Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ball and Chain

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I woke up one morning to find several beer cans on my window sill. We lived in a garden apartment on Racine and Addison, and our window sills were level with the sidewalk.
"Did you see all that crap by the windows this morning?" I asked Steve later that day.
"Cubs game yesterday. We're only a few blocks from Wrigley Field, remember?" He said.
The next day there was another game, and I happened to be home. I was watching tv in last night's eye make-up and hair-do, wearing my highschool English Settlement t-shirt, and nursing a big nasty hangover. It was a sunny day in June, so all the windows were wide open, and our couch faced the windows.
"Hey! Whatcha wachin'!" A guy asked as he crouched down to talk to me through the window.
"Letterman on tape." I humorlessly replied. I didn't want to be too much of a smart ass, seeing as he could easily take a dive through the screen into my living room.
"Hey! You should come with us to the Cubs game! We have an extra ticket!"
As he said that, I noticed his friends milling about, swigging cans of beer.
"Who are you talking to, ya idiot!" One of his friends said.
"No thanks. Gotta go to work." I said back.
As they walk away, a group of girls walks up:
"Heeey! Wathcha doin', cutie!"
"Watchin tv!" I reply.
"Oh yea?!"
"Look, I gotta get ready for work now".
"Aww! Don't go!"
I get up and pretend to leave the room. Five minutes later, another group was at the window:
"Hey, you!, you know how to get to Cubs Park from here?"
This went on all morning. I try closing the windows, but it's too hot, and we didn't have curtains, anyway.
"I FUCKING HATE BASEBALL!!" I scream as I slam the door to Steve's room, where I throw Sisters of Mecy on his stereo and blast it.

I few days later, I was walking north on Sheffield, by Belmont, with Scott and Jody, all of us in our black-clad, tall, spiky-haired, brooch-y glory. Ahead of us were two big gorgeous guys.
"Check 'em out!" I say to them.
Just then, two other guys start yelling at us:
"Look at the fags! Going to go suck some cock?!" They start laughing.
"Oh shit! A Cubs game!" We say in unison.
The two sexy dudes heard what they said, and turn around and run back to them, and come to our defense:
"What did you just say to them? Nothing?! Bullshit! We heard you call them fags. You can't do that in this neighborhood. We see you around here again, we'll beat the shit outta you! GOT IT!!" They say as they push them around a bit.
"Wow!" We whisper to our selves. "Cute and courageous! I wish they could always walk ten paces ahead of us!" But our mood quickly changed:
"We better get outta here and home fast." Scott said.
A few blocks later, a guy walking with crutches, lugging his bright white, toe-to-hip leg cast, screams "FAGGOTS! GODDAMN FAGGOTS!" at us from across the street. Actually, from across two streets, cause we were by where Clark and Sheffield meet; he was that desperate to yell at us. We all stop for a moment and look at each other, because the look of utter disgust on his face was more shocking than the expletives.
"Jesus, what's wrong with him? It's one thing if we were having anal sex on the sidewalk, but we're just new-wavers; two guys and a girl! Why be so disgusted! How did Boy George ever have a career!" I say to them.
"Boy George?" Jody said.
"JESUS CHRIST I FUCKING HATE FUCKING BASEBALL!!" We scream as we walk through the gate to our court yard.
I learned quickly that if there was a home game, I had to walk the long way to work, and take the long way home.
Later that night, we walked to the 24 hour 7-11 on Sheffield and Addison for some ciggs. As we got closer to the Cubby Bear, we saw the long line of combat boot clad skins and mohicans that regularly appeared there. (Back in 1985, the Cubby Bear, kitty corner to Wrigley Field, hosted many hardcore rock bands. Hard to believe, I know...)
"Uh-oh, look at the line..." I said to Scott and Jody. We were too intimidated by the crowd in the line to walk past them, so we crossed the street. They didn't like us, either. I guess we weren't extreme enough for them. Back then, a 'line' was crossed if you shaved your hair down to the skin, as opposed to 'just short'.
I was always so stunned to see those extreme looking kids so close to 'the enemy'. I couldn't imagine the carnage if there was a night game (night games didn't start 'til the 90's) or a daytime punk show. It was like a fucked-up ying and yang, or like seeing a zebra and a lion on the plains of Africa, oblivious to each other's presence because there is an elephant between them: a potentially explosive situation diffused by a simple phenomenon called timing.
Those vocal reactions were always so odd to me, because I was always very extreme looking in my little hometown, and I rarely encountered any harsh comments. (HIGHSCHOOL, in another town a few miles away, is an ENTIRELY different story.)
My grandpa called me a lot when I first moved away.
"Hey Bri, have you gone to see the Cubbies yet?"
He's a life-long, die-hard fan of the Cubs. I remember spending many Sunday afternoons as a kid watching the game with him. I was secretly more fascinated by the odd commercials for Bert Weinman Ford. They spun the cars around on a spinning stage, in a brightly lit, blue studio, and the announcer's voice was very cartoon-like.
"Bert WEINman Ford!", emphasis on the 'wine'.
My ten year old brain ran amuck: How did they get those cars in there! How can the stage spin those heavy cars like that! Why are they spinning so fast! Why is he talking so weird!
"No, grampa, I haven't seen the Cubs yet, but they've seen me..."


Sarah said...


My old roomate and his brother used to live at Waveland and Sheffield. They discovered a way to make the Cubs games work for them. At the bottom of the eighth inning they would order pizza from Dominoes. This was back in the day of the crazy drivers trying to get the pizza to you in 30 minutes or your pizza was free. Thanks to the bumper to bumper traffic created by the suburban fans, they never paid for pizza during home games.

David said...

Bert Weinman Ford? I used to be amazed at how SHINY those cars were. You NEVER saw cars that shiny! I fucking hate Cubs fans.

Anonymous said...

Bert Weinman Ford closed last week....after 40+ years in business...poor Ford.