My husband Ken grew up in the 1950's in rural Indiana. He was fleet of foot, crazy smart, super-talented musically, and unable to hit the broad side of anything with any kind of ball. Cue torment by other kids, getting picked last for every stupid phys. ed team, and a father who was Worried. An unwanted (in fact, hated) basketball hoop put up in the driveway. And sullen teenaged Ken locked in his room, listening to Gershwin.
So how did this man end up married to a woman who used to carry a Gary Carter baseball card in her wallet, long after that smiling (and let's face it--gorgeous) fella stopped playing? It's a much longer story than I have time for here. Except that I don't play team sports, either. And I was similarly bullied in grade school. My athletic talents are modest and involve a treadmill.
I'm a writer; Ken's a musician. These mostly are solitary pursuits. But my rebellion from my art-museum-going, classical-music-loving, indie-film-watching family involved becoming the kind of woman who will put a baseball game on the TV if she's alone in the house and feeling blue. Something about the sound of a baseball crowd sounds like summertime breathing.
Intellectuals can like baseball. We're allowed to, really. Sad children hidden inside cheerful-seeming, productive adults need to forget about the damn basketball hoop their dads wanted them to use and go see some minor league ball. I've spent time at the big NYC stadiums. They're OK, but major league ball is simply not The Thing. How have I neglected to support our own Rockland County, NY minor league team? I finally got around to seeing The Rockland Boulders last night and it was about the biggest fun I've had since getting my novel accepted.
Last time I sat down to this blog, I was all about happy endings. Last night started OFF with a happy ending and it just kept getting happier. Our friend and my partner in soprano crime in Ken's church choir Kathryn Kitt had the gig singing The National Anthem at the beginning of the game. And she gave us tickets right behind home plate. It was an evening neither too hot nor too cold for burgers and beer. Kathryn nailed the Anthem (not easy). And The Boulders played a scrappy game against The Garden State Grays, a woe-begotten-looking lot who nonetheless took the lead almost instantly. Underestimate the Garden State Grays at your peril!
Ken realized pretty early on that it was fun to chant "Let's throw boulders" instead of "Let's go Boulders". Which was fine; the other crowd chant was PAN-cakes! PAN-cakes, PANCAKES! That was because IHOP has this gimmick where they pick someone on the opposing team and if the Rockland Boulder pitcher strikes that poor man out, everyone in the stadium gets a free short stack. The International House Of Pancakes being, well, at least national, I imagine this is not limited to Rockland County, NY. But still. PAN-cakes! PAN-cakes!
Between-the-innings entertainment included two Boulders fans dressed in kingly robes with fake crowns on their heads bungee-corded to each other backwards, seeing who could run the furthest away from the other guy. This sponsored by the beloved local Duke of Oil oil change center.
But the Boulders were losing. Until a late-game rally, and then at the bottom of the ninth, a tie game with one man on base. Ballpark organ plays the DUN-dun-dun-dun music. And then a huge, high home run. The Boulders dugout empties. They're going to the PLAYOFFS (playoffs? really? who knew?)!!!!! And bottles of champagne come out and the bubbly is a-flyin! It's like watching the Mets in 1964! The crowd is screaming!
We were handed coupons for five buck burritos on our way to the car. It had to do with a double someone hit. Or something. And these two introverted intellectuals, gathered back into the bosom of Our National Pass Time, headed home. Let's throw Boulders!
PS: My novel's still coming out soon. Watch this space. I'll squirt the champagne when the time comes.