I love Philadelphia. I’ve loved it since Ryan was little and being treated at Shriner’s Hospital, and one day I asked if I could go out to get him some McDonalds for lunch as a treat. The nurses said, “Sure! Go on out and take a break. He’ll be fine.” I’ll never forget pulling out of the parking lot with the windows down and smelling the clean, fresh air. Anyone who’s been on North Broad Street in the summer would die laughing, but that’s how it felt to me. People were nice, the air was clean, and I felt like I was home, even though I lived in New York at the time.
Now, chances are good you’ve heard stories of the other side of the coin where Philadelphia is concerned. The dumbass kid who ran onto the ball field during a game. (And the copycats later.) The guy who got drunk and threw up on a cop’s kid. The fights in the stands. The snowballs thrown at Santa Claus (and I still hold that if the guy shows up at a football game with 70K people in attendance and he doesn’t bring any presents, he gets what he deserves). The way the Phillies’ fans took over Nationals Park for Opening Day a couple of years ago. (I don’t hear Nats management complaining about the revenue they took in, but that’s a different can of worms.)
Today I experienced Brotherly Love.
I had our usual Sunday season tickets for the Phillies game. It being the first Sunday home game of the year, I couldn’t wait. I missed the place over the long and lonely winter. Citizens Bank Park is practically my second home. I know where everything is, to the point that I could probably navigate the place blindfolded. I love it there and I love baseball. If Heaven doesn’t in some way resemble Citizens Bank Park, I’m not going and that’s all there is to it.
John went to the Saturday game with a friend, and a Mets fan’s kid dropped his ice cream down his back. Not on purpose, of course, but still an inconvenience when it’s the 1st inning. I didn’t give his bad fortune a second thought as Alex and I walked around the ballpark today, soaking in the atmosphere as fast as the crab fries. We got to our seats, the game started, I was knitting, Alex was recovering from eating $50 worth of food, and all was just great. Cole Hamels looked pretty good despite giving up a 2-run homer in the first; he put it behind him and got on with the game. Awesome stuff.
Fourth inning, and behind me I hear, “BLURP.” I feel something hit my back. I look behind me. The woman 2 rows back has vomit down her shirt, across the bag on her lap, down her shorts and legs…and across the seat in back of me. And, consequentially, my back. Then I turn to Alex. It’s down his back too. I look at her. She looks like a mannequin, staring straight ahead of her like nothing’s happened, other than she’s been pithed through the spinal cord. I wait for a word, an explanation, an apology; something. Nothing.
I think, “Well, okay, I’ve got a problem here.” I wave to get the usher’s attention, to get a rag or something. He’s distracted. I dig some napkins out of my bag and start wiping off Alex’s shirt. Pretty futile, but it’s better than doing nothing. A woman in the row behind me hands me a handful of baby wipes, bless her heart. It does more for Alex’s shirt, and I can clean off the seats too. I peel out of my jersey (thank God I opted for the tank-under-the-Utley-jersey look) and hang it inside out on the railing.
Alex and I sit back to watch the game–it was the bottom of the inning; of course I’m not leaving–and then I tell Alex we’re going to go get him another shirt. I’d seen t-shirts with Hunter Pence’s famous, “Good game; let’s go eat” on it, and it’s perfect for Alex (considering he just ate $50 in concessions). I wanted it anyway; now I have a reason.
We get the shirt. I ask for a shopping bag. I take Alex aside and have him change shirts right there. I put the dirty shirt inside out in the shopping bag, and we go back to our seats.
Where three rows around our seats applaud us. I’m blown away. I guess they were glad I didn’t blow up or cry or do something pathetic. I just cleaned up and went back to the game. Pretty sweet.
Someone in our row says she talked to a CBP employee about getting Alex a replacement shirt, saying it’s the least they could do. (Someone else complains that the woman who threw up had staggered into the seat. Apparently she was WAY overserved. I’d like to credit her as a Mets fan, but I couldn’t tell; she wore no identifying fan colors, or maybe it was hidden under the spewage.) When I get back, the area manager has a shirt but says, “It’s not big enough. We’re looking for a bigger one.” An inning later, another CBP employee comes to the seats and brings us both shirts “because you deserve them.” More applause in our section. She also notes, “Just so you know, you can’t buy these.” One shirt is mostly red with the CBP logo on it. I’m guessing it’s something they only give employees. (It’s a 2XL so it’ll fit Alex.) I tell the woman, “He wears red for his soccer team so this is perfect.” She was delighted. The green shirt is from the Phestival, the one volunteers were given. That’s mine. 🙂
Other ballparks, I’m sure, might’ve seen the same scenario played out and said, “Wow. Sucks to be you.” But not Philadelphia, and not Citizens Bank Park. I love this place. This was home to my family a few generations ago, and it’s home to my family now. When someone asks where we’re from, there’s no hesitation in my heart. I may have been born in NYC, but I’ll hold my head up and say, “I’m from Philadelphia.”
And in case you were wondering, the Phillies avoided the series sweep by beating the holy snot out of the Mets. Despite the puke shower, it was a good day all around.