From my late-morning perch at Piazza Pellegrini, I proceeded to the iconic TransAmerica Building just because, and just because I had a client to meet with nearby. (Or what I thought was nearby.) (Hit the parallel bar thingy on your screen signifying "pause" for a sec. "Client"? Yes, ever since my visit in the summer of 2009 I had reached out and nurtured a possible relationship with a firm -- a relationship that finally bore some fruit several weeks before. Hence the legit use of "client.") (Hit the right-arrow symbol for "resume play.") Some high school kids dressed in Giants garb were sporting around the gardens at the base of the building, taking photos of each other, jubilant. ("Sporting"? My English lit prof in college declared this line by John Milton, in "Lycidas," the dirtiest line in the English language: "to sport with Amaryllis in the shade..." Really? OK. To each his own.) But you have to realize this: living in Syracuse, a black and orange SF hat is a treat, a conversation starter. "You going to the game?" I asked. "No; we're just taking pictures for a class." Fair enough. So, I walked down Montgomery, asked a stranger where Sansome was, hailed a cab, and instantly hopped into one. (I was so tired, I didn't even want to walk the five or ten blocks I need to travel. I didn't know that I had overshot my destination. Energy had to be saved for -- pause reverently this time -- the World effing Series!) I did indeed meet with some folks at the firm and even received a call there from another office, to confer on our project! Yikes! What a day already. (All the while, this little boy inside my chest is screaming, "Daddy, Daddy, take me to the game" even though game time was nearly five hours away.) I asked the receptionist for help in taking the bus to the ballpark -- not just any ballpark but AT&T Park. I walked to Broadway. Guy sitting on a metal bench. I sat on an adjoining metal bench. I asked a cop, "Is this the way to catch a bus to the game?" No need, of course, to explain which game. (Memory is faulty: was the policeman on a motorcycle?) At first, the cop did his best imitation of a New York City cop (insouciant dismissiveness), but as a bus approached (help me out, gang, the number 12?) he said, "Take that bus" and get off at so and so. Since it was not quite noon, the bus was mostly empty, a sprinkling of Giants fans. I immediately struck up a conversation with a lady bedecked with all things Giants, around my age, sitting near the back of the bus. "I guess I know where you're going." "I work there," she replied. Kalane told me she supervises the club level. Ushers. Keeps things organized. Cool. We traded stories about the season and her job, etc. She's a retired principal. Loves the Giants. "Say, if someone's brother's sister's cousin is having a baby and can't use their ticket, here's my card. Please call me." "Well, you never know," she said. "When my brother visited from Pittsburgh..." And, of course, I told her about my trip to Pittsburgh this summer, baseball road trip with two guys. She told me where we should depart the bus, and we did.
The street was electric. Already. Hawkers, gawkers, stalkers, talkers, walkers. You could just feel the radioactive currents in the air. ("Bye, Kalane. Call me, if you hear anything about tickets, okay? Great to meet you. And good luck to our Giants! You never know!") Yelling, hollering, buying, selling, partying, buzzing. And I was still a block or two from the park! And there it was! Better yet, there I was. Home. Three thousand miles from home, but home sweet tears-inducing home.
Movement everywhere. I soak in things I missed last year. Wall of fame placards, inscriptions on the Cepeda and Mays statues. For the heck of it, I inquire about tickets at one of the windows. I'm directed to other windows, which have a sign describing the inevitable SOLD OUT. I read quotes (not all the quotes; some dumbasses stubbornly sat at the base of the statue as if they were beggars) on the pedestal of the Willie Mays statue. I put my face in front of cameras. "Interview me!" "Why are you here, sir, and where are you from?" And I actually started -- almost -- choking up, telling about my Syracuse trip that stretched back to 1955 in Stamford, Connecticut. "Who are you?" I asked. "The Wall Street Journal online." "Good newspaper, but a bit too right-wing for me, but a good paper. I used to work at a paper; we loved your heds." She, the reporter, said, "Well, it's San Francisco. Thanks! Enjoy the game." She was visibly moved by my story. Or so I fantasized. Then, I put my mug in front of another camera. Publicity hog. Manic me. This time: NBC. The camera guy was from SU. I repeated my saga. (Wish I had given an explicit shoutout to The Flap; to this day, don't know if any of this aired anywhere.) Would I have enough energy for the game itself, now some four hours or more away? Oh yeah!
[more to come, including Kokonuts meets Big Flavor, a.k.a. Magnus]