Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Hail Mary for the Nation

kanye-hail-mary

I did not create this image. But it’s great, no? 

Did you ever believe in Santa Claus? Or the Loch Ness monster? Have you ever thought a Hail Mary would actually work for your football team? Or better yet, that someone who has never had sex could give birth to a baby boy that could walk on water? If you’ve ever believed in anything, right now is the time to believe that you can help prevent Donald Trump from becoming president.

The elections are over, but the game isn’t. It’s only the bottom of the ninth and your team is down two runs, but you have three who outs to work with (Anyone remember the 2015 World Series? Anyone?). Jon Snow has no pulse, but he hasn’t been buried yet. Trump hypothetically won the elections because of the electoral college, but the college does not officially vote for president until December 19th, and he’s not putting his anatomy-grabbing hands on the bible until January 20th.

So what can you do?

Right now Americans all across the country are contacting members of the electoral college in states that Donald Trump won. These electors are republicans, but please keep in mind (for the sake of hope) that many Republicans did not like Trump, just like many (oh so many) Democrats did not like Hillary Clinton.  Many electors are probably reluctant to vote for Trump, and one has even publicly announced that he will not. If 36 more electors can be convinced not to vote for Trump then he will not get the golden 270 votes he needs to automatically become president—automatically being the operative word here.

What happens if that comes to pass will depend on who these electors vote for instead. It cannot be expected that all or even most will vote for Clinton. But it may come to pass that they choose a different Republican, which means that Clinton will have a certain number of electoral votes, as will Trump, and this hypothetical third candidate. None of them will likely reach the magic number of 270 on December 19th should 37 electors defect.

So what happens then? Well, folks, then the House of Representatives gets to choose the president. Well, shoot, doesn’t that mean Trump will become president because the Republican majority will choose him? Not so fast! That’s not the kind of thinking we tolerate here at the 2016 Church of Anything Can Happen!

Here’s how the vote works in the House: even though there are 435 representatives, there are only 50 votes when it comes to electing a president: one vote per state. It is up to the representatives from each state to choose who will get their state’s vote. Well, doesn’t that mean automatic defeat? Well, only if the glass if half empty! But you’re not that kind of person, are you? You’re the kind of person who believes in anything! That water can be turned to wine! So drink your half-full glass of wine, because what you need to know is that members of congress get to choose among the three candidates with the most electoral votes. Right now the only two people we know of who are going to receive electoral votes are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But on December 19th, should just one elector choose one other person—it could be anybody, it could be John Doe, Jon Snow, or even Jesus H. Christ (at least I don’t doubt that is a plausibility in this whole insane institution)–then that candidate will also be in the running.

There are sixteen states that have majority Democrats in congress, and at least three states that are split (including New Hampshire, Maine and New Jersey). In October, after Trump’s pussy grabbing comments, many Republicans publicly denounced Trump and said they would not vote for him. Of a list of 160 of Republicans compiled by USA Today, 24 of them are in the House of Representatives, and many of them can help flip their states to not vote for Trump. If these guys are true to their words, then several other states could also flip for Clinton—or maybe chose that third candidate. As long as this third candidate is not Trump’s clone, or Dick Cheney, and as long is his or last name doesn’t rhyme with lose, and is not Anthony Scalia reincarnated, I’m fine with this person. This is what we’ve come to.

The first of the candidates to reach 26 votes gets to be president. In the case of three candidates, there is a runoff election if no one candidate reaches a majority. We will have a president when someone finally reaches 26 votes.

We will still not, however, have a Vice President because that person is chosen by the Senate. This race can only include contenders with the first and second most votes received, so only Tim Kaine and Mike Pence can enjoy the fun here. Each senator votes as an individual. There are 100 senators and a candidate must receive 51 votes to become Vice President.

So, as you can see, there are so many ways to improve the outcome of this election!

You just need to nudge the electors in the right direction. Hoping they will change their minds through osmosis won’t work. The great thing about this process is that it’s participatory. The only thing you can do when you’re watching sports is yell at your television, but in a democracy you can actually do something. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing. If we all do small things, like reach out to a couple electors a day, then we can all make a big difference.

I have been encouraging co-workers and friends to write holiday cards and send them to members of the electoral college. Together we have written over sixty cards, and we’re still at it. The window for writing cards is closing though, as we’re quickly approaching the December 19th and most mail takes at least 2 – 3 business days to reach its destination. But you can still call and e-mail away.

Yes, it is extremely far-fetched, but there are a few crumbs (and we, the hopeful, turn crumbs into loaves) evidence of turmoil in the electoral college. One Republican elector in Texas resigned because he did not want to vote for Trump (he will be replaced), and another wrote on Op-Ed in the New York Times saying that he would not vote for Trump. One down, 36 to go! Another group of electors founded the Hamilton Electors as an effort to foment rebellion among the ranks of the college. We are not alone in this fight to stop Trump, and these people need our encouragement.

And if it does not work, then so be it. Tis’ the season, no? Our country is extremely divided. We are all floating around in our own bubbles. We judge people in places we’ve never been to, and they’re judging us too. A republican elector from rural Utah probably does not hear much from people in urban blue areas, and vice verse. Receiving e-mail, snail mail, or a phone call from you will literally burst their bubble.

The Hamilton Electors are encouraging people to go to their state capitals where members of the electoral college will be gathering to make their final votes. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania may be where all the mail from your bank comes from, but it’s also the state capital where 20 electors will be meeting to vote for president. If any one of the Republican electors from Pennsylvania, which went red for the first time since 1988, are considering a defection, knowing they have of support will encourage them to do so. If just two electors defected from each state that voted for Trump then he would lose the electoral vote, bringing us one step closer to not having to deal with this bombastic, tiny-handed Tweeter with a peroxided dog stool on his head for four years.

If you’ve ever seen your team tie a game at the bottom of the ninth and win the World Series in extra innings, or if you hoped against hope that Jon Snow would come back from the dead, or if you’ve seen enough crazy things happen this year to believe that one more crazy thing could happen, then reaching out to the electoral college is the task for you.

This is a spreadsheet created by a random collection of people: The Electoral College

Keep your talking points non-partisan. Talk about Trump’s temperament and the unconstitutionality of his apparent inability to separate his business interests from that of the nation. If you live in NYC perhaps you are concerned that the city is spending one million a day to protect Trump’s family. Maybe you are also concerned that his wanting to spend weekend in New York City will make it a target to terrorism, as well as hinder the president’s availability to work with congress and do his job. Remember to wish them a nice day and happy holidays. Kindness goes a long way.

Here’s where you can learn about the Hamilton Electors . You can also find where the nearest red state’s electoral college is voting, and then go there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clean Underwear

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I know my underwear is in there somewhere, nestled gently and warmly at the bottom of the dryer. I can see the dryer, it’s on the top row of a long line of dryers. It sits idle, its job finished. They are all finished, every machine at ease after a hard day’s work of washing the dirty underwear, soiled rags, pubic-hair lined towels, period-stained sheets and bedbug-harboring comforters of Brooklyn.

