I was a bit tired yesterday, a little worn out. I very nearly decided to skip Knit Night at the ballpark for a quiet evening at home finishing up my John Boorman film festival (The Emerald Forest, Excalibur, Deliverance). Then I heard a guy on the radio say that Thursday looked to be the most perfect summer day Asheville has enjoyed all year. I stepped outside and had to agree. It was almost springlike out, but golden rather than silvery. Very warm but not too hot, with zero chance of rain and a few wispy streaks of pure white cloud. The kind of Bradburian summer day that the whole season is all about. And it was Thirsty Thursday ($1 sodas and PBRs) at the field.
Was I really going to spend the prettiest day of summer inside on the couch knitting a sock? When in just a month or so when school starts back I might well be lucky to have a single weeknight free all month?
I packed up a few projects and met my friends downtown, where we carpooled to the game. One of the knitters works for a major sponsor of the home team, the Asheville Tourists, and so we all got free tix. Nice! We got there early and settled into a great seat in the stands, right behind home plate!
I hadn’t been to a ballgame since high school. And I had an absolute blast.
I sat next to a mouthy, hilarious, good-natured ex-Marine who had a loud running commentary going all night. He watched the wing-eating contest (part of occasional entertainment between innings), declaring that wasn’t any man who got to eat him some free wings a winnuh? He had to get his name in there somehow for next time, because he knew he could eat two dozen in 45 seconds, easy. The crowd was wonderfully diverse, and I sat in front of an entertaining group of giggly, pudding-fleshed, light-skinned black girls who were queens of well-delivered rejoinders:
Q: Where Mitch be? Where Mitch at?
A: He in his skin,
and when he jump out,
you can jump in!
A well-groomed little middle-aged Mexican man of about 5’3″ in jeans, big belt buckle, maroon Western shirt and white cowboy hat seemed to be inexplicably walking back and forth around the stadium for much of the night, occasionally talking on his cell phone and stroking his black moustache.
A skittish little squirrel flitted about the stands, and I thought he was lost and frightened until a friend told me he was mooching around for peanut handouts. There really were peanuts and Crackerjacks, as well as chicken tenders, fries, sodas and hot dogs that I heard were not too expensive ($3.50) as well as completely delicious. A woman in a visor marched around with a metal stick from which dangled 20 or 25 fat pastel bags of cotton candy. She walked back by having sold every last one.
She sold all that nasty cotton candy, y’all, I said. My companions nodded. She had indeed.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect game. It swiftly became so involving and fun that I realized I was not going to knit a stitch. I never even so much as opened my knitting bag.
I started yelling for the home team, causing my friends to snicker kindly and murmur to each other, because I am a champion woo-yeller, “woo” being what people mostly like to yell here in America, I think. Even in the South people really don’t go yee-haw, unless they are Yankee actors in movies who are being paid millions of dollars to ineptly impersonate the true children of the Southland. I think most Americans just yell WOOOO and I am no exception. I go “WOOO” real good, y’all.
A young couple sat next to me and I politely informed them that my friends were sitting there and had just gone for some food, but they would be back, and, well, if we all scooted out a bit they would probably fit and not to worry much. They smiled in a bemused way, looking down. I realized that I was being perceived as a colorful local. Oh my lord. In this blog you cannot hear me, so you may not be aware of the rather thick North Carolina accent I possess, nor of my propensity, when speaking (and when excited) to use words like “fixin,” as in “Look at him fixin’ to steal that base! Look at him creep!”
The Tourists were playing the Augusta (GA) GreenJackets, tied for 2nd with them in their division, and who had consistently whupped them in previous encounters. Last night the teams ended up being so well-matched that the game was tied at 5-5 at the ninth inning. We had 2 extra innings as the teams struggled to score.
In the 11th inning the magic happened. The bases were loaded and the Tourists were at bat. And a 23-year-old batter named Michael Paulk hit what I described to a friend last night as a pure-d old-fashioned straight-down-the-middle GRAND SLAM. From a split second after the crack of the bat, it was clear that that one was going high and far, whizzing by the lights and out into the woods. An absolutely perfect all-American homer, ending the game as all the players on base walked in four fine winning runs and the crowd went wild.
Well, I have decided that that last post was pretty whiny. I may be becoming a classic case of someone who declares defeat less because of the unyielding might of her foe than because of her unwillingness to dig in and really, truly fight rather than constantly strategize and half-assedly avoid the work of change. Because fighting is truly damn hard. So here’s to digging in and truly fighting, to the learning curve that never ends and never should, and to the cheesy and fabulous sport of American minor-league baseball.
I believe I will try to cultivate a bit more of my own gratitude before again taking them to task who have what I do not.
You know, I really should have called this post “With a Rebel Yell, She Cried More, More, More.”