"If we'd all gone to the same college," I've been told Annette said once, "We'd all be friends anyway."
But we didn't.
How we met is as much a no-brainer as it is a mystery. We all love the Sox. We are all dweebs. It makes sense.
And yet it doesn't. It keeps sliding in and out of focus, how a group of people so perfect for each other could just spontaneously form out of the atmosphere, and find itself at the Allston Sports Depot on a mild Friday night in mid-July, watching the Sox clobber the Yankees, 17-1, on one of the myriad pulsing plasma screens dotting the bar.
We got our own function room, even.
Everyone, as with Kristen's dinner party, was simply themselves. Mer, cool and graceful, pragmatic, the way she is on the board and in her blog, gave me a ticket to tomorrow's game at face value. I'm blown away by the fact that she'd let something like that go to, for all intents and purposes, a complete stranger.
Maura (BigTimeBingo) was a gracious presence, laughing at our inane humor, patiently listening to me hold forth at length about Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke, and the Red Sox as Soap Opera over cigarettes outside by the trolley car.
Jen (Jengal) was quiet, but all smiles.
And Amy...Maura leaned down and hugged her before she left and called her "sweetheart". It's a throwaway endearment in most cases. But Amy is just a sweetheart. She makes you want to hug her and never let anything bad happen to her. Amy is adorable. Her performance of the fabled "Trotter dance" brought down the house.
Paul (LaterGator) was also sweet, putting up with the henhouse along with the long-suffering Steve Brady.
The highlight of the night was Trot Nixon's inside-the-park home run. Melki Cabrera, god help him, got his ass kicked by the ball in center field, diving into a bungling heap while it bounced past to the wall.
"Runtrotruntrotruntrotruntrot!" I screamed, along with everyone else at the table.
When he crossed the plate, panting, we were shrieking, pounding fists on the table, clinking beer glasses. They showed it over and over again, in slow motion, the lunge and the tumble, and we could not get enough...and overall the night could not have gone more swimmingly.
We are not the cool kids. We are not the popular table. We are "other". We are "miscellaneous." We are perfect, not in general, but for each other. I cannot emphasize this enough.
As things were winding down, we asked for the check. Our waitress told us that Maura had paid the tab. We looked at each other, stunned.
"That had to have been like 150 bucks!" I blurted.
"Thereabouts," nodded the waitress.
Maura...you shouldn't have. My goodness. But thank you.
Allow me to get even cheesier.
I've been doing some thinking of late about past lives. Wait! Before you stop reading! I don't necessarily believe in all that. Rest assured I'm not going to be swinging crystals and harnessing my chi anytime soon. But I've been trying to do some exploring, a little reading on the outskirts, trying to nail down even a half-assed approach to the spiritual side of life. Past lives have interested me as a jumping-off point for philosophy.
To wit: the main philosophical contention of past lives is that the meaning of life is to learn, for the soul to progress through various trials and tribulations and to emerge from one life to the next having grown. We are said to choose those things and people which surround us, our life station, our path through each life. The ultimate goal is to attain enlightenment.
Whether or not I was Cleopatra is not something I feel I need to believe in order to benefit from thinking about these things, as I was tonight connecting with these people, so at random, as I think about the Red Sox, as always, and their meaning.
In a way, the ultimate purpose of the Red Sox really makes the team, and its wins and losses and errors, almost beside the point. They are our favorite soap opera--as Edw. (my God, how I miss him) put it, a morality play. We project our meaning onto them, derive meaning from the game and its machinations. A 17-1 win, or an 8-6 loss, against the Yankees, is not merely representative of a slide or gain in the standings or even a historical vindication against arch rivals. My belief, more and more, is that the purpose of the exercise is in its sociology outside the field, the meshing of minds and the often deep culture that takes place in bars and message boards and living rooms as it pertains to the game at hand.
It wouldn't have to be the Red Sox. It could be a rock band or a TV show or anything, really, that captures an audience, and eventually leads to the members of that audience looking over at one another to gauge opinion or to high-five.
So here we are.
It was one of the best moments in recent memory for me, following the smooth-sliding lights of a westbound commuter train on the Mass Pike towards home, gazing up at the half moon, now obscured by whisps of cloud, now casting its shape into the night sky. Listening to De La Soul:
I'm telling you, I love life
Know what I mean? Life is beautiful...