This past Monday marked a really huge milestone in my life -- a milestone I'd never really anticipated. It wasn't even on my radar.
Wayne was gone to Men's Bible Study. I was home alone, my hands held half a green pepper stuffed with leftover couscous (dinner of champions!), and my eyes were reflecting the soft glow of the computer screen. We don't own a television, so we depend on the internet for all our entertainment needs. Tonight? The Toronto Blue Jays were playing ball.
At first I thought, "Oh, I'll just have it on while I'm eating my dinner." Then a few innings went by. Couscous devoured, I made myself some toast. Watched some more innings. Did a little happy dance when DeRosa hit a three-run homer. Watched the whole game. Kept the website tuned into the FAN590 so I could laugh into the dish soap as Mike Wilner sliced up moronic callers on the Jays Talk post-game show. Suddenly, I realized something serious had happened.
I had turned into a baseball fan.
Okay, I get it, this doesn't sound like that big a deal, and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't, really. Weirder stuff is going on out there in blogland. But if you knew what sort of environment I was raised in... think hockey-hockey-hockey, hockey all the time. We didn't have an option. Saturday night was Hockey Night in Canada with Don Cherry and Ron McLean. Don't even THINK about watching a Disney movie, kids. We were taught to skate as soon as we could walk, and though none of us ever played in an official hockey league, we thought we were pros when it came to pond hockey (which presents its own challenges -- uneven ice and pressure cracks can really blow your breakaway, as can getting a frozen tree branch in the eye). Somewhere around the age of 12, I morphed from a compulsory Maple Leafs fan into a full-fledged all-consumed hockey devotee.
I lived and breathed the Leafs. Those were the days when you could tell how Pat Quinn was feeling based on the way he chewed his gum and when Mats Sundin still had a full head of blonde hair. I spent the weeks during the playoffs on edge, nails chewed, both dreading and anticipating that 7 o'clock puck drop. Goals scored against us were taken personally, even more so when it resulted in playoff elimination. We would furiously proclaim our undying abhorrence to teams that got in our way -- I still feel a little grudge against New Jersey thanks to the 2000 and 2001 playoff seasons.
But baseball? First of all, I was (and still am) terrible at playing baseball. And the Jays? Who are they? Why would anyone pay attention to them? Bunch of old guys who stand around in a field chewing tobacco and swinging at balls -- and losing. Boring.
University arrived. Now consumed with endless schoolwork and projects, Bob Cole and the Leafs had to take a backseat. I'd occasionally watch a weekend game, but when at Wayne's house -- it was the Blue Jays. Wayne loved baseball. Yes, I'd found myself a man from the other side.
I didn't mind much. If you were going to fall asleep on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, you might as well fall asleep to a Jays game, right? Right. It was kind of nice, actually. Alan Ashby had a pretty soothing voice.
Throughout our dating years and into marriage, Wayne has devoted himself to teaching me every single possible thing there is to know about baseball. I listened politely at first, then with slight interest, now with unabashed fascination. I really, really, really like baseball. I like its rich history and its calculated, silent strategy. I like its etiquette and its unwritten rules and player codes. I like its lingo -- backdoor slider, moonshot, uncle Charlie, snow cone catch. I like watching the interaction between opponents, whether it's a head nod acknowledging a good (i.e. filthy) pitch, or a solid plunking to let the batter know what everyone thinks of him.
And now I don't even know the name of the Leafs' head coach. I'm so incredibly fickle.
Wayne came home from his Bible Study and asked if I knew how the game went.
S: They won! I watched the whole game!
W: You watched the whole game??! Alone?!?!!
He was pretty proud of me. Then when I told him I'd listened to Jays Talk alone as well, he just started laughing. Disbelief, I think.
Anyway, the game is starting soon. Jerry Howarth, how I've missed your voice!