Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Left-handed Moment at the Ballpark

I am fortunate enough to live in a city with a minor league baseball team. Given that my husband and I both like baseball a lot, and that we have two young sons who are ripe for baseball fandom, you think we'd run downtown every night the team played at home to worship at our local Church of Baseball. But Tuesday night was the first time all summer that we made a game. Had we known that Fine Young Son No. 2 would be so enthralled, we would have showed up on opening day in May.

I like watching baseball when I feel like I really know the team. When I don't know the team, I spend the innings at the ballpark people-watching and eavesdropping. Eavesdropping on Tuesday night was no problem, as the folks behind us were highly verbal and kept it turned up to about six. Not obnoxiously loud, but definitely audible. All sound, all the time. At first I enjoyed it, because a) they sounded like they were from Chicago or surrounding environs, and I love Chicago and midwesterners, who are friendly like southerners, but without all the baggage; and b) they were talking about food--in particular, about food they liked to cook.

As the evening went on, however, their conversation dwindled into endless blather, at which time it was hard to avoid questions such as: why this need for constant talk? do these people ever shut up? are they afraid they would no longer exist if they stopped talking? do they have inner lives?

The good news is: they didn't cuss. Because if they did, I'd have to turn around and give them the hairy eyeball and nod toward my kids as if to say, "Do you mind?"

The ballpark in our fair city is about ten or eleven years old, which is to say, still relatively spiffy and up-to-date. The outfield walls serve as billboards, the electronic kind that switch ads every five minutes or so. The only permanent ad was for Duke's Mayonnaise, a staple of southern cooking. This pleased me. We are in the south; there should be some southern icons strewn hither and yon in the midst of all the homogenization.

But the true housewife moment came when the ads flipped around and I came face-to-face with an ad for Hamburger Helper. For the life of me, I can't figure out why the folks at Hamburger Helper are advertising at baseball games, but I loved the ad. First, the little, white helper glove was left-handed. I have never noticed that before. Secondly, in the ad a baseball was headed right for it--for its little white helper glove face, with its little red dot nose and black button eyes and crescent-moon smile. Why, oh, why, I thought, is someone throwing a ball at this innocent little glove's face? It's a glove, sure, and gloves are used to catch baseballs--unless, of course, those gloves come with noses and mouths attached. Then perhaps some caution should be exercised.

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