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Posts Tagged ‘fenway’

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NTKOG #74: The kind of girl who, when you ask her for directions around a part of town with which she is unfamiliar, stands happily for twenty minutes, rain puking from the sky, to look it up on her phone.

I am: particularly feline about standing in the rain. Also:

I am not: Mother friggin’ Theresa.

The Scene: Near Fenway, right behind the Green Monstah, on my way to Lansdowne Pub for the Barenaked Ladies concert on Saturday. The weather is schizophrenic, deciding whether to rain or snow, and I — wearing a light cotton jacket, no umbrella, and flipflops — am skipping spastically from non-puddle to non-puddle, all the blood in my skin freezing into a thin shield of armor.

As I get halfway down the street, a guy approaches me and asks where the House of Blues is.

“Don’tknowgoodluck!” I spit out, then keep skipping. After only half a mo, though, I turn back. “I can look it up on my iPhone for you, if you want,” I say, trying my hardest not to even convey reluctance.

The rain at this point is pouring, bucketfuls like a special effect in a high school student documentary. I spend some time browing through Yelp, then google maps, then finally tracking it through the phone’s GPS. After a good five minutes (my bones are drowning in my skin by this point), I lock eyes with the guy then turn my head sheepishly half a block up the street. His head follows.

“Oh,” he says. “I guess it was right there the whole time.”

We gaze up at the sign for a few minutes, but something funny happens as we gaze up: NOT A SINGLE DROP OF RAIN HITS MY FACE. You guys — the rain that had been driving pockmarks into my skin and skull the whole walk over?! Stopped, just like that, the second I looked it up for him.

I walked the rest of the way to pub in comfort. The rain didn’t start again until I was already under the pub’s awning, and out of its range.

The Verdict: Look, I see no other way to interpret this: the universe was so strongly in favor of my taking the time to give someone directions that it actually STOPPED A TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR TO REWARD ME. Can we just talk about how improbable and wonderful that is?! Not only that, but within the next 24 hours, I saw BnL from 10 feet away, and won an iPod and front-row Weezer tickets (though mega-bummer the show was canceled — still!). A+++++ WOULD RAISE KARMA AGAIN.

Seriously, though, I would do this again and I have done it again. I originally got the idea from a girl who, when I went to New York to visit Consultant, spent 25 friggin’ minutes on her Blackberry, helping me figure out what route to take and what station to go to. (This also taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of charging one’s dang phone.) She made such a positive impact on me that I’ve been looking for an opportunity to pay it forward, as it were. And apparently the universe was listening.

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NTKOG #72: The kind of girl who, heedless of not being invited, smarms, charms and bribes her way into events with closed guest lists.

I am: officially the antithesis of the sort of person who would be on any sort of guest list. Guest list = big-time yuck.

I am not: particularly the charmin’, smarmin’ type, even if I were actually motivated to crash events.

The Scene: Radio station concert situation at The Lansdowne Pub, featuring — googly cartoon heart eyes — my all-time favorite band, The Barenaked Ladies. Swooooon. (Guys, you cannot make fun of me about loving BnL. Absolutely cannot. The heart wants what the heart wants, and my heart wants Ed Robertson.) Sister let me know about the event on Thursday, and I’d not only been obsessively F5-ing Craigslist for invites, but actually participating in radio station call-in games too. Oh yeah. I had it bad. Unfortunately, all of the seventeen (17!) times I called the pub or radio station and begged, they told me the same thing: tickets are absolutely sold out and there’s no use asking anymore. Also: stop calling us.

But instead of just giving up — as old TKOG would have — tonight I stopped by the bank to pick up a crisp twenty for bouncer-bribin’ purposes, and glided down to Fenway to attempt to bribe my way into the show.

The event started at the old-mannish hour of 5pm, and by the time I got to the pub at 6:30, the other two acts were just about over. To my surprise, the only people clustered around the opening of the pub were a handful of smokers and one lone bouncer, inexplicably wearing a quite Dickensian hat.