If you ever want to know the makeup of a neighborhood, go to its laundromats. Mine is a melting pot and everyone comes here to wash their clothes, immigrants from Mexico, Poland, Bangladesh, the West Indies, some Puerto Ricans, a random smattering of Blacks and Whites—everyone but the Hassids. One by one the machines yawned open to offer their last loads to mothers, daughters, bachelors and bachelorettes, college grads and retirees. Maybe each of these people surreptitiously smelled the armpit of their favorite yoga shirts, the arch of their socks, the crotch of a pair of boxers to confirm their garments’ most recent baptism. Clean laundry is an unparalleled smell of accomplishment. Perhaps the clean laundry is the only thing they accomplished today, or maybe one of many accomplishments so numerous as to be called chores.

I think of the people I saw when I did my laundry. They are all home now, with clean clothes. I am not. My fresh clean laundry is resting at the bottom of a dryer and I am outside the laundromat rattling at the locked front door like a madwoman. I grab the metal door handle and forcefully yank it too and fro; if it were an infant it would surely be dead. The lights are out but the metal gate has not been drawn so I still have hope I will get my underwear. Maybe the attendant is using the bathroom? It’s not yet ten, so the expectation that I can retrieve my clothes is not unfounded. Soon someone deep in the bowels of the laundromat, maybe looking for light bulbs, will come out soon. They have to. I am not wearing underwear and I have places to go.

But no one comes out. They only thing I accomplish is seeing how truly insane I look. I see it in reflection in the glass door. My antics have exacerbated my cowlick and my unbound boobs wobble gently under my tank top. I actually don’t know the exact closing time of the laundromat. It is not my favorite laundromat for this reason, but it is the closest. Once, a few months ago, I came a little after ten to get my laundry from the drier thinking the place was open until eleven, like the other place is as indicated conspicuously on the front door. But this place posts no signs.

“At ten we close,” said the attendant the next morning when I picked up my clothes before work. They were not fresh and warm, but cold, wrinkled and resentful.

“Okay, I didn’t know that. I tried to look for your hours but they’re not posted?” I tried really hard not to sound angry and when I filter my angry sentences they come out as questions or exclamations.

“Yes, at ten we close.”

“Okay! I wish I had known that!”

“Yes,” said the woman. She was Mexican, with short wiry white hair. She is good at maintaining the flow of the laundry—making sure one does not have to wait too long for a drier. But she comes and goes as she pleases. She’s definitely not there when the coin machine is not working and you need to exchange your dollar for some quarters. With all the coming and going and maintaining the laundry flow I guess she hasn’t found time to post the hours.

Tonight I look for the hours and they’re still not posted. I rattled the door again. Expletives rattle around in my head, but stay there. I may not know where this woman is, or when this goddamn place closes, but I do know that I will not leave here without my laundry.

The attendants must live in the neighborhood. There is nothing else to explain their constant coming and going. I will rattle on this door until it is the only sound in the street, or at least until I figure out what to do next. I do not rattle long before I hear shouting.

“Is closed!”

I turn around and see a family of Mexicans across the street. Some sit on their front stoop, others lean on their neighbor’s fence. There are mostly men, but among them is a woman holding a baby. Are they the owners? Is the attendant among them? Or are they just annoyed by the rattling?

I cross the street to find out. I must gather the loose folds of my skirt against my thighs lest a car’s breeze lifts it up to reveal the reason I am desperate to get my laundry.

My mother always said you can catch more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar, but I choose a neutral flavor for this interaction. If I am too nice they might get the false impression that I can be convinced that I don’t really need my underwear today. If I am too mean they might not help me at all.

“Hey,” I say. It seems like a neutral way to start. “Do you know where the woman went who works at the laundromat?”

“She left. Is closed,” says a man in a red shirt.

“When is she coming back?”

“She come back in the morning.”

“I can’t come back in the morning. I need my clothes now.”

The red-shirted man looks at the man nearest him, a man in a Mets cap.

“She left,” says the man in the cap.

Since they are speaking for the laundromat they must know the employees, but how well?

“Do you have her phone number?”

Again they look at each other. I am a random, apparently desperate stranger and they don’t know what to do with me.

“No,” they say in unison.

“Is she the owner?”

“No.”

“Where does the owner live?”

The red-shirted man shrugs.

“He lives nearby, right?”

I pretend to know this truth to be self-evident. If the movies have taught me anything, it’s that the more information you purport to know, the more you’ll get in return.

“I no know,” says the red-shirted man. “You can come in the morning?”

“I cannot come in the morning.”

The red-shirted man exchanges more looks with the capped man.  The woman on the stoop says something in Spanish—nothing to do with the owner’s domicile or the employee’s whereabouts. She simply wants to know what the heck it was I want.

As the red-shirted man explains things, the capped man leans towards me.

“He lives around the corner, third building,” he says in a hushed conspiratorial tone, as if he were explaining where the local crack house was.

I nod, thank the man, and hurry off before his companion decides to renew his effort to convince me to come back in the morning.

I turn the corner, past a small apartment complex and a house, and stop in front of the third building, a narrow three-story multi-unit home with a gate, a small postage stamp sized patch of grass for a yard, and wide porches on the first and second floors.

There are three doorbells and three mailboxes. All windows are bereft of light except a large window on the first floor that faced the street. I try to spy movement in the window. This might not be the owner’s window, or even his house. I’ll ring every doorbell I could find, and if this isn’t the house I’ll try all the others on the block until I procure someone who can help me procure my underwear.

I stare at the house, mentally fortifying myself to canvas the whole block if I have to.

“Hey!” A male voice shakes me to attention. I turn and see a short black man of indiscernible age approach me. His accent suggests he is from the West Indies.

“I hear you’re looking for your clothes.”

“Yes, yes I am.” Apparently my racket had alerted the whole neighborhood to my quandary.

“You’re at the right place. Try the first floor. The guy’s name is Mohammad.”

“Wow! Thanks!”

“Yes, do you see how the grate is open? They do that when they know someone still needs their clothes.”

“But how are people supposed to know how to get in? Why can’t they just stay open?”

“Everyone knows where Mohammad lives!”

“Well, I didn’t know where Mohammad lives!”

“You must be new to the neighborhood.”

“I’ve been here for almost two years,” I protest.

“That is new,” he laughs. “I’ve been here almost thirty years.”

I concede that it is, indeed, a very long time and open the gate to Mohammad’s yard. The man nods at me as I make my way to the porch and ring the bell.

Mohammad’s frame quickly fills the doorway. He does not seem fazed by me, a complete stranger, standing on his porch.

“Hi! Mohammad?”

The man, who is tall, doesn’t look directly at me, but over my shoulder at the thirty-year resident and waves. His neighbor waves back. I have been vouched for, and Mohammad directs his attention to me. “Yes?”

“Hey Mohammad! Sorry to bother you, but I really need to pick up my clothes—I thought you guys closed at ten, so I got to the laundromat ten minutes before and it was locked!”

“Okay,” says Mohammad. “Let me get my key.”

I join the neighbor on the sidewalk as Mohammad retreats into the house. While I wait for Mohammad he tells me about a DJ gig he has tonight in the Lower East Side. He shows me a postcard and tells me I should come and bring friends. He saunters into the night when Mohammad ambles up nonchalantly swinging his keys.

I wait to see if he would address the issue at hand here, that his business had closed prematurely, putting me in the precarious situation of wandering commando around the neighborhood—a place full of children and people who subscribe to religions that forbid them from showing the face, hair and ankles, but he did not.

“So…what are your normal hours? You close at ten, right?”

“This month is complicated. It is Ramadan, so I cannot be there so late.”

