Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Saints Game

I love this blog and the concept of Third Place. I think my experience at the St. Paul Saints last Friday fits: I went with our 10 year old and his two friends and was captivated. The Saints games are a cacophony of sights and sound. Like a teenager with ADD in math class, I could barely keep my focus on the players on the field. It was the crowd that so mesmerized me.

Immediately, I become drawn to the young, unhappy couple sitting in front of us. She, thin and dressed in a red cotton dress, was clearly annoyed with her husband (I checked for wedding rings on both their fingers). In shorts and a red T-shirt, he was ignoring her, turned away from his wife and focused on the game or his friend to his left. Her mouth hung down and I could sense her sadness like a waft of vegetables burning on the stove. She glaced up at him off and on, quietly sighing, then looking down at her lap. At one point, she quietly spoke to him, then stood and made her way past us and the others on our bench. At the isle, she stopped, glancing back towards the one who angered her, no doubt to see if he was watching her leave. No eye contact. She repeated the gesture again as she passed in front of him. I caught a hint of resignation on her face when she realized that he was not connecting with her. Then she walked away, empty handed, towards the concession stand.

Her sadness touched me deeply; I could imagine the fight that came before the game, like so many I’ve had with my husband. I longed to reach out to her and ask what she was feeling, what had happened between them, to offer my sympathy, my understanding. After she left, I considered asking him if he realized how devastated his wife was and encouraging him to reach out to her.

Later in the game, I was absorbed by the resemblences in family members, noticing how much father and son looked alike, or similarities in husbands and wives. I was especially captivated by the lips of the young mother of 4 in front and to the left of us. Her son’s lips mirrored hers exactly; striking lips with exaggerated bumps on top, just like the red wax lips we bought at the candy store as kids. I watched her remove her tiny infant from the snuggly in front of her, then bottle feed the baby, whose face was hidden behind a big-rimmed royal blue hat. Her three other young children sat sandwiched between her and her husband on the bench. I remember those snuggli days, when I carried my own children, tightly tucked to my body. She looked so calm and serene; how could she be, I wondered, with four children under four? Were the girls twins? I said nothing but so many questions swirled through my head.

Another mom caught my attention. She had two girls with her and an infant in a car seat. She was dressed like a teenager, despite her heft from a recent pregnancy, in jean shorts without a belt and doubled-up white tank tops. Her shirts had ridden up and her shorts down, leaving her brown thong all too visible. Her bare skin was showing both above and below the waist strap of the undergarment. She was standing up for the longest time as she talked to someone on her cellphone, scanning the crowd, obviously trying to locate this friend. Her skin was exposed to all who sat above her in the bleachers. I kept wondering if I should tell her she was showing. Was I the only one who noticed? Why wasn’t anyone else saying anything? Eventually, a middle-aged man sitting behind her asked her to sit down so he could watch the baseball game. What a relief. What was he thinking as he watched her expose her darriere, so unaware? Had he ever seen a thong? I wonder if his wife wore one?

At the end of the game, if you asked me to reveal the best plays of the game, I couldn’t tell you. I’m not even sure I know who the Saints played that night. I was too busy working out the more important aspects of baseball: what goes on in the stands. I remember being at a Twins game at the Metrodome when I was very pregnant with our first child. We were far from the action of the game, my seat uncomfortable and I was bored. At one point I had the startling realization that every one of the 30,000 fans in the crowd had once been in their mother’s uterus. It was an awesome thought and I felt connected, in some strange way, to the crowd.

1 comment:

  1. I love your insights into all of our crazy connections, how our behaviors are ripples or tital waves depending upon the circumstances.

    We watched the end of the Wimbleton Men's Tennis finals with friends sitting around a TV, in the final set Roddick lost to Federer after 14 straight games- the intensity and emotion was palpable. I became very agitated by Eric and a few others when they walked in during the final moments and did not honor the communal mood and focus on the game- my frustration erupted moments later ostensibly about a different gripe.