TKOG: Hey, is this, uh, where the Barenaked Ladies thing is happening? Have they played yet?
Hulked-Out Bob Cratchit: It is. They haven’t gone on yet. I think Michelle Branch is still playing.
TKOG: Sweet. Is there any way I could, um, sneak in?
HOBC: Yeah, no problem. Hold on.
TKOG: Wait, what?! No. What? I had this — I had this whole thing worked out. I was going to be very persuasive.
HOBC: Okay…
TKOG: Well can I just run through it with you?
HOBC: Yeah, sure.
TKOG: See, I know they didn’t have tickets — it was just a guestlist, so you were going to say to me “Your name isn’t on the list,” and I was going to slip you a twenty and be like, “Maybe I can convince you to check again?” See, it was going to be like in the movies.
HOBC: Yeah, that might have worked. Sorry ’bout that. You still wanna give me the twenty?
TKOG: Well. I’m kind of broke, so… Thanks for letting me in! Totally appreciated!

At which point I sauntered in just in time to hear Michelle Branch sing an Aerosmith cover, and then see (four-fifths of) my all-time favorite band playing from TEN FEET AWAY!

Do or do you not see how insanely close I'm standing to Ed Robertson? NO FLASH WAS USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PICTURE. Seriously, I was as close to them as I'd be if they were set up and playing in my apartment right now.

Do or do you not see how insanely close I'm standing to Ed Robertson? Seriously, I was as close to them as I'd be if they were set up and playing in my apartment right now.

The Verdict: Um, can we talk about how supremely well this worked out? In the face of adversity, I just ignored everyone who told me what I didn’t want to hear, did what I wanted anyway, and IT ALL WORKED OUT. I ended up getting to see my favorite band from ten feet away completely for free and basically having a magical evening. Plus I got to have an awkward talk with a bouncer!

Goes to prove that old Woody Allen gem: 90% of success in life is just showing up. So. Next time I want to go somewhere and am told I can’t, I’m totes just going anyway, then asking politely once I get there. Mega win.

The only two bummers of the evening: 1) I didn’t get to bribe any burly dudes! I’m stashing that twenty in a special compartment in my purse, though, for the next time a palm needs to get greased; 2) my first time seeing a band I’ve been obsessed with for over a decade was only a few months after their brilliant lead singer, Steven Page, left the group. His specter was definitely felt, though: although the audience was pretty quiet, during the lines he traditionally sang during concerts back in the day, the audience all simultaneously belted, to cover, presumably, the sound of his absence and of our hearts, breaking.

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NTKOG #20: The kind of girl who gets all painted up in her team colors and hoots and hollers them all the way to victory!

I am: indifferent, at best, to organized sporting events. My idea of a good sportin’ time is a Frasier marathon. (Hey! The word marathon’s right in there, guys!)

I am not: into sports, okay?

The Scene: Fenway. Reluctantly.

Last year, in the Travel section of the New York Times, I read an excellent article comparing the best foods at ballparks across the nation. Out of polite interest, spurred on by visions of a Pilgrim Sandwich (turkey, stuffing + cranberry), I casually called my Red Sox fanatic sister and asked: “Hey, do you know where Fenway is?”

Turns out that was a bit of a stupid question. After over a year of intense mockery — “Oooh, see that, TKOG? It’s Fenway Cafe! I’ll bet they have patio seating in the green monstah!” — I decided to prove myself by actually facing said monstah. She scored three tickets to last night’s Sox v. Angels game eight months ago, but had plans to go alone-together with some guy. In a totally unprecedented move, I asked for the third ticket.

“Well, I was just going to throw it away. I guess I could give it to you. Same thing.”

So she armed me with a #15 jersey and a hand-drawn map of Fenway (complete with all nearby bookstores with huge do-not-go-here-you-wimp X’s slashed through them.)

I arrived at Fenway this evening a bit after the national anthem. And I did not figure out how the hell to get to my section until midway through the second inning. Once I actually elbowed my way into the standing room section at the top of the pavillion. I was ready to see some friggin’ ball! Here’s what I saw instead:

With distractions like "the field" and "players" out of the way, I was free to focus on more important matters.

With distractions like "the field" and "players" out of the way, I was free to focus on more important matters.

