Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Bittersweet Win

"I can't believe it-- we're actually gonna see the Red Sox play tonight!"

"Mom, we should just get cable," Joseph says with a sly grin, "then we can see them anytime we want."


That's all I say. Because I don't feel like explaining yet again that if we had cable TV, we'd be a family of lab rats-- spinning endlessly through all of those channels...

Nope, I'm not going there.

We're having dinner in a sports bar on a fine Saturday night, minutes away from watching Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in glorious high definition TV.

In fact, all of the plasma TVs in view will be showing our game.

I am in heaven.

In. Heaven.

And nothing is gonna spoil it.

You see, just two nights ago, I listened to Game 5 on the radio while the rest of my family slept. I heard that amazing comeback.

Now, I was about to see my boys play.

"Uhhh, Mom... " Joseph says, interrupting my reverie, "where's the game?"


Immediately I peel back a sleeve to look at my watch, and then my eyes return to the giant screen several feet in front of our booth.

Yup, the "TBS" logo is exactly where it should be, in the lower right corner.

But, wait-- a sitcom is on?

"What? What?" I sputter.

Frantically looking around for someone who can do something about this, I spot a young, dark-haired man behind the bar explaining to a white-haired gentleman in a Boston cap that he'll try to figure out what's going on.

When I turn back to the giant screen, words scroll across the bottom telling us that TBS is experiencing "technical difficulties."


For several long minutes, I stare at the screen in disbelief-- while Ryan works hard to reassure me that I will indeed get to see my game.

And thankfully, he's right-- minutes later, I see Josh Beckett going into his wind up.

Criminy, TBS-- don't scare me like that.

Spirits lifted, I sigh, sit back and watch Beckett throw a perfect strike.

And just as he's about to let go a second pitch, I hear my daughter's voice.

"Mama, I want to go home."

"What? What?"

"I'll take her home," Ryan tells me with a smile. "You and Joseph stay here and enjoy the game-- I can listen to it on the radio."

"Ah ya sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure."

(Have I mentioned lately how much I love this man?)

Soooo, moments after Ryan and Evan leave -- with the Sox down one run -- Joseph and I belly up to the bar so we can sit with the other two Boston fans in the place-- that older gentleman in the Boston cap (Rob) and his wife (Deb).

Turns out, Rob is actually from Massachusetts-- born 66 years ago in my hometown. In the very same hospital where my mother had me.

We laugh at the coincidence and proceed to cheer loudly for our team.

Between innings, Joseph talks baseball stats and pitching calls with Rob, even getting up at one point to demonstrate the throwing motions of his favorite major league pitchers-- Daisuke, Papelbon, Beckett, Sabathia...

And he's spot on.

Over and over, Rob tells me: "If I ever had a son, I would have wanted this one!" and "I just love your boy!"

All the while, I sit back on my bar stool and beam.

Until about halfway through the game, that is-- when Rob asks Joseph who he wants to win the presidential election.

"Obama, of course!" Joseph says.

"What about the other kids at your school?"

"Obama. All the way."

Rob, still smiling, turns to me and his wife.

"What about you?" I ask. "Have you all decided who you're going to support?"

"McCain," he responds with a grin. Deb nods, chiming in--
"Oh yes, McCain."

Usually, when someone tells me they support John McCain I leave it at that, respecting their decision-- as I hope they respect mine. But there's something in the way Rob says it. I can't put my finger on it, but for some reason I can't leave it sit, so I go on.

"What made you decide to support McCain?"

"It's simple, Obama is going to spend and we don't have the money-- we need to do an across-the-board cut." He pauses, takes a sip of his Chardonnay, and then continues, "Don't get me wrong, Bush ran us into the ground running up the debt. But now we need to stop spending. Period."

"You do realize that some programs are necessary-- education, healthcare- "

"Nope. We've got to stop. If I had kids I'd probably feel different, but I don't."

He chuckles, and then adds, "It's not our problem."

Those words -- that laugh -- feel like a blow.

"But what about healthcare?" I ask, struggling to stay calm. "You do know that John McCain's own campaign announced two weeks ago that he was going to pay for his healthcare plan 'with major reductions in medicare and medicaid'-- this didn't come from Obama's campaign or a commercial, this came from John Mc-"

"That won't affect us," Rob says, with an almost serene smile.

"But people, people like my son... he has diabetes- "

And now, Rob and Deb stop smiling.

"Listen," I continue, "John McCain's healthcare plan, if he puts this thing in place... well, my son may not have access to the tools he needs to treat his disease. Insurance companies will be allowed to relocate to those states that don't require coverage of diabetes supplies. This will hurt my son, and millions of others- "

"Yes, yes," Deb cuts me off, "pre-existing conditions, that's right-- people with pre-existing conditions. That will be hard for them."

Hard for them. HARD for them?

I want to scream.

