Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July

We spent the weekend of the fourth at D's grandparents' house on Table Rock Lake. It's a beautiful and peaceful place and it seems like the sort of place where everyone could get together and wear madras plaid and polo shirts and play frisbee and go boating and be generally graceful and attractive and Kennedy-esque.

D (wearing the outfit I selected for him, complete with my collar adjustment for effect) follows my instructions to "look classy."

Of course somehow our weekend did not quite live up to my imaginary standards of class, although there was plenty of frivolity to make up for it.

I had decided that when packing for this weekend I was going to be serious about not overpacking. I brought exactly that amount of clothes I needed to wear for three days. Plus one extra tank top. Minus three pairs of underwear.


Having recently had a conversation with a friend about how I am not always a great planner but I am usually pretty resourceful, I decided to handle this problem myself without resorting to purchasing new panties. So I hand-washed the pair I wore Thursday so that I could wear them again on Sunday. I wore bikini-bottoms for undies on Friday. That just left Saturday...

On Saturday we were going to the Springfield Cardinals ballgame. I had packed a short blue skirt to wear with my Cardinals jersey. I put this outfit on and weighed my options: feel the breeze, Britney-style, or (rummage through suitcase) wear a pair of D's boxer-briefs.

After factoring in the length of the skirt (below fingertips but well above knees) and the age of our company (three couples, all in their 70s), I went with the boxer briefs.
Can't tell I'm wearing his underwear, can you?

And it's a good thing I did. No sooner had we gotten comfortably settled in our seats then a smooth-talking guy in khakis and an official Cardinals name badge plopped himself down next to David and convinced us to participate in their tricycle relay race.

Riding tricycles.

On the warning track.

In front of one of the largest crowds of the season.

We agreed to do it, signed our lives away on an official piece of paper, and I thanked my lucky stars that I had decided to wear underwear.

(There are so many things wrong with that sentence.)

The Great Independence Day Tricycle Relay Race of 2009 was to take place halfway through the second inning. We were The Blue Trike. Our competition was The White Trike: a team of two brothers, one middle-school age, one high-school, and The Red Trike: a team of two college-age dudes, both of whom were heavily tatted and super friendly.

I was riding in leg one of the race, so I had to start out on the first-base side of the warning track, pedal like mad to home plate, leap off the trike, put my helmet on David's head, and cheer him on as he pedaled up the warning track on the third-base side until he crossed the finish line.

Three little Team Louie Dancing Girls pushed our trikes out onto the track to start the race and my competition and I jogged behind them. At the word GO, we jumped on our trikes (my "jump" was slightly more awkward than my competitors, who had the advantage of wearing shorts and tennis shoes and I was still attempting some version of modesty).

The race was on and I was falling drastically behind as I tried to prevent everyone in the stands from seeing that I was wearing my husband's underwear. I felt more than slightly self conscious as I realized I was at least ten years older than these two boys who were my competition and everyone was staring at us. Including the players in the bullpen and dugout. As if it weren't embarrassing enough to be dressed so obviously inappropriately in a mini-skirt, men's underwear, and flip flops, we each had to wear ill-fitting bicycle helmets -- "safety first!" To make matters worse, it looked like I was about to LOSE this race and lose badly.

What have I gotten myself into?

As I pedaled frantically by the bullpen, the pitchers threw water on us and my flip flop started to fall off. I was falling way behind at this point and things were really looking grim when suddenly adrenaline kicked in. I managed to get my foot back in the flip flop and back on the pedal. I suddenly found myself bent low over the handle bars, leaning forward with fierce determination, pedaling like mad. I don't think I have ridden a bike with so much intensity since neighborhood races as a little kid. Or possibly ever. Who cared if my skirt was bunching up around my hips and my ill-fitting boxer-briefs were showing? I was gaining on them! I had caught up! I was passing the tattooed guy as we rounded home plate!

OK, now we're serious.

The middle-school kid had come in ahead of me, but there was still a chance that David could catch up with his brother at the trade off. Panting, I vaulted (awkwardly again) off the tricycle, tugging my skirt down to its proper position as David jumped on the trike. I plunked the helmet on his head, and he pedaled off while I jumped up and down and screamed "Get him honey! GO GO GO! FASTER!!!"

Of course the only picture that exists of David riding a tricycle has his head cut off so you can't really tell who it is. How convenient.

Unfortunately, White Trike, the team of two brothers, came out ahead. David and I finished silver medalists.

Actually, there were no medals. The winners got a car stereo speaker system. Second and third place got nothing except a loss of dignity.

I could have really used a beer as a consolation prize, but we were attending the game with some very conservative friends of the g-rents who do not approve of any form of alcohol consumption. (It is also possible that they would not approve of a girl in a short skirt entering a tricycle race while wearing a boy's underwear, but they did not mention it.) So we returned to our seats (I was still panting) to watch the remainder of the game.

Our crew kept saying that Brooke and David were the best entertainment of the game since the Cardinals did so poorly (final score: 18 to 4).
Our personal cheering section

But there was great fireworks show at the end of the night and in spite of the underwear fiasco, and in spite of losing the tricycle race, and in spite of the Cardinals losing the ballgame, it felt like the perfect, all-American way to spend the fourth of July. We weren't yachting off of Martha's Vineyard. Instead, I was enjoying America's pasttime, looking a little foolish but having a good time riding a tricycle, making use of my own ingenuity when faced with the small problem of having no underwear, and hanging out with people of another generation whose values I respect even if I don't agree with all of them (Because seriously people, I just road an effing TRICYCLE around the warning track of a ball field. I could really use a Bud Light here.). My patriotism also got a boost from the soundtrack that accompanied the fireworks show -- tunes ranging from Barack Obama's campaign theme song, "Only in America" to the theme song from Star Wars.

It had been cloudy and even lightening a little during the game, but the rain held off until the precise moment the fireworks were over. Drops began splashing down on us just as we stood to walk to the car.

I guess that going to a ballgame is a pretty typical way to spend the fourth of July in Midwestern America. But that night made me think about exactly how extraordinary it was to be free and silly and happy and healthy, and how fortunate I was to be there at that minor league ball park, wearing a mini-skirt, riding a tricycle, thankful for everything that the fourth of July represents.

Only in America.

1 comment:

  1. "Chicken Fried" would be appropriate as background music to this blog:)