From Generation to Generation
The best thing about being a Red Sox fan? It's not the Green Monster or Nomar or the Yaz Robot that scientists are supposedly constructing in a basement miles beneath Fenway Park. It's the way that one day the world can be crashing all around us under the weight of bad vibes, and the very next day -- a mere twenty four hours later -- it's all sunshine and The Partridge Family and sweet, fresh flowers. --(SG)
Saturday night I watched the game in a much more conventional place than a dentist's office: a bar (pictured above).
Ah, Slattery's in Fitchburg; the speakeasy of my ancestors. Specifically my father, who made a home there as a fraternity brother at Fitchburg State College in the late 1960's, at a time when the place had a linoleum floor, a cranky, dyspeptic bartender and a bowling machine in the corner that was the chief determinant of who was going to buy the next round--which in turn was the chief concern of the group.
My father brought my mother there when they had been dating a while. My mother requested a hamburger. The bartender slapped a single undercooked patty on a plate. My mother requested a fork. The bartender looked at her like she'd asked him for a tampon.
"Bobby," he said to my father, "You gotta stop bringin' broads 'roun' here."
At the present time, the floors are shiny with tiles rather than warped with old linoleum. There is a full restaurant in back that anyone would be caught dead at. Bartenders and waiters will bring you buffalo wings, potato skins, fried shrimp, and assorted other delicacies. Forks are not a problem.
The place, my father tells me, is a shadow of its former self.
Where my father's frat brothers used to gather to watch Mission:Impossible on Sunday nights, Saturday night a new generation was out in force playing pool, drinking dark beer and keeping their eye on the wide-screen TV broadcasting the Sox. It's may not be as much of a dive as it used to be, but it's still just enough of one to be comfortable. In fact, the whole city is like that. Hanging out there sometimes is like slipping into a ratty old sweatshirt; it may not be pretty, but it lets you be yourself.
It was difficult to remain inconspicuous, however, the only girl at the bar sporting a SCHILLING 38 T-shirt and shouting at the television. Guys in backwards baseball caps were giving me vaguely frightened looks all night. Good, fuck them.
The Moment with a capital M of Saturday's game came after Kevin Millar hit an almost-homer to the Monster Seats. I tell you, I've never seen a ball stop dead in midair at the top edge of the wall and then slide straight down into the outfielder's glove without bouncing off or otherwise touching the wall itself. It was like a fucking Roadrunner cartoon--and I looked quite the fool with my fist raised in the air in jubilation in the smoky bar, "Whoo-hooing" for all I was worth as Millar's glorious two-run tater turned suddenly into the loudest fly-out in the history of mankind.
But then--oh, but then. Numero Venticuatro took the plate and blasted a monumental no-doubter into the Monster Seats. It was a moon shot so precise it gave me instantaneous goose bumps: it came down among a crush of howling fans in the precise spot where Millar's homer should have landed.
Fenway went nuts. Slattery's went nuts. And the wide-screen TV showed how Millar was waiting with open arms as Manny crossed the plate.