But the game is back on.

For a while I can't say anything. I can't even look at them. But then, the Red Sox score another run, and we're cheering again.

In the end, the Sox win. We all celebrate with hugs and high fives, and then say our goodbyes.

"Thank you," Rob calls out, as we pull on our coats, "you both made this game really special."

As I'm backing out of our parking space, Joseph turns to me and says, "Mom, I really like those people."

"Yes, they were very nice," I say, my voice catching.

And here I am, days later-- still feeling troubled.

Yes, the Sox were eliminated and that really sucks.

But it's that conversation at the bar I can't seem to shake.


Scott said...

Truthfully, neither McCain nor Obama have addressed the issue of pre-existing conditions; in fact, its only been during the past few weeks (since the last debate) that Obama even mentioned preventing insurance companies from "cherry picking" (a term he borrowed from Hillary Clinton) the healthiest people, and while that's a nice sound byte, it doesn't tell us how he's planning to address that "little" issue!!

Sandra Miller said...

But Scott- just before Wall Street crashed, McCain stated in the September/October issue of Contingencies (the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries):

"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulations." (emph. added)

It's precisely those state-based regulations that ensure coverage for diabetes supplies.

Don't you find McCain's assertion at all troubling?

Anonymous said...

We're crossing our fingers.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your Sox. That man's perspective is extremely troubling. "Not our problem." That says it all.


Anonymous said...

Oh boy. I know *exactly* what you mean about your political conversation in the bar. I live in MA, so we're a bit more sheltered around here (ha) but the implications of McCain's health care plan terrify me (particularly as someone with diabetes). I never considered myself an "issues voter" before, but I'm beginning to reconsider that label when it comes to health care. One of my in-laws is a staunch republican. I have avoided bringing up the subject with him because I am afraid it would trash our relationship. My husband and I are going to NH this weekend to canvass for Obama. Here's hoping!

Anonymous said...


Actually, Obama's healthcare plan that has been on his website for a while now directly addresses the issue of pre-existing conditions: "(1) GUARANTEED ELIGIBILITY. Obama and Biden will require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans, regardless of their health status or history, can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums."--or read the whole plan- click on the linke Read the Plan

Bernard said...


Thanks for a good post. And that was a great game to watch, even with the missing first inning.

I posted recently on the health care alternatives between our two major party candidates. It's clear to me that McCain's approach to healthcare is going to be a disaster for anyone with a chronic illness. That's one of the many reasons why he won't get my vote. (Though I may not actually vote for Obama, I'd really like a 3rd alternative.)

Nicole P said...

Oh, dear, Sandra.

I have to admit, I am not a big fan of Obama. I would have much prefered Clinton, or even better, Edwards on the ticket. I cannot believe in a year with a woman and an african-american candidate on the ticket, I favored the white, male, lawyer... Oi. Edwards, though, really seemed to be getting to and talking about the poverty and class divisions that I think are so very important to bringing true change to Washington and the other candidates (maybe due to their history making qualities?) didn't and don't seem to have as tight a handle around those issues and how to address them.

On to the healthcare piece. If there is one reason to vote democrat - I guess this is it. I found this article about McCain's plan today:

Everything I've read about his health and economic policies seem in this same vein. Essentially, taking away or at least seriously depleting coverage (by means of making it totally inaccessible OR totally unaffordable) for those who NEED it regularly - to be able to accomodate more people who don't need it as regularly. It's disturbing.

I disagree with Teresa that Obama has been any clear around his plan on healthcare, except to assert that ALL Americans should have insurance (duh?) His plan right now includes very limited information about HOW he'll pay for the reform he's pushing - essentially assuring us that simply rolling back the taxes of the rich and retaining estate tax ought to do it. I don't buy it. Especially considering the amount of spending that'll be going on in other areas under an Obama/Biden administration. With our economy teetering on the brink of disaster, it's important for all of us to understand how all of these promises being made are going to get paid for.

This bullet, in Obama's healthcare plan, in particular, makes me shudder a bit: Reform the insurance market to increase competition by taking on anticompetitive activity that drives up prices without improving quality of care. I want to know what specific reforms he's talking about...

What I'm getting at is this. McCain is laying out a plan that I KNOW would end up costing me - maybe even my health and well-being - in the end. Obama - well, I've got a lot of questions - and I'm simply not comfortable with some of the man's positions and associations.

I'm wondering if I might end up voting third party for the second time in my voting life. At least I'd be asserting my right to make some choice. And, given the electoral system (and how little power it gives voters in some states, like here in Massachusetts)I wouldn't actually be wasting my vote, just making a statement with it.

Nicole P said...

Damn it - it cut off the link:

McCain Healthcare Plan

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A Cuban In London said...

Well, as a Yankees fan I could not help smiling. And the Phillies are the new champions, it just goes to show.

Greetings from London.