Tag Archive | fan

The Little Green Monster In Me

I have a secret.  I’ve been really selective about who I share it with up until now; a handful of people who I think won’t make fun of me or hate me because of it…. and boy do people in my neck of the woods HATE people like me.  I’ve let my secret slip out once or twice, and suffered the dagger-like glares that were shot in my direction.  Thankfully, there were no pitchforks or torches within reach, otherwise I might’ve been driven out of town, and back up north where they think I belong.

But enough is enough.  I’ve carried around this secret for nearly a decade and I just can’t stay silent any longer.  So here goes (deep breath)….

Hi, my name is Linda, I live in New York and I’m a Boston Red Sox fan.

Whew!!  Damn that felt good to get off my chest!!  But I’m sure my sense of relief will wear off the moment one of my fellow New Yorkers reads this and calls me a traitorous asshole.

This is how New Yorkers react when you cut them in line at Starbucks…. Imagine what they’d do to a Red Sox fan.

This is how New Yorkers react when you cut them in line at Starbucks….
Imagine what they’d do to a Red Sox fan.

You might wonder how a girl who grew up in New York became a Red Sox fan.  I’ve wondered the same thing myself, and have found that there’s no clear-cut answer.  The best I can do is trace the start of my Red Sox love affair back to 2004 – the year the Red Sox broke the curse of the Bambino and won the World Series for the first time in 86 years….

My husband, Kevin, was watching the 2004 American League Championship Series between the Yankees and Red Sox on TV.  The Red Sox were down 0-3 games – in the history of baseball, no team had ever come back from such a deficit before.  Kevin was distraught because as a Mets fan, he’d developed a deep and abiding hatred for the Yankees and their penchant for crushing the hopes and dreams of the underdogs.  He had witnessed them win the World Series six times in his lifetime alone, and with each victory, Kevin lost another piece of his soul.

I didn’t pay much attention to the games at first – I’m not a sports fan.  At all.  It would probably take me years to notice if all professional sports ceased to exist; my only tip off would be the lost puppy-dog look on my husband’s face when he turned on ESPN and found retired sports announcers making paper airplanes out of old cue cards.  But when the Red Sox started to fight against the Yankee’s momentum, and blatantly refused to give in to the defeat that the rest of the world assumed was an absolute certainty, my curiosity was piqued.

Kevin and I watched the rest of the series, and my excitement grew with every victory the Red Sox managed to rack up – it hit a fever pitch in game seven when they defeated the Yankees on their own turf 10-3 and won the series.  While my neighbors mourned the loss of their beloved Yankees, my husband and I drew the curtains closed and danced around like the munchkins after Dorothy killed the wicked witch of the west.  Ding dong, the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low…. 

The REAL miracle is that I actually gave a shit!!

The REAL miracle was that I actually gave a shit!!

The next day, my fellow New Yorkers wanted to commiserate and swap sob stories about where we were when the Yankees tragically lost the championship series.  I had to pretend to be just as miserable as they were because I knew my own happiness over the Red Sox’s victory would’ve been like pouring salt into their very fresh wound.  Also, I didn’t have a death wish.

That’s the day my secret was born.

My love for the Red Sox grew even more in 2006, when my husband and I decided to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary up in Boston.  I was able to let my freaky Red Sox flag fly for the first time; although up there, I wasn’t freaky at all.  I was no longer in the secretive minority – everywhere I looked, someone was wearing Red Sox paraphernalia.  I wasted no time joining the ranks.  I jumped into the Yawkey Way store right near Fenway Park and bought my very first Red Sox t-shirt.

And as I put on the shirt, the clouds parted, and God gave me the thumbs up

And as I put on the shirt, the clouds parted, and God gave me the thumbs up.

If you haven’t seen a baseball game at Fenway Park, you’re missing out on something special.  The fans in that park aren’t just spectators; they become as much a part of the game as the Green Monster and the players that guard it.  There is an electricity in the air that excites you and forces you up out of your seat.  And if the electricity doesn’t get you on your feet, their 1912-starving-Irish-immigrant-sized seats might.  Seriously, those seats are TINY – padded asses of the world, consider yourself warned.

Seats not designed for the modern-day carbaholic.

Seats not designed for the modern-day carbaholic.

Before I even became conscious of my own involvement, I was on my feet, cheering and exchanging high-fives with total strangers.  New Yorkers don’t even talk to strangers, much less make unnecessary bodily contact with them.  And we sure as hell don’t shamelessly sing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of our lungs (which I totally did during the seventh inning stretch).  I think Fenway Park might be the last official bastion where Neil Diamond still fucking rocks!!

