FIRST BASE: Getting Dressed
It wasn’t until I was crammed into a tiny bathroom stall at AT&T Park (home of the WORLD CHAMPION GIANTS!) while trying to shimmy into the fishnet stockings that I realized I was so nervous I was shaking. The line was snaking out of the ladies’ room and I felt sure everyone was looking at my feet wondering why on earth I was changing out of my Converse and into three-inch heels. And more important: why it was taking so long.
The truth was: I’d agreed—fine: offered (!)—to dress up for an xoJane post. It's no secret I like costumes, so did a little brainstorming about how I could turn that into an "I'll Try Anything Once Story." Figure skater costume at a hockey game? (Yay sparkles!) Giants' fan at Dodgers' game? (Boo getting beat up.) Gaga at the Mets/Yankees subway series? (Ding ding ding!) Before I even had a chance to think about what that actually meant (hi: undies in public), I shot off an email pitching the idea to Emily and Jane and received a resounding hell yeah. I mean, Jane might have called me "brilliant." Clearly, I had to do it.
The goal? To see how people reacted to regular girl showing up to a baseball game in a baseball jersey and, well, very little else.
It’s way too cold in San Francisco to wear only a bra, baseball jersey, and fishnets to a night game, so I bought tickets for a mid-week day game and convinced my amazing friend, Maura, to skip work and be my photographer (and yes, by "photographer," I mean moral support). When we arrived, it was clear I should have thought the day game plan through a bit better because, um, do you know who goes to baseball games in the middle of the day in the summertime?
Of course you do. Senior citizens and children. Lots of children. So many children. Literal FIELD TRIPS just full of children.
But there was no backing out now. I crouched in the stall and slipped on the jersey so that my black bra showed. I tightened the black bandana around my head, fluffed out my hair, and painted dark red lipstick across my lips. Go time.
When I emerged from the bathroom stall, not only had I made a Gaga-esque transformation on the outside, but something had unexpectedly also changed inside of me. Normally, I’m a pretty friendly person. In fact, I’ll talk to just about anyone. But suddenly I'd lost my ability to smile. Or make eye contact. Or speak. Instead, I marched out of that bathroom and onto the concourse, eyes straight forward, lips intensely pursed. Were people looking at me? Maybe. But I sure as hell wasn’t looking at them. Yes, I was acting like a rock star, but only because I was scared out of my mind.
SECOND BASE: The Beer Line
Curious to see what would happen if left by myself, I stuck Maura in a corner to surreptitiously take photos while I hit the beer line. It seemed like no one was really noticing me, but it turns out I just couldn’t see their leers, full body scans, and occasional appreciative nods since they (mostly men) were waiting until they’d walked by me to nudge their friends and point.
What I did see, however, was a mother grab her five-year-old son and clutch him tight against her body as I walked away from the concession stand, beers in hand. Normal mothering or shielding her son from the scary hooker? It sure felt like the latter, but how can I be sure? What I can be sure of is that in this particular costume not one parent forced her child to hug me.
THIRD BASE: The Seats
I got bleacher seats for the game because I thought it’d be good to sit with “the people.” Okay fine, because I’m poor. However, in an effort to not seem totally cheap, I did get bleacher seats in the second row. And let me tell you, that walk down the stairs, past row upon row upon row of children and parents and grandparents, was one of the longest of my life.
See, despite my best efforts to rebel against my Southern upbringing, I’m now the kind of girl who always tries to do what’s proper. I mean, for heaven’s sake, I judge people who don’t break their bread before they butter it, can’t stand when a guy tries to make me slide over in a taxi, and, well, don’t even get me started on people who display candles without lighting the wicks first. SERIOUSLY.
And yet, despite this, there I was, at a Giants’ game, a fun, FAMILY daytime activity, dressed like I was ready to battle it out for a prime street corner. It no longer felt funny; it just felt completely inappropriate.
Apparently the drunk girl who sat next to me agreed as, just seconds after I took my seat, she started talking to her friends—LOUDLY. So loudly, in fact, that one would think she didn’t realize we were sitting so close to each other that our thighs were touching.
“Ummmmmmm, what the fuck? Are we going to the club? Are we in Vegas? I’m so confused.”
