A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.
Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.
Next time, I think we’ll just do lunch.
It all started about a year ago. My grade school friend, Margie, and I were trading e-mails at the end of the 2007 baseball season.
“Tell the Brewers to stop winning!” she pleaded.
“Not a chance,” I replied.
“Next summer, we should go to a game in Milwaukee,” she suggested.
At that point, I should have politely declined and offered to meet her at Six Flags. I hate roller coasters, but even that would have been more fun than yesterday.
Thursday afternoon, I took Margie to the Brewers’ game. I refuse to call it a Cubs’ game even though the crowd was at least 80% Chicago fans. (It was a day game. Don’t these people have jobs?!)
A month ago, this outing seemed like a very bad idea.
Last weekend, it seemed like a great idea.
Monday – less great.
Tuesday – um, well….
Wednesday – oh no!
Still, this was my old friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time. We grew up together on the north side of Chicago. We wore the same ugly plaid uniforms at St. Mary of the Woods grade school. We sat at our high school lunch table together. Back then, Margie made green Rice Krispy treats for everyone’s birthday. We’d catch up on old times and she’d make it fun, right?
When we entered Miller Park, Margie and I apparently looked like an odd couple. She in her Cubs’ t-shirt and hat and me in my really cool Brewers’ jersey. (I now hate the fact that this jersey just happens to be Cubbie blue. Dang it!) The Miller Park employees and vendors shot me pitiful glances, as if to say: “I’m sorry. Did you lose a bet or something?”
I knew it would be tough, but I never expected the force and number of Cubs’ fans that I encountered at Thursday’s game. I felt like the proverbial salmon swimming upstream against the tide of giant “Cs” and Chicago apparel. But I hung on to the hope that MY home team could send them back to Illinois, crestfallen and sorely disappointed. Alas, that was not to be.
At first the game looked like it could be a fair contest, until the home runs started…the Cubs’ home runs. Margie would clap loudly, stand up and then bend over and say: “I’m sorry!” “No you’re not,” I’d reply with a false grin hiding my grim demeanor.
And then the text messages started rolling in. First it was Margie’s sister: “Hey! The Brewers just traded CC and Sheets for Santo! Edmunds rocks!” Then it was our grade school friend, Liz, who sat with a bus-full of flatlanders in the nosebleed section. “Sorry for the delay in my response to your last message. I was distracted by the GRAND SLAM!”
Man, this was a very bad idea.
In the middle of the 8th inning, when I could no longer sit and watch the massacre, I suggested that we wander up to visit Liz and her friends. Great idea, right? How much worse could things get?
My jersey and I walked up the steep steps into their section and I was greeted by a rousing chorus of boos and jeers as I valiantly waved my newly acquired Brewers’ car flag. This emboldened group, fueled by victory and alcohol, questioned my allegiances, my heritage and my ability to cheer for a team from Milwaukee.
“The Cubs never did anything for me when I lived there,” I started.
“I’ve lived here longer than I lived in Chicago,” I continued.
“They built me a stadium!,” I finally added, somewhat desperately. “It’s nice, isn’t it?” They agreed and said they really, really liked Miller Park. I would too if I were them.
Then they made feeble attempts to console me: “Karen, this will be great. The Cubs will win the division. The Brewers will win the wild card and then the Cubs will win the World Series. Everybody’s happy!” Um, sure. You did well in logic class in college, didn’t you pal?
Finally, it ended. Margie and I waded through the Cubs’ merchandise, the stupid Cubs’ victory songs and the “W” flags (apparently their fans need single-letter explanations for the outcome of a game – perhaps the Tribune sports page is too complicated?) And of course there were the brooms. Yes, we know. You swept us. Now go home. Your mommy needs to clean up the kitchen.
In the end, I’m a die-hard Brewers’ fan. There’s no turning back. The truth is, I’m jealous of their over-the-top euphoria. I’d like to think that we Milwaukeeans would handle it a little less obnoxiously, but I don’t really know that. All I really do know is that there’s only one way to stop this humiliation – just win baby.
In the meantime, Margie and I will stick to lunch….or roller coasters.