It may be true that Sean (the New Age guy), my girlfriend and I, for that evening, lost the part of our minds that makes you aware of what is happening when it’s actually happening.
Before walking to our first Colorado Rockies game of the season we smeared our lips with marijuana-infused lip balm, dropped vials of Dixie Elixirs watermelon-flavored tincture and watched Sean writhe excitedly to the Bruce Springsteen track, “Dancing in the Dark.” The night before, Sean managed to score his first date in Denver and my girlfriend was given a promotion.
We were wild on life’s fumes and so stoned we could barely collect our sentences.
Within the first four innings the sun bore down on us and our backs stuck to the plastic stadium seats. The Rockies were losing by six. No one was hitting. Rockies left-hander Franklin Morales pitched without enthusiasm. Sean had spilled beer on a random woman — my girlfriend complained of stomach pain — and a young girl, no more than 12 years old, had made it aware that I was her crush. This was the setting for the greatest baseball game I’d ever seen and it didn’t even matter who our Rockies were playing.
Growing up I watched the Rockies’ Larry Walker belt home runs and Eric Young Sr. steal bases on the dial television I’d inherited from my grandmother. Fox was the only channel that could be tuned in, forcing me to watch games in the summer that otherwise would’ve gone unwatched. Sitting below the windowsill, I’d lean against my bed, counting balls and strikes while pretend-shooting at the innocent birds that visited my mother’s feeder. It was all done in secret — baseball and hunting — it was my solace during the ugly middle school years.
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With the sun falling off the back of the mountains, and Sean repeatedly asking when “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” will be played, I explained baseball things to my girlfriend. Stuff I’d learned in the bedroom of my childhood home. Things like: The beauty in a grounds crew’s organizational skills. How they pull the tarp over the field like fresh bed linens and mow the grass in tapered lines, driving toward aesthetic perfection. How there are people, those less fortunate, who have never seen in person the emerald green oceans that are MLB fields.
My girlfriend, not as impressed as I was hoping, interrupted as I was about to ask if she was listening. “If that little 12-year-old stares at you any longer I might have to say something,” she said. I told her she couldn’t, that it wasn’t the girl’s fault, that she is young.
“Maybe,” I had said, “I have something on my face.”
My girlfriend cocked her head and held it, touching my upper lip. “It’s your mustache. It looks like it shouldn’t go there.” She laughed down in the bottom of her lungs, her eyes watered and her stomach ache — I could tell — was beginning to pass. The heat from our plastic chairs was sending us in and out of a stoned delirium. With my girlfriend laughing uncontrollably, Sean had begun talking to himself, transforming the lyrics of “Dancing in the Dark” so that they were more personal. We were watching the Rockies lose, and our momentum was seeping away.
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I needed a breath of air. So I got up, bought a beer, soda, and walked back to my seat just as the moon had climbed into the sky. Rockies slugger Nolan Arenado hit a grand slam and everything inside the stadium erupted and turned. It was the first time I had ever seen such a thing, and before we knew it the Rockies were leading. The grand slam sucked out all the bad air and blew it over the fence. My girlfriend stood and screamed and so did Sean and just as the dust settled, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” began to play over the stadium speakers.
It was as if the past two hours had just run head-on into the present and cleared the way for reality. Plays like Arenado’s grand slam can make you believe sports are capable of something spiritual. When the dust had finally settled and the game ended, the Rockies had beaten the New York Mets with a walk-off home run. It was a game that I will tell people I went to five years from now and will be hard to believe. I had paired a marijuana balm with an evening at Coors Field. As we walked out with the crowd, fans chanting, kids laughing and the energy feeling too high for the ballpark ceiling, my girlfriend held my hand and as we watched Sean dance down the stadium stairs she whispered:
“Some Saturdays can only be described as ‘lived.’ ”