“What did you say about TV?” I asked, looking up from my Agatha Christie novel.
My husband, John, was dressing for an A’s baseball game. A friend of his nabbed a pair of primo tickets and John had been talking about it for the last five minutes. But fearing a bout of narcolepsy I had tuned him out after the first RBI statistic.
“Our seats are right behind the catcher,” he repeated into the mirror, turning down the collar of a polo shirt. “We should be on TV. Can you TIVO the game for me?”
“Sure,” I replied.
“How does this look?” He turned to face me. His pants were boring-brown and his shirt was blah-beige.
“Hmm, are you taking a jacket?” I knew San Francisco could be cold in the evenings.
“I’m taking my black sweatshirt.”
“How about your black jeans and a white polo shirt? They’ll go better with the sweatshirt.”
He changed quickly and plunked a blue denim cap on his head.
“How about a different hat?” I said, getting up to dig in the closet.
“How’s this one?” I held out a red baseball cap with ‘49’ers’ written across the front in black thread. He was bending down to tie his shoelaces and didn’t look up, but grabbed it and put it on.
He stood up, “Okay?” he asked.
“Looks good.” I nodded my approval.
He gave me a kiss and was off.
A few hours later I sat cross-legged on the couch cradling dinner in my lap. The recording light was lit on the front of the TIVO box, so I switched over to the sports channel. With his red hat on I could easily pick John out among the duller colors everyone else was wearing. He was smiling and eating, obviously enjoying himself.
A sports announcer discussed the current batter’s stats. The player stood rigid, concentrating on what was to come. The pitch was thrown and the batter swung and missed. “Strike!’ the ump yelled. On the next pitch the batter started to swing but hesitated and the pitch went into the catcher’s mitt. “Strike!” the ump yelled again. Before the camera could move away one of the fans sitting close to John jumped up and ran towards the fence screaming his objections as loud as he could. His fists were raised, ready for a fight. The broadcasting station immediately cut to a commercial. I laughed outloud; a fan turned fanatic at least added some spice to the game.
After dinner I got bored, so I wandered over to the neighbors’ house to tell them John was on TV. They immediately tuned in.
“What’s he eating?” my neighbor asked.
“Looks like pizza,” I said.
“You know what I love?” the neighbor continued the questions. “The garlic fries at PacBell Park. Too bad he’s not there.”
I stared at the TV. Right in front of John ran a four foot high dark green swath of plastic. There was an ad for a bank, another for a vitamin drink, but no sign of the name of a town.
Well, if he’s not in San Francisco at PacBell Park, I thought to myself, where is he? My ignorance of sports had been the brunt of many a joke, so this time I kept my mouth shut.
I excused myself and went home to pace the floor and watch my husband watching baseball. Something awful was gnawing at the back of my mind. I began obsessing over John’s whereabouts.
I calculated the time from our house to the San Francisco airport. From there it was probably a two-hour flight to Seattle. Could he be in Seattle? I paced some more. Or San Diego? Do they have a stadium? Did he even say anything about flying? I sat down and stared intently at the TV, hoping for clarification of his location. Within two minutes I was asleep.
I woke up to Jay Leno’s monolog and the slam of a car door. I went to greet John and hear all about what a wonderful time he’d had. He told me about seeing the players, the out-of-control fan and eating tons of food.
The only catch was as they were leaving, he and his friend stopped at the port-a-potties in a deserted area of the parking lot. As John stood in the dark by himself, waiting for his friend, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He jumped and looked up at large burly man dressed in a black and silver Oakland Raider’s jacket, staring at him suspiciously.
“What’s with the hat?” the man asked.
“It’s keeping my head warm?” John replied, hoping that was an appropriate response.
“Well, you got some nerve coming into Oakland wearing a 49er’s hat,” he said laughing.
Yes, that and a wife who knows something about fashion and nothing about sports.