Yesterday morning, Kenmore Square awoke as usual for a Sunday--Sox were in town, but by now, the neighborhood's used to it. Awaiting the influx of jersey-wearing, T-taking, beer-drinking hotheads, the neighborhood eased peacefully into early afternoon.
It had no idea what was about to hit it.
Around 2 pm, I burst from the Park Street T-stop, gulping lungfuls of fresh air after being locked in deisel-scented heat for the past 45 minutes.
Frantically, I dialed Sarah.
"Did you find the place?" I cried anxiously.
"No!" she cried back in the same desperate tone of voice. "We've been wandering around here forever!"
"Okay," I said, quickly devising a plan. "I'll call Steve Brady and have them come rescue you."
A series of confused and flustered phone calls later, I had finally admitted I wasn't going to make it anywhere near Kenmore Square on the Green Line by this time. I found myself hailing a cab on Tremont Street.
The cabbie fussed with me over having made him stop in the left lane where the road ahead was blocked by a double-parked car, but finally flapped his hand in acquiescence and told me, "Hokay, hokay, go 'head."
The cabbie was an old Greek man. He'd been "on da streets of Boz-tonn" since 1971. Spying my Red Sox jersey, he struck up a conversation, the usual small-talk, until...
"Ach," he shook his head. "But dey are BUMS!"
He hollered this last loud enough to make me jump a little, punctuating it with a karate chop through the air with his right hand, as we swung through traffic in the Theater District, dodging certain death by a nanosecond at alarmingly frequent intervals.
"BUMS!" he hollered again.
He was speaking, of course, of Saturday night's loss to Detroit.
"Seex runss! SEEX runss!" he hollered, gesturing so wildly I couldn't quite keep track of whether he kept a hand on the wheel. The traffic wheeled and spun around us as the cabbie hurtled toward our destination, raving about the Sox.
"My grandchildren come over. I shut off de game, play vis dem a vile, you know, den later 'bout ten ssirty, I turn it on again, say, probably it's over now, I'll see what happen. Dey show dat twelve! Twelve! Dey are BUMS, I said."
"We don't have the pitching right now," I offered.
"I know dis! No peetching. No peetching. De problem is no peetching. Dey don't come up vis some pitching soon, dey not going no-verre. No-verre, I say."
Chit-chat continued as a woman talking on a cell phone in a BMW to our right made a spectacularly illegal maneuver that managed to cut of three lanes of traffic in quick succession.
"She's good," noted my cabbie before reaching to his passenger seat and picking up the day's Herald. The page he picked up had a story about Pedro.
"Dees guy. Dees guy Pedro. Why he hafta leave?" the cabbie said, rattling the page at me.
"Dees guy, Pedro!" he thwacked the page with the back of one hand for emphasis. "I see him? I keel him!!"
The address I'd been given (which I thankfully reached alive) was Crossroads, a typical Boston scene: dark Irish bar, full of polished wood and Guinness ads and televisions blaring the Sox game.
The group I'd been rushing to meet (including Sarah, new to the city, whom I worried had been left behind) were the only patrons in the establishment, save for two unfortunate souls trapped at a nearby table, just trying to eat their sandwiches. They were in for a treat.
This group...how do I describe them? As a whole, I mean. A whirlwind? A force to be reckoned with? An abomination before the bartenders of Boston? The utter epitome of gonzo, obsessed, immature, hilarious, ridiculous psycho sports fans?
The Surviving Grady crew. Often misunderstood. Never but ever duplicated.
Yesterday's roster of merry lunatics included the elusive Red and Denton, who were hawking their wares before and after the game near a small comic book shop down the street from Fenway; Annette, Marianne, Kristen, Steve Brady, Sarah and her husband Mike, and me.
No sooner had my eyes adjusted to the gloom inside the tiny pub than I realized: after a month or so of slowly adding more and more of the Craziest People on the Internet (Sox Division) to the group, we had finally reached critical mass.
Red and Denton were...how shall I put this. They were like they are on their blog--Red is A RIOT, and Denton is his "straight man." Except, in real life, both these things are magnified.
Sitting at Crossroads, Red gestured with his Bud Light out the window. "Dude, there's that fire truck, the one with the Sox thing on it."
"How do you know it's the same one?" Denton asked.
"Cause. I mean, we saw it--"
"What are you," Denton cut him off, with that classic, scornful, Bostonian "Whad AHHH you". "The fire truck guy, now?" (The FIYAH truck guy, now?)
They are priceless. They have that adorable dynamic men seem to have with each other in Boston, in which they show their affection for one another through absolutely merciless, ceaseless, blistering insults.
We watched the game at Crossroads. Is Bill Mueller a stud, or WHAT. Even Red was professing attraction to him by the end of the game. There's nothing like watching a game with these guys, either--for once in my life, I don't have the highest blood pressure in the room when I'm with them.
