Being That Guy

The Diamondvision said “Dora is now at the Store on the Stadium Concourse.” In case you had trouble with reading that, there was a picture of Dora as well, about ten feet tall, clapping her hands.

Susie turned to me. “We all have to go to Dora,” she said.

I think to ask, “But who will hold these seats for us? In the eighth row, behind home plate?” As if I fail to grasp the scope of the situation. A wife understands, balances the inclinations of her constituents, and advises.

“We all have to go,” she reiterates.

We stand up, and make our way up to the exit area. It is crowded. People stumble in these esplanades and concourses. Left, right, stop, look up, pause and consider: cotton candy, or hot dog? I think I could run a mile in the time it takes to move two children through 200 feet of concessions. We walk back down a long flight of stairs, to the plaza near the Gate.

Ah. There is Dora. She is hugging a small girl. She is wearing a backpack. Her hair is cut in an odd pompadour. It is something slightly Asian. It evokes the yakuza and their Punch Perms.

A tensor bar separates the crowd from Dora. The bar winds back to the stairs, around, and back up. Our eyes follow the line. It goes back, back, back all the way to those same concessions. I cannot count the number of kids in line. Easily, it is more than 100, all with mothers and most with handy snappers.

“You know why we have to see this, right?” says Susie. Rosie is buried in her shoulder. “Rosie, who is Dora?”

“Dora is my friend,” she says. “I think I love her.”

So we wait. Except we don’t have a camera. Matt from Holly Springs does, though. Susie gets Matt to agree to email us a photo. To do that, Matt will have to wait. But, he is game. His daughter waits,having seen Dora. The line shrinks. There are only three more children to go. Rosie is ecstatic.

“I am going to give her a kiss,” she says.

As I remember, there was no kissing in baseball. Or maybe that was crying. No crying in baseball. But I think the kissing rule was understood. But, we are not really at a baseball game anymore. We are at a Dora meeting. One with a baseball game nearby.

Hmm. An assistant is pulling the tensor bar across the line. Dora is leaving. She is walking into a lit corridor underneath the stadium. Dora has left the session.

The assistant looks at us. “Dora gets a water break between innings,” she says. “It’s the rule.”

Nice. As if three innings was a long shift. Dora obviously is not from North Carolina. We work in North Carolina. Rosie is worried. Matt from Holly Springs slumps. Oh, no. Time passes. I hear a loud cheer. Another. Its hot. Dora is not hot. Dora is on break.

Dora returns. The assistant produces a Polaroid. Rosie wraps both arms around Dora and kisses her on the nose.

We exit, fulfilled, and head back to the stadium. We pass the Caterpillar truck exhibition, the empty Goodberry’s stall, and the Budweiser stand.

We have promised John a cotton candy. There is a stand, off on the side. Purple and blue twists fill plastic bags like stuffed pillows. Susie cringes. “Last year,” she says, “there was a small. Where is the small?”

It has been eliminated. There are only large size cotton candies now. Granulated and dyed sugar, spun into a twisted vine at least two feet high. The median age of a cotton candy consumer is probably four. This seams like forced outlandishness, like a reckless liberty against our good will, an indecency against our desire to uphold a summer tradition.

The concession vendor understands the problem. “They decided to get rid of the smalls,” she says. “Call the Bulls. It is too much.”

I am glad to have her advocacy. She has picked a hard path in life, speaking truth to colored sugar. I pay her and we pick one out. Susie leaves with the kids. “Get us a concrete, eh?”

Yes, that sounds good. A concrete — chocolate ice cream custard stuffed with some kind of topping. I turn around, thinking that I can move freely and quickly. I see the Goodberry’s stand, not more than twenty feet back the way of Dora. I move in its direction swiftly, calmly. Satisfaction is to be mine.,

That is when ,from the other way, a Little League team slowly drifts in between us. They turn and stop in front of the Goodberry’s.

“I want chocolate,” says one. “I want vanilla,” says the other. A muscled man in a golf shirt encourages them. “Don’t order all at once,” he says.

They don’t. Theirs is a society of rhetoric. They bounce combinations off of each other, orders seeming to develop and then recede. “I think a butter pecan with marshmallows,” says one. “No,” says another, “try it with sprinkles. Mixed.”

Its a big team. They don’t cue up so much as they oscillate, like bees. I wait. I give them a bit of room. A mistake. Another guy, in a black golf shirt that reads something like “Integrinon” or “Follagious” or “Ladracept” moves right through the pack. That must be the name of whatever venture capital-funded office park fly-by-night get rich quick place that paid for his tickets where he works place is.

I can’t believe it. Maybe he is married to the woman with the team. Maybe that is it. No way is he just cutting through me and the rest of his team. But the woman turns, sees him, and stares through him.

Nope, he’s just cutting.

“Hey, dude, there is a line,” I blurt out. Its loud.  I can’t believe I just said that.  He turns around.  In for a dime, in for a dollar.

“A line that begins back here, Like with me and about forty kids in it.”

I think I was a bit strong. “Hey, no problem,” he says. “Go ahead.”

The little league team is like the Red Sea, and I am Moses, parting it. There are two vendors, both are ready to serve me.

“What would you like,” they ask.

I can feel a lot of eyes on me. If this was the movies, my words would be coming out in slow-motion, altered to a deep cave man-like contortion. Its a plaintive cry:

“Just a chocolate ice cream.”

Except its not that simple. “Do you want a chocolate with chocolate chips,” says the short blonde,
“or, with heath bar chunks?

“He just says he wants a chocolate,” the guy beside her says. His expression evokes <a href=”http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/ridgebio.html”>Tom Ridge</a>. Be prepared. I think he is already imagining how he will recount the story of how he broke a bone selling Goodberry’s. “Get him a chocolate, now!”

She gives me the heath bar crunch. The damage is done, though. I can already tell that I have become “the customer” that will make up the basis for whatever postgame break they take. I am the bad guy. I lost it.

I sit back down in our seats and hand the concrete to Susie. My pulse feels light. I don’t really want the concrete anymore. It seems dirty. I guess it happens. For me, it was three innings of water breaks for Dora, crazy portions of cotton candy, and good seats gone un-sat upon.

“This is the fun place,” says Rosie. “But Boots wasn’t here.”

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