Father’s Day, Fenway, and Why Rich People Don’t Do “the Wave”

Celebrating a late Father’s day gift last night, we walked to Fenway Park and cheered on a Red Sox vs. Miami Marlins victory.

It was magic. (This from a non-sports person!) Anyone who knows me can tell you I know little about U.S sports culture, but in recent years I have enjoyed some sports events, seeing them as small entries into another world, another culture. I have ceased waxing wise about their faults and begun seeing them as places of learning and enjoyment. And Fenway is nothing if it is not going into another world. Fenway is a cultural icon.

From Fenway Franks, those hotdogs that anywhere else would not taste as good, to fans toting beer in small plastic cups, to “the wave”, to Grand Slams, to singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of our lungs, it is, and was, a cross-cultural experience.

I always imagined that “the wave” was unique to the U.S but found that is not true. While there are arguments about where and how it originated, it is a standard part of sports spectator behavior worldwide. It is usually set into motion by a dozen or so fans and consists of standing, raising your arms to the sky and sitting immediately afterward. The motion carries forward in a clockwise direction and in a large crowd it is an amazing site to see “the wave” move around a stadium in full force.

But last night we observed something curious. “The wave” was going strong around the stadium, starting in bleacher 39 and moving forward with strength – until it reached the box people, the rich people. And there is where it faltered almost ready to die. It was as if “the wave” was beneath them, as though we, the commoners, were the ones low enough to carry the motion.

Why do you think this is? Were they so busy watching the game that they didn’t see “the wave”? I don’t think so. I think it’s about security and image. And if there was doubt before, after last night all doubt is gone – rich people don’t have as much fun as those with less. Box seats, season tickets and a bank account to match and yet there is not enough security to break out of a mold and do “the wave”? It sounds like a type of prison.

With money comes an image, an image that is carefully cultivated and groomed. It is dependent on the stock market, interest rates and who you know. And evidently that image doesn’t include “the wave”. What do you think?





Boiled Peanuts and ‘Bless Her Heart’ – Memorial Day Weekend in the South

    My husband and I have a cross-cultural marriage. I come from northern stock with roots going back to the Mayflower and my husband is a direct descendant of the family of Robert E. Lee. My husband is the only one in his family to marry north of the Mason-Dixon line; I am the only one in my family to marry south of the Mason-Dixon line. We have communicated across the boundaries of family and culture our entire married life. 

My parents were born in Massachusetts – home to the Boston Red Sox, clam chowder and the Kennedy clan. My husband is from the land of boiled peanuts, ‘Bless her heart!’ and the Confederate flag. One of my mother-in-law’s favorite sayings is “Save your confederate dollars boys! The South’s gonna rise again!” In my husband’s family it is not called the “Civil War”; it is called the “War of Northern Aggression”.

And this weekend we were in his territory, in his land, where the only thing that out rivals the friendliness is the food: biscuits and gravy, barbecue and grits.

It was a great weekend! Flying into Atlanta on Thursday night, we went from the cold and drizzle of Boston to a warm humidity. We were met with the hospitality of Cliff’s youngest brother and family and the next day we made the trip to the mountains of Georgia where my husband’s ‘kin’ have settled for the summer months, leaving the plant-wilting sun of Florida to work its warmth and sunburn on northern visitors.

Windy roads and drop dead views (I am being literal – you would drop dead if you fell over the railing) of the Smoky Mountain range was our terrain for the weekend. We sat on porches overlooking mountain upon mountain, drank sweet tea, picnicked by a river and took hikes around a lake.

We experienced fried green tomatoes,sweet peach tea, fried pickles, pecan toffee bars, smiles at every turn, and a small Baptist church where the preacher came off the platform to dialogue with the congregation. Quick smiles, friendly ‘hello’s’ and waves every time we drove by had us in a state of perpetual smiles. We couldn’t help it. It was so friendly; it felt so foreign. My youngest daughter, an extrovert who loves people and conversation, decided within minutes that she belongs in the south.

