I was supposed to be back in Maryland hours ago. I should have had dinner with my kids like most respectable mothers who’ve abandoned their children with grandparents for a cheeky night in the Big Apple. I would have tucked them into bed (though that never goes very smoothly). I would have caressed their dewy skin.
Instead, it’s almost midnight and I barely managed to catch the last train of the day out of Baltimore to the D.C. suburbs, where my sleeping family awaits. They won’t greet me at the station like they would have hours ago. I’m on my own. And instead of my child’s head, I’m cradling a Cal Ripken bobblehead doll. Have I lost my mind? What gives?
Some would call it idiocy. Others would deem it an expression of my freedom. I call it dumb chance that I met Sam on the train out of New York’s Penn Station. I was headed back to D.C.’s Union Station and intending to catch the subway where my family would be waiting with outstretched arms. “Too bad you aren’t going to Baltimore,” Sam said, after realizing I was a baseball writer. “I could get you a good seat at tonight’s Orioles game.” I stalled. (sometimes that’s what I do best – see my July 18, "Mother of the Year" post..) He said he was doing some work for the Orioles and often sat in the front row. Could I make this happen? Did I want to?
Of course, trust is an issue. He assured me he wasn’t an ax murderer and, perhaps foolishly, I believed him. Why not? He seemed nice. Of course, so did Ted Bundy… I secretly wonder if guys have this dilemma – whether to trust other people – and get pissed because I decide they don’t (whether they do or not). I can handle myself and I’ll manage the trip back to my father’s place after the game. There were logistics to take into consideration. You know. it’s not particularly easy to get from place to place in the DC/Balt area. It’s like they really don’t want you to cross the line from one city to the other. A government transportation’s version of “Capture the Flag.”
So I went to the game. It was more amazing then we thought because it was Cal Ripken’s BIG DAY before getting inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend with the San Diego Padres’s Tony Gwynn. As it is with me, however, we heard all of this from the bartender at Bertha’s in Fell Point. “OH, You guys are going to the game tonight?!? It’s his big night!” Oh ****. My saga with Cal continues…. And he plays so hard to get! Sam and I down our beers and jump into the nearest cab where the cabbie was listening to Cal’s speech on the radio from the stadium. “Turn that off or get me there!” I order, completely out of character. Or, so I’d like to think. He turned it off and I felt badly. We enter the stadium as Cal’s giving his last words. We didn’t get front row seats. I think Cal was in them. Or Brooks Robinson or Eddie Murray. Maybe it was Earl Weaver? So, we slummed it in a full service (“can I get you another beer, miss.?”) suite that happened to be just next to the owner’s suite. Man, some days it just isn’t worth getting out of bed, is it? Oh, and Sam the Music Man got me a Cal bobblehead. And one for the waitress who tipped us off. Thanks, Sam. You’re not a very good ax murder. If you didn’t notice, I got away. Better luck in the Hollywood Hills. I think a guy like you could do well there.
photo credit: Linda, the cool waitress at Bertha’s in Fells Point.