Thursday, August 13, 2009

Magic (Part 17)

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending."
- The Magic Store from The Muppet Movie

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It started with a decision in the spring of 1990. He asked her if their first date should be an afternoon at the Art Institute or a double-header at Wrigley Field.

"How is that even a call?" she replied.

The sun gleamed, the grass glowed underneath the ballplayers and the magical afternoon was made more so because he thought it was probably their last date as well; neither was from Chicago.

But he was wrong. Both traveled enough to occasionally gain discounted tickets and the 1000 miles between Minneapolis and Philadelphia wasn't as isolating as they both thought it would be. Or at least not initially.

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Two years later, it was. So with $1000 shoved into his pocket and all his worldly possessions crammed in an '84 Honda Prelude, he moved to Philadelphia to court her. The courtship was fun, but not especially easy. First he had to find work during a recession, then she was assigned to a project out of town. And when the business world stopped conspiring to keep them apart, the tougher questions began. "Will he ever marry me? What's he waiting for?" "Is she really the one? How do I know?" The questions were more destructive than geographic distance ever had a chance to be.

On a summer trip out west, his questions were answered in the Black Hills. And on August 13th, when they were supposed to go to a Phillies game, he showed up with flowers, acted all goofy and suggested they go for a walk. And she knew her questions were about to be answered too.

Unaccustomed to being nervous, the proposal was awkward but genuine, and the response was delayed but jubilant. Standing together in the park, their future felt too large. Neither knew what to do, where to go, who to see.

"So do you still want to go the Phillies game?", he asked.

"How is that even a call?"

It wasn't a call, because the one place in Philadelphia where they both knew there was some magic that year was at the Vet. The '93 Phils, lead by blue-collar rejects like John Kruk, "Dutch" Daulton, "Nails" Dykstra and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams had somehow claimed 1st place in the NL East. They'd won games at Veteran's Stadium in every conceivable manner, including one in which Mitch Williams got a hit in the bottom of the 10th - at 4:30 AM. Tonight they were playing the hated Mets and it seemed like as good a place as any to look for magic.

The electricity they felt made the game a secondary concern. She'll readily admit that she spent most of the game looking at the back of her hand. But the game slowly became the focal point when the Phillies lost their early lead in the top of the eighth. They scratched in a run in the bottom half, but were still down 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

But there was a reason this hard-nosed city loved this team. They used a crucial error by the Mets to score one run and loaded the bases with two outs. Kim Batiste, a light-hitting 25-year-old utility infielder who seemed to have a special gift for striking out, came to the plate, and.......

Grand Slam.

Pandemonium.

Magic.

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Today, on August 13th, they went to a baseball game together, like they have every August 13th for the last 17 years. And they looked for the magic. It wasn't in the Metrodome, which was a stinker, with lots of magic unfulfilled. She suspects it was back at Wrigley, where her Phils swept the Cubs. He would be foolish to disagree.

But secretly, he does. It rarely comes from outside them anymore. Instead, its now their job to share it. They find it in the piano lesson, the car ride, and the back-to-school shopping that happened later.

Most surprisingly, it's something they've learned to fight for, usually over a glass of wine during a hectic week. A chance to reaffirm decisions made 19 and 16 years ago and daily since.

And tonight he agrees. It's not even a call.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cool.

B said...

One lucky bastard.

I'm just sayin'.

Art Crymez said...

That's deep

Topper said...

Nice post John, you've got a way with words! And happy belated engagement anniversary, that's a nice tradition!

thrylos98 said...

Happy Anniversary, John!

This was uber-cool. Thanks for sharing

DrJubal said...

I raise my glass to you. Cheers!

WB1 said...

Incredible writing. No doubt an incredible woman. Brought a tear to my one good eye.

MontanaMirage said...

My hat's off to you, TG. Great post and best of luck to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Love and baseball! Good shit, mate!

Karen said...

Can't believe I saw you two lovebirds at the game and you didn't mention it was your anniversary. I thought I saw a little twinkle in your eye, but you always seem to have that. Maybe that's why it's been 17 years of Aug 13 baseball games. Congrats.

Marta said...

great post...

BD said...

Beautiful story, John - brought tears to my eyes.

You obviously get it - don't ever let it go.

Anonymous said...

Love it. It's not easy finding a babe that loves baseball as much as we do. I'll be celebrating 18 years this October with someone I can share my passions with as well.