Thursday, September 16, 2004

A Day on the Bus and a Few Hours at Wrigley

Boof! What a week, eh? I've had my ups and downs since last Saturday (haven't we all?), so I want to post something fun.

The Chicago Cubs Rock My Tiny World

Yesterday I took the day off work and went to Chicago to see the Cubs kick the pantalons off the Pirates! It couldn't have been a more beautiful day at Wrigley. But it didn't necessarily start off all fun and games. In fact, it began with me oversleeping, because I'd tried to watch the Cubs v. the Pirates the night before. However, when the score was 2-0 (Pirates) in the 9th inning, I decided to go to sleep... but I'd had too much to drink whilst rootin' for my fellas, so when I DID get my ass out of bed the next morning, not only was I running late, but I was running late with a hangover. Go figure. (At least the Cubs came back and won 3-2 in 12 innings... even if I missed it.) Anyway, here's the scoop:

I've written about Harry before. The guy who gets me a red rose every Saturday. Well, every year he takes me to a Cubs game for my birthday. Last spring he broke his hip, so we were unable to go. The year before that, they changed the afternoon game to a night game, so we were unable to go. And the year before that, they just plain cancelled the trip. 'They' are the City of Iowa City Parks and Rec Dept. They load up a bus three times a year, and for a nominal fee, you get a ride and a ticket. You never know with whom you will be sharing this day, and at times it has been a joy, other times you wonder how you could ride on the same bus with some asshole you envision falling down steep concrete stairs of the reserved terrace section...

Well, this year, the Rec Dept. decided to leave at 6:30 a.m. instead of 7. I had to pick Harry up at 6 to be to the Rec Center on time to meet the bus. It's hard to wake up in the morning when it's still dark out (and your head is throbbing like a Faster Pussycat song). But we got there on time, lugging cinnamon rolls, bottles of water and colaches. Two of Harry's friends, Shirley and Raymond, also went along and brought an urn of coffee.

There's always ONE...

As we are all preparing for take-off, the bus driver feels the need to share some information regarding the amenities of the bus, such as "If you push the button on your armrest, your seat will recline." Of course, the woman in front of me immediately does just this, whacking me on the knees and making it virtually impossible to sit behind her unless my legs were sticking out into the aisle. If anything, I have long legs. Can you say DIS-COM-FORT? Luckily, there was an empty set of seats across the aisle, so while Harry and I didn't have our usual 'here-we-are-going-to-a-Cubs-game' conversation, I was at least able to make myself a little more 'at home'. Despite the unforgiving plastic armrest that rode up against my back for four hours on the way there, I was able to stretch out in some semblance of 'now this is the way to ride the bus, ride the bus, ride the bus...' as I looked across the aisle at the knee-mooshing woman who had pillows galore. I hated her already.

And then for the sweetpeas...

On this particular trip, there were four individuals and their staff. One guy didn't speak at all... just kinda nodded to himself. Another guy also didn't speak, but would make leetle eety beety sounds, whistle from time to time, and gesticulate in a strangely haphazard way that made one think he was doing some form of ebonics sign language. He was sitting in front of me, so I did my share of back patting (he would mime what he wanted you to do) and head scratching. Now, normally I would think it's pretty odd to be scratching the head of a 40-something year old mentally challenged man as I sat behind him on a bus full of people going to a baseball game, but after awhile it became apparent to me that he enjoyed it, along with the numerous high-fives we gave each other. Besides, I was hungover and there for the ride.

At our 45-minute breakfast stop, I got to meet Courtney and Kendee. Courtney asked me on his way off the bus if I was Marvin's staff, to which I groggily replied, "Um, no. Sorry." When I decided to get off the bus to stretch my gams, Courtney promptly ran up and asked me to make sure that Marvin stayed away from him because Marvin was mean and blew in his face. Marvin had also pulled his leg and was mean to Kendee. We spent a little time talking about mean people, then Courtney asked me if I would go to the back of the bus with him so I could keep Marvin away from him and Kendee. Alas, I motioned to Harry, Shirley and Raymond, and told him I was there with them. He asked me if I was their staff, whereupon I had to tell him that 'No' I was their friend. He looked a little baffled that I was with three people 30 years my senior, but I think he decided in his own mind that I was, indeed, their staff. (Incidentally, I still have no clue who the heck Marvin is or was or whatever...)

