully, before planting began on […]

Grass Stains

By Tim Hayes There’s a great quote that I can’t seem to find on Google.  I don’t remember where I saw it first, many years ago, but for some reason it has stuck in my head all this time.  It sounds like something Mark Twain might have said, so I’m going to go with that […]


By Tim Hayes We recently attended a lovely wedding of two lovely young people in a lovely little church, followed by a lovely reception in a lovely facility.  The whole experience was, well, lovely. Then I asked where the happy couple would be honeymooning.  And all the loveliness of the proceedings proceeded to crash into […]

The Hand of Truth

By Tim Hayes Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice to control every aspect of the reality affecting your life?  To simply brush away the tough stuff, the uncomfortable moments, the annoying people and obligations? Yep, it sure would be nice.  If only it were even a tiny bit possible or feasible or sustainable.  But it is […]

Seventh Avenue Stroll

By Tim Hayes We had driven from Pittsburgh to New York City, checked into our hotel, situated right on Times Square, and had dinner at the Carnegie Deli before the big show. Total tourists, but there for the best reason of all – our daughter and her high school chorus were performing that night on […]

Friends are Everywhere

Friends are Everywhere

By Tim Hayes Another day of shining sunburst broke through the hotel window, another day full of promise and potential during a week in central Florida with my son, Chris, following our beloved Pittsburgh Pirates around during Spring Training 2017. We got up and ready to head out, jumped in the rental car, and started […]


By Tim Hayes The first time we met, I didn’t even know he was in the room. Sophomore year of college, sitting in a small auditorium in an administration building at the far corner of campus, listening to the new editorial staff of the school newspaper describe plans for the coming year.  As a raw […]

Taking One for the Team

Taking One for the Team

By Tim Hayes We all know one.  The dad who misses the first inning of a big game to park the car and walk to the field from a distance.  The lineman who sacrifices his body to protect the quarterback so that the team can score.  The mother who spends that Wednesday shopping and cleaning, […]

Newsprint and Maple Syrup

By Tim Hayes One of the best experiences of high school never took place in our high school. It would happen four times each academic year, 75 miles away from the high school building, when a bunch of students working on the school newspaper would pile into one car and drive to the tiny headquarters […]

Narrowing the Gap

By Tim Hayes Each of my kids had braces.  Each of my kids needed to have their wisdom teeth pulled.  Retainers, tightenings, chipmunk cheeks, twilight sedation, and some loopy re-entries when that happy juice started to wear off. We did our part – more than our part, if you ask me – helping one local […]

The Truth Always Wins

By Tim Hayes We’re hearing a lot about what’s real and what’s fake these days.  It’s a ridiculous argument. There may be things you’d like to be real, that you wish were real.  But that’s not reality.  Something either is actually, verifiably true and real, or it isn’t.  And the truth always reveals itself.  How […]

88 Little Keys

By Tim Hayes She couldn’t have been older than second or third grade when it magically appeared in their house.  Made of dark wood, with gleaming gold pedals and a playing surface of shining white, just waiting for her.  Only her. So she clambered up on to the padded seat, marveling at this gift, so […]


By Tim Hayes Negotiations had hit a snag.  The two sides needed to walk away from the bargaining table for a while.  Good thing, because their respective mothers had begun calling them to dinner anyway. I had three shoeboxes full of baseball cards, purchased at the local family-owned corner store, quickly looked at, then unceremoniously […]

The Right Girl

By Tim Hayes “Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She […]

Betcha By Golly Wow

By Tim Hayes Back in the day, long before music got downloaded from a computer and billed to a credit card, back when a weirdly shaped chip of plastic snapped into the big hole in the middle of a 45-rpm record so that you could play it on your family’s stereo, getting your hands on […]

An ‘Alternative’ Biography

By Tim Hayes I was born on a sultry summer morning in Baton Rouge.  Mother enjoyed a crisp autumn sunrise in Seattle that same day. Life on the plains was hard.  Tending crops in the rain forest, and all.  But Father, being a jeweler, always knew what to do.  I used to walk the long […]

Kitchen Table

By Tim Hayes “Oh, no.  We can’t take this.” Astonished, dumbfounded, shocked, we spluttered in reply to the St. Vincent De Paul guy, “What?” “We can’t take this table,” he said, within two seconds of laying eyes on it. Our kitchen table, a simple, round, wooden-topped table with solid wood chairs surrounding it.  We decided […]

Long Division

[This story has been dramatized and adapted from actual events.  It is shared on this commemorative weekend to show how some attitudes from a half-century ago have changed and improved, but that we still have a lot more work to do.] By Tim Hayes An otherwise typical Friday morning.  “House Party” with Art Linkletter flickered […]


