By Kevin Devlin
One way or another, I knew that today would change my life. I was sitting with my girlfriend, Anna, in box seats at Fenway Park watching the Boston Red Sox play against the hated New York Yankees. It was the second inning and the Yankees just scored two runs to take the lead, 2-0. Anna, being from Manhattan, was thrilled to see the Yankees surge ahead early in the game. She laughed, poking me in the side, busting my chops that the Sox were down.
“It’s early, it’s a long game,” I said. “We’ll see who’s laughing when the final out is made.”
“Yeah right,” she replied. “I like the Sox a whole bunch but I’m from New York. True Blue”
“So,” I said.
“So, they got their number and New York rules.”
“Okay whatever you say. But I just don’t understand how you can root for the Sox every other game during the season except for when they play the Yankees.”
“C’mon, how many times do I have to tell you why?”
“I don’t know…how many?”
She ignored my question, poked me in the side again and laughed as she fidgeted with her IPhone. Then she turned to me and smiled that smile I’ve loved ever since I saw her for the first time at the local pizza place on Dorchester Avenue.
“I’d like some popcorn and a drink if you don’t mind.”
“The kid should be by soon. Can you wait?”
“Sure can. My team is up at bat and looking to score some more runs.”
“That’s great but you’re dreaming. Sox are gonna come back and whip these slugs.”
This time she didn’t smile nor acknowledge my statement or me for that matter. About ten minutes later, Anna was eating popcorn and enjoying her Pepsi. I was sitting there hoping for the Sox’ bats to come alive while simultaneously thinking about an important question sitting uncomfortably on top of my mind. Then in the fourth inning, the Sox came roaring back and scored six runs to take a 6-2 lead. Anna wasn’t bragging now about being a Yankee fan.
“Yup, told ya’ the Sox would come back. Sox are much betta than the Bronx Bombers.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Anna said. “And like you said…it’s a long game.”
In the fifth inning, the Sox went to work again and scored four more runs to take a commanding 10-2 lead. I stood up and cheered with the Boston faithful when they took the field to begin the sixth inning. She wasn’t enthused about my enthusiasm.
“Told ya’ they’d surge ahead of these guys,” I said, smiling.
“You need to stop the bragging because you’re aggravating me bigtime.”
“Sorry…didn’t mean to bust ‘em.”
“Well, I’d never know it.”
“It’s only a game.”
“It’s not only a game, it’s the Yankees-Sox series and it’s not only a game. Hate it when the Yankees lose to Boston. Hate it! Hate it.”
“Calm down, you’ll bust an artery.”
“No, you calm down. I am calm.”
“Can’t you be the least bit happy that the Sox are winning even if it’s against your mighty Yankees?”
“Nope,” she said. “Not smiling. Not happy.”
“But the Sox…”
“I’ll always root for the Yankees over the Sox,” she interrupted. “That will never change. And don’t think you’ll ever change my mind. Never ever think that. It won’t end pretty I’ll promise you that!”
I hesitated to say anything else at the moment and just looked straight ahead to the outfield wondering what the hell just happened. I had never seen the love of my life look this way at me. It was if she looked through me, consumed in anger.
I put my hand in my jacket pocket and felt the small, velvety box. I imagined standing up and popping the question. I imagined her saying yes, as several curious onlookers discreetly watched the moment unfold, then let out a burst of applause when Anna smiled, hugged, then kissed me.
I imagined all that but suddenly knew I couldn’t live with someone who rooted for the Yankees over my beloved Sox.
So when the boy came walking past me I bought a beer to celebrate what might have been and zipped up my jacket pocket.