Guest Post: Family Fun Day

May 30, 2007 at 11:24 am 9 comments

This was contributed by Kevin, husband of frequent IRF commenter:

My wife, Lindsay, and I and our son Parker and our daughter Reagan, ages 5 and 3, had been looking forward to our day-trip to Wrigley Field for several months. We had four coveted Cubs tickets, compliments of my company as part of its family fun day.

Minutes after backing out of the driveway of our home in Naperville, Illinois, Lindsay called her dad and asked for directions to the ball park, despite my telling her that I could get us there without any help. “What in the world are you doing leaving only an hour and twenty minutes before the game?” he queried incredulously. “You’re going to be late for sure!” Although his directions were admittedly quite helpful, his comments unwittingly turned his daughter against me. “Thanks to your last-minute workout we’re going to be late, as usual,” Lindsay grumbled while putting her phone away. “There’s no need to let it ruin our family fun day,” I said defensively, hoping to win her back. “At most we’ll miss batting practice and, perhaps, part of the first inning,” I foolishly added. “Batting practice!” she exclaimed. I sensed from Lindsay’s tone that she hadn’t thought of batting practice until I mentioned it. “Parker would love to watch batting practice, probably even more than the game itself,” she noted wistfully. “A lot balls get hit out of the park during batting practice, don’t they?” Not waiting for an answer, Lindsay informed me that the newspaper forecasted rain for the afternoon. “Batting practice and the first few innings,” she declared rather forlornly, “might be all there is to see.” I pushed harder on the gas pedal and prayed for my sake that the weather reports were wrong.

Thump! Thump! Thump! Tee hee hee! Tee hee hee! This was the first sign of serious trouble, the inevitable effects of driving on Chicago-area expressways–an oxymoron to be sure–with young children. We asked them to stop kicking our seats and to tone down their bursts of loud laughter. They didn’t. It was becoming a game and getting worse. The upside was that Lindsay began focusing on our children, rather than on me and my ill-timed workout…until I reached around and tried to swat my son on any part of his body that I could reach. Lindsay gasped in horror, wondering, it seemed, how she had missed the signs of abuse when we were dating. Parker thought it was part of the game and continued to giggle uncontrollably.

Laughter eventually turned to boredom, and Parker announced that the drive was too long and that he didn’t want to go to the game. He repeatedly demanded that we return home so he could play with his new military toy gun. Lindsay scolded him: “There will be no more deadly toy weapons for you if they are going to keep you from wanting to spend time with your family!”

We eventually made our way to Wrigleyville, but our late start made parking very difficult. We spotted several people waving their arms and holding up signs soliciting customers to park in their alleys. I rolled down my window and a man informed me that we could use his parking spot, but the cost was $40 and I had to leave our ignition key with him. Sensing my hesitation, the man handed me his business card and informed me, “This is Chicago; it’s very safe here.” I grudgingly handed over the key, thinking to myself that some of our friends’ and family members’ opinions of me will be confirmed if the minivan is not there when we return.

We gathered our belongings, and, as we walked towards the stadium, a woman listening to the radio shouted, “Sammy Sosa just hit a home run!” That put the Cubs up 4-0 in the first inning. She further informed us that first baseman Derek Lee also had hit a home run, just minutes before. I wondered what my wife was thinking and then shuddered when I realized that I knew exactly what she was thinking.

With broad smiles, we presented our tickets and passed through Wrigley Field’s sacrosanct gates. Our countenances transformed, however, when we realized that our seats were barely inside the stadium and in completely different sections! Undaunted, we found four empty seats and sat down. We soon realized why they were empty: a prominent beam and two intersecting walkways, full of people moving in both directions, blocked our view of the tiny players on the field far below us.

Our kids became bored and irritable as they struggled to see the game. We countered this by turning their attention to food. They were thrilled with the cotton candy, but annoyed with the shelled peanuts. I bought Reagan fries on our way back from an emergency bathroom break, and, because our seats were so far from the concession area, I thought it wise to buy Parker a $4 slice of pizza as well. Reagan insisted on holding the fries and dropped them no more than 50 feet from the counter. I maintained my composure and returned to the counter where an understanding lady exchanged them for new ones.

