Last night, before the start of the Giants game, my friend Matty and I got in line for beer. (Well, two, to be exact, because you never wait in a beer line without getting yourself the maximum number of allowed beers per person.)
Since one of us -- fine ME! -- had to have *one* more glass of wine before we left, we were nowhere near our seats by the start of the game and had to stare at the flat-screen TVs by the concession stand to watch the lines-ups being announced and the National Anthem.
The National Anthem at baseball games is always, well, how do you say it? Oh right: super f-ing awkward. There are 81 home games each season, which means that during the regular season, the National Anthem is sung 2,430 times in 30 different stadiums. Which means that, more often than not, the National Anthem feels like an act on The Gong Show. Except, unfortunately, there’s no gong.
So last night, they paraded a gaggle of pre-teens on the field to scream the National Anthem at the top of their lungs. I was mostly protected from the debacle thanks to the wall of concrete between the concession stands and the field, but thanks to the magic of TV, I was able to offer Matty detailed commentary on the entire travesty.
It went something like this:
“Wow, I’ve never seen so many super-awkward kids in one place. I mean, every single one of them is in the beginning stages of puberty. Is there a more unattractive phase to go through?”
“This is brutal.”
“Can you imagine having to listen to this while they practiced 71 times every day for an entire month? I’m pretty sure their principal just hung himself in his office.”
“Wow. I had no idea the National Anthem was so long…”
“Oh God. That girl has no friends. You can just tell. She’s all off to the side and alone. Plus, I would know. Since that’s the type of girl I was totally mean to when I was that age.”
Now this last part was a joke. I mean, I honestly wasn’t mean to girls like that when I was 12. For heaven’s sake, I didn’t even acknowledge girls like that.
JOKING. JOKING! I was just trying to survive the song and get to the front of the Longest. Beer line. Ever.
And then, as the last gangly pre-teen ran off of the field, the woman in front of us turned around, coke and hot dog in hand. But instead of walking away, she just glared at me. A glare like none I’ve ever received before. A glare that came from a place deep down in the bottom of her soul. A glare that said pain and anger and disappointment and loathing and bitterness all at once.
My eyes widened in anticipation as she opened her mouth and spoke, her voice cold and terse.
“I’m SO GLAD you had SO MANY friends when you were young.”
I wanted to explain myself. Say something to make it better. Something to make it okay. Something to make her realize that I didn't really mean it. But before I could gather even a small part of my composure, she turned on her heels and walked away.
Which is probably for the best since, “Sorry that you didn’t” wouldn’t have been very nice.