“Why does this always happen to me?!”
The darkened walls of the passenger bus lavatory swayed as we made our way down the highway. I’ve seen more spacious accommodations in a phone booth. I had tried to hold out until we made it all the way to Philly but it was no use. Nature’s call must be answered. Beer has that effect on me.
I had received a phone call some days earlier from a family relation of mine who is blessed, or cursed depending on your point of view and what team you root for, to be employed at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. He had worked as a concessions manager at the old stadium for years and had managed to make the switch when the time came, despite the fact that his old employer no longer had the concessions contract for the building.
This relation of mine had told me that, since the Yankees had managed to turn things around from the past couple of years, win the American League Pennant and get back into the World Series, all concession managers had been given 2 tickets to the first game of the Series to be played at the home stadium of the new National League champions, reigning 2008 World Series champions, and the Yankees’ 2009 World Series opponent, the Philadelphia Phillies. And, seeing as how the “City of Brotherly Love” is none too far a trek from our own fair city, arrangements had been made for buses to take all those who were interested down to the game. My relation wanted to know if I had any interest in his other ticket. I almost choked trying to get the answer out fast enough.
Now I was told that we needed to bring as big a presence as possible down to Philly, as their fans had been rather obnoxious during the first two games of the Series. Not as bad as any run-of-the-mill, regular season game versus Boston, for their fans are especially talented when it comes to full-blown irritation, but obnoxious nonetheless. My first impulse, as it is when it comes to attending any Yankee game, was to haul out every stitch of Yankee emblazoned paraphernalia that I could possibly wear at one time. And having worked there for an entire season some years ago, that’s a lot. I was just glad to see that my instincts were right. I told my relation he had recruited the right man for the job.
So when he swung by to pick me up on the day of the game, I didn’t disappoint. I wore an official 2003 World Series home game jersey with a navy blue NY logo, long sleeve, mock turtleneck underneath, topped off with a matching 100th Anniversary fitted hat. I practically screamed pinstripes. I was just glad I was getting straight into a car and not trying to make my own way to the stadium via public transit. I try not to stand out in public as I’d prefer not to attract the attention of the wrong element. I’ve already been burglarized while sitting at home on my living room sofa. That was a close enough brush with the lower rungs of the social ladder, thank you very much. I can still smell the pungent odor of rancid B.O. the intruder left behind in exchange for my cell phone. Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s a very fair exchange.
The only problem with my attire was finding a place to keep my sunglasses. Usually, I hang them from the collar of my shirt. It’s a perfect spot: it’s safe, it’s secure and I almost always forget they’re there until I need them. But with a mock turtle neck that was impractical, unless I was angling for a punctured jugular. I couldn’t put them in my already bulging pockets because they were in that classic Oakley-brand style: one big lens curved to fit the contour of your face. I’d crush them in a hot minute if I put them in a pocket. Not to mention that I had only just bought them a few weeks before and was rather protective of them. I finally decided to make the best of a bad situation and just hang them from the first button of my jersey, somewhere about the middle of my sternum. They weren’t nearly as secure as I would have liked, dangling precariously if I leaned the wrong way, but I resolved to be careful and just remember to keep checking them every so often and make sure that they were still there.
I had been meaning to get to a game at the new stadium all year but had somehow never managed to get around to it. So when we arrived, my relation took me on a personal guided tour. Let me just say “wow”. The new stadium is striking, beautiful, and all-around amazing. I highly recommend a visit. There doesn’t look to be a bad seat in the house, though there are more than a few that are out of damn near everyone’s price range. Several hundred dollars for a few hours entertainment does not sound like a bargain to me. I mean, I’ve still got issues with the price of movie tickets, let alone sporting events. It’s no wonder they had trouble filling the seats. Unless the evening ends with a gold watch and an autographed picture of me shaking hands with the star short stop, I’ll stick to the bleacher seats.
After I managed to re-hinge my jaw, we made our way out to the loading dock and the bus waiting there for us. When I saw no less than 8 cases of different kinds of beer, 2 cases of Gatorade, 2 cases of bottled water, bags of ice in coolers to chill it all with, and a case each of pretzels, peanuts, kettle corn and Cracker Jack, I knew it was going to be a good day. The hard part would be remembering to pace myself. Call me crazy, but I’d actually like to remember some of this moment of history to which I was about to bear witness.
As soon as the bus started moving, the beers were handed out. I took my time, savoring the experience, and eventually called back for reinforcements. I spent much of the ride unable to draw myself away from the fall foliage passing by outside my window. I know the Jersey Turnpike does not have the greatest reputation for beauty, in fact it’s legendary for its lack thereof, but I promise you, the farther you get away from the City, the better it gets. And you can’t get much better than October in the Northeast. It’s easily my favorite time of the year.
Well, after downing two beers on the first hour of the ride, I wasn’t really surprised when nature started beckoning to me in that ever so special way it does from the vicinity of my kidneys. I certainly wasn’t the first one to heed the call. As a matter of fact, it seemed to be quite the parade traipsing in and out of that tiny little door. So I made my way to the back and waited my turn.
The first problem was locating the light switch. I never found one. I don’t know if anyone ever did. I didn’t have the time or patience to fumble around in the dark as my bladder played the conga on my spine. So, ever the prepared Boy Scout, I got out the little flashlight attached to my key chain and, with it clenched dutifully between my teeth, I took care of business.
Now, I know you know how wonderfully euphoric it can be to, after long suffering, relieve the pressure of a particularly long round of drinking: the eyes roll back in the head, stars appear before your face and an all over body shutter of relief racks your wearied frame. It’s amazing, and more than a little distracting. Well, I was just finishing up, heaving my long breaths of welcome relief when I bent over to re-situate my shifted clothing. That’s when I heard the splash.
To be continued in “Desperate Times — Part 2”