POSTED ON MAY 21, 2008:
People Watch, People
The best entertainment is everyday people, the things they do and the impressions they leave
My head's a buzz, people. Like the crescendo of my childhood birthdays. Yeah, I'm ready for this. As I write I have yet to enjoy a Mayfest in Tulsa, or anywhere for that matter. Never been to a Blue Dome Festival either. I can hardly concentrate on writing this column because I am so giddy about next week's.
By the time you read this, Mayfest will have concluded. The Blue Dome vendors will be at home watching the evening news, counting their winnings, and asking "Is Boston Legal new this week?" Vendors love that kind of show.
I, on the other hand, will be sifting through my notes from the weekend, reliving my experience with that drunken guy who passed out in my soup, trying to whittle all my mind blowing stories into something cohesive and, okay, just cohesive will do. Remember the fun you had?
To prepare for all the ample people watching, I've been frequenting Utica Square, the Promenade Mall and my front porch. I must be ready for anything.
I say to myself, trying to take everything in, "Okay, that child is eating earthworms. What else we got?" I scan the sidewalks or escalators. "Oh no, now he's putting the worms down his pants. Seriously, where are that child's parents? This is too much!" I push myself to look away because I know Mayfest will be sensory overload, but I can't. I watch, because it's not inappropriate for a child to have fun, but, inevitably, I miss something better.
"Isaac," someone will say, "did you see that family with the sextuplets? The one in the back tripped and knocked all of them down. It was like watching dominoes. They were all dressed the same. You saw it, right?"
No, I didn't see it. Of course not! The mother of the kid with the worms showed up and she was doing her best to diffuse the potentially embarrassing situation for her son. It was beautiful. She was standing between him and me, so I couldn't see, but I could kind of see the worm barely dangling from his knee. I was mesmerized. The worm, the dancing, protective feet of the mother, and that sweet grin of the child. He looked like an Ian.
"I missed it," I'll say.
I acknowledge that type of thing can't happen this weekend. It won't!
Drillers' stadium on game day is another great location for people watching. This dawned on me one night when I saw, maybe, 100 dedicated Drillers' fans sitting outside the stadium in anticipation of fireworks. It looks like your next opportunity for such a light show is the evening of May 24. Both locations, either inside or outside the park, are opportune. Inside the park you can buy a beer or hotdog and a seat is provided, but outside the park you have a much better chance of catching a homerun ball. Also, beer and hotdogs are cheaper on the outside. Do you really need me to continue on with the pros and cons?
If you decide on a seat inside the stadium, may I suggest two things to you (assuming your goal is to catch a foul ball, which it should be): 1) take a baseball mitt, 2) sit on the opposite side of the stadium from me. I don't mention the latter because I'm anti-social. I only say it because in the many games I have attended no baseball has ever come close to me.
As a kid, I would make my father take his mitt. My brother was in agreement that our gloves were much more important than anything else at a ball game. In our minds they trumped the tickets. Any errant ball off the bat of a professional was as important as a Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds record breaker. This was it. Sitting, drooling for nine innings with our Dad, who would oft supplement the game with ridiculous predictions, "Strawberry's (former LA Dodger player) going to double to deep left on this one." He once predicted the exact location of a homerun. You would have thought he discovered the cure for cancer. He talks of that to this day. He has a suspect memory, but this one particular memory could outlast even the strongest case of Alzheimer's.
I'll begin, "Dad, I scored a perfect score on my Organic Chemistry final. What do you think?"
"That's great, son," he'll respond, "but remember that time I called the Eric Davis homerun off that Miller Lite advertisement in left field in the top of the 4th inning. That was something, huh?" I must admit, I was surprised.
Sitting in the cheap seats ($6) at Drillers Stadium without a mitt and someone to predict possible outcomes of the upcoming pitch was weird for me. I felt naked without a glove, but I seriously doubted a ball would make its way toward me. I was right.
I found myself enjoying the cool evening breeze, cheering for the home team, and saying to my friend, "Here comes a bloop single to center." I never predicted anything greater than a swing and a miss, but trying to call the game before it happened made me feel like my father was there. He loves baseball, and I love to see him happy. So, although baseball isn't my favorite sport, it always reminds me of him. A smiling, cheering, child-like version of him. I have to thank baseball for that image.
With vendors peddling their various wares and the bats of the opposing team cracking, I set into my people watching. I scanned the neighboring seats and shortly found myself watching a man and what I assumed were his two sons. One of the boys was eating a hotdog. The other was chewing on his mitt. I think he was flossing his teeth with the leather tie on the mitt.
The father was silent, but had on a mitt, too. I watched to see if he was telling his boys the eventual location of this or that pitch. Sadly, he was not.
I watched them for a half inning or so. The older of the two boys continued gnawing on his mitt. Finally he replaced the mitt with some popcorn. I began to lose interest, but couldn't bring myself to look away. The younger boy and the father were talking and pointing and I could just feel a prediction coming.
Suddenly, I heard some laughter from my friend and others around us. My friend leaned in and said, "Did you see that lady spill beer all in her husband's beard? She tripped and it hit the guy right in the face!"
"No, I missed it," I said, "but watch this. Here comes a swing and a miss. The Drillers got these dudes!"
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