Monday, July 25, 2005

What God Thinks About…

In the last week, I’ve been following a story that reminded me of a group of people I know.

I met a small part of the group five years ago, when we bowled on the same league, and they introduced me to everyone else. I didn’t really fit all the way in, because Mr. Goldie and I already have our close circle of friends that we spend time with, and there are only 24 hours in the day. Plus, it’s tough being the only immigrant in a crowd. Plus, these guys have known each other forever. Most of them went to high school together, and then went on to college together. You can only imagine how close they are to one another.

Under a different set of circumstances, though, I would have definitely enjoyed being a part of this group. They are my kind of guys and gals. Allow me to illustrate. Like I said, most of the group went to HS together. They’re the class of ’84. Which means they’re pushing forty. They are highly educated professionals, respected in their places of work. With that in mind… we met when they brought the “Creepy Susie” book to the bowling alley. I liked the book, and asked if I could look at it; turned out, it was one of their all-time favorites; thus began our friendship.

What I am trying to say is, in spite of their busy lives, families and professional careers, the guys manage to maintain a certain level of immaturity and irreverence in their lives, and that is what we have in common.

The group also happens to consist entirely of Cleveland Indians fans. Each year, they buy season tickets. A few years ago, in a desperate attempt to fit in with the group, Mr. Goldie and I bought a pair of tickets to one of the games.

We met with the group at a nearby bar, and after a few drinks, went on to see the game. Right in front of the stadium, the leader of our group was stopped by a guy, who handed him two brochures, conveniently named “What God Thinks About Homosexuality” and “What God Thinks About Pot”.

Our leader (I hope he won’t mind if I’ll call him Matt – I figure that’s as good a name as any, right?) is, again, a highly-educated professional in the middle of a successful career. The guy has amazing people skills. Instead of telling the dude on the street to get lost, he thanked him, and took the booklets. We went inside, and the game started.

Imagine my reaction when, at the first slow moment in the game, Matt stands up, and, in a really loud voice, starts reading from “What God Thinks About Pot”.

When the game picked up, Matt stopped and sat down. But, next time things got slow, he stood back up and went on reading.

This was my first time out with the group, and I’ll be honest with you – I was scared. A lot of really big guys were sitting around us, and they didn’t look very happy with what Matt was doing. At some point, I was seriously afraid we might get beaten up.

Then the unbelievable happened.

The audience started warming up.

It helped immensely that the booklet was, well, hysterical.

By the time Matt got to “God has also created poison ivy, but He didn’t intend for us to smoke it”, our entire section of the stadium was howling with laughter.

Friendly conversations and bonding ensued. People were thanking us for the fun. By that time, Matt was done with the booklet. He tried the same thing with “What God Thinks About Homosexuality”, but it was too explicit so Matt decided against it.

One of the best memories I had of that summer was of Matt reading that booklet. How could he pull it off at a stadium full of total strangers?

Some days I wish I had Matt's charisma.

Other days, I reminisce on the guy that was standing in front of the Jacobs Field, handing those booklets out to people going to a ball game. What in the world was he thinking? Was it his own idea, or was he on assignment from somewhere? We will never find out.

But he made our day.

The Goldie has spoken at 12:03 PM

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