“I see. But it was a woman who was there?”

“Yes, sometimes she leaves early.”

“Yes.”

We cross the street and I hold my skirt down again. I stand behind Mohammad as he unlocks the door. His numerous keys clap against the glass. The person I see in the reflection now is composed and collected, an ordinary customer waiting to pick up her laundry.

I do not wait for Mohammad to turn on the lights. I rush to the drier and quickly dump my clean clothes into my granny cart. I do not hold them up to my nose or bother folding them. Mohammad turns on the light and passes by as I grab a wad of underwear as colorful as collection of tropical bird feathers.

I should not have felt sheepish about my underwear. Undergarments are to a launderer as vaginas are to gynecologists, but I treat them like contraband anyway and quickly stuff them into my bag.

Mohammad is sitting at his desk, counting the day’s earnings by the time I’m done.

“Thanks!”

“No problem!” He looks up and waved at me.

I drag the granny cart through the door and into the night. I look across the street and see that the Mexican family is watching me. I wave and they wave back.

It is good to have clean underwear.

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How to Make a Baby

 

madonna-and-child

The boy made a big entrance, talking about jungle fauna as he tripped over his shoelace and nearly felling his mother as they came onto the train together. His mother scooped him up, stood him straight, gently grabbed his hand and put it on the pole. She was short, only a head taller than her son, who could not have been older than six. She did not wear heels, but a giant pile of hair that balanced precariously on her head, like a bird’s nest in a windstorm.

The two were playing a guessing game. Tumbling on the subway floor did not faze the boy, who did not miss a beat as he rattled off his clues.

“I look like a spider and I’m small and I’m a monkey. What animal am I?” He looked at his mother, trying to determine if he had stumped her. His giant eyes were made even more giant by giant blue glasses that snapped around his head to hold them in place. His backpack was twice as big as his torso.

“Hmm,” the mother tapped her cheek with her index finger. “Are you a spider monkey?”

The boy was amazed at the depth of his mother’s zoological knowledge. “How did you know!”

“I know things.”

“Mommy?”

“Yes honey?”

The boy placed a hand on his mother’s stomach. It was a taught stomach, but he tried to knead it anyway, like playdough.

“Is there a baby in there?”

The mother laughed.

“Are you calling me fat?”

“No, it just seems like there’s a baby in there.”

“Well, there’s not.”

“Why not? Can’t you put a baby in there?”

“Babies are a lot of work.”

“No they’re not!”

Another laugh from the mother, and from the depths of the tightly packed train came more laughter from random clusters of matronly folk who, in their collective mirth, became the mother’s de facto Greek chorus.

“What? Are you going to help me put it to bed? Feed it? Pay for it?”

The boy was not prepared for this line of questioning and looked at his untied shoes. “No.”

“Well then.”

“But I want you to have a  baby. Maybe daddy can help you?”

Even more laughter, even louder, from the mother and her chorus. “Hmmm, yeah, why don’t you bother Daddy about it?”

“But you’re the girl so it’s your job.”

The chorus quieted. The mother crossed her arms. Ever since he was born there was a bucket list of questions and issues that she knew she would have to eventually talk to her son about, like why there’s no women on any dollar bills, why men actually should cook and clean the dishes, why you have to wear a condom, what consent is. She knew this was a conversation that needed to be had, and she probably thought she’d get to it all in good time, but her son forced her hand and here she was, talking about it on a subway full of people.

“Who told you that?”

“The baby goes here, in your belly,” said the boy, keeping hand on his mother’s belly. “Is Daddy supposed to help?”

His mother laughed and rolled her eyes, as did her chorus. “Yes.”

“How? How does Daddy help? How are babies made? What happens?”

The mother looked around the train. Her chorus had dissipated and everyone else looked away, waiting to hear what she would say but pretending not to care. She smiled at her son, a forced smile but a smile nonetheless, and brought her hands together with a big  clap.

“Like this!”

The boy clapped his hands.

“Now what? Tell me all the instructions.”

Suddenly the chorus was back. They laughed even though the mother didn’t. She shook her head. Her pile of hair wobbled to and fro. “Oh lord. I can’t. I just can’t right now.”

The boy did not share in the laughter either.

“Later? Can you tell me later?”

“Someday you’ll know.”

“Okay. Let’s play the jungle animal guessing game now!”

The mother shared a conspiratorial sigh of relief with the chorus.

“That sounds like a great idea!”

 

 

 

 

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Filed under heard it from someone, personal essay, Uncategorized

WORLD SERIES GAME 5: The Golden Ticket

jerroddysonbyzack

Picture courtesy of Zack Hample

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to writing about Game 5. It would have been hard to write about if I watched the game on television, but it’s even harder because I was there at Citi Field. Do I start with the moment I got my ticket or the moment I started thinking about getting my ticket? Because that would start with Zack texting me early in the morning to see if I had bought my ticket to the game yet, as if it were a foregone conclusion.

“Well, my friend Garrett bought plane tickets from Kansas City last night after they won last night, so…”

So what was my excuse? “Well, isn’t it really expensive?”

“Prices have dropped because the Mets fans don’t want to see them lose.”

Game 6 and 7 are in Kansas City, but if people there are coming here to see Game 5,  that could only mean that the Royals were going to win it now and that I had to be there. I thought about my dream, the one I had way back during the ALDS. There was the stadium full of people in orange. They were cheering. There was a man on first. Someone named Flowers, whom can only be the Mets’ Flores, is at bat. The question is, did he strike out or did he hit a home run? After the at-bat I was sad. Was I sad because I was with the people in orange? Was I sad because this was not me at all in the dream? Was I somewhere else celebrating a World Series victory?

I went to StubHub. Zack was right, prices dropped. My roommates, who were cheering for the Mets, were complicit in my getting the ticket.

“You’ll be kicking yourself if they win and you’re not there,” they said. Then they lent me a computer and a printer for the ticket, which I still have. For the rest of day I walked around with the World Series ticket in my purse, thundering like a telltale heart every time I passed a Mets fan.

But I won’t start there either, or the ride on the train packed with  Mets fans, or the wait in line to get into Citi Field hoping to spot some Royals fans. There were many people like me who were flying solo. I scanned the concourse thinking, but not knowing, that some of these faces were ones I knew. Was that my sister’s friend’s mom? The waiter that works at Bella Napoli’s? As customer from the Dime Store, where I used to work? A guy I bumped into in the mosh pit at El Torreon? Someone I was in a high school play with? Probably not, but there was a sense that I was wading through my past, if not mostly because the last time I was surrounded by this many Royals fans was a long, long, time ago.

Before the game even started I recognized someone I really did know—someone from grade school. I’ll call her Sarah. She was a grade above me but we had recess and lunch together. She was there with her older brother, who I’ll call Matt. They adopted me for the game. But I can’t start this story there, or even a few innings from there, when we were adopted by a Mets employee that Matt’s friend’s friend knew, and we got to sit in the Caesar’s Club in the second level with the season ticket holders, where an attendant named Sal, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge with Tony Bennett, gave us cream puffs from a bakery in Astoria.

It’d be nice to start at the sixth inning, when Edinson Volquez made the best of a bases loaded situation and an error by Eric Hosmer (Is it now part of Royals dogma that when bad things happen to Eric Hosmer good things happen to the Royals? Or is it just the Universe balancing itself?) and got out of the game with just one run scored by the Mets. His performance did not earn as much hype as Harvey’s, but he got his job done—which was to keep the game close. Harvey, with all his brilliance, did not.

