Thinking of Heroes

November 2, 2013 | By | Add a Comment


I had no intention of going to the Red Sox championship parade today. None at all. I’m a guy who drives to New Hampshire every weekend to get away from people – not to find myself in the midst of 2 million of them. The thought of attending didn’t even remotely cross my mind until my mother texted me “Are you going to the parade?” followed a few minutes later by, “You should.”

It was an unintentional guilt trip threatening to ruin my plans for the day. Now, I had to worry about whether I was going to eventually regret skipping yet another parade. After debating the matter for over an hour, I decided I would walk by and check out the scene. Thankfully, I didn’t know how long it was going to be until the Duck boats came rolling by. Had I known, I probably would have got up and left.

While waiting, I had plenty of time to check out the crowd. Mostly, I was filled with strange fascination for all the people. What was it that led them to care so much that they would actually drive into the city and pay for parking and wait for hours for a few brief moments of pleasure that could otherwise be more easily enjoyed on TV? Two years ago I made a detailed list as to why I no longer cared about the Red Sox. And yet, there I was in the midst of children on both sides of me – waiting to cheer and feeling much too old for this sort of thing.

After what felt like a mixture of between 45 minutes and forever, I heard the distant roar of the crowd and saw the first Duck boat from far away. Finally, they were here.

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I noticed John Henry. Then, Ben Cherington and John Farrell. Then, a sea of other faces. Whereas at first things were going too slow, now they were going much too fast. I couldn’t even take in all the faces on each boat before they passed by and wanted a pause button so I could fully appreciate everything that was happening. Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough.

A radio broadcaster who had been on one of the Duck boats said that the whole thing was almost too much to process and that you had to focus on one person’s expressions at a time to truly be able to take anything in. For whatever reason – maybe because I was the tallest guy around – Jonny Gomes did just that with me. When his boat passed by, he looked right at me the entire time. At that point, I fixed my gaze back at Jonny, raised my hands in the victory formation and got so choked up I felt like I was going to cry.

The whole thing left me really confused. How could a guy go from thinking he was over the Red Sox and wanting no part in the parade to wanting to soak up every moment?

* * *

I had two favorite songs in High School. One was my during my freshman and sophomore years and the second was when I was a junior and senior. The first was “Wonderful World” (Don’t Know Much) by Sam Cooke. It was the perfect song in every way. Here I was, learning about all this stuff in school, when all I really wanted was for the girl I loved to love me too. Then, there was the line “don’t know what a slide rule is for”. I really could relate to that line too. I had no clue was a slide rule was for. As a matter of fact, I still don’t really know.

The second song was “Wonderwall” by Oasis. In particular, were the lyrics “I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now” and “there are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how”. That’s just how it was with me. Having all this affection inside my heart with no clue how to express it.

I used to get so jealous whenever I watched an episode of Beverly Hills: 90210. They always knew exactly what to say at exactly the right time. For me, the right words were always beyond my grasp. Whenever I heard the question: “what super power would you choose if you could pick one?”, the answer was to know the perfect thing to say at the perfect time in every situation.

C.S. Lewis put it this way: ”I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise does not merely express but completes the enjoyment. It’s not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling each other how beautiful they are. The delight in one another isn’t complete unless it’s expressed.” The expression part always got me and left things feeling so incomplete.

So here I was – still without words but finally being able to communicate a measure of how much the Red Sox meant and I suppose still mean to me. And there he was – Jonny Gomes expressing his appreciation in return and completing the enjoyment. For a few moments, we were like the perfect and unlikeliest Alison Krauss couple – saying it best while saying nothing at all.

* * *

When I finally made my way back to New Hampshire, I remembered a Nike advertisement I had cut out of a magazine when I was in Middle School. It was something I had forgotten I even had until now. So, I went down to my parents basement, found the box where I had saved it, and pulled it out. Maybe I knew I might want to refer back to it one day.


(For more posts about the Red Sox, click here.)


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