This little bit came out last night during a 24-hour write in. I didn't write for 24 hours, I joined up with the group around 5 pm after spending the day with my FIRST Lego Robotics team. My fifth graders (last year's 4th graders) built, programmed and competed head-to-head. Our two rookie teams did exceptionally well, one team finishing in 6th place overall and receiving an invitation to the state tournament in the spring and our other team finishing in 11th place and receiving an alternate spot to the state tournament (if someone can make it to the state tournament... we're in). Our top ten team also won the teamwork award.
I joined up with about 30+ folks from Boston around 5 pm where we wrote, got silly, wrote some more, got sillier, ate a lot of junk food and traveled from the Back Bay to Cambridge to Watertown via public transportation attracting lots of stares for lots of reasons. Like the robotics stuff earlier, it was all in great fun. If nothing else, I was able to sort through some of the writing prompts I have left with some of the folks I tend to get together to write with so I could sort and think through what the kids were thinking and how to make those stories happen.
So this small entry was really a case of longing that I hope catches some of the dramatic lens kids see life through at times.
Bobby supposed he should be embarrassed. Given his age and his status, to have to admit never going to a Red Sox game for real, to have only seen a game on TV or the occasional game on the radio in the car just didn’t cut it in this new town or this new school.
All the kids in his class had parents who either had season tickets or worked in jobs where they were getting “wicked excellent” seats from bosses, co-workers, clients and other types of folks. He was stuck with a dad who had a regular job and a mom that was a stay at home mom and no tickets to a game at Fenway Park.
Every day he’d watch the games, studying the dents on the left wall known as the Green Monster. Bobby knew the park layout as well as the layout of their house. He longed to sit in the oaken seats that everyone claimed were too narrow for a regular sized person. He could almost smell the hotdogs as the vendors carried them up and down the stairs yelling, “Hot dogs! Get your hot dogs here.” When he closed his eyes, he imagined being awash in the green that seemed to be everywhere in the park.
He even knew every angle of the Citgo sign from most locations in the park between camera shots and searching the internet for photos from different locations inside the park.
It was one thing to have never been to Fenway when you lived in Delaware. In Delaware you had your choice of National League games in Philadelphia or Washington DC. You could go to Camden Yards to watch the Orioles maybe when the Red Sox came to town. If you were one of the lucky ones, maybe you got to go to Fenway when visiting family or on vacation in Boston.
But now Bobby lived just down the Mass Pike from the iconic landmark and he suspected he would never be able to convince his parents to spend the money to take him to a game.
Sometimes he would open the window in his bedroom and try to listen to the sounds over the noise of the cars zipping down the Pike. If he really strained his ears, perhaps he could hear the cheers of the crowd over the noise. Unfortunately, he could never really be sure that he was hearing the crowd noises, he could only imagine. With a sigh, he’d close the window and turn his attention back to the TV to continue watching the game.
It was almost a curse to be the only person in the house to not only love baseball the way he did, but to also be the only one to love the Red Sox even more than loving baseball. Sure his parents would take him to Little League and sometimes even cheered in the right spots.
This lead him to the thought, even if he could get his dad to go to a game, that his dad would end up cheering for the wrong team. What if he accidentally cheered for A-Rod or Johnny Damon? If they were in the bleachers, they’d be beaten to a pulp by crazy bleacher creatures.
With a sigh Bobby realized it was probably better this way. On TV the games were safe and when his new friends talked about the EMC club or State Street Pavilion, he could smile, nod and listen to their stories.
Someday he would make it to Fenway and sit atop the historic Green Monster. Perhaps, if he looked hard enough, he could see the ghost of Duffy’s cliff below them as he watched for home run balls heading his way. It would be glorious when it finally happened.
But for now, for now he had NESN show him the pictures.
It didn’t seem fair that this was his destiny and yet, there it was.
Perhaps he had been a Yankees fan in a previous life and the Universe was now punishing him for that tragic character flaw.
There, on camera, was his friend Elijah holding up a sign. Damn! He had no idea his friend would be there tonight and come tomorrow, it was all he’d hear about. He’d have to pretend to be excited and happy for him. Let him know that it was so exciting seeing him on TV with his “wish my mother a happy birthday” sign.
In the end, there was no way around it. He was stuck at home, his friends were not. He would have to live with his secret shame and hope beyond hope that his friends would never catch on.