I used to like baseball.
Back when Ozzie did back flips. And Keith Hernandez was dreamy. And large red "#1" foam hands were fun to slip over my own tiny hands and wave around. And Fredbird was hilarious.
Now, no one does flips. And if they did, I'd be that person twisting the bottom of my t-shirt and scrunching my face in worry, pleading for him to stop "before you really hurt yourself!"
And I google-imaged Keith Hernandez recently. What I crush I had on him! Let's just type this name in and.....WHAT? Oh, no! That can't be right! This guy is sporting a 1970s pornstar mustache. That's him? Really. Um. Ew.
And those foam hands make my own hands sweat. And they're itchy. And there's nowhere to put them when you get home.
And Fredbird pisses me off. Not as much as Matthew McConaughey. But pretty close.
So, sitting through nine or more innings of a baseball game has become a challenge.
Around the second inning or so, the game loses my attention. I've eaten my hot dog and am now waiting, on cue, to do my little human tricks, like clapping along with the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale song. For a minute, I'm reanimated, clapping with glee. "Look! Look what I can do! Oh, indeed! You are clapping, too, fellow monkeys!" We are trained well. We are proud of ourselves. Spit glistens from the corners of our mouth, so wide are our smiles.
Once the song is over, however, I'm back to using my binoculars to spot odd hairdos. Then, even that loses its charm after awhile. Here's where I start thinking of the odds.
First, thoughts like, "I wonder how many people have upset stomachs right now. You know. Like, they'll have to leave their seats to rush to the bathroom." Things like this. And it usually starts with something diarrhea-related. Or "I wonder how many people were late to the game because of diarrhea."
Somebody in this crowd has a venereal disease and doesn't know it yet.
Someone cut their legs shaving while getting ready for the game.
Someone is keeping a secret from the person they're with.
Somebody once ate dog food from a bag on their neighbor's porch, and liked it. And they ate more of it. And a little more. And then they went home and said to their mom, "Mom? What would happen if someone ate dog food?" And their mom said, "Well, I guess they'd feel a little sick." And then they assessed how they felt, which was not sick at all, but they figured they should feel sick because their mom said so, so they wailed, "I FEEL SIIIIIICK!"
I know that one's true. Because that was me. But probably other people in the stadium ate dog food, too.
It's not that I'm comforted by these thoughts. It's more of a "I know something you don't know" although I don't know who the "you" is, so really it's "I know something one of you, and I don't know who, don't know, so this really does neither of us any good, but man, people are fun to think about."
The larger the crowd, the more satisfying the thoughts are. Lessen the numbers, lessen the odds. On an elevator of 6 people, it's possible someone didn't fart at work that day and hope no one attributed the foul odor to him/her. Take 46,000 people, and the chances are pretty darned good that this did, indeed, happen to at least one of them.
At least one person is missing one of their toenails, and there's a good story to go with it.
Someone is getting close to breaking up with the person they're with, but that person doesn't know it yet.
Someone accidentally killed a family pet sometime in their life.
Someone is waiting to get their period.
Someone hit something with their car this year.
Someone will come home to some very bad news. Someone will come home to some fantastic news.
Someone won't go home.
I don't have to match a face with a thought. In fact, it's better if I scan the crowd until everyone is a tiny blurry dot of a whole image. A close up view of a Chuck Close painting. Here, I keep the anonymity of others intact.
I wouldn't want to intrude.