This story starts in the ninth inning, when Cain was walked. That was the end product of a chain of events that had been set off earlier, when Cain struck out twice. The Internet has all types of ways you can re-watch games. There’s versions where someone has filmed the game as it streamed from their television screen, there’s versions with Japanese subtitles, versions of the whole damn game that you can watch, there’s the highlight reels and then there’s the condensed versions which are like the highlight reel, but more extensive and without any commentary. Included are key moments and slow motion replays of the key moments. I don’t know who does these things, but it’s surely someone with a keen sense of narrative arc and plot twist. In the condensed version of Game 5 they found it prudent to show, in slow motion, each third strike in Cain’s at-bats. These were pitches below the knees that would have been balls had Cain not been fooled and swung at them. This time Cain put the brakes on his swing and earned himself a stroll to first after being 0 – 2.

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Church of Harvey/I did not take this picture!

Ecstatic Royals fans who knew the script by now waited for Cain, grand larcenist extraordinaire, to steal second. Mets fans knew the script by now, too. Up until now it had been the Church of Harvey, and the congregants had been standing and chanting his name for hours. But the walk drew swears from the crowd and put bottoms on their seats. There had been no doubt in Mets fans minds whom they wanted to see pitch in the ninth. Harvey’s performance had been dominant all night, so much so that fans started uttering another name alongside his: Madison Bumgarner. Would he be this year’s Madison Bumgarneresque foe? But towards the eighth inning the whisper of Bumgarner soon faded and only one name could be heard from the fans, not one of who was sitting.

“HAHVEY! HAHVEY! HAHVEY!”

Not Harvey, but Hahvey, in case you forgot this was New York City. Pretty soon their battle cry was the only thing I could hear, over my own thoughts and beating heart. He was not the Dark Knight anymore, he was their gladiator and this was their coliseum.

“They can’t put him in, it would be crazy to put him in,” we told each other.  He still had to deal with the top of the order—it would have been their fourth time seeing him.

“Nah, they won’t do that,” Matt’s friend’s friend agreed.

But he did come out—no he charged out, sprinting towards the mound as if it were a clutch of barbarian warriors from Gaul. The crowd went wild.

Wow, they just jinxed themselves, was all I could think. We exchanged looks of incredulity. It was the best thing that could have happened. Harvey’s mind and body were out of sync with the game.  He acted like he had already won. It’s as if he forgot he had gone to the mound to make three more outs. When Harvey realized he had work to do it would be too late; his mind and body had already moved on. 

But back to Cain and the silence at Citi Field. This was the rally we were waiting for, but we allowed room for failure, not doing so would be tantamount to jinxing the whole thing. Cain did his dance at first and gave himself a big lead—not sure quite how big without Joe Buck to say, but it was a lead big enough to be a parking spot in New York City. All 44,000 of us of us in the stadium waited with bated breath. Mets fans and Royals fans alike were no longer looking at Harvey, they were looking at the dance at first. Cain did not dance for long before tearing towards second—there was no stopping him. It was already written.

Now it was Royals fans’ turn to erupt in cheers. Our scattered but substantial numbers could be heard throughout the stadium and we directed our attention to Hosmer. It was his turn to make something happen. I don’t know what I would have been thinking in his place. Did he utter words to a benevolent God? Was he praying a prayer of the penitent? Dear God, forgive me of my blunder, deliver me from erring?

I don’t know. When I saw a ball fly into the gap in left field I knew this was it. This was the rally, and if this was the rally, this was also the game. Cain raced home and Hosmer put on the brakes at second.

Terry Collins took Harvey out. The Mets gave him an ovation. His stunning performance was only marred by his stunning arrogance. He believed in himself, but not so much in his team. He still managed to author eight great chapters for Mets fans.

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The view in SRO! Can you see Tony Bennett singing the national anthem? Neither can I!

Those same fans kept standing in anticipation of Familia, and our view of most of right field and most of the infield was blocked by backs and heads. Moose’s job was to move Hosmer to third, which is exactly what he did with a grounder to first.

Next came Perez, who I saw through a gap between one man’s hear and another man’s chin. I saw that he hit the ball and started cheering. I had no idea where the ball went. I was cheering in blind faith. If the ball is put in play the Royals will score, that’s how the script went. From the reaction of Mets fans I could tell my cheers were not unfounded. The scoreboard told me so as well. It had changed from 2 – 2 as quickly had it had changed to 2 – 1 from 2 – 0. The despairing Mets fans sat down and I saw that the Royals had been erased from the bases. Where was Salvy? I looked and saw the Royals had two outs, but how did Hosmer score if Salvy hadn’t singled? Did he hit a sacrifice fly?

Sarah, Matt and I were confused. What happened? We ran from our posts and joined another group of standing-room-only Royals fans that had crowded under the television to see a replay.

What I thought was a long-hit single to left field was only a little blooper quickly fielded by David Wright. So the inning must be over and Alex Gordon singled Hosmer home? Did we somehow miss two at-bats? Did someone mess up the scoreboard? We were still scratching our heads when we saw Hosmer pelting helter skelter towards home from third like there was a pack of hellhounds nipping at his heels. It was now unclear who he had been praying to during his at-bat because this was the kind of desperate act that only a man who had sold his soul to the devil would ever consider doing. We saw Duda catching Wright’s throw, getting Salvy out. All commonplace, all according to procedure. We waited for Duda to drop the ball, or pass out, or spontaneously combust, anything that would explain the tie, because unless you’re Jerrod Dyson you just don’t score from third on ball that doesn’t even make it past the infield.

Then Duda threw home. Great, I thought. These Mets fans should start getting happy real quick. But the throw was wide and high, like the 18-wheeler that Mets fans felt like they had been collectively struck by. The Mets catcher nicked the ball with his glove but was nowhere near catching it. Hosmer slid home.

hosmerhome

Hosmer slides home/I sure did not take this picture!

Matt doubled over in joy,  I grabbed my face, Sarah shook her head, we all hugged. When I tried to talk I sound like a broken record. I just cant. Holy shit. Wow. I just cant. Holy shit. Wow.

In retrospect, Hosmer’s explanation for running when he did makes total sense. We were up two games, Familia is hard to hit, and the scouts said Wright has a slow throw and Duda is not clutch in clutch situations. Plus there’s always that memory of Alex Gordon being stuck at third. No one wants to get stuck there anymore (Which begs the question, just what would have happened if Gordon ran?). But it would have been awful leaving that stadium that night if Hosmer had gotten out.

The Mets fans were reeling. Some of them started leaving so we grab seats and sit for the first time—as if the game were just starting and we were strolling in during the first inning. Sitting was nice. But sometimes we stood, just to shake away the jitters. We hated that the Mets were last to bat because if they scored a run that would be it.

The Mets fans stayed seated and would not stand again until the twelfth inning, when they started leaving. Herrera made a heroic effort, pitching three clean innings of relief, and Hochevar followed with two. November 1st turned into November 2nd and three outs in the ninth turned into twelve outs and extra innings and lemons turned into lemonade.

