Bro, his Bride, Sis, and I went to the Cubs-Cardinals game on Friday, May 2nd. Nothing beats fun at the old ball park.
Some people start “celebrating” before they even get to the game. A few young women from the neighborhood were walking to the stadium maybe 20 feet ahead of me as they drank from beer cans. There’s a restaurant across Waveland and maybe a block down the street – if that – with outdoor seating. The ladies found a trash container there and deposited their empty cans before crossing the street to enter the ball park. The server who happened to be outside at the moment didn’t say anything to them, but his expression made me think of the little Spartan boy who quietly suffered a fox to gnaw on his vitals.
You could hear the organ from at least 3 blocks away, which put also helped put people in a festive mood before the game. I know I had a spring in my step by the time I offered my purse up for inspection, collected my Red Grange bobblehead (free to the first 10,000 entrants), and entered the friendly confines.
The thing I’ll probably remember best about “Baseball with Bro” Day had to be the temperature. The high at O’Hare that day was purportedly 52º. It never felt that warm, maybe because the wind was blowing about 20 miles an hour. I wore a turtleneck, windbreaker, hat, scarf, and gloves, but never felt remotely comfortable until Sis shared her commemorative Cubs blanket with Bride and me. Bro was too tough and manly to climb under the blanket with us.
I drank hot (okay, warm) chocolate that mostly seemed to consist of chocolate syrup and water. I make a decent cocoa recipe, which has spoiled me for what’s usually sold in sports venues. However, I was willing to overlook the lack of milk for the small amount of warmth the drink provided. None of us wanted the “ice cold beer” one of the vendors was hawking. The rest of the beer vendors were smart enough to just call it beer if it was Budweiser/Bud Light or premium beer if it was Goose Island. We also sampled a pretzel. Bro had Italian sausage. I think Bride had Giordano’s Pizza (the official pizza of Wrigley Field). I passed, mostly because I’ve lived in the area for-approximately-ever. I know from Giordano’s pizza, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s better in a ball park than it is in the restaurant. Besides, I may be a convert to Pizano’s. But that’s a whole ’nother blog post.
After the temperature, it was the music that really set the atmosphere. The first song I remember was “If They Could See Me Now,” but really, in addition to the national anthem (sung wonderfully by Wayne Messmer) and “Take Me Out To the Ball Game” (sung horribly by me, as loudly as I possibly could), the music was this wonderful stew of decades and styles, with selections that ranged from “Zorba the Greek” through recordings of recent pop and movie soundtracks to “The William Tell Overture.”
Like train stations, ball parks are prime people-watching opportunities. Bro was entertaining, and not only to us. Several other people chuckled at the colorful game commentary he provided. But it’s more interesting to watch people you will probably never see again. I especially enjoyed the woman who seated us. She was tiny, white-haired, dressed head to toe in Cubs’ garb, and carrying a portable oxygen pack. The whole time I’m thinking, “Now, this is a woman who loves her Cubbies.” What else is going to get someone to walk up and down steps, smiling (!), while schlepping oxygen the whole time? I guess they pay her, but seriously!
My next-favorite observational target sat about two rows down and to the right. He was maybe 30, if that. He dressed well: green tweed jacket, coordinating plaid wool scarf, excellent black jeans. He defined hip: not a scrap of Cubs regalia intruded on his carefully crafted ensemble. He fit right in with everyone else in his row. They all looked young, urban, and professional. He was just…more so.
Anyway, I’m writing a short story that uses this pair – or my imagination of them – as characters. If it turns out well, you may see it on this very blog.