"I finished my beer!" I proudly proclaimed, not being a particularly big fan of the beverage but having dutifully acquired enough of a taste that I can keep from wincing when I am called to consume it. I suppose I remember the childhood dread when Dad would get drunk at sporting events - the fear of embarrassment if he'd offend someone or yell at us for some mistake. In retrospect, it was likely an overreaction to very rare altercations, but for quite some time, I couldn't bear the smell of yeast (unless it smelled like bread - bread has always been friendly for me). But as I perched on a stool with colleagues who had gone to the beer only fast line, I sipped my ale and mostly succeeded in liking it.
"Want another?" the waitress offered and I shook my head in vehement refusal before calming down and thanking her for the offer.
We wandered across the street and joined the line of humanity streaming into the ballpark and I frowned at the crowd even as I admired the building. We made our way to our seats along the first baseline and I was pleased to see we were covered by the upper deck, the drizzling rain unable to reach us except for on random gusts of wind.
I'm not a big fan of baseball in that I don't follow any particular team, don't care much who wins or loses and will likely change the channel if it's on television. I won't, however, turn down an invitation to go to a game, finding it both aesthetically pleasing and generally soothing. So I snuggled in between two of my colleagues and watched.
"When do we sing?" I asked in the 7th inning. I explained to the man on my left that I was ready for Take Me Out to the Ballgame and gasped with horror when the man on my right said they might skip it to do Sweet Caroline. "The 7th inning stretch is for Take Me Out to the Ballgame. We must sing, as our forefathers have sung, about the peanuts and Cracker Jacks! Such a wonderful, historical city would not screw with such a tradition," I insisted. "So help me God," I muttered warningly.
I grinned when the music started after the 3rd out and we all stood to sing, having missed our first opportunity as we were finishing nachos and beer across the street during the National Anthem. They did Sweet Caroline a bit later - which was very cute - and I found it perfectly acceptable as long as it didn't fall in the 7th inning stretch portion.
I did root, root, root for the home team and they did win (so it wasn't a shame). As I waited for everyone to finish visiting the restroom, I remembered sitting with Grandpa and singing the song with the people on television. He would, I recalled with some effort since I had been little, drink beer from a bottle and berate the umpire for bad calls. He'd tell me stories and we'd sing songs and it was comfortable and wonderful.
Baseball is, for me, a rather nostalgic experience. And I think it was a reasonably good game.