Her friends laughed. And snickered. And laughed some more.
“I mean, hello, does she think she’s Madonna? Because she sure doesn't look like Madonna.”
“Is this a nightclub? Or a baseball game. I’m so confused.”
And the amazing thing is, I just sat there. And took it. Which, you guys, IS SO UNLIKE ME.
Even worse: It really hurt my feelings. Honestly, I consider myself to be pretty tough, but this particular Mean Girl caught me completely off guard. My heart was racing. My chest was tightening. My shoulders were shaking.
My feelings were hurt for the me who was getting bullied. And they were hurt for the me who didn’t even exist in real life, but who, in that moment, was the type of girl people mocked, and, even worse, let people mock her. My feelings were hurt for all of the girls who’d taken a chance, maybe because they were acting out or needed attention, but maybe because they were just trying to figure out who they were. And mostly, my feelings were hurt for the girls who already knew who they were. The girls who, in that instance, very well could have been me.
Yeah. It hurt. A lot. And after a few innings of bitchy commentary, I couldn’t take it anymore. I nudged Maura and whispered that I wanted to just finish taking pictures so I could change back into my normal clothes and attempt to enjoy the end of the game. And so we started the long walk up the aisle, past the rows of families, but despite how upset and embarrassed I was, I did the only thing I could: I held my head up high.
HEADED HOME: Scenic Spot for the Iconic Gaga “Middle Finger” Photo
My one photograph goal was to replicate a picture of Lady Gaga giving the camera the middle finger. Flipping the camera off is something I’m really good at. In fact, my mother says I’m much too good at it and have, in fact, ruined many a family photo. But for some reason, giving the camera (and Maura!) the bird while wearing a shirt that highlighted my bra was a huge challenge.
Maura posed me right in front of the infamous McCovey’s Cove and I stood there, my finger pointed straight towards the sky, as passerbys stopped to let her take the picture.
“That’s not very nice,” one person chided me.
Which was when I noticed two Ushers conversing while staring me down.
“Oh my God,” I said to Maura, “I think I’m about to get thrown out of the game.”
One of the ushers started walking towards us with the slow and steady stride of an executioner. In that lingering moment, I was ready to blow my cover and admit everyting. This isn’t really me! I’m doing it for a story! I have jeans in my bag! I’ll go change! SOMETIMES I WEAR PEARLS!
But before I could open my mouth, the usher gave us a big smile and said, “Do you want me to take a picture of both of you?”
“SURE!” we replied, as though there were nothing on earth we’d ever wanted more.
After John, the nicest usher in all of America, took the pictures, he stayed and chatted with us. He asked us where we were from and when he found out we’d all grown up in SF, asked where we went to high school.
“Oh, I didn’t actually go to school in the city,” I said. When he pressed further, I told him the truth. That I was sent to a Mormon reform school in Utah. Normally when I divulge this information, the person to whom I’m speaking is pretty shocked. Good ol’ John, on the other hand, just nodded as if this is what he’d expected me to say all along. Where else would a girl in that outfit have gone to high school, he must have thought.
“Well, I don’t want to keep you from the game,” John finally said. “You girls have fun!”
We waved goodbye and headed straight for the bathroom. The clothes and makeup came off much faster than they went on.
When I sat back down in our seats, fresh-faced in a Giants' t-shirt and ponytail, the Mean Girl smiled and scooted over to make room. We sat there for the next hour, cheering for the RBI and high-fiving when Brian Wilson struck batter after batter out. Only then did she actually looked at me. At which point, she turned to her friend.
"Oh my God. That's HER."
"Ha. She TOTALLY couldn't hack it."
I wish I could tell you I'd said something amazing, something sharp and witty and cutting. But, I'd already decided I wasn't going to battle it out with the drunk girl. And plus, I'll admit it: I couldn't hack it. It wasn't fun for me to put myself in a situation where I had to emotionally remove myself from the world in order to survive. I do much better when I'm being myself. When I'm cracking jokes and making people laugh. When I can smile and banter and when mother's don't pull their kids away from me. But watch out, Mean Girl, because girls who do have the balls to dress like that can totally kick your ass. I'm just sayin'...