O.Co

It was hot today. Maybe I don’t need to tell you that, because it’s summertime, and you were probably hot too. Maybe hot enough to drink an ice cold beverage, like a frozen juicebox, a can of Coke, or hell, you deserve it – an all American marketed macrobrew owned by a Canadian company. You’ve been working hard, it’s Sunday. maybe you were outside doing some manual labor. Maybe you were putting your kid’s playhouse together in the backyard, or building a tree fort for little Scooter and his sister Sally.

Maybe you were sitting in a parking lot with a lot of other people who enjoy watching men throw a circular object weighing as much as an apple to other men swinging a shaped piece of a felled tree.

It was hot today, and we were thirsty.

A funny thing happened in the Coliseum, and instead of Sondheim we were bumping to Florida Georgia Line as Brandon “Moss Boss” Moss strode to the plate. The vaunted Cardinals were in town, it was the rubber match of the series, and four of us were reveling in a day of Summer with nary a dog in sight (Friday was actually bring your dog to the Coliseum day). There was a slight breeze that smelled of sunscreen and cut grass. It was the bottom of the first inning. We had just witnessed our man Tommy Millone get rocked to the tune of three runs, and my friend thought a light refreshment might be in order to ease the pain of being in a three run hole so early in the game. I offered him a bland colloquialism, such as “That’s a fine idea”, or “Now you’re talking”, yet failed to hide my enthusiasm.

Out came the shimmering can from his backpack, catching the light just so; that silvery dream, awash in sharp glow, forged from the streams of the Rockies that day by day are born and die at the hand of the sun. A gleaming monolith, formed of smoothed machined aluminum. A real fast mover. I remember, faintly, letting out a sound much like the one a woman in a shampoo commercial makes as the handsome protagonist walks past her. Not a sigh, not an ooo-la-la, but right there in the sweet spot between.

How could man create such a perfect structure to encapsulate such a perfect liquid? No, no, I dared not go down that path, I reminded myself; A man should never dwell on perfection, as it leaves no room for development.

He opened the can, and the cool spray that escaped played a note upon my ears with such a dalliance that I looked at my friend expecting him to be Schubert.

I watched him drink. He paused for a moment to feel the cool of the metal against his lips. When he brought the can down, he turned to me, and I could see something in his eyes, like the fleeting remembrance of a cherished moment. He was back there, in a field of fireflies or the arms of someone almost forgotten. He could never go back, but this brought him up to the edge of that world; allowed him to peer onto the waves of his memory as they crashed onto the cliffs of reality below. He had waited for his set. He was having a ride, safety be damned.

I wiped the beading tear from the corner of my eye.

“That’s good.” He said.

“Indeed.” I said.

And then. Oh then. He passed the can to me. The field unfolded before me, its patchwork of laurel and jungle contrasting with asparagus and emerald. The world slowed; the impermanence of time manifested as one moment ad infinitum, a slow waltz – deliberate, timeless. The vessel perspired in my hand, breathing with the heat of the day. The Coliseum, that arena in which men are mercilessly crafted by a chosen game, never looked more welcoming. It’s formerly imposing concrete facades rounded their edges; its steel supports became old redwoods.

I drank deep of that amber brew, my body wrapping itself around the cool.

Parking Lot

Suddenly, there was a man in front of me. I had seen this man before – his name was Kenny, or Bob, or some other name that befits an overweight, middle aged man with a mustache who works as an usher for the Oakland Athletics. I had, in the post victory lull of a game some fortnights before, introduced myself to him as a season ticket holder.

“Tickets?” he said to my friend and I.

Strange, I thought. A fellow just like you, along with the mustache and gut, checked them not a few minutes ago. We produced our tickets.

“I.D.s?” he asked.

Well now, hold on a second there. I looked at my friend, he of the slightly disheveled half beard of a man who obviously likes a drink. I knew that I bore the same resemblance – I had looked at myself in the mirror this morning. Surely it must have be evident that we were semi responsible men of drinking age. Still, we complied.

Handling him our I.D.s, he calmly said “You’ll have to come with me, we have to go see security. There is no outside alcohol allowed in the stadium.”

A number of different thoughts crossed my mind at this moment. I can really only imagine what my face must have looked like as these zany ideas made their way from one ear to the other – most likely it was like a baby eating a lemon. Yes, that’s it.

Could I play dumb? ‘We didn’t know! I’m stupid and thought this was ok!’

Could I act like I bought it at the stadium? ‘What the hell are you talking about? I bought this right here in my seat! How dare you!’

Instead of any of these things, I followed Kenny, or Bob, or some other name that befits an overweight, middle aged man with a mustache who works as an usher for the Oakland Athletics, to the security station alongside my friend. We tried reasoning with him, and truth be told KennyBob was a very nice fellow. He was just doing his job, he said. I understood.

I grew, in a matter of minutes and through the most unlikely of circumstances, a strange affinity for BobKen. On another day, we could laugh about this over a beer, or talk about women, or the small details of the A’s hitting approach. Today, for a very particular reason, he had decided to shit all over my afternoon.

Here is where I will pause. You might be saying to yourself, dear reader, or to whomever is sitting next to you while reading this article, “Look at these assholes, don’t they know the rules?”

Of course I know the rules. I have a very expensive and useless circular diploma from a semi esteemed liberal arts college to prove it.

But I ask you, as a matter of comparison – is there travelling in basketball?

It is, on the surface, a very easy answer. It’s right there in the rule book! Section 72, Article 1! Travelling!

And yet I watched many full NBA playoff games in which players were travelling everywhere. Travelling to. Travelling fro. And yet these instances were seldom, if ever, called.

Every once and a while, a referee decided that it was high time to remind everyone of the fact that you can’t simply run like a tailback through the lane with the biscuit. You must dribble, or you must dish the rock.

And so that one player in question is penalized and made to feel a fool, and everyone including the announcers remark how dumb that player was for doing the thing everyone always does. And so this is basketball, and so this is life.

We were led to the security station where a man photocopied our I.D.s and told us that we would be subject to arrest if we were to try to come back into this particular game. He said this with the lilting cadence of a rental car customer service representative, one that is drawing on a map the place you should return your subcompact. How funny that the threat of arrest should last for only nine innings. Imagine that happening in the real world. You were caught with pot but it’s ok, we’ll just let you go – just don’t come back on this block for the next two and a half hours or we’ll arrest you.

Baseball is its own world, and we travelled.

My friend and I were led to the exit, through a corridor that emanated the smell of high grade sensimilla smoke, and given our I.D.s. We sat next to the car and tuned the radio to the game. Our buzzes had worn off. The parking lot was full of cars but no people.

It was hot, and there were two beers left in the cooler.

Two_Beers