Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Day at the Game -Invasion of the Overpriced Concessions

A strange creature hobbles down the steep stone steps.  Despite her youth, her sun bleached blond hair pulled back in a pony tail, her strained contorted expression betrays her natural beauty with  features, reminiscent of Quasimodo, as she bellows in a coarse loud voice, "Ice cold beer, water....Ice cold beer, water!"

 In bondage by a large oversized  crate, cruelly strapped to her thin frame, filled to the brim with overpriced, mouth watering bottles of water, Coke and beer, dripping with pearls of dew.

 Each slow hobbling limp is painful to observe.  Her tired muscles twitch and quiver beneath her neon day glow, nylon  shorts and color coordinated pristine Nike running shoes.  Her hunched, uneven shoulders buckle under the weight of the concession yoke. Her grimace with each small step screams in silent pain.  I attempt to distract myself by concentrating on the simple bold, black, block letters on her bright yellow jersey that identify her simply as a nameless "VENDOR".  I am torn between the basic instinct of thirst, and also of pity, repulsion and the outrage of a small $4 bottle of water. A mix of emotion overwhelms me, that I simply give up in disgust, as I contemplate the possibility of abandoning my seat and going home.  The repetitions "ice cold beer...water", a dying howl, a masculinized bellow betwixt human and animal, fill the crowded stands like a metronome in the background- a non stop reminder of the irony of overpriced concessions, thirsty parched crowds and tortured, contorted food mules. I contemplate on what is it about attending ball games or amusement parks, that transform oneself into feeling parched, overheated and exhausted; dying of thirst.

I can not even concentrate on the game, for how can I find this grueling experience entertaining- the medley of emotions- feeling parched and repulsed. This is not the barren dessert or the third world, yet it feels as close as I will ever get with overpriced water and food beyond my reach, and the hot sun unmercifully beating down.  Driven by my thirst, I take a discarded crumpled, empty water bottle from my threadbare sack and trudge my way to the public restroom.  I pull the flimsy bottle out of my bag and with determination, fill it in the restroom sink.  I find I have to continuously press the button as each burst of water lasts only two seconds.  After 15 minutes of perseverance, mounting shame, ignoring  any disapproving glances, I have filled my bottle with liquid refreshment.  The first sip is refreshing, and most of all it is free.  I was adamant that I was not going to spend four valuable dollars on a bottle of water when the sink would do.  I contemplate how long I would have to work to even earn $4. I contemplate on the groceries I could buy for four dollars: two loaves of bread....  or three full sized bottles of soda.... or a pound of turkey from the deli... the list goes on.  My disgust at the extortion mounts as I pass the overpriced concessions on my way back to my seat. For the cost of a single hot dog I can buy an entire package of hot dogs, buns and 6 pack of soda at the grocery store.  I shake my head at the reminder of the wanton frivolous expense of a single hot dog that I could neither afford nor justify.  This game is not entertaining or enjoyable whatsoever.  I am not having any fun.  Even the word "fun" seems strange to me; such an unusual word it is.

Faceless, nameless hoards in the bleachers, and a continuous procession, long mile long lines of sweaty "fans" exchanging their money out for seconds of refreshment, parched with thirst in the crowded stadium.  One would think gold was being sold, at the over inflated prices.  Yet it is not gold; just water, simple pretzels, scoops of melted ice cream. On the return trip, men, women children walk slowly and deliberately back to their seats holding for dear life onto their purchase so not to spill a drop of water or lose a drip of ice cream or drop a fry- as if it were treasure.  Weary, angry, mothers admonish their toddling toddlers as they drop a fry or spill a drop of precious cola.

The miniscule baseball players appear to be a world away, nothing more than dots, obscured by large screens and bright flashing ads and loud short bursts of random music.

When the game is finally over, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief, an occasion to rejoice.  I do not even know what the score was or what team won- the game itself obscured by the grueling environment and basic feelings of want.  Once again, I did not have any fun.  I don't even recall what the word "fun" means. Ironically, the best experience of the day is when it is time to leave my seat and find my car and crumple in exhaustion: physical and mental. My day is done. I go home.

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