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BRIAN MCGRORY

Time to get a life

An old friend called the other day and asked if I had time to get together for a bite to eat.

Time? What, are you kidding me?

If time were money, I'd be Bill Gates. If time were land, I'd own the Mojave Desert. If time were runs batted in, I'd be David Ortiz.

Oh, God, that hurts, that last part. But that's really the point.

You see, suddenly, very suddenly, beginning last Friday evening just after 7:30, I had all the time in the world.

October was supposed to be the lost month, figuratively speaking, or maybe, like last year, the winning month. Either way, it was the month turned over to Terry and Manny and Johnny. It was the month to sit in front of the television with gritted teeth over Tim McCarver's inane insinuations about the Red Sox. It was a month when pizza and beer represented a square meal, when the streets were eerily empty at 8 o'clock, when all those TVs glowing in living rooms and the radios crackling in every lonely car were tuned to the exact same thing: the Red Sox against the Yankees.

That's the way it was last October, and the October before, so that's the way it would always be, right? Even Alex Rodriguez said as much when he left Boston after the final regular season game. He said he'd see us in another week.

Which is why my desk calendar is as white as a snowstorm in the Antarctic -- zip, nothing, nada. We had a division series that would undoubtedly go five games unless Ortiz and Manny Ramirez got red hot. We had seven games against the Yankees. And then we had the World Series. I don't think I've made a single plan until Veterans Day, just in case, like last year, we had another week of celebration after the whole thing came to a blissful end.

October has come to be the month when Red Sox games are the punctuation marks that provide structure to each and every aspect of my life. Entire days were mapped around the first pitch, getting myself in front of the television at the critical hour, making sure I was physically and psychologically prepared. Off days were spent analyzing what had just happened, predicting what was coming next, mentally limbering up. Work seemed downright extracurricular.

And now what do we have? I'll tell you what we have. We have nothing -- no punctuation, no definition, not one benevolent thing around which to organize these dreary days. Daily life is a run-on sentence with no beginning, no middle, and certainly no foreseeable end. All it does is rain.

It all ended so quickly I feel as if I never had a chance to say goodbye. Now I spend hours wondering whether Jerry Remy is OK. Will Dennis Eckersley do something rash like cut his hair? Is Hazel Mae as happy as she used to be?

More important, have we seen Bill Mueller make his last stellar stop at third base? Has Johnny Damon tossed his final ball to the fans above center field? Has Kevin Millar delivered his last perfect quote?

Like the once-invincible Boston Celtics, will the Red Sox lose their championship soul?

And most important, what will I do with all this time?

Maybe I'll learn a foreign language -- Japanese, perhaps, so I can heckle Tadahito Iguchi and Hideki Matsui in their native tongue. Maybe I'll go to Foxwoods, singing the words from the jingle I've memorized on the entire ride down. Maybe I'll buy a Ford F-150 like Curt Schilling keeps telling me to do.

Anyway, back to that friend who wants to know if I have time to grab a bite to eat. What do you want -- breakfast, lunch, dinner? Today, tomorrow, next week? You want to sit tight somewhere at an all-day, all-you-can-eat buffet?

Let me tell you something: I don't have much in the way of looks. I don't have any real talent. But thanks to the boys over on Yawkey Way, what I have in my life right now is a whole big mess of time.

Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at mcgrory@globe.com.

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