The twelfth inning brought a new pitcher, Addison Reed. Salvy singled and we knew this could be the last inning. Our hunch was validated when Yost unleashed Jerrod Dyson to blaze a path to victory. Dyson danced a little at first with Alex Gordon batting before dashing off to the races and sliding into second. Mets fans shook their heads, some started heading up the stairs and out of the stadium. Harvey and his exploits seemed like such a long time ago. Gordon got out but advanced Dyson to third. Everything in its right place, but wait, who’s batting next? Who could it be? What is going on? Who is this guy? We did not know. It was not a body or number or face we had seen the entire postseason.

It was Christian Colón, who had not had an at-bat since the end of the regular season. Having him bat would be either a stroke of brilliance or a monumental blunder on Yost’s part, but really, what were the options? It was Colón’s only at-bat so he had to make it count. And make it count he did. He ripped a single to center field and Dyson charged home. And then it rained Royals. It rained so hard the Royals scored five runs in one inning. The game only needed Wade Davis to punctuate it.

He struck out the first two batters, but Conforto got a hit. There was a man on, and who but Wilmer Flores came up to bat. At this point I didn’t care about my dream. We were going to win whether Flores struck out or hit a grand slam. But he struck out and we won the World Series and I was there to see it.

wade davis

Last inning…

wadedaviscelebrates

Didn’t take this picture either, but it’s a good one!

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WORLD SERIES GAME 4: Put Some Chapstick On It

daniel murphy chapstick incident

It’s past 8:30 and I haven’t even started watching the game yet. But I have a good reason. I’m at my friend Anesa’s good-bye gathering in Astoria before she heads out of the country tomorrow on a South American adventure and I don’t know when I’m going to see her next. Don’t even mention the fact that it’s Halloween because I don’t care. I have zero interest in getting corralled in a subway with a bunch of drunken sexy nurses, zombified hockey goalies or anything else.

Last year I was a booger for Halloween. Not a sexy booger, just a booger. I was too busy watching the World Series and then mourning the World Series to put much thought into my costume. A few years ago a friend and I made anglerfish costumes out of recycled material. We scavenged for boxes at bodegas and grocery stores and plundered neighbors’ recycling bins for cans and bottles and then spent a whole weekend engineering the costumes. We were a hit. Last year I took a five-second inventory of everything in my closet and realized that I had a lot of green stuff. I piled it on me, and taped some Saran wrap over my layers of green, and boom, I was a slimy booger.

 

Before last year’s World Series I could have been a zombified baseball fan because that is something I’ve never been in real life. Now being a rabid baseball fan is my reality. Because of this new reality I’m not even going to carve pumpkins with Anesa and company. We say our goodbyes at the grocery store, where they have a small clutch of pumpkins left. It’s a testament to Anesa’s character that she’s not even mad at me for ditching her to watch baseball, she says she’ll even cheer for the Royals.

baseball furies 2

Would have been an apropos costume…

I scurry past an Irish sports bar and try really hard not to find out what’s going on in the game. I don’t want to know anything until I get to my friend Noemi’s apartment in Long Island City so I can watch the game in neutral territory. But an eruption of cheers forces me to catch the score through the window: 2 – 0, Mets at the bottom of the third inning.

I am now very aware of the chips and guacamole that I had at Anesa’s place. Usually innocuous, the crunchy blue corn chips I love now seem to be shredding the lining of my stomach. I need to get to Long Island City fast. I start running frantically towards Broadway and hop in the nearest taxi. The driver, from Ghana, doesn’t know much about the World Series and has no sense of urgency.

“It’s like the World Cup, and my team is in it,” I explain, hoping this will get him to drive a little faster, but all it does is inspire a conversation about how confusing baseball is and why they even call it the World Series if it’s two American teams playing each other. The conversation goes nowhere fast—or at least quicker than it took for me to get to Long Island City.

I try not to trip over myself as I lunge out of the car and dash to Noemi’s building. When she opens the door I try to read her face for any signs of doom. She knows me well enough to deliver the good news first.

“The Royals scored a run!”

“Okay, cool, okay. Awesome, great. And the Mets? What about them? Have they scored?”

“It looks like they just got a homerun,” says Noemi’s husband, Daniel, from the couch.

I try not to react too histrionically. Noemi knows I am susceptible to dramatic outbursts and I want to prove to her that I can be a sane person under this kind of duress.

“That’s cool. It’s okay. I mean, it looks like we’re waking up offensively, you know?”

“What are the chances of them coming back?” Daniel asks.

I certainly can’t tell him that there is a good chance, a really good chance, that the Royals will rally because saying it out loud would only jinx it.

“Well, I can’t really say.”

“But you’ve been watching the team—you have a pretty good idea, right?”

“I do. But I don’t want to jinx anything.”

Daniel is an avid fan of the French national soccer team who suffered through the improbable Zinedine Zidane headbutt of the 2006 World Cup, so he has a healthy respect for jinxes. “Okay, but as a general observer of the game, and not as a Royals fan, what would you say the chances are?”

“As a general observer, I would say there’s a pretty good chance.”

“Okay.”

It goes without saying that I still have to knock on wood. Stephen Matz, the Mets’ rookie lefty pitcher, has been on point so far, but the sixth inning will be the real test of how well he can keep the Royals at bay. He’s not as hyped as Harvey, DeGrom and Syndergaard and fans have not yet christened him with a quirky moniker, but he’s allowed less runs in five innings than his cohort did in each of their starts.

The first batter up is Zobrist who takes a leaf from Escobar’s book and swings at the first pitch. The ball flies into deep left field and Zobrist reaches second.

“YES!” I know it’s not a run yet, but it looks like a classic Royals rally in the making. Cain follows with a single and Zobrist scores.

“YES! YES!” I slam my fist into the couch. Daniel implores me to keep it down, because what will the neighbors think?

With their lead dangerously slim, Terry Collins pulls Matz from the game. The camera follows the young rookie do the dugout, where he slams his glove to the ground. If there were a couch, I’m sure he’d slam that too.

The sixth inning ends with no further damage and the Royals trailing 3 – 2. After a soundless seventh inning we enter the eighth, with Clippard of the aviator goggles pitching. In the first at-bat he gets Escobar to ground out, but then lets Zobrist take a stroll—and Cain too, after he had Cain 0 – 2 two pitches into the at-bat.

I am excited, but try to keep my tone conversational. “Okay! Keep the line moving!”

scary la familia

Scary Familia

Terry Collins and the Mets would prefer to bring the line to a grinding halt, so he swaps Clippard for Familia. Clippard can be seen mouthing a four letter curse. The levee hasn’t broken yet, so this is Familia’s chance to patch things up with Hos coming up to bat. Hos makes contact on the second pitch. It’s a soft grounder  that seems to be making its merry way to Daniel Murphy’s glove. But the ball is only flirting with the glove. It coyly stays low—millimeters away!—and scampers out of reach. Zobrist scores to tie the game. Daniel Murphy copes by applying Chapstick. Whatever helps.

Familia really has the worst luck—cursed since Game 1 by Alex Gordon’s home run. He can’t seem to pull himself together and gives away consecutive singles to Moustakas and Salvy, bringing the Royals on top 5 – 3. Yost wastes no time unleashing Wade Davis and the game is in the bag past midnight. It is a spooky Halloween indeed for Gotham City.

