A Night at the Ballgame (Baseball Optional)

Victory Field, Indianapolis Indians

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my aversion to sports. I was raised in a household with zero male authority figures and consequently never acquired the stereotypical male’s tastes for sports, among other fields. (Also: car repair, gas-powered tools, alcohol, partying, sexual conquest, bar fights…) That’s not to say I’m ignorant of sports. I learned most of the rules during childhood, so I can follow most games if necessary. American football still puzzles me, but it’s a relief to me that its order of operations has yet to factor into any life-or-death situations.

In fact, one of my little-known secret rules is that, schedule permitting, I’ll gladly attend any sports event to which I’m given free tickets. Invited by a friend? Won ’em in a contest? Someone had extras? Deal. I’m sold. So far in my life I’ve been a guest at one college basketball game (Butler vs. Purdue, though there was more shoving than dribbling); won tickets to the RCA Tennis Tournament when it was Indianapolis years ago; watched a few events at the 1987 Pan Am games back; was invited along to two (or was it three?) runnings of the Indianapolis 500; and tried to attend two of our niece’s junior-high softball games, but one was rained out and the other was held at a completely different park from where we’d driven.

In that same spirit, a boon from my employer facilitated tonight’s very special date with my wife at fabulous Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians, our local minor-league baseball team.

We don’t follow the Indians throughout the course of any given season, are lucky if we catch them once annually, and have never seen them face the same opponents twice. They’ve also lost more often than they’ve won in all the games I’ve attended since childhood, but that might be because I’m a jinx. And yet, if tickets are provided, and as long as the concession stands are open, I’m in.

Tonight’s game was against the Louisville Bats, which is fodder enough for three columns’ worth of geek-based riffs. My wife and I spent the evening enjoying each other’s company, relishing the quality time, languishing in the 90-degree heat until the sun finally scrammed, regretting the mile-long walk from my free parking spot, and fairly exhausted in the first place from the long work week. Focusing on the game itself was challenging for us through all those personal distractions and discomforts. A meatball sub, a footlong Reuben dog, and a round of ice cream helped see us through the long night, which in turn gave us the opportunity to sit still for a while and bask in each other’s presence.

And then every so often we’d turn to our phones and work on our own pet projects. We’re comfortable enough with each other that this isn’t considered a punishable offense in certain contexts. Tonight was one of those contexts.

While she fiddled with her prepaid phone’s limited functionality, I took several moments to record my thoughts as we went…

wife, Indians gearAround 10 p.m. my wife suggested to me that sometime we ought to take in a random sporting event and live-tweet our ignorant results for good-natured chuckles. I broke it to her gently that I had a good three-hour lead on her. I didn’t mention how millions of internet users have already done this to death, but that was beside the point. For me it was a fun exercise in thinking and writing on the go, a great opportunity to hang out with the woman I love, and a pleasant way to unwind and clear my head after a hectic work day/week/year-to-date.

You’ll note I wasn’t kidding about the selfie or the Indians gear she bought. She’s never more lovely than when she lives fully in those moments of simple pleasure, free of the annoying burden of self-conscious irony.

(We took many photos for sharing, but the night and I are no longer young. Another time for those, I think, along with the story of how I earned those free tickets…)

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