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.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why Vote?

Please watch....

... and vote.