Monday, August 19, 2002

Big Dipper

We all used to do it as kids. Lying on our beds staring at the ceiling, trying hard to fantasize a certain something in our minds... It's merely part of human nature to wonder about our place in the universe. I remember when I was a kid I used to stay up nights contemplating concepts like eternity and infinity. Is there really no beginning or end to the edge of space? Is there something awaiting us beyond when our final hours on Earth tick down?

Looking out my window up in the nighttime sky and seeing all those stars and other heavenly bodies it was just mind blowing to think that we know so little about what's really going on out there. So sheepishly I admit that despite the best efforts of my mother and Professor Sherman Shultz the Macalester astronomy professor, I never really saw the Big Dipper until last week when my favorite Beantowner was nice enough to point to the sky and show me the three stars that make up the handle. It was the highlight of an unusually eventful weekend and swell walk.

At the center of things was of course my favorite game (and we're not talking Parcheesi here). With the news of a strike date set by Major League Baseball players, an event that would ruin such a charmed season for our beloved Minnesota Twins, I am of the firm belief that there will be no strike. There has to be a God and God wouldn't let that happen. I was sitting in the Metrodome the other night watching Joe Mays mow down the Red Sox and I thought to myself, "life doesn't get any better than this..." I love the game and I think the most restlessly peaceful moments of my life have all involved baseball (the actual game and the high schoolly metaphoric kind too).

Unlike most other aspects of my life it isn't just about watching from the outside in either. This was the first summer in many a year I wasn't on a softball team. Thankfully I was asked to participate in the state league's tournament last weekend. Being a tad out of shape (McDonalds' Value Meals purchased so that a Corey Koskie mini-bobblehead could be collected can do that to a lil guy) I was a bit worried about blowing out a groin muscle (just my luck, my own). We ended up playing four games in about five straight hours with no break. My legs (my bread and butter in softball) began cramping in game two. We went 2-1-1 due to an accounting error in our first game where our scorekeeper failed to give us credit for a run leading to a loss that was really a tie. Oh well. By the end of the last game my feet ached so much I was praying (to the aforementioned God) that we would lose to put us out of our misery in the double elimination tournament.

We did. Lose that is. As I limped back to my car with my father my friend asked if I wanted to go to the Saints' game that night because she had an extra ticket. For many a year I've boycotted Saints' games as trendy as they are even though their stadium is within walking distance of my house because the focus seems to be on all that between inning pig running around crap, and not on the most beautiful game ever itself. Good baseball doesn't need distractions. But I've known all this time at some point I'd have to attend a Saints' game just to see what all the fuss has been about all these years.

My feet hurt but I suggested to my friend that we walk to the game and avoid any parking fees. I wasn't exactly sure of the best route to Midway Stadium having only been there for a couple of memorable concerts (REM and Dylan). So we scampered off and found ourselves fenced in and having to cross some railroad tracks and very high weeds. We made it in time to see most of the game (a Saints' win) and indeed the most entertaining thing was the stuff going on between innings from pillow Sumo matches to lil go carts driven by kids. There is however, something to be said about outdoor baseball on a beautiful summer night with a witty and perceptive companion.

We decided to take another route home on the way back. Unfortunately it was much longer and we had to walk through some sprinklers in Energy Park. We stopped for a restroom break at the funky Holiday Inn in the old railroad station and though my blistered feet could have probably used a break we ended up saving a couple of bucks in parking costs that can go towards the purchase of the next McDonald's Value Meal for our Torii Hunter mini-bobblehead.

The next day I enjoyed a dim sum lunch with one who probably will never be a baseball fan. Ironically we both had the same colored purple toenails. Hers were of the nail polish variety, mine were a naturally painful hue. I'm always glad when I have something in common with someone. I got home to the smell of toast which seemed rather remarkable since my rather remarkable feline roommate is without thumbs. I wonder what that was about. None of it made any long term sense but it all made me hark back to the days when the universe seemed so big and mindbending. And as my friend Bob once observed, we all need to bend our minds now and again.

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