My mom is a hardcore Phillies fan. One of her most prized possessions is a gift that I got her a few years ago — a walkman. If the Phillies are playing, you can bet your ass that she has those headphones on and is listening to the game. Anytime we talk on the phone or I go to visit, she is always complaining or rejoicing about the team, whatever the case may be. Recently, it has been mostly complaining. But even when they are losing, she is a die-hard fan.
For such a big fan of the team, however, she rarely goes to any games. Maybe once a season. And when my parents do go to games, they typically sit very high-up.
So this year, my sister and I decided to splurge for Mother’s Day and get her super-close-to-the-action seats. Being the second-biggest Phillies fan in the family, I would accompany her, a task that I was pleased to fulfill.
And that is how I found myself a few rows behind the Phillies dugout, next to my mother, when a beautiful girl sat next to me.
She was wearing a black sundress — an atypical selection of clothing in a sea of red and white — but one which made her stand out even more than she did as a result of her beautiful face and stunning physique.
I did what I typically do when a gorgeous girl enters my personal bubble: I pretended to ignore her. As she sat down, I offered her a purse-lipped head-nod and a brief “Hi” as if she was just another random Phillies fan with whom I would have to passive-aggressively fight for leg room and arm-rest space. It was clearly not the greeting that a man would give to a woman who had just given him a mini-heart attack as he saw her coming down his row to sit next to him.
But as I pretended that she was nothing special, I thought about all of my missed opportunities with women in the past. All the times that I had gone for hours trying to think of the right thing to say, and about how much harder it was to say something the longer I waited.
It is like standing on the top of a cliff and looking down at all of the people that are swimming in the clear blue water below, splashing and having fun. You want to get down there, but you are afraid of heights and have been standing at the top of this cliff, trying to build up the courage to jump. You know that all it takes is that one step, just the movement of a few muscles in your leg to propel you off the edge. You might land awkwardly in the water below, but at least you jumped. More importantly, you aren’t standing on the top of the cliff, shivering and alone, wondering why everyone else is having so much fun.
And so I decided to say something to the girl. Right then and there, while she was still adjusting to her seat. I needed to act immediately, before I convinced myself that she was too pretty, the situation too awkward, the cliff too high.
My brain set forth the muscles in my leg to propel me off of the cliff, which, in this case happened to come in the form of a sentence.
The sentence was “Did you come alone?”
But my brain caught itself before it expelled such atrocious words out of my mouth, and it began molding the sentence into something less alarming, something that painted me as anything other than a creepy rapist. Something more along the lines of, “Aw, are you here all by yourself,” but not quite as belittling.
Finally my brain developed the perfect wording for my question. It was sending those perfect words to my lips, the perfect tone in which to speak them to my vocal chords, and the perfect smile with which to accompany them to the muscles in my face. And as I turned my head to speak the words, I noticed a tattoo-ridden dude hand the girl a beer and take his seat next to her.
At least my perfect question had been answered.
While sad, I was also flooded with a sense of relief, knowing that the pressure was now off. I could now enjoy the game and completely forget about this girl who was with another man and no longer an option for my romantic conquests. Yes, it was disappointing, but now I didn’t have to prove anything to myself.
Our cup holders hung on the backs of the chairs in front of us. My beer was residing in the rightmost one, while my mom’s water was in the one on the left. I took my beer out and offered the cup holder to my new neighbor.
“Thanks, that’s really sweet.” she said, looking at me.
“No problem,” I said. “I’m pretty sure that one is rightfully yours, anyway.”
“Aw, did you bring your mother to the game for Mother’s Day?” she asked, placing her beer in the cup holder
“Yes, he did,” my mom said.
And then they talked for the next two minutes. About how this girl’s mom was all the way in Connecticut and about how she missed her and about how she was originally from Connecticut, and about how my mom’s daughter* lives there and blah blah blah.
*My sister, in case you are slow in connecting the dots.
And I just sat there, pretending to be deeply interested in the game (even though it was in-between innings) and wondering what, exactly, was happening.
The conversation reached its natural end and the beautiful girl turned back to her date.
And then they began talking. In hindsight, this was not a good plan for the guy.
He seemed to be at the beginning stages of intoxication, which only increased throughout the day.
I must note that I have nothing against reaching the state of intoxication. But a first date is certainly not a good time for it.
I must also note that even if I was not attracted to this girl, the conversation between these two would have certainly wound up becoming a blog post. Because it is a very rare and eye-opening experience to be able to witness a first date. Rarer still to be able to witness a bad first date.
From an outside, unbiased (okay, slightly biased in this case) observer, listening to the progression of a failing first date is an incredibly interesting sight to behold. It is like watching a show like Wipeout. As the overweight man gets ready to jump over a series of giant inflatable bouncy balls, you know that it is going to be bad, even cringe-worthy. But even more delightful than the fact that he is about to get hurt or embarrass himself is the fact that at some point, he thought “Yes, I might be grossly overweight, but I can do this! I can jump from one giant inflatable bouncy ball to another giant inflatable bouncy ball and so on and so forth until I land gracefully on the other platform over yonder.”
But as that man steps up to the platform, takes a deep breath, and gets ready to jump to the first unstable giant inflatable bouncy ball, it is only because we are outsiders and we have noticed all of the signs that we can say, “Oh! No way is this a good idea.”
And in a similar light, it is so much easier for an outsider like me to say “Oh! No way is that a good idea,” when the drunken tattooed dude two seats to my right calls for the beer guy. This, after his date had said “another already?” in such a glaringly condescending tone when he had ordered his last one ten minutes prior.
Before going further, I feel that it is important for me to stop here so that I can offer a defense for beer. Because beer is pretty great, and I wouldn’t want to tarnish its immaculate reputation. This dude’s failure was not because of beer. He certainly would have crashed and burned without it. But like a good lawyer does in his or her closing statements, the beer simply locked up the case.