26 09 2011

Huh.  Found something I wrote way back in Baseball 2010.  Still a worthwhile story, though, so I’ll go ahead and post it.

Oh, to have the wit of my favorite bloggers, the ones at TigerBeatdown, Shakesville, Rage Against the Manchine.  Because I witness the same patriarchy they do, but I can’t make it funny or biting the way they do.

To wit, last night I was at the Cubs-Brewers game in Milwaukee.  Valiantly trying to decide who I should root for, because I do love baseball, but not in the yay-for-my-team way.  It’s more of loving baseball season, of all that it’s associated with.  Loving the Cardinals because we lived in St. Louis when we first got married, and it was the first time I’d ever lived in a city with a team that good – in the mid 1980s, the Cardinals were HOT.  I love baseball for the discussions I had with my husband about the game, subtleties that I didn’t understand and he could explain.  It was another way of marital bonding.  He was a Cubs fan.  He rose and fell (and fell, and fell) with the fortunes of his team every year.  I remained a Cardinals fan mostly out of contrariness. 

So anyway, the Cubs were at Miller Park last night.  And I was in the bleachers, where the beer and the passions run strong.  Never been in the bleachers before – in fact, I haven’t been to a game at all in over four years, and that game was watched from a luxury box, so last night!  Quite different!  Milwaukee and Chicago being in pretty close proximity (is there far proximity? never mind), there were lots of Cubs fans in the stands.  And in the row in front of me, some particularly intoxicated Brewers fans.

Understand that I love Milwaukee.  Wonderful city, friendly people, fantastic arts community, and so much more accessible than Chicago.  So also understand how truly, deeply obnoxious these young men in front of me were.  I could live with the ear-splitting “WOOOOOOO!!!” that followed each slug of beer.  And for a while I even thought it was sort of charming, like watching an over-stimulated child.

It got less charming.  With the uninhibited dancing that took up much more than his allotted space in the bleachers, with the Jimi Hendrix air guitar imitations that involved feet on the bleachers in front of them (sorry, people sitting there!).  And less and less with every time the Cubs scored… which was a lot last night, the Brewers apparently all tuckered out from their thrashing of Pittsburgh this week.  When the Brewers did manage to get the Cubs out, there were the shouts of “F**K you!  And YOU!  And YOU!”  aimed at the Cubs fans also seated in the section. 

People are tempted to blame that kind of behavior on the drinking.  But a very good friend of mine once observed that people are, if anything, MORE themselves when they drink.  The controls come off and they become who they naturally are.  And these young men, by virtue of the alcohol and being in a group, became thugs.  People in the stands around them moved away.  Nobody made eye contact.  When profanity spilled out, nervous laughter or acting like nobody heard it. 

I’d like to say I was different.  And I was in that I couldn’t move away because I was surrounded on both sides.  But the truth is that I put up with it like everyone else did.  Lots of reasons – cut the guys a break, it’s the alcohol, they’ll give up eventually.  But really?  It’s being afraid of what would happen if I did tell them to knock it off.  Because hey, there are lots of things that they could attack me with, my vulnerabilities are right there – and the biggest one is that I’m a woman.  And they’re men.  Men can act that way.  And women are supposed to be nice. 

They’re young.  I’m menopausal.  They’re fit.  I’ve had babies and it shows. 

But bottom line?  They’re men.  In this society, men can act that way.

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