By Tim Hayes After six years of Catholic education, one learns that some things never change.  The playground will always be made of asphalt.  Up at the rectory, Father will always be shy one healthy sense of humor.  And the dress code will always be business casual – blouses and skirts for the girls, and […]

Sky Chair

By Tim Hayes The first time I noticed it, we were carting a nine-month-old baby to the pediatrician.  Our firstborn, fussing and crying in her little car-seat contraption in the rear of the station wagon, just a couple of weeks after we had moved back to Pittsburgh, our hometown, following an eight-year career-building sojourn all […]

Talent Show

By Tim Hayes Every year, like clockwork, the three brothers got the nod. Grandma’s basement, in front of the washtubs.  Showtime. Down the stairs they came, three cousins of mine, bathrobes cinched tight, aluminum foil crowns perched atop their close-shaven heads, each carrying a decorated shoebox – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – and singing “We […]

Fightin’ the Fogey

By Tim Hayes The doctor stood in front of the exam table, where I had just returned after having X-rays taken a few minutes earlier. “Hmmmm.  Hmmmm.  Yeah, I can see it now.” “See what, doctor?” “You have arthritis behind both kneecaps.” Arthritis?  Me?  How has this happened?  I thought my knees were just a […]

An Inconvenient Gift

By Tim Hayes Deep in the recesses of my wallet, back where the kids’ old middle school pictures and expired AAA cards dwell, you’ll find a little sheet of paper from a small spiral notebook – the kind you could hold in the palm of your hand. In blue and red marker, with letters of […]

Matchstick Memories

By Tim Hayes The room sat in near complete darkness, except for a bright cone of light directly above the workshop space where Adlai sat, hunched, special magnifier goggles strapped to his head, tiny tools in his hands, making repairs to a miniature rolltop desk the size of a salt shaker. The tiny piece of […]

The Snow Globe

By Tim Hayes When someone poses the question, “What’s the matter?” it most often gets misinterpreted.  The question does not mean, “What’s the problem?”  The literal definition equates to “What’s the situation?” That’s what makes this particular question so crucial, so vexing, and so difficult to answer today.  What, exactly, is the situation?  What, precisely, […]

Random Ramblings

By Tim Hayes Things I thought while thinking about other things (I think)… Whatever happened to slow songs? At the past three wedding receptions we’ve attended, whether a DJ or a live band provided the music, not one slow song got played.  Just fast, frantic tunes, one after the next, for hours on end.  I […]

The Sister Dorothy Mysteries

By Tim Hayes On a balmy afternoon in June, it felt like the weight of the world had lifted.  A grueling slog had, at last, come to an end.  The daily grind of living up to expectations, the mounting pressure, the seemingly unobtainable had finally been obtained. Kindergarten was over. No more suffering under the […]

Just You Wait

By Tim Hayes Late summer in the late ‘70s.  High school band camp, at a wooded facility atop the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania.  Everyone had hiked to the very peak of the mountain hosting our week-long retreat one warm, humid evening for a bonfire and cookout. Way back when, the marching band at my […]

An Artificial Construct

By Tim Hayes Is anything real?  No, seriously.  Are the things we value so much actually worth what we think?  Sometimes it’s worth wondering whether so much of what we stress and worry and work and cheat and skirt the rules for actually exists. Like money, for instance.  Who has it, who wants it, who […]

The Gospel According to Looney...

By Tim Hayes The hulking animated sheepdog, fur covering his eyes, strides on two feet up to the clock, punches his time card, and heads in to work on a bluff overlooking a meadow full of sheep. “Morning, Ralph,” he mumbles to his co-worker, a harried coyote, also carrying a lunch pail and punching his […]

A Near-Grape Incident

By Tim Hayes The music folder for my high school band weighed a ton.  I didn’t want to lug it around school with me all day, and my locker couldn’t have been any farther from the band room, so I kept it in what I thought was a safe cupboard near the drum section. So […]

The Show

By Tim Hayes Kids today only know megaplex theaters – giant, multi-screen, mall-bound behemoths where patrons get force-fed cold, overpriced, gummy, sub-par popcorn on their way to darkened far-flung rooms, some of which (if not hosting a blockbuster feature) could double as indoctrination cells for prisoners of war. It’s a sad, sorry business, if for […]

The Stupid Fund

By Tim Hayes Welcome back, viewers, to Hour 19 of our 24-hour telethon to cure Stupid!  Our thanks to Tony Orlando for sitting in the host chair for the past four hours while yours truly took some nourishment and a brief nap – now, we’re in the home stretch! So far, our wonderful donors from […]

