Southern Life

Don’t ask me to quote player stats. I can barely tell the difference between a strike and a ball. Really can’t I tell you anything other than I know when it’s a home run.    All I can tell you is that I love baseball and I love the Braves.

Photo by lode.rummens

Now don’t get it twisted.  Being a New York gal, I do love me some Yankees, so let’s just say that a game between the two is both pleasure and pain but still a win-win for me.

I fell in love with the Braves at my first game in Atlanta in the year 2000. I sat in a nosebleed section … scorching heat and no shade. But the moment the pitcher threw the first ball and the bat cracked, I was hooked. By the end of that game I was sweating, hoarse … and in love … with baseball.

Unfortunately, until a year ago this May, I had not been able to get back to a real, live game.

Then a young man offered to take me to see the Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds. I got excited. Oh buddy, I probably would have accepted a marriage proposal on the spot. I darn near considered us engaged when he led me to the 11th row behind 1st base.

This was my first night baseball game.  The temperature was perfect for a Yankee-transplant to the New South. (Since moving to Atlanta, I have felt close to “succumbing to the vapors” on several occasions. Think Scarlett O’Hara imitation here, dear reader).   I was slightly punch-drunk from the smell of the infield grass, peanuts and popcorn This was the closest I’d ever been to a major league diamond,  the closest I’d ever been to ‘the game.’ Even without my glasses I could see the third base coach hand signals, the ball spiraling, and the batter swing. I could barely contain myself.

Oh my!

Now a baseball game isn’t complete without hot dogs, peanuts, etc. My date had a beer, I chose bottled water but you get the point. After all there’s that “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” song that basically tells you what to order.  Right? At first consider grabbing a hotdog from the next vendor, who happens. No biggie, right?  WRONG! At that exact moment, a couple passes by and they are carrying foot longs. One look at them — and without words — we left our seats and were on the hunt.

The first vendor we came to almost broke my heart, he didn’t have sauerkraut.  My date was willing to accept this culinary sacrilege but my ‘inner New Yorker’ made an appearance and I boldly asked whether or not one of their competitors might have what I was looking for. I was told that a floor up and about a million sections to the right, there was indeed a pusher for my addiction. Back on the hunt and about an inning later, sure enough this vendor had my Dog complete with onions, ketchup, mustard and sauerkraut!  Back to the game.

Well not quite yet …

My date tonight is about 12 years my junior. He has a very interesting view on men and women   Now mind you, I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. Dirt and I are very well acquainted. This particular gentleman likes his women to be well put together at all times and prepared to be showcased from one venue after another. (This always amazes me especially when he insists on pursuing me.)

So we get back to our seats, my first bite into my dog sends kraut, onions, juice and mustard in all directions. My jeans are the first casualty, my purse and my feet are next, and so on until I am pretty much what I eat.  To me this is how it is supposed to be. I am happy. My date, on the other hand, has ordered a dog slathered in coleslaw, cheese, and onions and is trying to eat it neatly.  I was surprised that he hadn’t brought or even bought a knife and fork. (Are you kidding me?)

Oh brother!

I do my best to ignore him, my dog is on and poppin’ and the Braves are holdin’ it down.  The couple next to me look just like Clark Kent’s parents. They are visiting from Wisconsin. They’ve just come back from the refreshment stand carrying hot funnel cake. The hubby takes one look at me and asks what I’m thinkin’.  I reply “I’m thinkin’ funnel cake”. He reaches over without a word takes the funnel cake from his wife’s lap and places it in mine. Me being me I take a piece. My date is about to pass out.  He doesn’t interact very well with others. I make a mental check mark in the “not qualified” box on his application (for pursuing me.)

On the field, the Braves are still doing their thing, so between stuffing my face I’m screaming much to the chagrin of my uptight date (amazing I didn’t choke). Suddenly, things are taking a turn for the worse. Billy Wagner is walking the Reds. I am trippin’, a little concerned from a fans perspective, my date is furious!  I ask him what’s the problem?

He replied “This ….is pissing me off”.

I look him in his face; his is clearly beyond agitated, “did you bet on the game?’

“No”

Do you have ownership of the team?

Again a sulking “No”

I blink one time, two times, take a measured breath and state “Dude, it’s a game”

By now I have made an executive decision to ignore this moody, closed minded youngster and enjoy the game going on in front of us. Turning my attention back to Wagner, who is still surrendering to the Reds. The Reds score 3 runs in the top the of 8th and  one more top of the 9th now we are tied  Finally Wagner strikes out 2 players with runners on 1st and 2nd! Braves are at bat once again.  Heyward steps up; swings and Craaaaack… its going, its going it’s gone! Oh, yeah, my Braves are back on track!

The Kents and I proceed to enjoy every nuance of the game; I just about forgot my date. Okay now this is where it really gets interesting, for some reason my newfound funnel cake buddies need to get up for a minute.  While they are gone two college guys walk into our section and decide to take their seats…I am a little perplexed.  but before I could say anything a guy on the other side tells them they are in the wrong seats, being college students and, slightly inebriated, one of the guys tells him that this is indeed their seats, which annoys the older gentleman , the preppy of the duo looks at me and says let me move this guys an…

I finally find my voice and say “dude, you are in the wrong seat” he looks at me and gets up a few minutes later I see him and his buddy seat down in seats two rows down and across from me, he turns and playfully feigns embarrassment, while his buddies ribbed him for good measure.  Overall everything is back on track until the boyishly cute of the two irritates a group of square-jawed, barrel-chested jocks a few rows behind and kitty-corner to where I am sitting!  The boyishly cute guy is no bigger than a minute and clearly drunk; however, this does nothing for the row (6 to be exact) of mountain men from standing as one and taking after the mouthy twerp, Security!

After that is taken care of by security I am back to watching the game.  The Braves are still going strong.  Looks like we are definitely winning. Now what?  I turn around and someone has passed out and is being body-surfed towards EMTs, apparently with our tickets I get not only a game but a variety of shows ranging from comedy to the dramatic; oh, forgot about my date. He is still sulking and fuming in his seat, the unexpected interruptions have only made his disposition all the merrier, for me it’s all part and parcel to a good time.  Like I said, I got a great game, fabulous hotdogs, hot funnel cake, met some pretty cool and diverse people and my wonderful Braves have won the game. Yep it’s a pretty magical night for li’l ole me.

For the record my date wanted to hang out after the game.  You know, get a drink, smooch, possibly get a little ‘nucky nucky’. Needless to say I kyboshed that idea while asking for his application back; he doesn’t meet the positions requirements.

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SoniaTai

SoniaTai

SoniaTai is a freelance writer, living in Atlanta, Georgia. She originally hails from Rochester, New York but made her way over a decade ago. A 42 year old, single mother of three, she writes about her adventures in living in the new millennium as well as about harrowing process of raising three children in this new age.