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.