After our amazing celebratory weekend in Boston, it was time to return home, back to the land where Red Sox fans are despised more than people who walk too slow on the sidewalk or invade the 6-foot personal space bubble.  Within the first few weeks of returning, I got really bold on a couple of occasions and wore my Red Sox t-shirt out in public – bravest thing I did since the day I went into labor and waited seven hours to get an epidural.

I felt like a rebel…. for the first few hours.  Then the overwhelming majority of Yankee fans started to wear me down with their snide comments and indignant stares; the most memorable reaction came from a post office employee that said, “I’d like to help you, but you’re wearing a Red Sox shirt.”  I was going to tell her that I was equally offended by her unflattering polyester uniform, but propriety warned me that a postal worker who was also a devout Yankee fan was a dangerous combo – I decided it wasn’t worth getting stabbed with a letter opener, so I walked out.

But despite being treated like a social leper for the last decade, I have remained true to the Red Sox – to this day they continue to be the only professional sports team that I give a damn about.  Kevin and I have been back to Fenway Park a couple more times since 2006, and with each trip, my allegiance grows stronger.   I will be cheering them on during this year’s American League Championship series just like I did back in 2004…. except this year, the curtains will be WIDE open.

Derek Jeter’s got nothing on Wally the Green Monster.

Derek Jeter’s got nothing on Wally the Green Monster.

 

Meeting an American Legend

The year was 1989:  there was poofy hair and acid-wash denim as far as the eye could see.  I was a sophomore in high school, and just getting into the music scene.  I had never been to a concert before, but I had gotten my first real job that year, and for once, had a little extra money in my pocket to spend on weekend entertainment.

On the spur of the moment, a couple of friends and I decided to go see James Taylor in concert at the Jones Beach Amphitheater.  I wasn’t very familiar with his music, but figured that I knew enough of his greatest hits to make it worth the cost of the ticket.  We showed up to the box office a couple hours before the show, and managed to score floor seats for only $20 a piece…. that makes me sound older than a bag of dirt, doesn’t it?

When James started singing, something deep down inside of me seemed to resonate with the music; I felt like I had swallowed a tuning fork set to the same frequency as his guitar.  He didn’t whip me into a fanatical frenzy or make my heart flutter wildly inside my chest – just the opposite, really.

At a time in my life when I was riding an emotional roller coaster, James introduced an element of peacefulness into my tumultuous teenage world.  And while most girls my age were shrieking and swooning over Bon Jovi and New Kids on the Block, I was hopelessly hooked on a balding, middle-aged man with an acoustic guitar.

That concert was the first of many – I went on to see him a dozen times over the course of the next two decades.  Every time he came anywhere near New York, I bought tickets.

Just a handful of my concert tees – I call them Taylor couture.

In that time I went from being a greatest hits fan, to owning every album he ever produced.  My iPod looks like the James Taylor music directory.  And I can sing along to all of them…. much to the chagrin of my two kids.

This is less than half of the James Taylor albums on there – I need a bigger screen.

Looking back, there is one concert that stands out vividly among the rest:  June 22, 2008.  Why that one concert in particular?  Because I got the chance to meet him, face to face….. well, sort of.  I’ll explain in a minute.

How do you think you’d react if you got the chance to meet a movie star or musician that you’ve idolized for years?  There are several ways to go:

  1. Shriek loud enough to make dogs in the next town howl, then attempt to catapult yourself over security and into the waiting arms of your idol.  (*Warning:  they probably won’t catch you.)
  1. Sob while at the same time trying to form words that express how much you worship and adore them (this one’s never pretty because there’s a lot of snot, spit, and tears involved).
  1. Faint at the sight of them, and hope the person is still there when you regain consciousness.
  1. Stand there completely paralyzed, unable to form a single word without feeling like you’re going to trip over your own tongue.  There’s usually a lot of internal activity going on inside the star-struck idiot:  blushing, heart palpitations, profuse sweating, butterflies in your stomach, jitters that resemble the DTs, etc.
  1.  Stay cool, calm, and collected.  Tell them you think they are the cat’s pajamas, wink, and then casually amble away like John Wayne.  (Do cool people say the cat’s pajamas anymore?  *Spoiler alert:  I didn’t choose this option).

I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to meeting James, but I was about to find out.  He usually takes the time to sign autographs for a few fans during his concert.  But I didn’t want his autograph. I wanted to give him something to show my appreciation for all he had done for me; all the times I played his music and he had unknowingly sung me off a ledge, or crooned me out of wanting to strangle somebody  – this came in particularly handy during the twelve hours I was in labor with my firstborn.  I’m pretty sure playing James Taylor songs during those pain filled hours is what saved my husband’s life.

