Friday, June 4, 2010

The game, the rain, and the mustard

It was Memorial Day weekend.  The Cable Company sent us a coupon to actually save us money on a Durham Bulls game instead of raising our rates: $5 for a reserved seat and a free hot dog. And the weather wasn't going to be too hot.  70% chance of rain, but that still leaves a possibility of good weather right?  As the week went on, the probability of rain for Friday dropped from 70 to 60 to 51%.  Make a straight line graph, the probability of rain on Friday the 28th would be to about 0% on June 3 or so.  It's all about the future, so let's follow that graph and buy some tickets.

I dropped Lara off at the box office and looked for parking.  My family history genetically predispositions me toward coupons (ticket to the game), free food (free hot dog), and free parking (bypassing next door garages).  So several blocks later, where Jackie Robinson drive turns a corner, there is a big lot across from the tall NC Mutual Life building.  People pass the lot because of a sign - No ballpark parking.  But slow down long enough for people to honk at you (transplanted Yankees not locals, I hope) and you see the smaller sign - Except after 6 PM. Brilliant.

Ten minutes of walking later and I was back with Lara.  We met Amber and her family and found our seats, by the third base side, with a clear view of the "Hit Bull Win Steak, Hit Grass Win Salad" sign (picture).

As usual the Bulls did well, and it was a close game.  Amber's family ate before the game, so Lara and I got two free hot dogs each.  We probably spent almost a full inning in line for a hot dog that was eaten before we made it back to our seats, but free tastes good.  But a fully loaded dog is dangerous, and my shorts paid the price: a mustard stain.  I started treating it with water immediately, but I despaired that I had just ruined another piece of comfortable clothing.

So we've gotten several paragraphs in and there hasn't been much about the game here.  I'm sad to say I'm slowly drifting into the group of people for whom the game is just a background for social interaction.  It shouldn't be an either/or.  We should be fully invested in each other and the game at the same time.  It's supposed to be a little brick ballpark utopia revitalizing downtown through people and sports and commerce and food all wrapped together.  If it's only about the people, couldn't we just sit around in that free parking lot space I found and talk? (still bragging about the space).  But we enjoyed each other anyway.

Around the ninth inning, it was clear the Bulls had a very good chance of winning, and that the probability of rain was also very high. Thunder poked at the edge of the city.  The temperature dropped.  Wind blew about.  So normally the faint of heart would leave.  But Friday night is fireworks night.  We even have umbrellas.

The drops come so slowly and so far spaced apart that I turned my head up to the sky and just watched them come down around me, rarely hitting me.  This I can handle.  We'll move to the shelter that's over the sections behind home plate after the game and see the fireworks nice and dry.  The pace of the rain gradually picked up.  The Bulls staff immediately rolled out the field covering after the game ended.  Yet, they still towed a little trailer out onto the field.  This trailer completely automates the fireworks process.  The ballpark lights went dark, and we knew the fireworks were on.  Cheers erupted as the show went on.  Then squeals erupted as the gradually increasing rain became driving sheets of rain..  We were five rows within the shelter, and we still had to get out our umbrellas to avoid getting drenched.  The little fireworks robot worked its heart out, so the cheers and squeals continued.

The fireworks over, we huddled underneath the stadium waiting for the rain to end.  The driving rain now became persistent driving rain.  After several minutes, I decided to bring the car back.  This is where the paid garage across the street looked attractive.  The me of that moment of 9:30 PM wanted to have a conversation with me at 6:30.  The parking was free, it must be good.  Yet, it's far enough way that I could get lost.  I can get lost in your own subdivision, when it's sunny. Too late.  I still had the umbrella, but it ended up functioning more like a visor.  Even after travelling through a sheltered block of the American Tobacco Campus shopping district, I still had blocks more to go.  Summer rain isn't bitter cold, so it was no disaster, but it was like one of those water ride signs, "You will get wet!"

I did get a little lost driving back to the park on the dark rainy streets. I panicked momentarily when I called Lara to come to the car and she didn't answer.  Was I going to have to re-park the car and go back in and find her?  And would I then have to again consider paying for parking?  But she came out shortly.  I have apparently trained her in the arts of cheapness so thoroughly that she did not want to lower her prepaid cell phone balance by answering the call.

End result: the deli mustard, the type of thing that I could not get out with stain remover and a long rinse plus an extended cycle, was completely out of my shorts by the time I got home.  Now that they are naturally, organically, fair trade, locally sourced washed, I will sell the shorts at the farmer's market.
For a more satisfying ending, stop here.

To be honest, the next morning, when I went to wash the shorts, I saw that some of the stain still remained.  My hope had clouded my vision.  But I still maintain that there was some improvement.


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