No Matter What

I can’t quite believe it but the Red Sox have been on a tear since Friday, May 11, 2012.  They’ve won 9 out of 12 games and although I can’t take credit for their success, I was at the game that Friday night and as I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve got a story to tell about it.

It all started on Tuesday, May 8th, when my best Junior League friend called and asked me if I wanted to go to a Red Sox game with her.  I wasn’t interested and I said as much with a blasé “I’ve got so much to do this weekend, I think I’ll pass.”  They’d lost quite a few games since I jinxed them and in spite of a brief turnaround when my friend Margaret reversed the jinx, they’d been playing stinko.

“Where are the tickets?  The State Street Pavilion?” I asked.

There was silence on the other end of the line.  Then I heard my friend say:

“The owner’s box.”

“Oh, that changes everything.  I’m in.”

I felt phony and superficial; I had nothing to say to John Henry or Larry Lucchino.  Why had I been so easily swayed by the prospect of rubbing elbows with them?  It’s not much fun to watch a baseball game from behind glass, either.  In 1989, Red Sox management had created “The 600 Club” which was 600 seats behind glass, just below the press box.  I sat there once and it was sterile and silent.

Nevertheless, I was amped up by the prospect of watching the game with John and Larry and my friend and her 2 daughters.  My friend and I might finally get caught up and there would be free food; maybe some grass-fed beef burgers.

The big day finally arrived after much discussion about what to wear, what to say, and how to navigate the city.  I drove to my friend’s house in Cambridge; there was the game before the game on my friend’s front lawn.  I tried to teach my friend’s three kids everything I knew about “the game.”  It’s amazing how far a person can hit a wiffle ball.

Then we took the subway to the park and joined the throng streaming past the Cask ‘n Flagon towards the “will call” window.  We got our tickets and as it turned out, we were not in the owner’s box.  I was a little deflated, but I didn’t let it show; besides, they were spectacular seats; the best seats ever!  And just like that, we were walking up the ramp towards the field and THE MOMENT.

I had forgotten what it felt like to be at Fenway Park, but at THE MOMENT I felt a little catch in my throat and a tear in my eye.  I remembered how it felt the first time I went to Fenway Park and I knew what it must have felt like to be a Red Sox fan of another era.   It’s a first world phenomenon and if I ever get to my lettuce farm I will be completely content to stay there, but since I’m not there yet, I was happy to have another chance to live in THE MOMENT.

There we were at the game, about 5 rows up from the field.  Everything was so close and I could see Bobby V. when he would stand on the steps of the dugout.  There was Big Papi and Jared Saltalamacchia.  I told my friend’s children he had the longest name in baseball and they were impressed.  I spelled it out for them.

Then we saw a woman wearing a strange foam hat on her head; it was a replica of Fenway Park with little plastic helmets glued on the sides.  She was walking up from the first row and I said “Excuse me, but may I take a picture of you for my blog?”

She said “Sure!”

I snapped her picture and then she and her husband sat down behind us and we started chatting.  Thinking it might be a good blog post, I asked her a few questions, in my best super sleuth mode.  She told me her name was Lynne Smith and she and her husband were season ticket holders.  She’d worn her hat to every game since 1999 and she’d worn it in 23 different ballparks.  The only time she varied her chapeau was on opening day, when she wore her opening day creation.  She said she liked to make people smile.

I asked her what she thought about last year’s implosion, the current troubles, and Bobby V.  She thought for a moment.

“I love the Red Sox no matter what” she said quietly.

Then I asked her the big question.

“Do you have a Red Sox toaster?”

“Of course,” she said.

I started laughing and decided it was more fun to talk baseball with a devoted fan; I dropped the interview schtick.

My friend’s children were getting bored; baseball is a complicated game when you’re young.  Lynne said to them “would you like to go and sit on the Green Monster?”  The prospect of a walk around the park perked them up and then Lynne asked if I wanted to go too.

Well, sure!

We got up and headed through the aisles; a new kind of MOMENT began.  Lynne was well-known at Fenway and everyone was high-fiving her.  Every time someone would high-five her, I would also get a high-five.  It was like being in a rock star’s entourage.  We went up to the State Street Pavilion and the luxury box area and Lynne knew all the security personnel.  She asked about their children, their grandchildren, and their puppies, leaving a trail of smiles and laughter in her wake.  The next thing I knew, we were sitting on the Green Monster for the 5th inning.  We were Red Sox rock stars!

We couldn’t stay there forever, so we made our way back to our seats just in time for the 7th inning stretch.  I sang along to “Take me out to the ball game” and then in the 8th inning, I was singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of my lungs.  Like a rock star.

We ended up staying for the entire game, which ended perfectly when Johnny Damon hit a fly ball to center field for the last out.  Red Sox 7, Indians 5.

I can’t wait to tell this story to Margaret.  She’ll be happy to know there is someone else with a Red Sox toaster who loves the Red Sox no matter what, just like she does.  It’s been my experience that people who love things no matter what are usually pretty generous with their love; I’m glad I’ve known a few of them in my life.

Sometimes loving other people no matter what is all you can do.  I’m going to keep trying to do that.  You try too.

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