What gift could you possibly give that says all that?  (*Hint:  it wasn’t a pair of socks.)  It was a poem.  Don’t laugh.  I was going through a very sappy, Hallmark card period of my life back then.  I had gotten the idea to write him a poem that used his own song titles in a way that expressed my feelings of appreciation and gratitude.  I thought it was kind of clever…. and yes, also kind of corny.  Okay, REALLY corny.  And because I cherish my readers more than my own dignity, I’ll embarrass myself, and share it with you (the song titles are in italics):

James

Perfect strangers look to you
To Shed A Little Light
They turn their radios on,
Praying Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

Your words of assurance
Helps guide them through just Another Day
Struggling to reach their goals,
You say it’s Enough To Be On Your Way

Your fans find comfort when you sing songs
Such as That’s Why I’m Here
They think How Sweet It Is to have found someone
Who can ease their darkest fear

To Mill Worker and Company Man alike,
You have sung your ode
You’ve shared with them the Secret O’ Life
And how to walk That Lonesome Road

And even in joyful times,
They love to see Your Smiling Face
When you sing Sunny Skies their Fire And Rain
Is gone without a trace

When at your concerts,
Your fans say Isn’t It Nice To Be Home Again
You Can Close Your Eyes and feel safe knowing
That somewhere You’ve Got A Friend

Okay, so I’m not Robert Frost.  Hell, I’m not even Robert Frost’s second cousin, once removed.  But I was kind of hoping that he would focus on the sentiment behind my pathetic lack of poetic talent.

I saw my window of opportunity open up right before the start of the second set.  A bunch of people rushed the stage and started begging him for his autograph.  This was the moment I had dreamed of for almost twenty years – I was going to meet James Taylor!!!  But rather than leaping to my feet and storming the stage like the other crazed fans, I sat frozen in my seat, grasping the laminated poem in my hands (yes, I had it laminated – it was an outdoor venue and in case it rained, I didn’t want it to get all wet and smeary.  Perfectly logical… and maybe slightly obsessive).

As the seconds ticked passed, I could see the window closing, but felt helpless to stop it.  Then my husband, Kevin, practically shoved me out of my seat, and reminded me that I would never be able to live with myself if I didn’t do it.  His threat of regret was enough to put my paralyzed limbs in motion.  I climbed over the 13 people in my row, and made my way to the stage, less than a hundred yards from where I stood.

Nervous doesn’t even BEGIN to describe how I was feeling.  My body kept vacillating between adrenaline rushes and nervous jitters.  My hair, which I had cemented into place with a can of hairspray, felt like it was melting beneath the sweaty steam rising off the top of my head.  I knew if another five minutes went by, I would look like I just stepped out of a sauna.

I didn’t really expect to make it passed security, but before I knew it I was standing up against the stage, a mere two feet away from him.  As he signed autographs, I just stared at him, completely star struck.  I tried to commit every detail to memory – I noted that he has really defined forearms.  Must be all that guitar strumming.  But I digress….

When he approached me, I handed him the (lovingly laminated) poem and stared at him, totally mute.  He looked at me like I just sprouted an orange tree out of my ear, and asked him if he’d like a glass of freshly squeezed juice.  I guess because everyone was handing him t-shirts and ticket stubs to sign, he had no idea what the hell I was giving him.  Finally my tongue unknotted itself, and I tried to offer him an explanation.  I said, “It’s for you.”

IT’S FOR YOU?!  I’ve had entire conversations with this man in my head since high school, and when I finally got the opportunity to do so IN REAL LIFE  I could only manage to squeak out three little words!  He took it, didn’t say a word, and went on to sign other autographs.  I don’t know if he didn’t hear me, or if he was just trying to back away from the scary stalker lady, but as the physical distance between us grew, I felt my window of opportunity slam shut.

As I stood there, stunned that I had let my golden opportunity slip through my clammy fingers, he circled back around to where I was standing.  I held out my ticket stub (mostly because I didn’t know what else to do).  He took it, quickly scribbled something, and gave it back.  I think he was hoping this would finally encourage me to exit, stage right.

I think his fear of sweaty stalkers made his hand shake too much to write legibly.
I’ve seen his normal signature, and this ain’t it.

Not exactly the picturesque moment I envisioned.  Clearly I’m incapable of acting like John Wayne under pressure.  But given the option between star-struck idiot and crazy Belieber-like fan, I think I took the high road…. or at least the road that didn’t involve me leaking bodily fluids all over my idol, screaming, or passing out.

Have any of you ever met anyone famous?  If so, did you make as much of an ass out of yourself as I did?  Please say yes….

 

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