written May 3, 2012
I went to Busch Stadium today, for a free game as a teacher-chaperone to the middle school. For my students’ sake.
I can try to maintain my Cub chill about visiting the odious home of the perpetually fantastic Cardinals I pass by every day, but in truth I lobbied for the opportunity to go. A few weeks back, while at Dorris Elementary, I overheard of an upcoming baseball field trip. In my next free moment I was in the office, volunteering. And that is exactly how much I was paid today: nothing. I didn’t entirely realize this at the time, that I would be like any other parent along as a chaperone. But again, children and our hopes of the future and so on.
What a great day, really. Just after eight we assembled in the gym, donning neon green t shirts (smart thinking). I and the other volunteers lined up along a far out of bounds stripe, holding up the number of our groups. Eventually six fifth graders came over to me. I welcomed them and introduced myself, then they stood in line behind me. After this careful process there was a mad scramble for the bus. I hoped all of mine made it to the other bus, because they sire weren’t all with me. But that’s how it was.
Arriving before ten, I assembled my squad. There were activities going on during the morning, from the Science Center and a local news channel, but they wanted to just walk the stadium and see what there was. Sounded good. Okay, now, the one rule is that we all—“Hey, get back here!” Until game time we inspected the souvenirs, tried on vein for a golden autograph perch along the first base wall, stopped at the science booths, and let them play the newest baseball video games. By this time we were all hungry, so we went in search of the Ozzie Smith Oz that would exchange our tickets for hot dogs and chips. One boy had a quandary: he and his adopted family is vegan. I had come to understand this, and as we walked I wondered if we could find the elusive chicken sandwich vendor or something. But he had no money. We discussed whether to consume the hot dog. I did. He didn’t.
As for the game itself, it was a clash of Central division foes, the Cards versus the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates, battling for top billing and the playoffs. It was a slow, sweltering game, as we sat in a sun-beaming section of upper stands as the National leaguers played small ball. Sun screen was borrowed and spread liberally. I didn’t see very much of the game, to be honest. The kids in my care were cycling constantly between wanting to get soda, water, dip-n-dots, popcorn, and the bathroom. And the Wave, constantly trying to start the Wave. I was on my phone a good deal, reassuring my landlord Doug and I would find a replacement roommate before I departed. The Cardinals ended up losing, as we were already amassed outside Busch waiting for tardy buses.
On a last separate note, our first candidate to replace me as roommate appeared night– a blonde, spry girl who obviously dragged a male friend along for backup. Doug showed her around, and we laughed about the now-apparent lack of need of a bodyguard against us. She seemed somewhat keen on the idea upon leaving, but Doug was unsure. Having a hot girl for a roommate may be appealing, he admitted but probably better left to fantasies.