A Leap of Faith

By Tim Hayes Whistling through my local Target the other day, it immediately became obvious that the start of a new school year – for college students, in particular – loomed, and loomed large. It also became obvious that, with my kids at least, we had made it past those days of racking up hundreds […]

The Mystery of Buck

By Tim Hayes As one plows one’s way through the different phases of life, certain people take center stage and remain there, others capture the spotlight for a time then fade away, then there are the scores of peripheral players who come and go, some making a more memorable – although fleeting – mark than […]

Miss Four of Diamonds

By Tim Hayes Growing up in an urban middle-class neighborhood, boys like me dreamed of getting a mini-bike.  And not a small bicycle, mind you, but a mini-bike – a miniature motorcycle. The noise, the power, the ability to go a hell of a lot faster than your scrawny little knobbly-kneed legs could take you.  […]

Walt Gets Smart

By Tim Hayes Walt sunk a little further into his soft, comfy recliner, feet up, brain down, remote safely clutched in his right hand, a bag of barbecue chips occupying his left.  Just how he liked it. His favorite sitcom glowed from the plasma screen.  Walt had seen the episode at least 11 times, but […]

Tug of War

By Tim Hayes Tug had some free time one crisp autumn afternoon during a four-day sales conference in Washington, DC, and decided to take a walk around the National Mall. Soon he happened upon the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the stark, striking, severe, yet unsettlingly peaceful granite “V” descending below ground level, carrying the engraved names […]

Surf Narc

By Tim Hayes The vacation, years in the planning, had begun.  Our entire family together again at the New Jersey shore.  A rented house that exceeded our fondest hopes, the kids – two out of college, one half-way through, coming in from different cities – all gathered in the same place for a few days […]

Last Resort

By Tim Hayes Julia’s hands hadn’t reached the point of the day where they became sore and tender, but she knew that moment wasn’t far off. She understood that after delivering her fourth massage of the day, it would be time for a break – a light lunch and a half-hour at the indoor pool.  […]


By Tim Hayes Neil turned his head as far as possible, although in this enormous suit and bubble helmet, admittedly that wasn’t very far.  He wanted to get a good look, knowing he would be one of only three people to ever get so close. Michael manned the controls, gauging pressure from the undercarriage, lowering […]

Pap and Circumstance

By Tim Hayes Jim had heard his parents argue before, so this time didn’t faze him much.  Something about picking up the wrong Greek yogurt at the store, which then escalated into “You never listen to me,” which then leapt higher to “If you said anything worth listening to, then I might listen better,” and […]

Mrs. Gorinski

By Tim Hayes One otherwise nondescript Wednesday evening in 1973, Mrs. Gorinski rose from her Formica-top kitchen table, scraped her picked-over chicken bones into the garbage, and walked slowly over to the porcelain sink, wiping her hands on her apron.  She leaned on the counter, looked out the window to the tiny back yard marked […]


By Tim Hayes High above the big backyard of our house flew the brilliantly colored, sturdily constructed pearl of tethered aviation, its tail fluttering at breakneck speed, winds and crosswinds buffeting with unpredictable power. It felt like you had a wild bronco at the end of a rope, trying to keep this kite airborne and […]


By Tim Hayes School is a jungle.  Whether growing up in the city or suburbs or rural routes, friendships can be tenuous, threats can spring up like crabgrass, life carries no promises of calm, peace, or justice.  Those ideals can get crushed to powder underfoot like a dead brown leaf on a chilly October sidewalk. […]

Diamond in the Dirt

By Tim Hayes The community park where the Little League baseball games got played as I grew up featured dirt.  A lot of dirt.  Dirt in the infield, dirt in the outfield, dirt in the dugouts.  Dirt in your shoes, dirt in your eyes, dirt in your hair. When you walked into your kitchen after […]

A Golden Day for a Yellow Lab

A Golden Day for a Yellow Lab

By Tim Hayes As we stepped onto the back patio of a family’s house in Ambridge, PA, one midsummer morning, the litter of yellow lab puppies they had for sale went berserk, yipping and yapping, running and jumping, tumbling and tussling.  A cacophony of noise and energy that enveloped me, my wife, and our kids, […]

Bless You, Mrs. Rita Jean

By Tim Hayes Dismissal on the last day of school.  Hundreds of elementary-age students poured out from their school building, heading for buses or their parents’ cars, bursting with the joy that only the start of summer can generate in a kid’s heart. But one little guy had a different reaction to the end of […]