… on bill murray’s face, another face, and cubs

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Late Fall

I’m not a life-long Cub’s fan.

But I have always loved Bill Murray’s face.

I’m particularly a fan of what he did with it in the wee small hours of yesterday’s morning, as he took in the reality that his Cubs had finally – after 108 years and despite the curse of a man who owned a certain tavern named after a goat.

There it was, I saw it – not as he was in the stands, reacting to the win with a wild cheer and high fives and selfie taking and and and… it wasn’t that.

It was that face, a bit later on, when he was on the field and it was all sinking in.

The face of disbelief, absorbing something so unbelievably great that he brought his hand to cover his mouth tightly as he squeezed his eyes shut, walking alongside a baseline on what was – in lights of a ball park, hours before dawn – his field of dreams.

It was a gesture we humans do, unconsciously in the extremes of disbelief – eyes squeezed shut, hands covering our mouths.

It’s almost as if we are blocking anything else from coming at us, into us – even an ounce more of good or bad. Of blocking out the world for the briefest time, as we take in and process the current happening.

I’ve seen friends and loved ones do it upon hearing the news of lives ending.

I’ve done it myself when I heard my own son’s life would not.

How amazing, that the same gesture, same body language, overtakes us in the most tragic circumstances of our lives, and also in the most joyous.

Kind of shows us that there is always a flip side to whatever life is dishing out, laying down.   It’s grounding, for me, in a strange way.

And the fact that we can feel that for a sports team? That we can breathe in that extreme joy, that it can be that unbelievable. I read stories of adult children and grandchildren visiting the graves of their dads and moms and grandpas and uncles (and the list goes on) to let them know what happened, and to place a championship flag by their resting places, and smile through tears. And celebrate.

How cool is that?

Well. Pretty cool I think.

And yesterday just after noontime, I did run into life-long Cubs fan. In Nashua, New Hampshire of all places.

I was in line, at my local Shaws supermarket. It was not busy at all, I pretty much just walked up and started placing my celery and tomatoes and grated romano cheese and  the Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetite magazine on the conveyor belt… habit had me reaching for that plastic baton to mark the end of my moving grocery pile, making sure whoever rocked up behind me could put their stuff down right away, not worrying that their eggs would be mistaken for mine.

I was checking my phone when I heard a man speak… nasal-y, a bit of an awkward intonation. I looked back.

“Did you watch the game last night?”

A young man… early twenties maybe. Plaid shirt, tucked into blue jeans. Belt. Hand held at an awkward angle. When he stepped forward his hips shifted as if his legs couldn’t flex. Friendly face, uncoordinated way his lips seemed to work over his teeth. 

“I fell asleep!” I said, returning his smile, it was a great smile.

“I’m a big Cubs fan!” He announced, loudly. He was clearly very proud of this. His lisp was prominent, and his head moved forward as he spoke, almost as if he was making a special point.

He used his good arm to put his big pack of Mountain Dew onto the belt, and used his body to make sure it got there.

“Did you know,” he started “that four former Red Sox were there too?”

“No I did not!”

He was smiling, I was smiling. I looked at the cashier and was grateful that she seemed to be taking her time, also smiling. I didn’t have many items, and there was no one else in line.

I noticed him reaching for his own plastic baton, placing it behind his single item – his one large box of soda.

And he was telling me exactly which Red Sox players he was talking about, and some details about each, and he was beaming. Totally contagious.

A few minutes later, and too soon for me, another woman got in line behind us, and started emptying her cart. She was stern looking, all business. And I hoped that the cashier wouldn’t hurry us along now. This man needed to share his joy, and he was doing it with style.

Any spittle, or overly exaggerated gesture just added to the jubilant conversation.

As I entered my PIN number, and the cashier handed me my slip, I congratulated him again on the Cubs win, and he said he was celebrating with his favorite drink, and pointed at his Mountain Dew.

I told him I thought that was great, and looked to the woman behind him, hoping that she would let him keep talking as he paid.

And guess what?

As I pushed my cart out of the line, she did start talking to him when he turned around to see her. And I looked back, and she was smiling.

Not only that, I heard her say “Well you seem to be someone who ought to have a great day today, being such a fan, would you allow me to buy you your favorite drink?”

I heard the young man, very politely and with disbelief ask, “Are you sure?”

And she said she sure was, and he declared it a ‘great day!’

I may not be a life-long Cubs fan.

But, damn.

I am a fan of humans.

Thanks for readin’.

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