Last Saturday I heard the tail end of an NPR story on Wrigley Field in Chicago, including interviews with generations of fans. But it wasn’t until I checked out the sports page this morning over my cheerios and strawberries and saw the front page story celebrating the 100th birthday of the famous ball park replete with a beautiful photo of the stadium with the famous skyline in the background, that this memory came back.
My connection with the Cubs goes back to my childhood. My favorite way to fall sleep at night was to listen to WGN, “the clear channel station,” in Chicago. Along with Fibber McGee and Molly and Loyola basketball came the Cubs games. Added to that background was the fact that my first husband was a rabid Cubs fan. We were part of the never-say-die fans who said at the end of every season, “Maybe next year!” Our family made the trek from various cities in Michigan to Wrigley Field several times.
On this particular summer day, we packed the car with two young boys and the trunk with snacks, drinks, baseball mitts (to catch the foul balls, of course), and jackets. However, after we parked in the crowded stadium parking lot and started unloading, it became crystal clear that we had forgotten one important item: my shoes. As I stood on the hot asphalt, I remembered running out of the house with my book (I find the slow pace of base ball infuriating) – barefooted! Kelly and Ryan thought it was hilarious, as did the passersby who heard their giggling. I, on the other hand, wanted desperately to get off the hot pavement and drive right back home.
Since no one voted with me on that agenda item, we all got back in the car and brain- stormed what to do. Finally, my husband remembered that his golf shoes were in the trunk. He proposed that I wear those. “Great idea, dad!” one of the boys said. However, once I saw the size 12, cleat-covered monstrosities, I balked. So it was decided. He would wear the golf shoes, and I would wear his regular shoes – also size 12. Problem solved.
However, as soon as we started walking toward the stadium, my sons’ hilarity turned to embarrassment as their father tapped his way down the sidewalk, followed by their mother in shorts and clown shoes, trying desperately to keep up. We finally managed to get into the stadium, but then the troubles truly began. Clambering up the cement steps to our cheap seats in the stratosphere was a nightmare. I kept tripping over my own big feet; he was afraid of stepping on someone else’s feet. As we passed row after row of people, the laughter trailed along behind us. We finally found our seats and the game began.
Oddly I don’t remember much of the game. I was too busy trying to remember to keep my size 12 feet out of the aisle.