We finally returned to our seats and I eagerly handed the pizza to my son who scrunched his nose and declared that he didn’t want it. “I promised him a hot dog,” my wife reluctantly explained. As I sat down, somewhat frustrated and arms still full, my leg hit the plate of pizza that Parker was now giving back to me, catapulting the greasy sausage and cheese crust like a torpedo into the aisle in front of us. Noticing my extreme irritation, Lindsay gently rubbed my back as she calmly whispered in my ear, “There’s no need to let it ruin our family-fun day.” Still trying to be the peacemaker, she picked up the defiled slice, brushed off the largest pieces of ballpark grit and began nibbling. It’s sad but I must admit that it had a calming effect on me.

Disaster appeared to strike early in the 4th inning when it began to rain, but mercifully it ended quickly, preserving not only the game, but my marriage also.

Around the 6th inning a gray pigeon perched precariously on a beam above us. A friendly couple sitting nearby told us of their friend whose head was the unfortunate recipient of pigeon droppings twice in the same Cubs game, just a few weeks earlier. The multitude became restless and began to yell and wave their arms at the bird, but it wouldn’t budge. I was not about to take crap from a pigeon, especially not on my head, so I threw a peanut at the annoying creature and scared it away. The people around us cheered and congratulated me on my nice toss. Unfortunately the peanut hit an elderly man in the head as he walked by. He looked around to see who had hit him and with what. The crowd showed its appreciation by refusing to give me up and so I continued to watch the game, gloating all the while that my arm was as strong and accurate as it was in high school, thanks in part to my late morning workout.

“If we leave now, we’ll avoid end-of-the-game traffic,” I proclaimed after we joined the crowd in singing ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ in the 7th inning. Lindsay resisted, noting that the kids had just settled down and were finally enjoying the game. Undeterred I persisted until she acquiesced half an inning later.

Almost immediately after we exited the ball park, the crowd roared and someone behind us howled in celebration, “Sammy Sosa just hit a grand slam!” This time I knew exactly what Lindsay was thinking. You get to know someone pretty well after more than 9 years of marriage.

At least our minivan was where we left it.

As we drove home, I observed my son happily playing with his electronic Game Boy, my daughter peacefully sleeping, and my wife contentedly reading a book. I was listening intently to the radio and learned that the Cubs won 13-5. It then occurred to me how wonderful it is to spend time together as a family, and I was relieved that my wife and I didn’t let anything ruin our family fun day.

Entry filed under: Chicago, Commentary, Fond Memories, Sports.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. JL  |  May 30, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    My favorite line:

    Still trying to be the peacemaker, she picked up the defiled slice, brushed off the largest pieces of ballpark grit and began nibbling. It’s sad but I must admit that it had a calming effect on me.

  • 2. lemare  |  May 30, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    And yet, my day? Still worse than family fun day:

    I’m sure Lindsay doesn’t care now about missing Sammy’s home-runs since she thinks he is a bat-corking cheater.

  • 3. Lindsay  |  May 30, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Yes, I am the dirty pizza eater. And I’m alive 3 years later to tell about it. And, let’s be honest, dirty pizza is better than no pizza 🙂

  • 4. Richard Mitchell  |  May 30, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Yes, I’m living proof that sometimes “Father Knows Best”, as the 1950-s early 60’s TV show was known as. Actually, Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs have given way to the much closer and entertaining Kane County Cougars. My grandchildren will take Single A ball any day over the Major leagues . . . at least at this time in their lives. And . . . Kevin and Lindsay can leave an hour before the game and get there in plenty of time. They can also save themselves $40 of parking expense. Now, that is a Family Fun Day!

  • 5. Eric  |  May 30, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Now what does this remind me of??? Oh, yes! MY LIFE! Fabulously written story!

  • 6. lemare  |  May 30, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I will not tolerate anti-Cub rhetoric on this site, RM.

  • 7. jdon  |  June 1, 2007 at 11:28 am

    I’ve actually heard that eating dirty ballpark pizza can potentially cause a rare strain of dormant Shingella. Just thought you should know that your Family Fun day could potentially yield to “The Worst Story You’ve Every Heard.”

  • 8. Lindsay  |  June 1, 2007 at 11:58 am

    yikes, but it’s been 3 years and no big d. think i’m okay.

  • 9. The Fair Strategy « In Rare Form  |  June 6, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    […] 6th, 2007 While a day at the fair is unquestionably easier than a trip to Wrigley Field, it still has its challenges: keeping your child happy, well-behaved, protected, hydrated and […]


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