A sideline benefit of having kids in school is the friendships you make with said kids' parents. I call it "sideline" because that's what you are when you have children in school these days: a sideline observer, shuttling your kids to and from parties, games, and a myriad of events.
Anyhow, what I didn't expect is the many great things that would come from meeting parents. I have attended some 20 Dallas Cowboys games, largely in part of a friendship I made with my daughter's friends! I could go on, but the tale of this time is with a recent meeting of another set of parents.
The meeting came after a PTA soirée in which the local library system would offer an American Sign Language class at no charge. The girls got excited, as did this couple's daughter. But, then again, your easily excitable in the first grade. Either way, the girls (mine and theirs) began attending the Friday signing class.
The other day, when we dropped off their daughter, we expected to exchange shallow pleasantries at the door and not much more. After all, it was Friday and we had things to do, like the ALCS! Well, though I detected a heavy accent on our first meeting, I didn't pay much attention to it. "Up here," languages and accents are varied and mixed.
We came to learn -- just outside their front door -- that this family is Turkish. We exchanged more than shallow pleasantries and ended up staying for better then two hours, talking at the kitchen table.
Turkish people, it turns out, are as hospitable a group as my fellow Hispanics. Brief exchanges are not the norm, and they prefer you stay and chat a little. We drank tea, ate native pastries and talked about everything from the failing economy to sports. When we got to sports, the husband sheepishly asked me, "How do you watch baseball?"
I was wearing one of my Red Sox tees, and so the question -- he admits -- was begging to be asked since the beginning of the meeting. Though he knewnothing about baseball as a sport, he did know about Red Sox Nation. I showed him my membership card proudly.
Anyway, the question is pretty simple, but how do you answer that accurately? How do you begin to teach a 38-year-old the principles of baseball? As a kid your satisfied with knowing the defense has the ball and the offense hits. You know you have three strikes, three bases and a home plate.
I employed a George Carlin-ism (R.I.P.). I said, "I'll start by saying this: baseball is the only sport where you want to be as far away from the ball as possible to score. Baseball is the team sport with no time clock."
I'll tell you, trying to teach an adult really tests your knowledge of the game. This man is a software engineer, so his questions were not lacking in depth. ERA? Clutch? Pitch count? Tobacco chewing?
The questions fired faster than my answers. And, he was not all impressed with my basic definition of what the game is.
How do you begin to teach a guy the significance of the Rivera walk to Millar in Game 4? Buckner at Shea? Bill Mazeroski in Game 7? Kirk Gibson in Game 1?
I guess, I'll start at the beginning. Here we go...
"There was once a guy named Alexander Cartwright..."