The Royals are one win away from winning the World Series. This year’s one-win-away sensation is much different than last year’s, because it was also a one-loss-away situation. This year there are lots of different ways we could win the World Series! We could lose two games and win one, lose one game and win one, or just win one without any of the losing! It is strange and novel to be from Kansas City and for the second year in a row and have one’s team be a game away from winning the World Series.

Stranger yet is that this all happening less than ten miles from where I am sitting on a couch. The television fills up with blue—not blue and orange, but just blue. There is a whole legion of Royals fans at Citifield. It looks like half of Kansas City is hanging out in Queens.

“Wow, look at all the Royals fans,” says Noemi.

“I know! I should be there.”

But really, who are those people? If they are they made it to Citi Field there must be a way I can, too. This is what I think about as I pace the platform waiting for the G train. I forgot it is Halloween until I see a slutty librarian and Darth Vader.  The thunder of the train’s arrival brings me out of my reverie. The train is packed. It is not your Halloween type of packed, where you won’t escape without getting glitter bombed or elbowed by a dominatrix using the holiday as an excuse to wear her work uniforms in public. Nor is this the typical Saturday night type of packed, with red matte lipstick, high heels and gelled man-buns.

No, none of that. I see flashes of blue, flashes of orange and realize this is the crowd from Citi Field coming from the 7 train at Court Square, the same people whose misery I just saw on live television. They are in old Mets scarves, old Mets hats, Piazza jerseys worn over blue sweatshirts worn under jean jackets; they are wearing stuff they dug out of storage or an outerborough garage, stuff that was garnished with cobwebs until this postseason.

mets sad fan

I really do understand the pain

Other than a sporadic vampire, these are the only other people on the train. The only ones. The train comes to a stop and the doors yawn open. No one gets off. I make a big decision in this moment. Do I unbutton my jean jacket and ostentatiously broadcast who I’m cheering for, and by default, how happy I am? Or do I keep my jacket respectfully buttoned? If I stay buttoned I could be one of them, except for the fact that my visage is far too sanguine for me to pass as a Mets fan at this moment.

I usually avoid ostentatiousness but not provocation, so this is a dilemma for me. I go for a compromise, unbuttoning my jacket but not exuberantly letting it flap open like the shutters of a window on a spring day. I see this as a humble display of pride that won’t merit any kind of knuckle sandwich.

At first there is only room to stand. What my shirt says is of no consequence because no one can see it anyway. There is not much talking on the train as it worms its way through Brooklyn. Conversations are muffled by sweaters, scarves, hats and bodies. I find somewhere to sit once the train spits out a few bodies at Bergen Street.

There is now enough space in the train to hear all the conversations about What Went Wrong. Most people talk about Daniel Murphy. He is a hard one for them to talk about, because he was a big part of What Went Right earlier in the postseason.  I catch the serious conversation of a clutch of red-faced men who are having a nightcap of bagged beer.

“It’s not just on Murphy, though.”

“Yeah, but you really just have to catch the grounder. You can’t just let that grounder go.”

“Yeah, but that was one run. What about the other ones? What about Familia?”

“Nah, nah, nah. It was Clippard, when he walked those two guys.”

A third man agreed.

“And besides, we would not be here without Murphy.”

A big sigh is heaved.

“Yeah. But maaaaan. Murphy.”

“Those Royals are feisty, though.”

“They’re soooo fuckin’ feisty.”

The talk stops. The tallest guy in the group looks at me. I quickly avert my eyes. Only a sliver of the Royals Y peeks though my jacket and my bag, which is on my lap, covers most of it. Does he know?

He knows. He lowers his voice, looks at his friends, and gestures towards me with his chin. I hear him mutter as the group gets off at Smith and 9th.

“I bet she’s happy.”

F_royals

Happy

 

 

 

 

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WORLD SERIES GAME 3: High and Inside, Down and Out

foleys

Enemy territory! (photo by John Murphy)

Adam and I were supposed to meet at Foley’s, where we saw the first game of the ALCS, which already seems like a million years ago. It was a place where there were so many Royals fans, where I felt I had allies, where Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm were photographed sitting at the bar together. Did I recall seeing any Mets memorabilia on their walls all those weeks ago? No. But was I looking for any Mets memorabilia at the time? No. Should I now be surprised to see a giant Mets flag hanging outside? I guess not. I’m not sure why I didn’t see being surrounded by Mets fans as an inevitability here in New York City, but it certainly wasn’t part of my plans.

I got to Foley’s before Adam and it was packed, a sea of orange and blue and elbows and knees. My being stopped at the door had nothing to do with my Royals shirt, which was ensconced in several layers of sweaters.

“No room,” said the bouncer. “Gotta get on the waiting list.”

There was another Irish bar down the block that was less of a mosh pit and Adam and I squeezed through the Mets fans to back where we found a table.

And so here we are, in the belly of the beast. It’s the top of the second inning and the first thing I see is Escobar stealing second base. There is a unanimous grumble erupting from the Mets fans. It sounds like the stomachache of a sleeping dragon. I let my cheers bubble in fizz in my own belly and am so, so glad that one of the few things Mets and Royals fans have in common is their blue shirts.

Adam and I give each other conspiratorial smiles. The score is 3 – 2.

Due to all the necessary bar hopping we apparently missed one of the most exciting moments of the game—with Escobar, instead of the pitcher, being at the receiving end of some more first at-bat drama. Replays show him nearly losing his head to a 98 mph fastball from Noah Syndergaard that came high and inside.

Ahead of the game Syndergaard, who seems to be living up to his Viking moniker, had been hinting that he had “a few tricks up his sleeve.”As a baseball neophyte I had no idea what that could possibly mean. Will he be using a lazer pen to distract batters? Will he have pine tar up his sleeve? Did he choreograph a dance to rival Johnny Cueto’s shimmy?

It turned out what Syndergaard had in mind was a lot more boring than anything I could have come up with. A “statement pitch” is what the commentators called it. Luckily the statement didn’t cave in Escobar’s head.

escober high and inside

Splits better than a spatter!

The Royals stay up, but only briefly. After a two-run homerun by Granderson in the Mets lead 4 – 3, and now, in the fourth inning, they have two men on base and no outs.

Anyone who saw Ventura pitch in the World Series last year knows what he is capable of. His stellar pitching in the World Series last year helped keep the Royals alive to reach Game 7. But his great pitching performances last year were at home, and now he’s pitching in front of 44,781 World Series starved Mets fans—and every other one of them seems to be a famous person. This is on top of the fact that Billy Freaking Joel sang the national anthem.

“Hey look, it’s Seinfeld!” Says Adam. “Oh! And Chris Rock!”

Fucking great!

Ventura is pulled from the game after another guy singles and scores in a runner. Now the Mets lead 5 – 3, and the Royals bullpen must carry the game on their shoulders again. Duffy got the Royals out of the fourth inning and Hochevar pitches a clean fifth inning, and now we’re at the bottom of the sixth.

Much is said of the Royals’ vaunted bullpen, but no one talks about the guy who is up to pitch next: Franklin Morales. The last time this guy pitched was in the 14 – 2 blowout that the Royals won in Toronto, and before that was the 11 – 8 blowout the Blue Jays won in Toronto. He’s the guy that comes out when the Royals are either losing really hard or winning really hard. He’s not a changer of fate. He is the wood pulp in your parmesan, the yoga mat fiber in your Subway sandwich. He’s the guy you put in when you need to get through a full game and the outcome has already been determined. Even though the game is tight by Kansas City standards and there’s still lots of it left, I feel like Yost has conceded the whole thing when Morales comes to the mound.

