Baseball aficionados, I know the above statement is akin to blasphemy – mea culpa. We took the family to see an Orioles vs Tigers baseball game last evening to do something fun for them. Fun in our household is a very complex commodity these days. What is fun for my seven-year old son is extremely ‘unfun’ and most boring for my almost 13-year-old daughter. We watched a movie of her choice recently, so we decided to go to a ball game for Ryan this weekend. Gotta balance the ‘fun’. She made it amply clear to us by words, gestures and facial expressions that she was going under protest. I told her that her displeasure has been noted, we understand she is unhappy about the situation but can we please move on and make an effort to have a good time? Give ‘good time’ a chance, maybe? Stony silence.
We entered the beautiful Camden yards and five boxes of Jimmy Palmer’s statue were thrust in our hands before we could even say a word. I was almost waving the lady away who was offering these boxes to spectators frantically, but my pack rat husband, who loves freebies, nudged me ‘take it, take it’! A rumor followed this gift by the ball park, that these statues were selling for $50 on eBay. The cloud lifted from my mercenary (in a good way) daughter’s face. She suddenly got very interested in making sure we were holding our boxes securely. She pooh poohed my annoyance at having to carry the clunky box around with ‘MOM, think of all the money we are carrying around! I am going to sell these on eBay!”
We found our seats, did the usual Tan ta tan ta taan CHARGE..thing with the rest of the crowd, clapped when players made good catches, shouted “YEAHs” and “GO ORIOLES” with the crowd, participated in Mexican waves. I almost threw the ice in my cup at my fellow spectator in my enthusiasm to raise my hands and stand up to continue the wave in our section of the stands. Then things started cooling down, for me. My eyes started wondering, I started getting into my serious ‘people watching’ mode. I love going to the ball park, 30 percent of the love is for the game and 70 percent love is to watch the people around me. Good folks of Camden yards did not disappoint. There was a very quiet, relatively well dressed group of young people sitting on my left, who were drinking moderately, and holding a quiet conversation. They weren’t clapping or seemed remotely interested in the game. The Orioles were winning 4 to 1 and the Detroit Tigers were striking out and going back without much fanfare. In the last inning, the Orioles made some errors. The quiet crowd on my left erupted in cheer, swishing their beer. They were Detroit fans trying to blend in with the Orioles crowd but showed their true colors (which also seemed orange like the O’s) when their team came back. The sneakiness! Oh!
In the front row, some young folks had probably come on their first date. There was a lot of giggling, lots and lots of it. It could have been all that Nati bo (National Bohemian beer, I later found out) that they were buying from the vendors. And the girls kept getting up to bring food for the men, or use the restroom or whatever. No matter what they did, they made sure everything was followed by a sharp pitched giggle.
There was a little boy, about 3 years old, who danced on his chair almost the entire time, much to our amusement. The parents held on to the chair for dear life since he swatted their hands away when they tried to hold him. Nobody was allowed to come between him and his wild moves!!! Step way back mom and dad!
The Camden yards has this tradition of Kiss Cam. When the camera shows you, you have to kiss the person next to you. When the Kiss Cam came on, Sahana pushed Sean and I together and longingly looked at the big screen hoping they would focus on us. It didn’t, but we kissed anyway. Ryan, in the midst of all this, was completely focused on the game, except when he was hungry.
His father promised to buy him some food after 10 outs. So he started counting outs irrespective of the team. Point to be noted here is, he is a fanatic Orioles fan. Yet, he started celebrating their outs at that point as each out brought him closer to the promised food. I teased him about his solidarity with his team. Hungry stomach and teasing don’t go well together, I found out.
There was a very rowdy, beer guzzling group of men sitting right in front of us. They kept the scene interesting by pushing and shoving each other. The beers kept flowing and their transformation from men to kindergarten kids started hastening exponentially. They were ribbing each other, slapping each other’s faces playfully, play acting to snatch their neighbor’s beer and food as they went by them, eyeing some pink and purple haired girls on the other side and exchanging flirtatious comments. Then, to make the transformation to kindergarten age complete, one started naming a male private part for no apparent reason or necessity while his friends burst out laughing. Once the gentleman saw that he was eliciting so much amusement among his friends, he kept repeating the word. My son, finally, turned his head from the game to give these grown ups a strange look. I, at this point, was getting seriously concerned about how many drunk men and women will be unleashed into the city and behind the wheels going home or wherever. These men were clearly very drunk and in no condition to drive. As the game stretched on into overtime, I overheard one of my drunk friends saying they needed to get to a club and they should get going. Another commented they can go if their designated driver was ready. Designated driver? I saw an older gentleman, who, I didn’t think was with the group, rising up to escort them out. The responsibility they showed just raised them in my eyes. They had come to have a good time. Their drunkenness was not malicious in any way. Apart from the unnecessary use of the name of the private part, they didn’t bother any of the other spectators. They helped Ryan cross over some seats so he could go to the front row, AND they had thought about bringing a designated driver to take them back. I waved them goodbye cheerfully and wished them “Have a nice evening!” They were going to a bar, so I assumed more alcohol in their systems. But one less group of people to worry about, phew! These guys are drinking responsibly! Pedestrians and other drivers are safe from this group, at least for one night.