I’ve always had this vision in my mind of what it would be like the first time I took my kids to a Pittsburgh Pirates game. There’d be oohs and aahs as we emerged from the corridor out into the open to see PNC Park spread out before us in all its splendor. There’d be plenty of nachos and hot dogs and cotton candy (and beer for Daddy). We’d root, root, root for the home team, and maybe I’d even snag a foul ball to the amazement of my adoring offspring.
This past Sunday I hoped this vision would become a reality. In my grand vision, however, I forgot to include the part about carrying Isaac on my shoulders several blocks from our bargain ($12) parking space to the stadium and then all the way up the never-ending ramp to the nose-bleed section. By the time we got to our seats, I was ready for a nap. Coincidentally, so was Isaac, which made keeping him in his seat for more than three pitches a near impossibility.
Meanwhile, as the scent of nachos and hot dogs and other ballpark delectables filled the air, Cassie took out her Tupperware container of spinach and feta salad and passed me my almond butter and real-fruit spread sandwich on whole wheat bread. You see, not only was this my kids’ first Major League Baseball game, it was also our first day of the 100 Days of Real Food Challenge—an health and wellness program based on self-inflicted torture and food deprivation, into which my wife had so graciously enrolled the entire family. So, as my friends around me feasted on melted cheddar, French fries, ice cream, beer, and other normal desirable foodstuffs, I choked down my dry sandwich and sipped on bottled water.
But then a miracle happened. Somewhere far below, one of those crazy people who try to keep you entertained between innings, took out her hot-dog bazooka and fired a frankfurter high into air. As the wiener projectile screamed across the blue September sky, I could see that the wind was blowing it in my direction. Then, as the meaty meteor fell back to earth, I reached over the guy next to me and snagged it right out of mid-air! Willie Mays would have been proud.
I held the hot dog triumphantly above my head as the crowd cheered in approval. It was like my entire life had led up to this one glorious moment.
Ah, but glory is fleeting.
Apparently hot dogs – especially hot dogs blasted out of a cannon – do not qualify as “real food”, and therefore I was not permitted to consume my coveted prize. My friend Don tried to convince me to eat it, saying that it was most certainly a sign from God, much like the manna that fell from heaven to the Israelites. But alas, my wife was not swayed by this obvious act of Divine intervention and instead offered me some carrots and humus.
I don’t remember much of the game after that, partly because I was delirious from starvation and partly because we missed several innings as we watched my kids navigate the chaos that was the ballpark’s indoor playground. We could’ve saved some money on gas and tickets if we’d just stayed home and played in the park across the street from my house. But then again, I never would have caught that airborne weenie.
And what would my legacy be then?