Sox vs. Cubs

Chicago’s Crosstown Classic begins tonight- Sox vs. Cubs. Cubs vs. Sox. One team with the best record in baseball will play a team quickly fading into oblivion.

The team I’ve been rooting for since I was six years old is the latter, the team nobody talks about. The teams that doesn’t draw tremendous crowds or demand national attention, even when they’re playing good.

The team with a baseball field that isn’t surrounded by trendy bars and restaurants. The ballpark tourists don’t have on their “to-visit” lists.

In my decades of being a Sox fan, the Cubs have always been the more popular team, even when the Sox held a better record. Outperforming the Cubs on the field, or the Scrubs, as some Sox fans referred to them, was more important to us than beating them at the attendance game.

Being better than the team dubbed the “Lovable Losers” at least gave us a respectable comeback against all the ribbing about being the inferior team. “We’re better than you! Na-na-na-na-na.”

Well, we’re not better anymore. The Cubs are phenomenal. They fill their park, and now it’s for reasons that go beyond the spectacular ambiance that is Wrigleyville. This team is legit. They are Loveable Losers no more.

I watch the Cubs play and think of my grandmother, who died in 2009. She was a Cubs fan, but would root for the Sox when the two teams weren’t playing.

My grandmother and I used to watch these games together. Our two beloved teams playing each other, and things sometimes got ugly. I despised the Cubs so much I didn’t only want to beat them, I wanted the Sox to annihilate them.

On games when the Cubs beat my Sox, my grandma gave it to me good. I’ll never forget in 2003 when the Cubs made the playoffs, and I called to congratulate her. My brother was at her house and he answered the phone. When he called for her and told her it was me on the line, she took the receiver, and said flippantly, “Hello. Do you have something to say to me?”

She made extending good wishes to her and her team very difficult. I spat the words through clenched teeth, but I said them.

I rooted hard against the Cubs that year, becoming a huge Marlins and Bartman fan.

But now that the Cubs are showing signs of brilliance and could very well win the World Series this year, I think of my grandma. She would love this young, exciting team.

When the Cubs make the playoffs, do I root for them in memory of my grandma? I know she’s up there somewhere watching these games while smoking a cigarette.

I’ll play it by ear.

Till then.

Go Sox.


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Coming Out All Over Again

I came out as a lesbian twenty-one years ago. I was nineteen years old. I told the people closest to me, one at a time. It was a positive experience, for the most part. There were lots of questions, of course. I was surprised at how surprised some of my loved ones were. I was a tomboy growing up, playing sports, wearing dirty clothes with holes in them. I hated dresses as a child. Still did as a nineteen year old, when I declared myself a lesbian.

So why some of my loved ones were surprised by my revelation, is astounding. Denial is fierce.

Last night, something happened that made me feel nineteen all over again. No, I didn’t try to buy beer with someone else’s ID who looked kinda, sorta, like me.

I came out to a loved one.

It started out as a typical Friday night. I was on my recliner, watching the Sox game. My sister’s kids were over. My seven-year old nephew was laid out on the couch next to me, my niece in college was working on her studies at the kitchen table behind me, and my other niece, twelve-years old, slid onto the recliner with me.

“Do you like girls?” she asked.

It was a casual question. There was no tone. Just a straight-forward, no-nonsense question. I was caught off-guard. This niece, as do all of nieces and nephews, has known for years  that I write lesbian novels, and that I have a gay friend with whom I go to gay bars. But they’ve never asked if I was a lesbian.

Until now.

I knew the question would come up soon. They’ve asked me other questions bordering the, “Do you like girls”, “Are you a lesbian, Auntie?” question.

“Auntie, why do you write lesbian stories?”

“Lesbians need to read, too, right?”

“Auntie, so you go to gay bars and watch boys kiss?”

“Yes, I do. And that’s okay.”

“Auntie, aren’t you afraid someone’s going to think you’re gay?”

“No, because being gay is okay.”

Maybe you’re wondering why I didn’t just come out and tell my curious nieces and nephews that I was gay. They were young – nine, ten, eleven years old. I didn’t think they were ready to know. Or maybe I wasn’t ready for them to know. Whatever the case, I didn’t volunteer the information, but I swore I would answer honestly if they ever directly asked if I was gay.

“Do you like girls?” my niece asked.

I tossed my head back. “Why would you ask me that? No, I don’t like girls.”

“It’s okay if you do. I respect gay people,” my niece responded.

I went back to watching the game, not believing that I had just lied to my niece. I did exactly what I told myself I wouldn’t do. I was not expecting that question at that moment. I was unprepared. In that moment, I wasn’t ready to tell her the truth.

When she got off the chair with me, I replayed in my mind what had just happened, and I knew I couldn’t keep things as they were.

Later, we were practicing our dance routine to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” and I pulled her into another room.

“I’m sorry for lying to you,” I said.

“When?” she asked.

“When I told you I didn’t like girls.”

“You like girls?” she asked.

I nodded.

She smiled and jumped in my arms. She squeezed her arms tight around my neck. “I’m so proud of you! I love you so much.”

It was a beautiful moment. My twelve-year old niece is proud of me. I have to laugh at that. When we left the room, and joined the others, we went right back to where we left off. She didn’t treat me any differently. Being gay is really no big deal to her.

Later that night, we were watching the movie Signs, and she jumped onto the recliner to snuggle with me at the scary parts, like she always does.