The following blog is a discussion about the civil religion of baseball. The spark for these writings is the book “The Faith of 50 Million”.
Everyone knows that phrase. You know the one I mean, the one consisting of two words. The second word of the phrase is ‘you’! That phrase has a digital hand symbol which also means the same thing! Yeah! I figured you knew the one I’m talking about.
Jeff and I came to our first toll booth in New York State completely unaware of what lay ahead in our education about that phrase. We saw the signs directing us to the booths for exact change and the booths with attendants ready to give drivers change. We had a discussion about which booth to use with Jeff assuring me that he had the exact change. Let me just mention that the term ‘exact change’ means exact ‘change’. Exact change does not mean the correct amount for the toll.
Anyway, Jeff threw his exact ‘change’ into the basket. Before the dollar bill floated around the basket one time we were greeted by a chorus of that phrase accompanied by a cacophony of car horns. There was no doubt about it; we were in New York. I was opening my door as Jeff handed me the dollar bill he had retrieved so I could make a quick run to the closest booth containing a human. The attendant was holding four quarters in his hand as I approached his door to trade for my dollar bill and was kind enough not to say anything. I hurried back to the car all the while being showered by that phrase and car horns. Jeff threw the coins into the basket, the gate went up and we drove on toward our hotel.
We both were looking for a refreshing pause in our hotel room after our narrow escape at the toll booth. Well, that wasn’t going to happen. We walked into the lobby of our hotel to be greeted by a guy behind a double bullet proof window. (This is close to what the window looked like in our hotel but this one is way more classy.) I’m not making this up! We had to put our money into one of those trays like at a bank drive through for the guy behind the glass to retrieve from his side. Jeff asked the guy behind the windows if the van would be safe in the parking lot that evening. (We could see the van on the security monitor behind the guy taking our money.) The guy shrugged his shoulders and mumbled, “It’s New York City!” At least he didn’t reply to Jeff’s question with that phrase. We completed the check-in process at the front desk and found our room. On our way out of the hotel two guys in the lobby where exchanging that phrase (and may other unsavory expletives) with the clerk behind the double bullet proof glass.
Being his usual curious self Jeff slowed down to watch the show. I on the other hand didn’t like the looks of these guys and had no desire to be in the lobby when the knives and guns appeared, so I encouraged him to get a move on it. We escaped unharmed and headed for Shea Stadium.
We arrived at the stadium about the time the rain arrived putting the game in jeopardy. During the rain delay we wandered around the stadium with all the other folks who didn’t know what to do in the rain.
In the crowded space beneath the stands another fan and I ended up trying to occupy the same space at the same time. The New Yorker (I’m pretty sure he was a New Yorker because he was wearing a Tom Seaver jersey and a Mets cap.) threw that phrase in my face. Well, everyone has their limit and I must have reached mine because I shot that phrase right back at him. Jeff later confided to me how at that moment he thought we were dead! Without skipping a breath the guy inquired, “How long have you been in New York?” The three of us proceeded to carrying on a five minute conversation about the Mets’ chances to win the pennant. When the guy moved on Jeff and I looked at each other and I said, “Jeff, in New York that phrase means ‘Hello’.”
See you next time.