Saturdays at the ballpark were dollar hot dogs and two dollar tallboys. These two fronts, hot and cold, came together like a tornado, a tornado of undercooked anus and bottom shelf relief, to wreak havoc on Haymarket stadium.
In the eye of the storm was our beloved Salt Dogs vs. the almighty Air Hogs.
But first, we must traverse enemy lines.
To be clear, lines are the enemies.
Lines to get tickets.
Lines to gain admission.
Lines for dollar dogs.
Lines for two dollar tallboys.
Lines for the bathroom.
Lines for tallboys.
Lines for dogs.
Lines to shake hands and say: good game good game good game good game.
From an aerial view, an Air Hog view if you will, these lines formed a labyrinth maze of standing spectators. None of whom are in fact watching the game. Instead, each studies the progress of their respective line and measures it against other lines, wondering, always wondering, if they chose the wrong line.
But there’s only one line that matters. And that line has tripled by the time we doubled back. It’s the dollar dog line. It’s the two dollar tallboy line. It’s the only line that matters.
There are other, shorter lines. Lines closer to our seats. But those lines are for rich people. Those lines are for $5 drafts, $6 crafts, and no dogs.
“No runs. No hits. No errors,” the announcer chimes, casting light shade over the sunny diamond. It’s the bottom of the second.
One sadist cradling an armful of dogs and cargo shorts loaded with tallboys saunters toward the back of the line. He’s a rich man: unfettered by lines, warmed by dogs, heavy with beer. The sadist openly gnoshes into the radioactive pink-green dog and speaks loudly into his bluetooth. We might as well have rabies: we foam, we yip, we pant.
It’s the top of the fourth and we’re next in line.
“No runs. No hits. No errors.”
“No dogs,” adds the vendor, trying to be cute. Not. Cute.
The line bristles. The line boos and heckles and waves its tickets as if they were a deed to hot dogs.
“Five minutes!” he shouts and waves his white towel in surrender. But a line not moving is an agitated line. Friction between particles increases. Collisions become more likely. The line is a nuclear explosion waiting to happen. And then it does.
It erupts in joy. In the distance, lesser lines have parted to make way for an acned adolescent, sunburnt pink, looking as fine as any blistered hot dog. Balanced on his head is a pyramid of hot dogs looking as immaculate as Queen Cleopatra herself. My hero.
I polished off my fifth dog and cracked my third tallboy when the announcer summoned everyone to their feet, “Ladies and gentleman! Boys and girls! Lagers and Buds!”
It was time for the main event.
In the sixth inning, little boys dress up as tallboys for a race around the bases. Whichever tallboy wins is a dollar for the seventh inning. It’s Bud Heavy vs. Bud Light vs. PBR. Bud Light won last time. Fuck Bud Light.
“At first base, weighing in at 5%, we have Buuuuud Heavyyyyyy.” Red cans scorch the air.
“Clocking in at 4.7%, hailing from the Great Lakes, P! B! R!” We cheers and shotgun our beers.
“And now, you’re reigning champ, at just 4.2%, Bud Light, a.k.a Bluuuuuue Lightning!” The crowd thundered back in a chorus of boos and cans rained down onto the diamond.
Obviously, we are team PBR. We’d be ok with Bud Heavy winning, but not Bud Light. Fuck Bud Light. I’m worried though, because Bud Light is taller than the others and suggests he is rightful heir to the tallboy throne.
“Ready! Set! Chuuuuuug!”
Bud Light gallops ahead to an early lead. PBR trails nearby and cuts inside rounding second and is poised to gain the lead. They are neck and neck approaching third when Bud Light shoves PBR, sending him tumbling into the dugout. Meanwhile, Bud Heavy is doubled over, heaving. Bud Light pumps his tiny fists in the dusty air as he trots home, unchallenged. Volley after volley of PBR and Bud Heavy cans rain down from the bleachers and litter the field around home plate, as if Bud Light had vanquished his competition into mini particles of themselves.
The game is over.
The final score remains unknown.
We close down the stadium and head to the bar.
Connor Goodwin is a writer from Lincoln, Nebraska. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Poets & Writers, Los Angeles Review of Books, BOMB, X-R-A-Y,and elsewhere.