Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Monday, July 13, 2009

Take Me Down To The Ball Game

I have not lived in the USA for a while, but get enough opportunities to visit for more than a few days. I am amazed at myself, however, that I manage to do that after the horror stories I sometimes have to live getting into that country. This trip was a bit worse than usual. Headed to Boston, to see off the 'trouble and strife' on a family cruise to celebrate her parents' 50th wedding anniversary, we headed through the 'hall of horrors', aka Miami Airport. Everything was fine from the time we left Barbados, and everything went wrong as soon as we landed in MIA.

Cut to the chase. We looked forlornly at the baggage belt, which neither moved nor shook. "American Airline regret to announce, the luggage from flight 602 will be delayed...at least 15 minutes...due to a technical problem...the baggage door won't open...the delay will be approximately one hour..." One panicked lady ran to the representative to explain that she would miss her connection and would not reach home today. "I fully understand, madam...." Why did he say that? "I DON'T THINK YOU DO!" she hurled back at him in a flood of tears. We waited patiently, seasoned travellers that we are, and my wife read a magazine. I watched people. With about 10 minutes to spare to boarding time, our bags arrived and off we wheeled toward the gate. My lady loved that, as she wants to exercise whenever she can, and having to hurtle between concourses at MIA was a necessity not a wish. Go Usain! We managed to have an otherwise sour disposition sweetened by the security officer at the concourse: a tall, black man, who looked a little like the comedian, Sinbad. He was cracking jokes and cracking up everyone. "Why y'all touch my rope? Ah-ha. That goin' be trouble....This is Concourse D, smile...If you cannot smile, please go to Concourse C...Raise your hand if you don't have a laptop...Good, Best Buy has a sale on in the city..." I tried to enter the spirit and asked him from what platform our train was leaving: "Oh, a funny man..." he quipped.

Arriving in Boston, we were bathed in balmy sunshine and warmth. "It's been raining for the past 40 days, and now you people bring sun from the Caribbean. Thank you," said one lady. We got into line for a cab, and I'm not sure why it irked me but as soon as the waddling, Armenian-looking driver approached and pointed to the trolley for me to pull it down the curb, I had a Hulk moment brewing. He motioned to me to life the suitcases into the trunk. I asked, "Would you like me to help you?" He smirked, and replied, "No, lift them in." Well, my brain went into a warp drive of irritation: "Would you like me to drive the cab too?" He got furious, and told the dispatcher that he was not going to take these passengers. Fine, I told the dispatcher, and let's have his licence number so that we can have him suspended for refusing the take these (I wanted to say 'black') passengers. He flubbed and said ridiculously to the dispatcher, "I'll take them if you will vouch for them." The dispatcher thumbed his radio and looked at the sidewalk. Downtown bound we were, and the ride was lovely for the silence that came from in front. I did not even bother to look back as we reached the hotel and motioned to the porters to deal with the bags in the cab, with an extra dig that they might need to help the cabbie get them out of the trunk. An Haitian porter looked at me quizzically and laughed "That's our job."

Boston is one of those northeastern cities that I like, not least because it feels to be on a human scale, not like The Big Apple. The lay out of the streets reminds me a little of London, as they meander, and the guides explain that they were laid out from the old cart routes. Makes it also a bit like the roads and streets of Bimshire. I also like that it has a lot of brick facades, also similar to London. The family crew got into full swing and the marauding band of 17 wound its way around shops and eateries for a couple of days. My elder daughter jetted in on the Saturday morning, ahead of the cruise departure, and had a brief love-in. I don't cruise on water, so would chill with her over the weekend. Ahead of that, we linked up very swiftly with a friend of my wife's with whom she had lost touch but whom I had found via her daughter, our god-daughter, on Facebook--naturally. The friend, from Boston originally, but part of our DC church, was now back on home beat and helping to solve problems for the homeless.

We waved off the cruisers, as they were loaded into three minivans and taken to the port. We focused on our plans for a stroll in Quincy Market, and beer at Coogan's Bar that evening. The next day, we had plans to sample America's main religion.

Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is a magnet for baseball fans.
I wont go into the team's history here. I just wanted to make sure that my legacy would have "He visited Fenway, and saw the Sox win." Trust me, I am no fan of the Red Sox. Au contraire, I was raised during my years in America, on the hard road....supporting the Baltimore Orioles, one of the Sox's arch rivals, in the American League East. When I went regularly, the Sox knew their place and were not just running away with games. Times have changed and glory days are back.

What I loved immediately about arriving at the ball park was how it was like those old football grounds in England. Set within a town and having normal things around it, like streets and shops and places to eat. In Britain, that's how it is. Not, the modern American way of mega-stadium surrounded by mega-car park. No, you took the subway ('The T' in Boston...that's a pun, I think) and then walk 10 minutes with the large, swaying crowds.

Food and drink are all so important at a ball game.
"Beer man!" is as popular a chant as "Let's go, Red Sox!" Sadly, I could not do justice to kettle corn, or Fenway franks, or a good ice cold Bud. I had been attacked by that modern virus, the Sunday brunch, and had had a fill of food before the game. Nice enough that I had been able to do so in the shadow of the tall ships that were in the harbour. But, I had to waver and eat one of those onion and pepper-laden Italian sausages, midway through the 4th inning. The Red Sox were on a tear and putting the game to bed. Poor old Kansas, like Dorothy's dog, was being yanked around. They barely did more than send up three batters for a few balls each then were back on the field. The Sox were lashing and getting men on base regularly, keeping Kansas baking. The Royals, though they played like paupers, sent up five pitchers. The Sox, just used one, and he did the full day's work, pitching a complete game (start to finish) and getting a shut out (Sox won 6-0) and doing it with fewer than 100 pitches (94, in fact). That's historic--not 'the most unique' as an American might say.

Satisfied ball fans wound their way back on The T and were in the city again in no time. A bit tired. But contented. All would be back to normal, after a trip to Chinatown to find the place for some very unballpark-like food later in the night. Have to say that we did have a ball.

1 comment:

Yankee doodler said...

Great piece, that made me feel I was at the game myself.