In a way I get it, you don’t want to give the Mets too many looks at your game-changing pitchers. But this is also the World Series! You never know how things are going to turn out! You really, really don’t know if Cueto is going to pitch an entire, nearly scoreless game again, and you really, really don’t know how Volquez is going to pitch after his dad died. And you don’t know if the Dark Knight or the DeGrominator will start pitching like the playthings of the gods that everyone says they are. And do we really want to find out?

The inning starts decently enough with Morales getting the first batter out, but Lagares, the author of the epic battle against Herrera in Game 1 that turned the game briefly in the Mets favor, delivers a single. Up next is Flores, whom Morales promptly hits with the baseball. The Mets fans around me are booing and hissing, but soon they are cheering because some random pinch hitter singles, scoring in Lagares. And the bleeding does not stop. Granderson hits a liner towards Morales, who scoops it deftly enough, but doesn’t know what to do next. He can’t seem to get rid of the ball. He stares at Flores, halting him at third, but then pivots his body from second to third and back again, kind of like a basketball player trying to shake the defense and even more like someone who has forgotten who they are, where they are, what they are supposed to be doing and how to breathe. He could have helped turn a double play, but instead the ball never leaves his hand.

“Yikes,” says Adam.

“Oh man.” I almost bury my face in my hands, but one who is in the belly of the beast must keep her sorrows to herself. The whole thing is entertaining for the Mets fans, though.

“It’s like the Three Stooges!” I hear someone say.

While I think forcing Morales to buckle down and scrape his way out of the inning in front of a hostile crowd would be a good character building experience, Yost is not in the habit of torturing his players and brings out Herrera to pick up the broken pieces, which is in itself a different kind of torture. Herrera is not good at dealing with other people’s messes. He’s great at keeping the bases clean during his innings, but dealing with inherited runners is not his forte. I’m not nervous though. The Mets already have this game in the bag. I have truly accepted it, and I know I’m not lying to myself because I order an entire shepherd’s pie and eat it without any help from Adam even though he offers it once or twice or three times.

captain america

The Captain and Crew. (I am not responsible for this great photo-shopping job!)

Next up at bat is David Wright, Captain America, longstanding hero to Mets fans. He had a hard time against the Royals pitchers’ fastballs in the first couple games, but tonight has been his big night. He hit a two-run homerun in the first inning, and now he has another chance to perform in front of an adoring audience.

And perform he does, hitting a single to center field. Two runs score. The crowd’s eruption of joy ricochets off the walls and pummels my soul. I hope my sigh of resignation is interpreted as a sigh of relief.

“Hey, it’s only the sixth inning!”  Adam says.

“Yeah. Whatever. We don’t need to win this one.”

The inning comes to a merciful end after Herrera gets Cespedes to fly out and Duda to strike out, there is no offensive action from the Royals.

“Hey, there’s still six outs left!” says Adam after that the seventh inning ends with more of nothing.

But six outs turns into three, which turns into none, which turns into a Mets victory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WORLD SERIES GAME 2: Watching Baseball in Belgium

ghent

Ghent

I watched Game Two of the World Series at Zack’s place. It was me, Zack, and a Joanne, a Phillies fan. I got through the day on glee and many cups of coffee after the 14-inning victory the night before. The olfactory aftermath of all the anxiety-inducing moments of the game clung to my shirt, but I couldn’t not wear it.

The thing about most of these games is that most of the time things don’t look great for the Royals until the end and fans can never get too comfortable, but the Royals got in gear early this time. The Mets were first to score but they never got more than one run on the board. The Royals were losing until the fifth inning and then scored four whole runs in one inning, and then three more runs in the eighth. The real Johnny Cueto showed up. He pitched the whole game. The bullpen never even made it out onto the field. At one point the cameras showed Herrera, Madson, Davis, Duffy and Hochevar all sitting on a bench in the bullpen. The Royals’ vaunted bullpen, who are usually as fierce as shotput throwers looked instead like bored Catholic schoolboys lined up on a pew.

royalsbullpenatrest

and the bullpen is…quiet

What can I say about this game? It was easy for me to eat, it was easy for me to drink, it was easy for me to watch, and so hard for me to write about.

But while I was sitting on a couch a little past dinner time in the Upper West Side of New York City, my sister Beanie was up at 1 a.m. at an Irish bar in Ghent, Belgium, watching the World Series. Her trip to Ghent was part of her first trip abroad, a two-week foray across the Atlantic that started in England, hopped across the channel, wound its way through Belgium, France and across the channel again to conclude in Ireland. Her travel buddy for most of the trip was her friend Jamie, a fellow Kansas Citian.

Beanie was incommunicado through most of the trip, but one dispatch did come through: a picture of Beanie and Jamie holding cardboard signs, posing in front of a balding man in a large truck.

As far as we knew hitchhiking was not part of her travel plans, so what happened? Well, the World Series happened. Beanie and Jamie missed the 14-inning saga that was Game 1 and did want to concede another game. Upon converging in Kansas City for the holidays, Beanie treated us to quite a yarn, one that involved a lot of beer, a little baseball, enemy fans, guys in semis, something called a BlaBlaCar, and a strange trip to Paris. I decided to interview Beanie about the whole thing, and here is the story of how she watched Game 2 of the World Series:

Did you have any idea how you were going to watch baseball in Europe?

No, but was the World Series and I had watched all the playoff games up to that point. At the hostel we were staying there was a guy from Toronto, and the Royals had just beaten the Toronto Blue Jays. And he was like Aww, screw you guys I’m cheering for the Mets, and that motivated us to find a way. So, we went to this bar and we asked the guy there if they would show baseball. But the game started at one in the morning and they weren’t going to stay open for us to watch baseball, so they recommended this Irish pub that was really close to our hostel. The guy was all like, (launches into Belgian accent) They might play it for you. I don’t know. Baseball is boring.

So, in America Irish pubs are not really Irish but here there was an Irish person working at the Irish pub, and it’s like you’re in Ireland, in Ghent, in Belgium, Europe. And we were like Hey, can you play the World Series? It’s baseball? Just this once? It’s our team and they’re playing and we gotta win! And he was like (launches into Irish accent) We’d be happy to have yeh, but could yeh bring yer friends yeh know? It’s really late, but that’s fine, if yeh bring enough people we’ll play the game for yeh. And we promised him we’d bring people—so many people.

We go back to the hostel and there’s Americans, including this guy from California who was all about the Giants and hated the Royals. We try to rally up some people—there were a lot of people there, but we only rallied two of them.

Sad.

Yeah, sad. One was a British lady who was a huge alcoholic and this other girl who lives in L.A. We brought them to the bar and it wasn’t very heartening. There’s not a lot of people at the bar so we’re kind of desperate, but we see this group of guys outside, and I think, Oh! They’ll want to come and watch the game with us, because we’re girls.

I gave them a saucy wave as they were passing and they saw us and did a double take, and waved back. And they came in and we were like Come watch baseball with us, or else we can’t watch it!