I didn’t actually see the literal baseball until halfway into the sixth inning — and I only knew it was the sixth inning from checking out the ESPN coverage helpfully displayed from a flat-screen TV across from the pretzel stand.

But surely the rabid Sox fans would carry this baseball neophyte through on the crest of their enthusiasm, right? I dreamed of jocularly sloshing foam on some ruddy-cheeked all-Amurikun baseball fans, jumping up to do The Wave together, leading a chant or two (“A pox! a pox! a pox on those who oppose The Sox!”). Instead, I listened in on an old walrus mustache dude trying to pick up a tipsy au pair by asking about the benefits of a season pass to the aquarium. Two conversations over, a tall young man with a disproportionally long torso and rose-petal pink cheeks explained to a trio of rapt girls the intangible benefits of dating a single mom with a special-needs autistic son (“She’s just, like, so guilty all the time. It’s kind of hot.”)

Right. This called for more booze.

While I was actually at the famous Chez Fenway, I figured I’d actually tuck into the famous sandwich, and spent another inning and a half navigating the concessions plaza — a concrete apocalpyse bunker, brimming with fried dough, the heady waft of hops, and restrooms every twenty feet — kind of a glorious shopping mall for the id, all things considered. When I finally found the deli stand (under section seven, Sox fans; don’t ask me what section seven is, though), the giant pimple behind the counter had just served out the last of the stuffing. Forget seeing the game! I couldn’t even get friggin’ food in this cavern of horrors!

So I set about returning to my seat. But, mindful of my difficulty finding the ramp upwards to the pavillion last time, I used a sneaky trick and follow a large stream of people up a ramp by home plate and directly into … a men’s restroom. “You lost?” barked a serious Southie; “Uh, so, this isn’t the pavillion, is it?” I tried to smile winningly, accidentally catching the eye of a man at a urinal. Okay, I take back my endorsement for the restrooms every twenty feet thing.

Once I finally found the proper ramp, I realized a little secret about having crappy seats: dude, just do not go to them. Go to other ones! After a couple of innings of boozin’, apparently no one notices. So I watched an inning or so, actually getting to see the batter for the first time of the night!, marveling over how life-sized the players seemed. Held out for the seventh inning stretch, and got the hell out of dodge(rs country.)

Turns out the game is only marginally more interesting when you can actually see it.

Turns out the game is only marginally more interesting when you can actually see it.

As I was leaving, in the beginning of the eighth inning, I realized: I didn’t know the score. Heck, I didn’t even know which team was winning. I stopped a couple of guys to ask, but they just laughed, so I checked my iPhone instead. Apparently we won. Go team?

The Verdict: Sorry, Pedroia, I don’t enjoy ya. A Red Sox game: definitely not the place to go for an anxious, sports hating intellectual; indeterminately the place to go for a decent Thanksgiving-style sandwich: DEFINITELY THE PLACE TO GO if you’re looking to mack on mothers and childcare professionals.

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NTKOG #16: The kind of patriotic do-gooder who, on a day of deepest national remembrance, perkily (yet solemnly!) skips off to donate a pintful o’ plasma.

I am: not a big fan of needles, it must be said. I blame the medical field in my native Las Vegas, where half the registered nurses are reformed strippers (“So how’d you get into nursing?” “Well, I already owned the uniform…”) with names like Krystal and Kandi, dead-set on finding my shy veins “from the inside.”

I am not: particularly civic minded, nor am I one of those people who gets misty-eyed when discussing the hallowed subject of September 11. I’d rather you not think me a monster for admitting this, but of course the choice is yours.

The Scene: Boston, a college town filled with young do-gooder blood, is apparently intent on spilling said blood into regulation Red Cross collection bags in their seventh annual 9/11 memorial blood drive. With all the hoopla being beamed at me right and left — get your blood drawn in Fenway while you watch the Sox on the Jumbotron! make your donation at City Hall and wave hello to the mayor! also, some Ted Kennedy references thrown in for extra hometown pride! — I gave into the spirit and took the T down to Government Center to squeeze out my sixteen ounces of civic spirit. “Lasting change, instant gratification,” they promised, and I was feeling proud already.

