A Place to Bond: Post-Father’s Day
I never could understand why after years of being exposed to art and architecture of museums,churches, and art galleries in Europe, paint and pastels, why my son would defer to sports whenever he had a choice. As a boy, he fantasized in castles in the Loire, was the first to spot the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and the saddest to leave the culinary delights in Paris. From ramparts at Carcassonne to Michelangelo’s Pieta, his education was brimful of aesthetics. I disparage to accept that some boys prefer boythings, of dash, and competition and stats: and that something whirling and clashing and magical and more desirable than all things art emerges when The Steelers meet The Giants or Roy Halliday throws a perfect game. So enamored was he of sport that he named his son after a baseball player. Fortunately not Hank or Casey.
I do recall a monologue by Billy Crystal where he relates that he and his dad would go to Yankee Stadium and he never felt closer to his father than at those moments. And I suppose I can acknowledge that it is exciting as people jump up to perform the wave and there is tempting junk food not allowed at home and it is special to be permitted to be a small child in an adult venue where usually you would not be in attendance, especially at late hours. And likely you’ve played tee-ball or skated on a rink or thrown a ball so you all ready have a basic understanding of the games.
Last night ( remember the germ of this blog was begun several months ago, but polished just before publishing), as my husband is a staunch follower of all events sports, so, alas, we were at the Knicks and Raptors game and I have to admit, my mind was wandering. I noticed first that there seemed to be a very different crowd to the one at the baseball game. True, there is a lot of diversity but somehow it differs here: more shiny bald men and more big-haired women in a variety of risqué tops and faux leather bottoms stretched tight. At the end of our row is a very flashy blonde lady with false eyelashes, sparkly things on her hands, the highest heels possible, hair that falls close to her waist and considerable endowments on top. Last night she wore leopard tights. Usually she has a woman friend seated beside her and before the end of each half, she disappears. People seem to know her as she mounts the stairs or venders with whom she converses respond to her respectively: maybe she is a girlfriend of a player or owner. She holds herself aloof and becomes very annoyed should you have to pass by her en route to the bathroom. Although more than once, I think I may have hit her in the face with my puffy coat—not on purpose, of course.
But last night I was noticing a kind of hierarchy at the game. The players and owners are at the top of the heap, but below them- outside of the audience- are the rat pack dancers and then, the in-seat servers along with the individual food sellers of candy floss, ice cream, popcorn and such. All dress in black with a logo on their backs.
Several times I have noticed a woman who serves our particular section. She carries herself more aloof from the rest. She is tall and haughty, up and down, up and down the flights of stairs she goes. She seems to me someone who believes herself out of place and perhaps one day, she will be discovered and restored to her rightful situation on earth. She delivers her glasses of beer or pizza politely, with a frozen smile, but I get the feeling she imagines herself somewhere else. She must feel herself watched as her job requires her to please the crowd and bring them food, yet as I compare her to the other servers, dashing to meet the demands of the hungry, those looking haggard, hair falling over eyes, or even the rhythmic bounce on the stairs, she stands alone. She has a patrician nose, hair returning to its normal shade of brown from its blondish ends. It is her demeanor, her bearing that speaks to me. I wonder if she has a boyfriend, a husband or if she hopes that like in some romance novel, a man with big rings will suddenly fall under her power and whisk her away from this life of servitude.
More than the servers are the unfortunate dancers. When I worked at OCT and criticized their performances, a colleague snakily replied, “ Oh you’re just jealous”. But truthfully I am not and I feel rather sorry for these lesser Las Vegas strumpets. The costumes are the least attractive I have ever seen with red stretchy stuff in bizarre designs that do not flatter. In spite of several changes throughout the night, they are rarely complimented by these uniforms that although snuggly fit do not possess much pizazz or interesting design value. The routines too remind me of the artist Willem De Kooning as he often could not decide whether he wanted to paint sexy women, thrash them across the page or hurl them into in pure abstraction. It is the same for the dance routines that are gawky, part elbow, part hump and grind, part coy: a mixture of trite and trash.
Once we found ourselves besides the mother of an ingénue dancer who confided that she had no idea why her daughter who worked at a successful dance school and was paid much more as a backup dancer to a small rock group tolerated the demands of this job: not permitted to eat anything during the day of the performance, required to follow strict rules and regiments and practice, practice, practice incredibly hard for not great pay. But she did. I admit to preferring the grace of ballet or the sexy sophistication of the strippers at the Bally in Vegas.
I do figure drawing so I’m no prude, but the whorl of hair as prop and the thromp-thromp, pound-pound, insincere smiles of pretty girls trying so hard in crummy circumstances is pitiful. The response of the crowd often seems uncaring: lovely lampshades on awkward poses, small titillation. Although I admit I do note the leering eyes of some fellows. and the hard eyes of other sweaty men no doubt fantasizing. “Quick Change” at half-time or the racing dogs as the half-time garners more respect
Yet back at Skydome, there is a kind of nostalgia on Friday nights under the open dome and the crowds are into it. Still for me, it lacks the warmth of the old CNE stadium on a summer’s night. But, at least this year, the jumbotron has synced up the colours so that the blue of the players’ uniforms on the screen almost matches the real thing.
Plus, like Billy Crystal if sports offers a place for men to bond, I’m all for it. ☺