Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cruel To Be Kind

I took two of my PAs*, and a friend of theirs, to the big city for a game last night. The tickets came from a friend. Rich Guy seats for a change, instead of the nosebleeds.

It's always interesting to go to sporting events in the middle of the week. It was a school night and most parents are more responsible than me, so there weren't many kids. Instead, there were a lot of people who came straight from work, via a dinner stop at one of the nearby bars. A lot of twenty-somethings who still think it's fun to dress up for work, middle-aged men out with their colleagues (sorry dear, won't be home tonight, got this job thing I've got to go to), some older gentlemen, most of whom looked like lawyers.

There was a smattering of others too, more couples than there used to see, a few groups of women. Occasionally some obviously less affluent people, although with today's ticket prices, baseball is the last sporting refuge of the corporately unendowed. For the most part, though, young professionals and upper-middle class men.

Now, I'm not an "eat the rich" kind of guy. For one thing, a lot of people would find me a pretty tasty target. Furthermore, I don't think there's anything wrong with working hard and enjoying the results. At some point, it's just greedy (Diamond Jim Brady without the panache), but not too many of the people in this crowd fall into that category.

No, what I don't like about these crowds is that they reek of frat boy Republicanism. The mix of testosterone, alcohol, and money too often leads to people like George W. Bush; as Jim Hightower put it, guys who were born on third base and think they hit a triple. Not really the kind who will pick a fight, they're not brave enough for that. More the type who'll rag on the homeless guy asking for change outside the arena and then spend the rest of the evening swapping Hitlery jokes.

Anyway, last night was one of those giveaway nights, everybody got a little something as they came in. We sat down a couple of rows in front of a group of guys who couldn't have looked more like my stereotype had they tried; early-30s, wearing suits with recently removed ties, drinking beer, talking loud. The boys started comparing their souvenirs, excited by junk as only kids can be. Pretty soon, I heard, "Hey, buddy. Hey, buddy, turn around."

So I did. One of them was holding a handful of the giveaways that he'd collected from his buddies. "Here, the kids want them?"

Of course.

Later, during one of the breaks in the game, t-shirts were getting thrown into the stands, people diving for them and whooping when they got one. A shirt arced our way and one of the boys stood up to try to catch it. Sitting next to him was one of the older guys, white hair, distinguished, wearing expensive business casual. Tall and thin, someone with time and money to spend at the gym. A good foot taller than the kid. He stood up and easily plucked it out of the air.

He smiled at the boy, handed him the shirt, and said, "Here you go, son. You look like you want this a lot more than I do."

These were kind, generous things to do. Now, maybe last night was just a fluke and we happened to be sitting amongst a bunch of social justice organizers who won new wardrobes and tickets to the game. Probably not, though. I'd bet a significant sum of money that at least some of the people in question happily and repeatedly vote for people and policies that are anything but kind and generous.

President Ford's press secretary Jerald terHorst once said, "If [President Ford] saw a schoolkid in front of the White House who needed clothing he'd give him the shirt off his back, literally. Then he 'd go right in the White House and veto a school-lunch bill." I understand the psychology. I don't understand the reasoning.

* Precious Angels


Anonymous said...

I used to work in a hospital that had it's own clown brigade. Own clowns!

UC is afraid of them. AG is not.

Why can't everyone just love a clown?

Anonymous said...

Crap! I had to comment threads opened and this one was for Jimmy's site. Sorry.

What I was going to say here is that people have no problem being Republican because they don't face their sins. For example, many can hate say Jews. Then they live next to a Jewish family. They love them. They say really nice things about them. They still hate Jews, but not the neighbors. It's easy to hate when they are faceless and nameless.

Anonymous said...

So maybe if UC moves next to a family of clowns, he'll start to love them!