I was immensely jealous of Sam, who got to see all of Billy's studliness up close and personal from her third-base-line seat and 12x OPTICAL ZOOM CAMERA. I also wished she'd been there, but in retrospect if she had (and Amy, too), teh funney probably would have killed me by the end of the night.
It nearly did, anyway. Over the next eight hours--Eight! Hours! Of nonstop terrible behavior!--we mercilessly terrorized the Fenway neighborhood, drinking steadily throughout, heading to the streets to "help" Red and Denton sell books and T-shirts after wearing out our welcome at the first bar.
I thought we did a good job of attracting attention to their table. Marianne and Sarah led the charge: Marianne hollered "GET ya books HERE", and accosted people in traffic, waving a T-shirt, while Sarah, wearing her newly purchased "Don't mess with my cake" T-shirt, told random passerby (both male and female), "D. Wells is hotter than your boyfriend."
Despite our valiant efforts, however, all Red and Denton really got was a shit ton of weird looks. Which is really too bad--more of the world should be acquainted (and dressed in) their genius.
Then, we took our marauding to the Uno's in Kenmore Square. Where we proceeded to be perhaps the most obnoxious group of people I've ever actually been seen with in a public place. I quickly reached two more conclusions during our Festival of Booze and Jokes in Poor Taste at the Uno's, during which we scared at least one party of fellow diners into having their seat moved, prompted our waiter to finally simply stop coming back to our table, and laugh so hard together I thought at several points I might actually puke the handful of top-shelf Long Island Iced Teas I'd been guzzling:
- In terms of the sheer number of people who make me laugh hysterically (we're talking tears-rolling-down-the-cheeks, pounding-the-table-begging-for-mercy, silent-breathless-spasms-of-guffawing laughter here), this is the single most hilarious group of people I have ever hung out with, and
- We are not meant to be seen in family restaurants.
Now, there are some people who'll give you such a description of a supposed bunch of "Wild and Crazy Guys" that pretty much amount to "One time, at band camp..." You know, "We were so nuts! We all drank two wine coolers! We were totally buzzed! It was insane!"
We weren't total tards absolutely every single second--Denton and I, in particular, got into an impassioned debate about Sox prospects, chances in the postseason, and general philosophy on fan outlook. We had a conversation about Chewbacca playing first base that made me laugh like a braying donkey, complete with snort--but that was baseball related, and a PG-13 joke at best. Also, we gained insight as to the origins of the SG phenomenon--quoth Red, "There was actual divorce talk in my house the night Pedro lost his no-hitter back in 2003. My wife suggested I find someplace to channel my emotions."
But in much of our discourse, we also made actual, undeniable, complete asses of ourselves. At maximum volume. The subjects of our conversation were such that I'm really not sure I can repeat most of them here (or if I want to)--and yet we had these conversations anyway...OK, I'll give you an example. Denton's Dad made the unfortunate mistake of calling. Not knowing who he was on the phone with, Marianne nonetheless yelled, "Beth, PUT YOUR TOP BACK ON!!" She yelled this repeatedly.
Then Red hollered, "Hey, buddy, goat or sheep for Round Two?"
Which led to another conversation I'm really not going to go into.
Meanwhile, I'd like to remind you that--I cannot emphasize this enough--this was the first time we'd all been together.
Alarmingly soon into the evening, I was begging Denton to make Red stop. Just stop, for two seconds, so I could catch my breath. My stomach muscles were cramping from the constant laughter, and my cheek muscles were stinging. It was literally starting to hurt.
"I've been tryin' to make him stop for fuckin' years," was Denton's reply.
Both Kenmore Square, I'm sure, and I shudder to think what will happen when we all actually, you know, get to know each other.
Until we can figure out how to control ourselves, we agreed we'll be hanging out at someone's apartment for the foreseeable future instead of possibly having the cops called on us at any more public places. So rest easy for now, Boston. But watch your back.
I almost forgot to post this.
I had just gone through the turnstile at the Kenmore T stop to go home, far past my bedtime, when my phone rang. I was surprised it was ringing underground, but I answered it anyway, figuring it was my fiancee calling to find out if I was dead, or what.
It was Red.
"David Ortiz is out here," he said, without a "hello".
"He just came out of the Hotel Commonwealth. He's in a red Mercedes that says 'Big Papi' right. now."
"Right in front of you?" I said, contemplating leaping back over the turnstile.
"Yeah, but...aww, he's leaving."
"Did you at least wave?"
"Yeah, but he didn't see us. We thought about standing in front of the car, but he'd probably just run us down."
So there were no autographs or waves or "hellos" or big giant man-hugs to be had, but you know what? I consider Papi's presence an omen, and a blessing on our meeting just the same.