Monday, June 16, 2008

Standing Inside a Concession Booth with a Hot Dog in My Hand

Note: if anyone can name the song referenced in the title, I'll mail you a cookie.

It was a weekend that put a few things into perspective.

Friday night, a group from my church ran a concession stand at Progressive Field. The Indians invite groups in to do this as a fundraiser - we get a base amount plus a percentage on what we sell. We're signed up for 12 games total; I think Friday was number four, and the first of four games that I'll help with.

The game didn't make it out of the first inning before it started downpouring. Our group was in a part of the park (nosebleeds along the third base line up in the corner) where we could basically watch it roll in. We had some steady business before the game and during the delay...all two hours and 43 minutes of it. We were finally told to start closing down our booth, even though the game hadn't been called.

Eventually, as our group was allowed to disperse, it was revealed that the game was scheduled to start back up again shortly after 10:00. As I made my way toward the exit, I thought to myself, "How awesome of a time would I have if I tracked down an open beer stand and just sat up in the nosebleeds, watching this game to its probable 1:00 a.m. finish?" What a summer memory that would have been.

Pre-Coffeeson, I probably would have. But I had to get home.

Saturday morning, I sit down to check my e-mail. I get one from the 20/30 Clergy Network, a UCC network of young hipster doofuses like me. There is a picture there from some gathering or other that includes two of my partners in crime from Eden, evidently taken at a pub someplace. And I think, "I remember those days, and I can even imagine these two interacting with whoever all these other people are." And I think back to when, at the drop of a hat, it was possible to head out and do that.

Pre-Coffeeson, I would have. Now, I'd have to make proper arrangements first.

The rest of Saturday morning was spent with Coffeeson in my arms. He actually has more and more to say, most of it variations on the word "Goo." He exclaims it, he sighs it, he yawns it, he says it conversationally, he squeals it. And over the past week in particular, I'll be sitting at the office or in a meeting or wherever else, and I can't wait for the next time to hear his little chatter. I think about those "goo"s a lot.

Do I lament missed opportunities, ones I could have taken before Coffeeson came along? Yeah.

Do I regret, in any shape or form, the fact that he's here? Absolutely not.

Am I more limited as a father? Sure.
But "limited" isn't the best word, and I might even suggest that that word is used more by people dreading the thought of having children.

"Changed" is a much better word. Because for every outing that I give up, there's a smile, a "goo," a look of curiosity that I have the chance to see or hear. I may be limited in one sense, but at the same time I'm experiencing something else entirely.
That's not to say that I miss these other things. It just takes some creativity and discernment about how to keep some of them around.

Some. Not all. Let's be honest.

But that's enough.

Something else that I saw at that game on Friday night while standing in that concession both were all the fathers and sons there together. These were kids 4, 5, 6 years old with their first mitts and their little Indians gear, perhaps getting their first taste of a ballpark hot dog and seeing the field in person for the first time.

And I sh*t you not, I teared up a little. Because it made me think of the day when that will be us.

No last-minute chance to stay for a late game, but there will be a chance in just a few years to come with my son.

"Limited" isn't the right word.

"Changed" is.

"Blessed" is even better.