The Thursday Blog: Take Me Out to the Variety Show Edition

Lena does work for a woman here in town who owns her own marketing firm. We’ll call her Fran. Fran sits on the board of the local branch of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and they were recently sponsored by the Jacksonville Suns to come see a game. (They’re our baseball team. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them… I barely know who they are.) Being a board member, Fran was allowed to buy a skybox at a reduced rate, and she wanted to invite a bunch of friends and work buddies to come too. She provided hamburgers, hot dogs, water and beer, all we had to do was show up.

Still… it’s baseball. I’m not really a sports fan anyway, and watching baseball is about as interesting to me as watching a bug zapper with the power out. Even when there is action, you feel a little stupid just for being there. But it was important to Lena, and I’ve always liked Fran okay… and did I mention the beer? I agreed.

The game was more than a month out, so I failed to connect the dots when Lena and I began our recent two-week vegetarian and juice “reboot” cleanse thing. (Basically you eat vegetarian meals for five days, have nothing but fresh juices for five days, and then another five days of veggie meals. It wasn’t horrible or anything, and it left us feeling great and about ten pounds lighter.) The day before the game I suddenly realized that beer was off the table. Nervously, I texted my brother, who watches a lot of sports. Not only was he not helpful, he made fun of me for agreeing to watch a baseball game sober. I was on my own.

Outside the game came the strains of a drunkenly played trumpet musically slurring the notes of Take Me Out to the Ball Game and a few other “America’s favorite pastime” flavored ditties to get everyone there in the mood… to drop money into his trumpet case. I was already a little grouchy over the beer thing and I really had to pee, so I ignored him as best I could while we waited for Fran’s intern to show up with the tickets.

There was a group of us who all went in together and wound our way up through the stands into the topmost levels of the stadium where the skyboxes were tucked away. Once I knew where we were I turned around and hit the bathroom I had spied on the way up. It occurred to me that the last time I had been to see a baseball game I had peed in a trough. This time there was a private thermostat for the air conditioner in the toilet stall. Hunh.

Back in the box, I looked around. There was a small glass table with a vegetable plate on it, (Fran had remembered us after all!) a kitchenette with a refrigerator full of drinks, hot plates with burgers and dogs and all the fixins, big, comfy chairs, a bar looking out the glass wall at the field, and stadium chairs outside in our own private little space under the roof with great big fans to keep us cool. I looked down on the folks in the July Florida sun with pity. Well, maybe something similar to pity. Okay, I was pretty snide about it, but those people were all drinking and I needed something to make me feel better. I settled in outside and prepared to watch the game.

There were several rounds of announcements before the game, during which we learned several interesting facts about types of honey and gave some flowers to a woman who had sat in the lucky seat. Eventually we got to the first pitch of the game, for which only the catcher felt the need to show up. “Of the game” is one of those polite euphemisms… like “Spot went to live on a farm” or “just the tip.”

Some woman no one had ever heard of threw the first pitch to the catcher, (“to” being another of those euphemisms) who tossed it back. Next some other woman no one had heard of threw the second first pitch “of the game” “to” the catcher, who tossed it back again. Then some guy who the people that had actually showed up to watch baseball knew threw in the third first pitch, this time actually in the catcher’s direction… and then we were off…

… as soon as we heard some special announcements from our sponsors, watched a couple of commercials, learned how to install a skylight, and gave away a jug of barbecue sauce.

After the anthem and another announcement from one of our sponsors, the players took the field and began doing baseball. Two minutes later, we broke for more commercials, a race between a child and several furries, a song about car wax, and a can-can line of high school cheerleaders. One of the baseball players waved his hat at us from inside the dugout, and the announcer screamed that it was time for everyone to get out of their seats and twist.

I decided it hadn’t been that long since I’d been to the bathroom.

Barely a half-hour in, and everyone I passed on the outer concourse was staggeringly drunk. I glowered at them. Two grown and doubtlessly homophobic (as all good, red-blooded American men are) were nevertheless walking each other to the bathroom and giggling like inebriated three hundred pound schoolgirls. I considered tripping them down onto the parked cars below us, but I wasn’t certain they’d have the inertia to make it over the railing. Then I would have just kicked two drunk fat guys. That didn’t seem as much fun.

When I returned there was another race going on, this time between young men dressed as cars. I turned away from the following beer commercial to see what everyone else in the box had gotten up to. Three hours in and we were just about to start the seventh inning. (As soon as we heard a word from our sponsors, danced with the cheerleaders, played another round of honey-trivia, and learned a few fun facts about internal combustion engines from a local automobile mechanic’s shop.) They were all inside yakking, not even pretending to watch the damn game, and marveling over Lena’s new sneakers. I looked down at the two clowns on the field trying to get their side to yell louder for Tropicana Orange Juice and said to hell with it. I was goin’ inside.

