What’s Been Happening
“Your towel is backwards!”
The last two Nationals games of the season were super exciting. The home run that won Game 4 was all the more surprising after the previous losses. I had just been happy to be attending what I had expected would be the final game. That the Nats might actually win another one created a different feel in the air: hope – and expectation.
Walking to the Metro, I passed a boy in a W cap swinging a baseball bat idly in his front yard. About 14 or 15, he seemed solitarily adrift: too young for cars and girls and Friday night parties. I imagined he was living on baseball and waiting only for the tv broadcast. “You going to the Nats game?” he called after me as he noticed my W cap. He seemed surprised, shaken from his reverie by the sight of a fellow fan. I called back and gave him a thumbs up, and he grinned.
At the game, the few Cardinals fans were obnoxious – the entire time, both when they were losing and when they were winning – so I concluded that St. Louis fans must tend to unpleasantness in general.
There were many fun experiences the last few games: the fireworks, Teddy’s winning streak, the military officer who removed his uniform jacket to reveal a Nationals jersey prompting the crowd to go nuts, the rally towels. My favorite was probably the screaming guy behind me. To the Cardinals fan in front who held his towel to the crowd: “YOUR TOWEL IS BACKWARDS.” Later, with the Nats ahead: “WHERE’S YOUR TOWEL NOW?” And whenever young heartthrob Bryce Harper walked to the plate: “COME ON, BRYCE! STAY SEXY, MAN! STAY SEXY!” I’m sure he must have lost his voice, but he was cracking me up. I can’t wait for next season.
“Don’t punch in the face; punch in the neck.”
Going to lunch and a movie often comes with mini self-defense lessons, which have proved both hilarious and useful. The last one began with the man who was stretched out asleep on the theater seats in front of us My friend fetched her knife from her purse and put it in her pocket, so she would “be ready.” When a preview came on showing a character punching another in the neck, she turned to me and explained “that’s how you do it.” Don’t punch in the face. Punch in the neck. She demonstrated on herself. Halfway through the film, when the man started awake and sat up, we laughed. With her knives and her punching, he wouldn’t stand a chance.
“Oh, it’s you.”
Last New Year’s, Simon (not his real name, obviously) was attempting to ask me to a party, I think, but he fumbled through it. Simon is tall, dark, and handsome in the conventional sense. Every time I’ve seen him he’s wearing a suit and polished shoes, except one time when he dressed down and switched the suit jacket for a sweater. But he’s shy and, I’ve learned, a bit goofy.
I’m not certain Simon was inviting me, and I wouldn’t have said yes at the time anyway. Sometimes, we waste way too much time pining for a someone who, it turns out, doesn’t care. Usually, while that is happening, there is a Simon waiting not far away, wanting only some encouragement to come a little closer.
I suspected that Simon had a crush on me, and I was flattered, though not much else. Our conversations were friendly, but brief, with long intervals in between.
We talked about vacation plans. Days passed and he told me my scarf was “very pretty.” A few weeks later, he made a teasing comment about my gladiator sandals (I love them, but lots of people make fun of them – they’re weird).
One time, I walked in to speak to him and his friend. His headphones on and back to me, he didn’t notice or hear. His friend tried subtly to get his attention while simultaneously speaking with me. Finally, Simon got the message, turned and saw me, flung the headphones off, and practically fell out of his chair in his eagerness to see what I wanted.
Recently, I mentioned the general area where I live and he answered with the specific location. For a second or two, stalking alarm bells rang, until I remembered in a previous conversation naming my neighborhood. My disbelief that he even remembered such idle chit-chat gave way to pleasure that he had been paying enough attention to a minor detail to remember it. When I casually mentioned something I enjoy, he asked me about it in a pointed way that startled me. He looked at me expectantly, and I realized he was actually interested in the answer.
That’s how the Simons you barely notice become the people you find yourself unexpectedly happy to see.
A few days ago, when he walked right up to me and said, with his goofy grin, “Oh, it’s you,” I found myself grinning back.
“Who would have thought I’d want to go to church for my birthday?”
After brunch, my family and I toured the National Cathedral, where I spotted an awesome Tim Burton-esque cross in the crypt.
Now, we are waiting for Sandy to come and wash us all away. As I decamped to my grandfather’s this morning, I looked about my quiet apartment sadly and hoped it would look the exactly the same when I returned.