Wednesday, October 07, 2009

(written tue. eve.)
my time in minneapolis, the summer of 1994, was punctuated by a baseball game in what my colleagues called the twinkiedome, a domed baseball stadium not far from downtown minneapolis where every game, day or night, warm or cold, could be played in this enormous construction, comfortable, with space perfectly attuned to reflection. the question of the hour is of course whether someone who is cheering for a team has any measurable effect on the performance of a team. in a diffuse, enormous dome it seemed like our international students, who had no idea about baseball in general, could have very little effect. as for myself, actually somewhat of a traitor, being an Indian fan, might have a negative effect, since rooting for the twins, so to speak, would be insincere or at least interpreted that way by the gods of luck. how about now, when the whole season hinges on tonight's game with the tigers, and i'm genuinely torn between the teams? i've been writing about the tigers continually, for about five days, and they've lost what, 11 out of 15? that's insincerity for you. if the law of insincerity applies, i will at least distribute it evenly tonight, by giving a dose of it to the twins.

but in fact i liked the twins also, especially on that day, or night (it's impossible to remember; I just remember the dome); they were playing the Yankees, so it wasn't really a question of who I liked at that moment. and, we were in right field, directly above Kirby puckett, a hall-of-famer, so there wasn't any question, we were seeing something worth seeing, at least in baseball terms. the twins have been good off and on, over the years, from the days of harmon killebrew in the early 60's, to now, when they have all kinds of stars. But most of the time they were the enemy, playing the brothers in the back yard, playing the sox, or the tigers , or the Indians, ad infinitum so to speak. i liked their "tc" hat. i liked the fact that "thomas" means "twin". and i loved minneapolis- at least the summer i was there. no question about it, if you're going to represent a city, that was a nice one.

it had a running sense of calm, and joy at the same time. calm, because it was summer, and things worked, and you could get outside and do stuff, and the air was fresh and warm and life was good. joy, for the same reason. winter was long; you could see signs of it everywhere. but it was summer; people were out, people were jogging around the lakes, people were on the highway. things were happening. you could feel it in the air.

people talked about "minnesota nice"- a prevailing kind of politeness, that made the place more livable and pleasant. i had actually seen that before, in iowa, in the whole north central area where winters are too hard to pile misery on top of them, so people genuinely and warmly helped each other. but i also saw the trappings of my youth: northern industrial grayness, working-class warehouses, big city buses and a downtown where people turned their collars against the hard gray wind and the encroaching nightfall. i knew the ear-splitting kind of acid rock that came from such places, and also liked the art that popped up in museums or store-windows around town. i tried to learn the city; i studied its neighborhoods. i tried to learn the difference between minneapolis and st. paul, and get some sense of what the outlying towns were like.

once on a city bus and american indian picked a fight with the driver and started yelling at him angrily, though the driver kept driving as if it were normal, or perhaps there was security at the next stop. we were coming down into downtown, and this guy just kept yelling at the driver; i'm not sure if he was drunk, and it might even have been morning. it was about the only discordant incident of the entire summer, really; i couldn't explain it, didn't know why it happened, what to make of it. there at the twinkiedome, all such hassles of life were forgotten; time seemed to be suspended, whether it was day or night, in this kind of infinite yankee game, in which the good guys, the twins, actually did pretty well, and all seemed to be going our way, though we couldn't see all that well, being out in right field and all. it had that in common, i guess, with tiger stadium. by now, though, as a grownup, i knew what to do: get up, take a long leisurely stroll all the way around the stadium, stop at around homeplate, and take a good long look at the action, before being hustled along to end up back where you started. i get to baseball stadiums roughly once every two years, going sometimes four or five without, but going twice in other years or lucky years. a few years back i took a son to comiskey, where we saw the sox and the mariners, but a young son came to us around then, and we haven't been back much, even to busch. the memories will have to suffice. summer. minneapolis. Secret Beach. Clear northern air, as it got dark early, and people ran around, trying to get their kicks, and their supplies, before the long winter. i can't imagine october in the place, but if it's inside, suspended, lit up, this is a series that could stretch on for a while. here's hoping the dogs come to town.

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