April 2, 2007
Opening Day
I love spring. I am almost a different person when I feel the sun’s warmth, a woman remarkably less temperamental when she can wear flip flops and stir a summer skirt from its hibernation in the back of her closet. A person who prefers most every day spent inside, I instead walk my neighborhood appreciating the smell of bulb flowers and my own envy as charcoal steams in front-yard grills. So transformed am I that witnesses report unprovoked smiling and cooing at babies. I love how cheerful I become, how I stroll rather than scamper, the possibilities seemingly limitless when what feel like endless months of sunshine lie ahead, and the warm blanket of nighttime humidity wraps itself around both me and those rowdy crickets.

Spring and summer mean open-toed shoes and the cutest of cotton and silk drinking wear, of course, but they also mean baseball, proof positive that I do not share all strands of my mother’s DNA. I am a football fan at heart, finding my interest in the speed and the strategy – and the pants, boys, oh, the pants – heightened, but the lazy, steamy months of summer warrant a slower activity in which the spectator can indulge. And so almost on a weekly basis, I trek to the stadium, sunglasses, ample beer money and Weight Watchers points in hand, to soak up the sunshine and quite possibly a ridiculously large and delectably salty soft pretzel with thousands of DC residents (and a smattering of VA and MD fans who stubbornly refuse to take Metro to the games, a gripe being filed away for an entirely different post.)

I find myself so completely intoxicated by the entire experience of being in the stadium that I often have to remind myself to focus on the main reason I paid 20 hard-earned dollars to be there. But the smell of beer and hot dogs on the drunk twenty-something’s breath, the disconcerting sight of women wearing pink Nationals’ paraphernalia from head to toe, the rumble in my chest when the crowd realizes that run may win the game, how could they not lead to beautiful, indulgent distraction? And it goes without saying that I love to study people, particularly the way in which fathers and their sons relate at these events, almost indescribable to witness and vastly different than the vigor with which they pair up to watch soccer or football. It’s rooting for the home team and eating more sugar than mom would allow, to be sure, but it’s also about dads explaining in hushed tones just why a play was as good as it was and just how low over the eyes you wear that rigid new baseball cap.

I think of my own father at these times, a man so unfairly punished by God and Oprah to be blessed with three sisters, two daughters, three female dogs, two lady cats, a female parakeet, several hermit crabs of indiscernible gender, and one chunky male Schnoodle that didn’t do much but eat Alpo and shirk away from our loving touch. When any team even tangentially related to Pittsburgh played any professional or college sport, Dad was relegated to the den with the ancient television, while the females sat in the main room and served high tea and talked about menstruation and Tom Selleck and jello molds. As long as I live I will never forget his spontaneous clapping and yelling during the best and worst of plays, and on occasion, animated yet unreciprocated conversations with the television.

I think it makes him happy that at least one of his many females now enjoys all of the games as he does, and that she’ll be standing tall for yet another season of softball, despite a clear tendency both to stand tall and strike out. He cares not that this year I’ll be playing on a DC bar’s team rather than for the CEO, or that I can only remember the names of the pro players who look best with a little sweat on 'em, or that I can drink my cats’ weight in Miller Light when our seats are located in the shade. I prefer Dad just think of me soaking up the sun as he probably once did, albeit with less understanding of the plays and even less of the strategy, and clapping at all the right times. I’ll tell him the lazy male hermit crabs drank all the beer.


31 Comments:

Blogger brookem said...

I love your description of the season (both spring season and baseball season!) There's nothing like a spring/summer day at the ballpark. I need to find me a softball league. Sounds like so much fun.
GO SOX! :)

Blogger lizgwiz said...

You've reminded me that I don't really dislike most sports, I just dislike most sports on TV. Being there in person is sooo much more fun!

Blogger mysterygirl! said...

This is a beautiful ode to both spring and your dad. Loves it.

Blogger themikestand said...

A delightful post, Kris. I hope I can do for my two sons what you think your dad would have done for his girls, if they were the sporting type.

In reality, it's their mother who'll really teach my boys about football. I'll be on hand in case any tricky economics questions come up (and, as in any good conversation, they inevitably will).

