Thursday, August 28, 2014

Frank Talk about What Ifs

I wasn't intellectually honest in my post below about the concert The Spare and I attended. This is because I didn't want to link Spare's experience to the name of the band. Now I'm going to talk about the tricky wicket of getting flirtatious with famous people.

Starting with me.

When I was a young woman, I spent a lot of time at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. It was summertime, and I loved the Orioles. The team had a very charitable policy for students: $1.85 for an upper box seat. I went to every home game in 1979 and quite a few in 1980.

I lived on the second floor in a Baltimore row house. On the third floor lived a Baseball Annie who was 85 years old. I thought she was senile when she told me that Brooks Robinson took her out to lunch. Then one day I saw Brooks drop her off in front of the house! That's when I knew that the Baltimore Orioles club was really treating this poor old lady like gold. I'll never forget it. Sure wouldn't happen in these times.

About mid-summer, 1980, my elderly baseball friend said she'd gotten seats for us to go to a game together. The seats were Row 1, Seats 1 and 2. We were further allowed to go and stand by the locker room door before the game, where dear old Esther bear-hugged every single player except Frank Robinson. I was nearly speechless to be up-close-and-personal with every single Baltimore Oriole.

You probably know that baseball players arrive at the ball park hours before the game starts. They have to get dressed and warm up. So Esther and I were way, way early for the actual game. When we arrived in Row 1, Seats 1 and 2, The Kansas City Royals were warming up on the field.

Some of you old-timers might recognize this pretty boy. His name is George Brett, and in 1980 he was just about the best baseball player in the world. Damn if he didn't know it, too. He was not modest.

Back to my tale: Dear old Esther and I settled into our box, and before I knew it, George Brett was looking at me about as much as he was looking at the baseball. Then he smiled at me. Then he came over to the fence. He was super sweet to Esther and then turned his attention to me. Where did I live? Baltimore. What did I do? Student. Where? Johns Hopkins, right up the street. Did I like baseball? Oh yeah. So, what was I doing after the game? Would I like to go to a party?

George Brett, top of the heap in baseball in 1980, had just asked me out on a date.

I respectfully declined, pointing out that I would have to see Great-Granny home safely. He persisted, but politely. He told me to think about it, he would be at the Belvedere Hotel, I could drop by and find him any time.

I had no boyfriend, but I was pragmatic. I wasn't keen on mixing it with a ball player. Some girls were. The bored gods know that half of my friends would have jumped at this opportunity.  Both then and now, I placed more emphasis on romantic love than on sexy stuff.

I've always wondered what my life would have been like if I partied with George Brett.

He was gorgeous. A physical specimen of unparalleled magnificence. Would that experience have altered the way I looked at a more ordinary (albeit 100 times brainier) Mr. J? Or, would I be sitting here now, teetering on crone-hood, fondly remembering a fun and angst-free night with a gorgeous athlete?

What if? I just do not know.

Back to the present.

Spare and I went to a concert together. This band is meant to be experienced on your feet. They usually play in venues with no seating. But this time they were in a theater with cushioned, stuck-to-the-floor seats. It just felt weird from the get-go.

Of course, the very energy of this band had everyone up on their feet from the second beat of the first song. Spare and I started grooving, back in Row H.

Then Spare pointed at Row 1, Seats 1 and 2, and said, "Come on, let's get closer."

No denying it, when you get down to the edge of the stage with this band, you feel like you're just another member of the outfit. There's 20 people on the stage, all playing and/or singing at maximum energy. So Spare and I just got the groove on, and before we knew it, the band's leader jumped off the stage and started high-fives ... and Spare got one.

But it wasn't the headliner who was staring at Spare. It was a musician, the closest one to us where we were standing. This musician was male, young, and playing a violin.

Spare turned around and said to me, "I think that guy is looking at me."


Moving on. The show ended with no encore, which is very strange for this group. Sometimes they play two. Maybe it was the venue. Anyway, Spare and I lingered, disappointed, until it was clear that no encore was forthcoming. Then, I saw a friend and went over to say hello to her. We talked about three minutes. THEN I saw a half-finished water bottle on the stage. I said to Spare, "Watch this!" And I went down to the stage and snatched it. By that time, the young violin player had returned to the stage.

He hopped down and shook my hand. He shook Spare's hand. Then we started talking, because I have about a million questions about this band, and he commenced to answering them. It was clear he was focusing his attention primarily on The Spare. And he sure looked young, probably not much older than her.

Was Spare facing her George Brett moment? Well, let me tell you: It was on the tip of my tongue to invite this young fellow out for a cheeseburger and a beer, but before I could alter her destiny, Spare said, "Oh, nice to meet you!" and started for the door.

When we hit the inhospitable pavement of Broad Street, I said, "Why did you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Leave! He clearly wanted to talk to you!"

She couldn't believe it. Just couldn't believe that some musician would find her attractive. Yes, it is Ripley's. The girl doesn't know her charms.

Well, you see, I was also conflicted. There's not much difference at all between a musician and a baseball player, except that one is built like a god and the other creates god-like music well enough to be paid. Why should I ever want Spare to do something I didn't want to do when I was her age? Actually, in fairness, the musician was far more sweet and human, and humble, and affable... but he still was in town for one night, moving on to DC in the morning.

I teased Spare the whole way back to her apartment, which was a short six blocks from the venue. We were laughing about it, mostly, with her still amazed that I would think any male would find her attractive. Oh well, I left her on her Locust Street stoop and hopped on the El.

Was I trying to re-live my own youth? Shouldn't I be looking out for Spare's welfare? Oh! I beat myself up on that El! What the heck? No such thing as angst-free flirtation, right? What kind of mother would I be if I started encouraging friendships with wandering minstrels?

You know, there's something to be said for this younger generation. By the time I got off the El and descended to the Snobville sidewalk, Spare reported that she had established an Instagram conversation with the stripling performer, which continued at a safe and prudent distance through the wee hours. All of a sudden the 21st century is looking a little more appealing.

Life is funny. We get these "what if" moments. Some of them are life-altering, and some of them just leave you wondering.

One thing I do know. It's Spare's life, and I had best mess out. She's bound to come to her own "what if" moment. Or a dozen of them. Regrets are the spice of life.

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

A fascinating post, Anne! Funny how things come around again, the same but different.