Once in, I quickly fell into the rhythm of the conversation about so and so’s new baby and this person’s creepy neighbor, and began having a really good time. There was a television showing everything that transpired on the field below, but at its smaller size I found it much easier to ignore. This was where the really interesting stuff was happening…

… and then ten minutes later everyone decided to go home. I had to laugh as folks picked their stuff up and got ready to leave. (I really laughed at one fellow who was taking the burgers home to his family and dropped the same patty not once, but twice on the floor before finally listening to his wife and putting it in the plastic bag the buns came in. They decided that the three-second rule resets each time you drop the meat, instead of being cumulative.) We all hugged or shook hands according to the red-bloodedness of the person we were saying goodbye to, and took our leave. The last thing I heard as I left the intelligible radius of the stadium sound system was a warning about replacing outdated pvc plumbing underneath your house.

Damn. That reminded me. I needed to pee again.

69 Responses to The Thursday Blog: Take Me Out to the Variety Show Edition

  1. Proposition: I know someone who willingly watches baseball sober.
    Is the proposition true or false? Make your guesses! Explain your reasoning as amusingly as possible.

  2. On an unrelated note: what happened to Pirate Barrista when the flying ship went down?
    (I hope she was out to fetch some fresh water for the coffee…)

  3. Sounds not unlike my first and last trip to a Sun’s game. Tonya had a “work thing” and took me along. We didn’t have a skybox and free food, but her boss did at least buy everyone who wanted one a beer.

  4. Mythbusters did a test about the 3 second rule for dropped food and I’m afraid they found some bad news. If it touches the ground it is going to pick up what is there. Now shape can reduce contact and minimize what is picked up but very importantly they found that what you dropped could change the level of contamination. Sticky and/or wet items were a lot worse than ‘dry’ foods. Of course we all know this to be true in the back of our minds, I have never heard of anyone calling out the 3 second rule for an item dropped on a theatre floor.

    • The primordial Goo on the floor of your average theater is too busy trying to evolve legs and crawl away with the food, Ken…

    • Ah! but you forget if the food you dropped is particularly gooy it stands the chance of leaving a layer of goo behind of which made contact to the floor, in a sense leaving your food as clean as after you first placed your dirty hands all over it.

    • during the Ignoble Award last year I think it was a group did a study where they found that the average ground was no worse that the average kitchen counter so they upheld the 3 second rule.

  5. Kevin I see you were apart of the wonder that is Minor league baseball. The only reason to go to these games are that you have children and the tickets are cheap, to drink beer (cheaply, usually the 1 buck for 2 special before the 7th inning), or cause you were obligated to go! Now the baseball itself isn’t necessarily bad but its like trying to watch an old movie on FOX, you spend twice the time watching commercials as you do the movie.

    However… if you ever get the chance of boxed seats at a Major League game do go, there are much less commercial breaks, you fall into the crowd mentality which can be exciting, and there is liquor for when you can’t drink beer!

      • Cricket? The ONLY reason to go and play cricket is to drink. Technically the game can never end. Big games of cricket usually span 3 days. If you are not drinking heavily at Cricket you are in fact doing it wrong.

        Cricket is an age old English excuse to play with sticks and balls and consume enormous amounts of alchohol.

  6. That… that is what passes for team sports in the USA?? Several hours of commercials and Words From Our Sponsors, interspersed with people occasionally doing something sports-related with a ball? Geez.

    If there were that many stupid “commercial breaks” in a football match (soccer to Americans English speakers) here in Germany, there would be rioting. No, probably not rioting as such (the French love to riot in the streets, we Germans would first take a number and register the impromptu riot with the authorities) but a lot of complaining… and Germans are *good* at complaining. It’s a national pastime.

  7. I used to wonder why baseball was “Americas favorite pasttime” . Now i’m positively mystified!

    • BTW Kevin, i’m stealing that one away from here and use it to inflic…i mean INFORM others of baseball in other forum. Some of them are hardcore baseball fans (probably very much due to them drinking beer when at a game. They talk a lot more about beer than the actual game) so i will see to that the name of the real author is attached in case one of them come after you with a catapult or something. 😀

      • I believe it is America’s Past time because it was widely popular across the united states and played by all ages. American football didn’t become popular untill much later, and Europe had Futbol (soccer). Stick ball was/is hugely popular among city children and could be considered a version of baseball. So it was played in many forms in I am pretty sure every state of the US.

