Last night I enjoyed a rare opportunity to go see a baseball game.
I love going to Turner Field, driving through the slums and parking in the shadiest of places to watch our overpaid athletes smack a ball around. No, really, I actually do enjoy watching the games, I just can’t help but be extremely cynical about the sport and the costs and the everything surrounding the game itself.
You might guess that there is more to the ball game than the ball game, if you’ve been reading the blarg here, and you’d guess right.
It’s not a thing that I’m specifically familiar with myself, because it’s not a thing I partake in all that much, but apparently, sometime in the last couple of years, Turner Field has started selling adult beverages with actual hard liquor in them. Personally, I think this is fantastic, because given the choice between getting gouged for $8 on a lukewarm beer and getting gouged for $10 on a watered-down margarita, I know where my hard-earned money will be wasted — where it will do the most good. This, naturally, seemed to be the inclination of a good many patrons at last night’s game.
Before I get into the story, let me make the appropriate disclaimers. I don’t mind drinking in public. BY ALL MEANS, GO OUT, HAVE A GOOD TIME. I don’t even mind a bit of intoxication in public, as long as it’s done the right way. The right way to drink in public includes some of, though not necessarily all, of the following:
1. A clear, decided-on-beforehand designated driver. If your group is big enough, you need more than one and you need to know who’s riding with whom so hat there is zero confusion about who is and who is not allowed to imbibe.
2. Cash. This depends where on the scale you fall between Bill Gates and, oh I don’t know, ME. And it applies more at venues like sporting events, where stuff is really overpriced, as opposed to restaurants and bars, where it’s only reasonably overpriced. If you’re paying with cash, then you know when you’ve had all you’re allowed to have. Credit cards and drunk people do not mix well, unless you are the proprietor of a credit card company, in which case, let me cue up the cash register noises.
3. A brain. More specifically, the brains of the operation. The group needs a leader, and while it could be the DD, it doesn’t have to be — the job of the brain is to assess the situation and LOCK SHARKNADO DOWN when it starts to get out of control. “Oh, Billy’s had a few too many, let me get him some onion rings and a coke instead of a beer on the next round.” “Hey, Charlene just bought a round for the table, she doesn’t make that much money, let me steal her wallet so she can’t buy any more drinks.” “Hey, Ted, help me get Eddie down from the drapes.”
Our companions for the Braves game last night had none of these. Let me clarify. I’m calling them companions only because I learned so much about them, not because they were our partners in enjoying this spectacle of athletic prowess.
They were an office group (!) composed of but not limited to, Jerry, the boss, Martez, the gay one, Jenny, the quiet one, and a handful of sundry others whose names I didn’t catch, largely because they were too far away. Couple of the older members of the group had their kids along for a night at the ballpark. Nice group. Innocuous. Perfectly ordinary.
And then there was Leah.
Leah showed up hammered. We could tell because she arrived to the group with a shouted, “HEY Y’ALL! ARE THESE OUR SEATS?” Back over her shoulder, she bellowed, “I FOUND OUR SEATS.” Back to her group. “ARE ALL THESE OUR SEATS?” Back over her shoulder. “THE SEATS ARE DOWN HERE, GUYS.” The caps are necessary because she was speaking in them. She began to step past the others in the row, stumbling and holding her (first) beer up over her head, sloshing it wantonly about.
As she slid down in front of us, my actual group exchanged glances which spoke of the unending weariness we would surely feel with her before the night was out.
I can’t relate everything she did that was offensive. There simply isn’t time. But I did take some notes. No, really, I did, because I always have a little notepad with me (never know when the Id-Writer will grab the steering wheel), and why not get some material out of an otherwise irritating situation?
I’ll start with the selfies.
Stop foaming at the mouth and put aside your feelings on the subject for the moment. I really don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with trying to document your life, and a selfie is an immediate, if a bit artless, way to do that.
