Monday, April 13, 2009

Fair Weather Fan

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Thompson Grapentine and I am a fair weather fan. I use this phrase in both a metaphorical and literal sense.

Today is the Chicago Cubs Opening Day. The Cubs would be one of Chicago's baseball teams, in case you don't find baseball as riveting as my husband does. I used to find baseball riveting, too. When I was 11 or 12, I came up with my own scoring chart. I'd regularly sit on a Saturday afternoon watching the Tigers get creamed by someone, noting each hit and lousy pitch.

Hank Aaron, while not a Tiger, was my hero. The chase for 715 in 1973-74 was incredible. I remember bouncing up and down, thinking I was going to explode every single time he came up to bat. Learned all about racism those two summers, too. How would a little white girl from rural Michigan know that the color of Henry Aaron's skin would be enough to make his pursuit of Babe Ruth worth threatening his life? The enormity of both the racism and the record were hard to fathom. Still are, I guess.

And I was an avid fan during the magic year of 1984, when the Tigers went all the way to win the World Series. Carl and I were married that summer. Our first full day of married life was spent at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers won 35 out of the first 40 games (yes, I had to look up the exact stats, but I was in the ballpark . . . ),
held first place for the entire season, and stomped on the Padres to win it all. Ahhh.

Years later, baseball has grown less riveting. I've often thought this is due to my husband's total devotion to the game. Perhaps I needed to take the opposite course to achieve harmony and yin/yangedness in our home. Or maybe my brain is too full of children to devote sufficient gray matter to the game of summer.
Either way, I no longer live and die by my baseball team's win/loss record and have thus become a metaphorical fair weather fan.

Baseball is my comfortable companion. I listen to the Ron and Pat Show, otherwise known as the Cubs on the radio, most every day. I was, indeed, a VERY regular listener last year, during that almost This is the Year year. But I paid little heed to the standings while on vacation in Michigan, thus again demonstrating my fair weatherness. I only pay attention when it's convenient for me.

Which might explain why today I am also a literal fair weather fan. Carl is off attending his 70 billionth opening day in a row (Tigers + Cubs and no, I don't remember the real stat.) I don't attend opening day because it's usually a. cold and b. rainy. But this year I thought it might be fun to do so. How bad could it be?

The weather god, Tom Skilling, told me it was going to be bad. Unseasonably cool and rainy. "Raw." Did I mention windy? Blech. I'm not made of sugar, don't melt in the rain. But I get hives when I am cold. I hate wet feet. And there's not much worse than sitting down on a wet seat for two plus hours.

Carl retrieved the ticket from my purse this morning and took it with him, hoping to sell it to some more dedicated fan. Some fan who was more deserving of such largesse. Some fan who hasn't yet discovered that the best seat at Wrigley Field is the dry and warm papasan in my kitchen, where I can eat cheap popcorn, pop a pilsner, and listen to Pat and Ron describe the game.

My name is Elizabeth Thompson Grapentine and I am a fair weather fan. Go Cubs!


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