Anonymous Jorge said...

Hey Kris,

Hit one out of the park for me.

Or...
Just hit one. :)

I want to come see you play!

WOOOO!

J

Blogger t2ed said...

Opening Day is when hope springs eternal.

And Nationals fans have at least two more weeks of unbridled optimism before being eliminated from post season contention.

Blogger Rambler said...

your father must be one brave man, that many female species, oh god!
:)

Blogger Melissavina said...

Can't wait to get out to the ball park. I already sit on ice-cold bleachers every Thursday night to root for my boyfriend's slow pitch softball team, but I really can't wait to get to a REAL game with real players, real balls, more comfy seating arrangements, and beer that I don't have to hide in a paper bag.

Blogger Melissavina said...

Heh heh. I said balls.

Blogger kris said...

Atta girl!

Anonymous zandria said...

Sounds like fun. I think I might have to get myself to one of those games. :)

Blogger Kelly said...

You musta made your Poppa proud the first time you went out to a game on your own.

Lovely!

I love going to the games! It's so much fun.

Blogger Needtsza said...

Enjoy the game.

and if your softball team is looking for players, I'm game.

Blogger Kim said...

Pink Nats hats! Boo!

Is pink one of the Nats colors? NO!

Stupid freakin' people...

Blogger Woodrow said...

Oooo I hate team gear not in team colors. That just aint right.

Blogger Itinerant Agonist said...

There are a few things better that watching a baseball game in a stadium, whether you are an avid team fan or not – like how much better it is to watch football on TV... Not to use your comments section for my personal travel guidance, but is it possible to get to Landover on Metro or a combination of public transportation? And how did you know I look like a hermit crab after drinking all the beer?

Blogger Kim said...

Senor Agonist -

Landover is on the Orange line via metro. You can find the map here.

Anonymous alyndabear said...

I love spring.. but I'm strange and wear sandal-type shoes all year long. I can't help it. I hate closed in shoes!

Nothing wrong with not knowing strategies or focusing on the sexy players (who doesn't do this?) - you're enjoying it, and it's all that matters. Whee!

Now I'm in the mood for a hotdog. Effing weight watchers.

Blogger thethinker said...

I play softball too! I strike out way too much to claim that I'm any good.

After reading this, I'm craving pretzels.

Blogger Miss Scarlet said...

This is where we differ...I can't stand spring!

Blogger Bridget Jones said...

What a great post, you wax poetic, Kris!

I want soft pretzels too. Just TRY to find one in Ottawa!!

Blogger Jessica said...

Nice post. I must say though Red Sox rule and the Nationals drool.

Blogger Melissavina said...

New topic (sorry, I had to contact you about this):

Kris... I have to tell you. I met someone today who drinks Syrah with ice and splenda. She swears it's like a tame sangria.

Want to give it a shot? I dare you.

Blogger JordanBaker said...

jVery lovely. I think one of my father's proudest moments was in 1999, when I broke up with a guy over the umpiring in the American League Championship series.

Blogger Mel said...

Yay for spring!! This is OUR time. Nothing but good things, I know it! :)

Blogger DraMa said...

Fabulous post! That is all I can say. You stole all of my creative juices by writing this awesome post.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved this post!

Went to the Twins home opener last night. They don't have an outdoor stadium (yet), but it was still crazy fun.
I ate an enormous pretzel, drank delicious overpriced beer, cheered and clapped and did the wave. Wheeee!

a.

Blogger bandick said...

Hey, anonymous...you beat me to this. I'm in Minneapolis too and was just going to bitch about the dome. Stupid dome.

Plus it's supposed to snow today! I just got my toes out and now I have to put them away. I still didn't wear a jacket to work. There's no stopping a wild woman. Oooh boy.

Krisser, are you going to BlogHer in Chicago? I'm thinking I might. Would love to meet up...

Anonymous Tom said...

Hey look! After one game and your Nationals are already in last place!

I kid, I kid... my hometown Royals are 1-0 and I absolutely plan for this to be the highlight of the season in case things turn sour.

Blogger justjenny said...

Let me know if you ever need company at the games!

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