#471: The Fan

May 1st, 2015

There’s always someone who loves baseball more than you do.

I went to Wrigley. I did the things. $8.50 beer, $5.75 hot dog, $49.50 hoodie because I misjudged the chill night breeze.

We sat and laughed and watched the Cubs lose badly, cutting out early when the game got too dire.

That’s a thing you do at Wrigley too.

Then came the man in the bathroom.

He had thick glasses and a wide, toothless grin. Old and white and thin. “Wizened” would be a good vocab word here.

He started talking to me as we washed out hands.

“Oooah!” he said as his hands touched the water.

We were all filing out in the eighth, hitting the troughs before we slinked away.

“Yeah, nice and warm,” I said. “It’s cold out there.”

“And I’ve got to get on my bike after this.”

Continuing to wash my hands so as not to arouse the wrath of the many Cubs-garbed men waiting in line behind me, I turned to look at the man.

There wasn’t a bit of Cubs merchandise on him, no reek of beer or hot dog anywhere to be found. Just an old man who rides a bicycle to watch his team lose.

“Where do you come from?”

“Ravenswood!” he said proudly. “Sheridan and Lunt.”

I wished him well and left the bathroom, out back into the sea of Cubbie blue and Budweiser red. A mother dragged a crying little boy by his hand. A group of identical trim blonde girls colleged it up in micro short shorts despite the cold. Men in caps, shirts, jackets and $49.50 sweatshirts identical to mine stormed around with their dudebro friends, loudly proclaiming the exact moment the team lost the thread.

I thought of the old man riding his bicycle five miles in the chill and dark.

There’s always someone who loves baseball more than you do.

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You are currently reading #471: The Fan by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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