Once we were all safely stowed back on the bus, Courtney wanted me to write a sign for the Cubs that said "Hit Some Homers." So I did. It was on the back of big piece of tagboard that their (Courtney and Kendee's) staff had made for them. It was their first anniversary as a married couple yesterday, and it was signed by a dozen different people all wishing the Cubs would get a homerun for them. His face was a beacon of unadulterated happiness to be going to the game to see Sammy Sosa (who was born the same year as Courtney... 1968). Kendee simply looked very contented to be with her husband.

At last... our grand arrival on Waveland

Yay! Time to get away from the crowd and into another one! By this time, I was so ready for an Old Style I didn't CARE that it was only 11:30 and the game didn't start until 1:20. Heck, I had a pocketful of money and an i.d. that said I was old enough. Plus, I was in Chicago at Wrigley Field, albeit with a group of people that wanted to sit quietly and watch a ballgame, content enough to sit in their assigned seats. Me? When I'm there, I like to run around all OVER the ballpark. I love the smell of it, the feel of it. The good nature that is evident on everyone's face. I just want to be everywhere at once and soak it all up. I can sit for awhile and watch the game, but for those of you who have been to Wrigley... well, you KNOW it's damn near impossible to not get up and move around. Built for comfort? Nope. 'Course, I've never had the rock star tickets. All I know is that when Shirley and I came back with Chicago dawgs for the Harry and Raymond, I got a left eye full of Harry's elbow and a right eye full of Shirley's elbow. I spent most of the time in my chair leaning as far forward as I could without making the 14 year old kid in front of me think I was flirting with him by blowing on his neck.

Angie rocks the boat... or bus...

Ok. So I didn't spend the entire game sitting with Harry and friends. At one point, Courtney asked me if I would go with him to get sodas. Sure, you betcha, big guy. As long as I can get myself a beer while we're at it. He wanted to go to a specific place he had seen just inside the entrance, which was on the other side of the park and all the way down to street level. I had no problem with this, though I was feeling mighty protective of my soda-loving charge. The guy at the counter of some dumb-ass overpriced vending space (well, ok... they're ALL dumb-ass overpriced vending spaces), got Courtney the wrong sodas and just glared at me when I said something. Meanwhile, Courtney is trying to give the guy $20 for two sodas... I know they're expensive, bub, but give this guy the correct change back or I'm popping my ass over your flimsy counter and giving you a giant can of Cooter whoop-ass. The dude was rude.

So on we go. Baby really wants a beer. We stop at the next available stand, and the guy behind the counter looks at me and just says, "Fuck." I look at him a moment, then realize he wasn't talking TO me.... simply expressing himself. "Shitty day, huh?" I ask. "No, just shitty customers." I ordered two beers (why not... if one was left when we got back to the top, I'd give it to Harry) and tipped the guy $3... I was in a good mood and he made a joke with Courtney and was really nice to me. That says a little something something. I kept trying to go back to his cart, but after four beers, I didn't feel like running all the way downstairs anymore. Ah well, spread the wealth and all that.

The 7th inning streeeeetch...

I think it was at the top of the 7th the skies opened for a brief torrent of coolness that made all the riff-raff scatter like cochroaches in light. And now a word from my sponsor: "Angie, get your lazy ass back to work." I'll finish this later...

This post was too long for trackback (who do those pikers think they are?). They have a word limit if you don't "upgrade your membership."

I took the same IC bus trip with my brother many years (10?). Yes, we are both diehard Cardinals fans (be sure to root for us in World Series), but we had to see Wrigley before it was torn down (and it still stands today, thankfully, even if it's filled with Cubs). We showed up 5 minutes early (6:55 AM) and everyone on the bus was pissed off at us because they wanted to leave early. We couldn't sit together because one inbred family all wanted window seats. The teeth per person ratio was exceptionally low on this bus, but that didn't stop everyone from hogging on pounds of candy and trail mix (that's code for "healthy" candy) all of the way to the McDonalds Oasis (and all that gnoshing did not sully there appetites for breakfast and thereafter and at the game). Now, I love to eat, but watching this crew pound handful after handful of M&Ms in their gaping pieholes while continuing their banal conversations to their similarly hogging relatives made for a long trip east. Luckily, Wrigley arrived and we had a great time. It is an awesome place, but next time, I'm driving...
Even if you are an evil Cards fan, next time you go, can I hitch a ride? Wrigley is certainly a park worth going to.
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