We heard about private schools and government schools and thanked God many times that we had a rental car and not our little PT Cruiser that boasts Massachusetts license plates. We were in a place where there was little separation between church and state and the Pledge of Allegiance along with the “Star Spangled Banner” started off the church service as a way to remember on this Memorial Day Weekend.

It was as if we were in a different country; a different world. The only thing that seemed to bind this rural area of Georgia with Massachusetts was the word ‘united’ in United States. It was quite remarkable.

I live in an area that can be somewhat arrogant. Boston and New York are both cities that boast education and enlightenment. Both these cities have been known to assume ignorance of someone who speaks with a southern accent as well as to consider anyone other than those whose ideology lies at the far end of left to be “ridiculously” conservative.  If someone expresses a different opinion, the general thought can come across as “Well you’re just out of touch”. But I had to ask myself during this trip “Who’s out of touch with whom?” The farmer, industrial engineer or retired veteran  in rural Georgia has as much right to an opinion of what will benefit them as the New Yorker or Bostonian.  The mistake both can make is that the other’s respective opinions, perspective and reality are not important.

And now we’re back – with a bit more lard in our systems and photographs to remind us of a great weekend. A weekend of communicating across boundaries and cultures over sweet tea and biscuits with a side dish of ‘bless her heart’.


My “morning coffee” view! Rest for the soul.


A local coffee shop has the New York Times delivered for customers and puts the names of those who subscribe at the top pf the paper. They come pick it up and cross their names off a list. Seems not many subscribe…..


A shelf of old spices and bottles at a local flea market.


Tallulah Point offered a perfect spot to look over Tallulah Gorge.


View from above Tallulah Gorge


Mountains upon mountains – a view off the balcony20120529-153514.jpg

100 Years of Fenway Park

1918 Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park
1918 Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park

It wasn’t until I was 44 years old that I attended my first major league baseball game. As a third culture kid in Pakistan I didn’t grow up with an affinity for baseball. In fact, the bulk of my experience around baseball consisted of me sitting at my maternal grandma’s apartment during a home leave, watching occasional games on a small black and white television. “Grandma K” as she was lovingly called, was a fan. All I saw were men in funny suits running around catching a small ball. It didn’t make sense to me. Now cricket,  the game enjoyed across the pond and throughout the subcontinent? That made sense!  I was mostly interested in Grandma K’s Ritz crackers and peanut butter.

But at 44 I entered the big leagues. I found myself at the Diamondbacks Stadium in Arizona with premier seating, a benefit through my husband’s job. To my surprise – it was fun. Really fun. Despite the pitiful record of the Arizona Diamondbacks that year I found myself caught up in the Wave, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and even watching people down huge amounts of beer in plastic cups. It was, for me, a pivotal point of learning to enjoy something that is an American past time.

It was that year that I became a Red Sox fan, just in time to thoroughly enjoy the historic winning of the World Series after years of succumbing to the “Curse of the Bambino”. A few years later we moved back to Massachusetts and found ourselves walking distance from Fenway Park.

And this week Fenway Park has turned 100 years old. Home to the famed Boston Red Sox and one of the most beloved stadiums in baseball history, Fenway had its 100th Anniversary Party yesterday and will host a game in honor of the anniversary today. Heads up fashionistas – they will be playing the New York Yankees wearing vintage uniforms. As America’s oldest major league stadium Fenway deserves this recognition.

There is a magic at Fenway Park – anyone who has visited will attest to this. Much smaller than other major league stadiums, it has the charm of history and longevity on its side. Fenway Franks, those hotdogs that would probably taste mediocre anywhere else, Sweet Caroline, The Green Monster, and more are all part of the Fenway experience.

So Happy Anniversary Fenway Park. In our world that honors progress, beyond what it is worth at times, may we enjoy 100 more years of vintage!

Food at the Fenway - courtesy of Carmen

At a mere $15.00 you too can purchase a commemorative mug!