Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. I’ve come to believe, however, that necessity is an imposter. The real mother of invention is boredom. At least it’s a foster mother. Boredom fosters ideas.
If not ideas, desperation.
Nothing will create more extreme behavior than folks sitting around contemplating the meaning of life, with a “there-has-to-be-something-better-than-this” mindset.
I’ve long held the belief that most of the truly great jokes had origins in prison boredom. Games of chance, like bingo, came to us from church. The monotony of military life spawned many athletic sports. 
I, too, get credit for inventing a sport. It, too, was hatched out of boredom, the boredom of college downtime.
My sport is fun to play, but for reasons that will become obvious, it really shouldn’t be played more than twice a year, tops. If you ever see my sport scheduled on ESPN, I suggest you head immediately to a bunker with canned food and a DVD of your favorite apocalypse movie.
The name of my indoor sport is Underball. No, not Thunderball. That’s way too swashbuckling for my sport. It’s Under-ball. As in underwear. Underwear –– coincidently, no doubt –– is what the ball is made of.
Underwear also happens to be the official uniform.
To create an Underball, take three or four pairs of men’s white briefs, and fold them into each other until you achieve a tightly wound, melon-sized, spongy cotton projectile.
From this point, the rules are simple. It’s basically tackle baseball.
The pitcher initiates the inning by throwing the Underball as hard as he can at the batter –– underhanded, of course. The batter tries to put the Underball in play by using the back of his hand to swat the orb. There are no balls or strikes. If the player whiffs, and the Underball hits him, he’s out.
Launching the ball into the field of play, the batter must run –– on his knees –– to first base before being tackled by the fielder holding the Underball … and anyone else who wants to pile on.
The game is high-scoring, fast-paced, and goes a long way toward understanding why our deaf landlord, in the apartment below, puzzled upon finding plaster chunks in his morning oatmeal.
The best Underball player I ever saw –– and there are only four –– was my college roommate Bert A. Lekarczyk. Bert and I were college football teammates. At 6’4”, 245 pounds, Bert was our outstanding starting left tackle. At 6’1”, 190 pounds, I played left out.
Bert could clobber an Underball. His long knee-strides made it an easy three bounds to the lime green barrel chair — first base. By the time the rest of us tracked down the Underball, Bert easily loped into nearby second.
But here’s where Bert’s size hindered him. Third base was tantalizingly close to home plate, but an agonizing full trip across the living room from second. To make matters worse, second base –– the TV stand –– was tucked into the deepest recess of the street-facing bay window of our venerable Italianate home.
Anyone stuck at second base for any length of time suffered simultaneously from the winter windchill, infiltrating the single-paned glass, and from the ridicule of passing motorists witnessing a grown man kneeling in the front window in his underwear.
Bert hated to be stuck at second. He hated that window, and ironic for a man from South Bend, he hated being cold. He always tried for third, even though we stopped him nearly every time. Didn’t matter to Bert. Anything was better than being stuck halfway.
Although a professional Underball career likely lay ahead of Bert upon graduation, this fantasy was interrupted by something called life. His life by age 30, it turns out, was interrupted by something called Multiple Sclerosis.
Once capable of demolishing defenses on the football field, Bert soon couldn’t even raise a hand to defend himself. By age 30, he could hardly walk. By age 35 his three small children had to brave the iciness of his steel wheelchair just to embrace his warmth.
By age 40, he lost control of his bowels –– by 50, control of his life. He spent the remainder of his days in a nursing home.
He suffered the indignity of being bathed by strangers. He suffered the monotony of eating the same food over and over –– food someone had to spoon into his mouth like an infant.
He suffered the frustration of not being able to see his children, and now grandchildren as often as he’d wish. He suffered not being able to pick up the phone, and call a friend.
He suffered the do-gooders who never seemed to understand why taking away his cigarettes so he wouldn’t get cancer, meant punishment to a man who prayed everyday that this would be the day that God allowed him to die.
He suffered that goddam fly landing over and over and over again on his nose, incapable of brushing it away.
He suffered the loneliness of being so far away from anywhere he wanted to be. He suffered –– suffered being stuck halfway between this life and the beyond. Halfway. Always only halfway.
Friday night, Bert saw his chance. He made a break for it. He stormed off second base –– away from halfway –– and this time … this time he made it.
Bert finally made it home.
Underball rules call for the play to be scored as a steal. But Underball rules –– those that exist, at least –– were made to be broken.
I’m scoring it as a walk. Just another walk.
A walk that Bert waited more than 30 years to take.

John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media