Instant gratification, however, is apparently a relative term. I followed the stream of Red Cross signs and red balloons, through a metal detector and several staircases to the drive. The man behind the volunteer check-in desk barked without glancing up: “You got an appointment?” I shook my head no. “Well, the next appointment’s in two hours. You can sign up if you want to.” I thought longingly of my beautiful apartment, out away from the drizzly weather, and how desperately it needed me to come home and spend a day unpacking. Then signed up for a 4:30 appointment slot.

After an hour and a half pacing the drizzle of Fanueil Hall, eating a $$$ tourist-trap naan wrap that tasted suspiciously of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, I checked back in with the man (who, in the meantime, had somehow acquired an eyepatch), grabbed a slip of paper labeled #44 and got in line for the pre-screening. Scored a prime seat, free fruit snacks, and a copy of a Halloween Decorating magazine. ‘This isn’t so bad,’ I thought.

“Number 21?” hollered a tired-looking nurse.

Oh. Okay. It was bad.

Spent an hour scanning the magazine and avoiding attempts at socializing from the guy sitting next to me, a college drop-out construction worker with very strong views on immigration. After going through my screening, I was ushered to the waiting area for the blood tables (ten of them, and at least eighty people waiting for their screenings above — there was a distinct waft of the Soviet to the situation), with a different-colored slip of paper labeled #44.

“Number 19?”

By the time my good friend the construction worker came back, I was desperate to hear his views on Mexico. Which I did for another full hour.

Finally, around 6:30, I get escorted to my table, lay down, and a sweet maternal nurse takes a look at the veins in my right arm. “Squeeze this,” she commands, handing me a bit of PVC pipe then commencing to dial a very long-distance number into my veins with her sharp fingernails. Huh, she mutters, then moves to my other side and chokes my left arm above the elbow with a band of heavy-duty rubber ’til it shakes. Huh.

She pulls over another nurse — a young woman, maybe even a girl, who, were I casting her in a movie, would play a naive British duchess coming into the first wildflower beauty of her youth and destined for gently zany hijinx. “This is my friend TKOG,” the first nurse tells Duchess. “She’s afraid of needles and she’s been here since 2:30. We can’t seem to find a vein.”

Duchess goes through the whole rigmarole with the band, the dialing, the PVC pipe, all the while singing along with the Enya song on the PA system. I tell her she has a beautiful voice and she inexpicably responds: “It’s okay to be nervous. I promise we’ll try to make this work.” She kneads my now-purple elbow, then circles one spot with a pink magic marker and tells me, “We can try this one,” with all the gravity of a B action star telling you that once he cuts the cord, you have ten seconds flat to get out of the building. She really does have a beautiful voice.

One jab. Two jabs. Three jabs, then she hails French Poodle — “This is my friend TKOG…” — two jabs, and they pull over Messy Bun — “This is my friend TKOG…” — three more jabs and finally, after all four women confer in whispers, the Gandalf Nurse is summoned down from the mountain. “This is TKOG. She’s been here since 2:30 and she’s not giving up. Can you please try?”

Gandalf takes one more stab at it, then lowers to a painful looking crouch to bring her face to mine. “I’m sorry, honey. Do you want me to try again?” And all of the other nine tables are filled with other people, giving blood for some better reason than just wanting to write about it on a blog, and yet she looks not at them but at me, kindly and wisely and seriously. And what am I, an idiot? I shake my head.

And as she bandages the ice pack on my rapidly expanding bruise, it all kind of hits me: the long wasted day, the oppressive grey drizzle, the construction worker and the bad Indian food and the fact that everyone else in this room is actually donating out of the goodness of their damn hearts and this perpetual bitter struggle between body and brain, the only thing in which I cannot succeed from sheer brute force of will. It all just hits me at once and — in the idiom of Tarantino — I cry like a little bitch.

Duchess taps Gandalf on the crook of her arm, where they hover a few feet away, and says softly: “Look at that. I wish everyone wanted to help as badly as her.”

The Verdict: No. Absolutely not. Never again. This whole friggin’ city is lousy with able-veined dudes who just can’t get rid of their blood fast enough, and they don’t need me to join their ranks.

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