    • You and me both. I played for a couple years as a kid. Realized I didn’t like it (and sucked at it). Have never had any urge to hit a ball with a bat since.

  8. I only went to one sports game, probably when I was about 10-12 or so, and that was a football(the real football, not the rugby ripoff version) game between the Israeli team and…something European. I remember I was kinda so-so interested, but I’ve never been to one so, you know. And what I remember from it was that it was rather boring. I’ve never really cared much about watching sports. Playing a game is usually fun, I wish I had the time, place and friends to do so. But watching any kind of game is boring as hell.

    Anyway, on to a more personal note, I went outside for the first time with my new shirt(the green one) and skirt, first to my sister’s place to babysit the nephews, then to my workplace to see how they were doing(because the fem-boss always claims I work too slowly and close the shop too late…stupid bitch was way behind my schedule, of course, she just loves complaining about everyone)…and to show off.

    And in case this last part was unintelligible to most of you, you can check my FB statuses and see what I’ve been busy with lately. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002357488261&sk=wall

  9. ” Then I would have just kicked two drunk fat guys. That didn’t seem as much fun.”

    WHY DO YOU HATE FREEDOM?

    • Mostly it was the thought of having to stand there looking the two big drunk dudes in the face whom I had just kicked. I couldn’t see any way out of it ending with me getting my ass kicked.

  10. I never liked baseball. Or football really, though it is more fun to watch. I don’t care for soccer or tennis either. But hockey, oh yes, I do enjoy hockey. I think I should have been born a Canadian.

    • Maybe you really were and don’t know it yet because you’ve never tried moving home.
      For instance, Jim Carey and William Shatner were born in Canada but they’re definitely Americans I’d argue.
      Here’s a short list of general attributes I’d define as Canadian (versus American).

      Likes:
      -Hockey and/or skating
      -Quick and simple coffee which is reasonably priced
      -Doughnuts
      -Beer with actual alcohol in it
      -Environmentalism
      -Going up to the cottage and nature
      -Government that can’t point its fingers at other elected officials when it fucks up (the Prime Minister is always responsible because he (or once she) has the power)
      -Abortion rights
      -Social responsibility

      Dislikes:
      -Religious jerks making asses of themselves
      -Rich and/or right-wing jerks making asses of themselves
      -Pollution and pollution lobbying
      -Militarism
      -Unnecessary guns
      -People mistaking us for Americans

      • I would say that the Canadian dislike of “unnecessary guns” is ameliorated by the fact that Canadians consider no gun to be unnecessary. 😉

    • Well, there’s more to being Canadian than just liking hockey. I made a post (and then another post) with a list of likes and dislikes that tend to mark someone as Canadian but the posting system ate them. (The second one is better if Kevin or Lena is interested in retrieving one of them.)

      • Honestly, I’m Canadian and I’m indifferent towards hockey. Used to be a fan when I was a kid, though, I guess.

        I don’t like hockey PLAYERS, though. I’ve known quite a few (my highschool fed a lot into a rather notable WHL team, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two were in the NHL by now) and by and large they were some of the most entitled, ignorant, homophobic lummoxes I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

        My dad played a few exhibition games for the Detroit Red Wings before he blew his knee up, though.

        • Liking hockey, just like the rest of my list, is not perfect-mandatory-certain, just generalities. There are few countries that have comparable average interest and knowledge levels about the sport, that’s for sure.

  11. Maybe you really were and don’t know it yet because you’ve never tried moving home. For instance, Jim Carey and William Shatner were born in Canada but they’re definitely Americans I’d say.
    Try looking at this list, it might help you figure that question out.

    Likes:
    -Hockey and/or skating
    -Quick and simple coffee which is reasonably priced
    -Doughnuts
    -Beer with actual alcohol in it
    -Environmentalism
    -Going up to the cottage and nature
    -Government that can’t point its fingers at each other and say that someone else is responsible for the mess since the Prime Minister always has the power to fix it if it’s screwed up
    -Abortion rights
    -Social responsibility

    Dislikes:
    -Religious jerks making asses of themselves
    -Rich and/or right-wing jerks making asses of themselves
    -Pollution and pollution lobbying
    -Militarism
    -Unnecessary guns
    -People mistaking us for Americans

    • Wait wait wait… Isn’t the whole point of being rich to make pompous asses of themselves? What good is money if you can’t go driving down main street in a car shaped like the bat-mobile while wearing a frilly shirt?

      • Possibly, but if you’re too much of an asshole about it you tend to have strangers trying to subtly engineer your downfall without any particular aim or plan about it because you’re just uglying up the world too much by being such an ass. This tends to be more-so in Canada than in the US.