And all of these guys were from England. They didn’t really care about baseball, they cared about drinking and flirting, but whatever, the more people that were there the better it was for us to watch the game. Jamie was explaining baseball to the British girl from the hostel, which she later said was way harder to explain than she ever thought it would be—to explain that well, now they’re, you know, pitching and they have to get three strikes to be out, but there’s balls and they can walk. It sounds crazy.

Did anyone know anything about baseball?

No.

Did they know what the World Series was and why you wanted to watch it?

We told them it was our hometown and we had gone last year but we lost so this year we have to win. We were like, It’s really important, guys! C’mon! This is a big deal!

Did anyone cheer for the Royals out of solidarity even though they didn’t know what was going on?

Yeah, everyone was rooting for the Royals. It was an international support group. And we were playing this drinking game with these Irish people and every time the Royals did really well Jamie and I stopped what we were doing and went YEEAAHHHHHH, RRRRROYALS!!! and we were going crazy—the only ones going crazy.

escobarscores

YYYYEAHHHH, RRRROYALLLSSSS!

At some point one of the British guys, he was like forty, a big brutish guy–he was arm wrestling me and he wins and he’s like, Yeah! I’m such a man! And then he singled out Jamie, who is like five-foot-two and a hundred pounds, and he says You’re next. And I’m like Hey! Why don’t you arm wrestle someone your own size and be a big man that way?

I go to the Irish bartender, because Irish and English people don’t get along, right? So I go up to him and I’m like Hey, do you want to arm wrestle that guy? He wants to arm wrestle my friend, but she’s tiny. It’s not challenging. You should do it! And he says yes. So I had it all set up, this arm wrestling fight, and I bring them both together and once they saw each other in person up close they were both scared that they were gonna lose and they backed out, and I was like You’re a fucking pussy! You’re gonna arm wrestle this little tiny girl but not this guy? Screw you! Obviously I’m really drunk at this point–

Okay, but do you remember anything about the game?

Ha ha, I remember…not a lot. I remember the bases were loaded at some point…but no, I can’t really say too much about the game.

Okay, so what time does the game end back in Europe?

At 4:30. We were in bed at five.

Did you have plans for the next morning?

Our plan was to do this: we had a train from Ghent and we had to get to the train station at 7:30. Going to bed at five was not a good idea. I was so drunk because I was taking shots and drinking Guinness all night that I didn’t set my alarm. Jamie set three alarms and her alarms go off, but she didn’t get up at all for any of those alarms. So at ten in the morning, she says Beanie, we missed the train. She sounded really calm. But it didn’t help. I was freaking out. The train was twenty euros so it’s a big deal when you’re poor in Europe and you’re trying to save all your money and you miss the train. We were supposed to take the train to Lille, in France, and from there we were going to take a blah blah car at 10:20 to Paris.

Wait. What is a blah blah car?

A BlaBlaCar is like Uber, but long distance and you plan it ahead of time. It was really hard for us to find a BlaBla to get to Paris from Ghent. The only one was this guy driving from Lille to Paris at 10:30 in the morning, so when we didn’t get up in the morning in time for our train we were like, Fuck, and then we were like, Shit, because all the trains to Paris after that were eighty dollars. We were looking for more BlaBlaCars, and none of them were working out. We were kind of running out of options and we hadn’t booked another night in the hostel.We had talked about hitchhiking before so we Googled how to hitchhike in Europe. The Internet was like, have some pieces of cardboard and one of them should say were you need to go, and the other should say SVP, for s’il vous plait, if you’re trying to go to France and be polite. We decided to try it. It’s legal, we’re traveling together and I’m not going to spend eighty dollars on a train.

So we asked the hostel guy for pieces of cardboard and permanent marker, and he says, Oh, are you trying to hitchhike? And we’re all, Maybe we are, maybe we’re not. And he’s like, I have hitchhiked 65,000 kilometers. Let me help you. He told us where to go, what corner, what side of the street, what our signs should say. So we made our signs and went to this triangle overlooking a bridge going to the highway.

We had someone stop after two minutes, and we were really embarrassed. It’s kind of humiliating to hitchhike, because you’re like a hobo. So this guy was an old man and he didn’t know much English and he kept mentioning this town. But the guy at the hostel was like, Just go to Paris, don’t go anywhere else. They have to say Paris. But the guy was not saying Paris. And he kept saying this other town, and we kept saying, No, no, no, just Paris. And he was confused and we were blocking traffic so we said, It’s okay thank you so much, bye.

And then this other guy stopped and he was young and cute and he was in this work car. He was, I dunno, a mechanic? I’m not sure. But he kept mentioning the same city that the older guy kept talking about. He spoke better English so we asked him if this town was on the way to Paris and he said yes. But he only had one seat, so we didn’t go with that guy. But at least we figured out that this town was legitimate. Another work truck stopped, and they mentioned the same town, that it was a truck stop. We decide to get in the truck with these four guys in their Carhart jackets and all their tools.

It was dark by the time we got to the truck stop and there were not a lot of people passing through.There was this one guy that was creepy. He kept asking us why we were going to Paris, and he was staring at us with his—he had White Walker eyes. Jamie and I had a code for Are you creeped out? which was Are you hungry? I asked Jamie if she was hungry and she said she was starving. So we walked away from that guy and found another guy who was going to another town near Paris. He was really cool, he had a semi. Jamie sat in the passenger seat and I sat in a little bed behind the seats. All his bags were there and my feet were where his pillow was. I wondered what he did in the bed when he was by himself. And then he told us, When we get to the border, make sure you hide, because there’s only supposed to be two people in here.

The guy picked the back roads for us, but traffic was so bad. When we crossed the border I ducked down behind the passenger seat. We were with that guy for three or four hours. I fell asleep at one point because I was really tired, obviously. He was really nice. He talked about his brother. I asked him what he thought about when he was on the road, he said he thought about his family.

When he dropped us off at the truck stop we grabbed some food and powered up before we continued hitchhiking because we really hadn’t slept. It was three in the morning and we were near the parking lot. No one was stopping. At some point, though, this one guy just shows up smoking a cigarette. He stopped for a second, and waved and motioned at us. We see where he goes and he’s parked at the rest stop. We walked over to him and asked if he was going to give us a ride. And he says (launches into French accent), I eat, and then, yes. He was French, he didn’t speak a lot of English. Jamie asks me Hey, are you hungry? and I’m like, No, I think I’m okay.

He was nice. He smelled like B.O. And cigarettes. I wanted to practice French so I saw this as an opportunity to do that before I got to Paris, because he didn’t really know English. I was thrown into the deep end, but it was funny. I’d ask him something in French in the simplest way I could think of and he always, always, almost always looked at me like I said something really weird. So I was like, Nevermind. Nevermind. Just nevermind. And he would do the same thing. He would say something in French, and I would be like, What? What? And he’d say, Nevermind—in French. We never really had a full conversation. At one point I asked him about something that was on a sign that I kept seeing on the highway—I didn’t know what the hell it said. I repeated to him what the sign said—I don’t even remember what it said –and he didn’t know what I was saying. And then I said Comment se dit sign? And he didn’t know what I was talking about, so I point at it—while he’s driving. That thing right there—that thing we’re passing right now! We’re on the highway and everything’s moving really fast—he was lost, and kept shaking his head. I don’t know, I don’t know, he said. So I’m like, Nevermind, again. But, he took us to the hostel and he gave us the whole French kiss on both cheeks thing, lit a cigarette and left.

And that’s how we got to Paris.

beanie

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