Comes a point when you need to turn outward and enjoy the Braves game / the panoramic view / the street riot / your own marriage proposal the way you were meant to experience it, which is to say, through your OWN eyes and in your OWN mind, not through the lens of a camera (sorry, the screen of a phone) and for the benefit of your social media “friends”. At some point, taking a few pictures of yourself and your friends turns the occasion from “look at this amazing thing we experienced” into “look at how amazing we are, also this thing was happening while we were amazing”.
It’s the Sorites paradox. You have a single grain of sand, then you add another grain to it. This is not a heap. Add another grain, it is still not a heap. No single addition of a single grain of sand marks the moment when your handful of grains of sand becomes a heap, but suddenly, there before you, sits a heap. Likewise, no single selfie marks the moment of transition from “amazing thing” to “I’m amazing, and thing”. But the moment is in there somewhere. I don’t know what moment it was, but it happened well before the 54th picture Leah took of herself and her friends. That’s 54 pictures documented; I didn’t count the ones she took during the first inning or, for obvious reasons, when she was away from her seat (which was often, after all, those beers won’t refill themselves).
Let me come back around to what I said about alcohol: in essence, DO YOU, just do it smartly. Whatever gets your rocks off is between you and whichever Big Daddy you pray to, but some (most?) of it is simply not the business of anybody who is not you, ergo, don’t make it their business.
She spent much of the game sexting.
I know this, not because we were reading her texts over her shoulder (though that happened, eventually, because frankly, the woman was a living, breathing train-wreck we could not look away from) but because this became a topic of much debate among her group. Her work group, let me remind you.
So she’s hammering away on her phone for much of the game, and somewhere around the 5th inning, Jerry (the “boss” of this group — and presumably, the man she works for, or who at least supervises her in some capacity) gets curious and snatches her phone to see what she’s so engrossed in when there is a perfectly engrossing baseball game happening just a few hundred feet away (oh yeah, we had pretty swell seats). His eyes and his mouth get wide and he passes the phone back. Things get quiet for a while. Then conversation picks up, slowly, the way grumpy siblings start communicating with one another only by saying “he started it,” “no I didn’t,” after the parents have separated the kids. Leah’s complaining about being judged, about feeling massive judgment. She’s still drunk, so she’s still loud.
Let’s pause and evaluate. Jerry’s stone-sober. He’s the boss, or at least a supervisor. JERRY SHOULD BE THE BRAINS OF THE OPERATION. Jerry should have Leah on lockdown. Truth be told, he should have kept her from drinking anything since the 3rd inning, but by this point, it’s obvious to everybody in section 218 that she’s off her Asgard and needs no further alcohol. Let’s not forget that in the immediate vicinity are five or six co-workers, a few of whom have children with them.
But instead of locking the sharknado down, he’s commending her on her correspondence with whatever champ is on the other end of her dirty little fingers (ew). And he gets her another beer when he comes back from the restroom in the 6th.
In the 7th inning, said champ sends her a picture of his, uh, situation. She passes it around. We all see it, too. It’s awesome, in that way of giving us all things to talk and rant about on the drive home. It’s less awesome, in that I feel strongly that there is a fixed number of, uh, situations that I should look upon in my lifetime, and I just wasted one on this idiot.
There was other bad behavior. She kept throwing her head back to laugh and smacking the knees of people in my group. She raised her arms in triumph after “winning” an argument with Martez, only to spill beer backwards on our shoes. She had to have two hands supporting her to walk down the stairs in the 8th inning.
I occasionally have the thought that I really do stay in too much. It’s bad enough that I chose a solo activity for exercise (running), a solitary hobby (writing), and I have a kid at home who needs my supervision and my time every moment I can spare them. It makes me feel like a hermit, a recluse, that guy whose house the kids wander past and say “that weird old guy lives there — I heard if you say his name three times in the dark, he’ll appear behind you in the mirror and tell you to get off his lawn.”
Then I go out and cross paths with a Leah, and suddenly all my decisions seem right.
Seriously. Friends don’t let friends get drunk and act like a fool in public. Certainly not at the age of 33. That was the saddest part. She is my age.