Of all the things I miss in these Unprecedented Times, passive indifference to baseball is somewhere between #12 and #19.
Oh, I wish baseball fans had their game, but baseball never interested me. I used to feel bad about it. Nothing sums up summer more than an afternoon at the ballpark, eating a hot dog, waving your straw boater as the Babe lumbers around third.
Every year I feel guilty that I haven’t gone. Every year I feel slightly sad that the team didn’t do better. This year there’s nothing to miss, and I’m a bit relieved.
You’ve heard of FOMO, fear of missing out? You know, the nagging unease you get when you think your friends are having great fun and you’re not. There’s a counterpart, JOMO, or joy of missing out. The widespread COVID cancellations have produced a great amount of JOMO, simply because people are relieved that they don’t have to pretend they wanted to do something in the first place.
To be honest, I get JOMO when I think of public fireworks displays.
Here’s my fireworks ideal: six minutes of fascinating pyrotechnical art blooming in the warm night sky, starting exactly when I show up. Then a finale that’s a minute of frantic detonation consuming approximately 11% of China’s fireworks exports. Then everyone heads in one direction to their cars, and I go the other.
Here’s how it usually works: You get there early to get a good spot, then spend an hour regretting that purchase of “all natural” bug spray. It gets dark. Nothing happens. Then there’s one lone firework that spirals into the inky vault of heaven, and you feel a tingle of delight: It has begun! Even better, you know it will soon be over.
Then it goes on too long. Oh, it’s beautiful and stunning, but didn’t we already see that one? The one that went up and exploded, and there was all that crackling?
After a while you become jaded and barely notice the spectacle. Then you feel disappointed with yourself for not maintaining childlike wonder for the whole show. (Except you notice that the actual children in the crowd look a bit bored, too.)
Eventually, it comes to the grand whee-ha cataclysm everyone’s been waiting for — a mad, hectic, concussive concatenation that dazzles the eyes, overloads the brain, and makes a howl of delight rise unbidden from your throat.
The end! As the applause and cheers begin, you turn to your group and holler, “Run!”
You have to get to your car before everyone else gets to theirs, or you’ll be half an hour on the ramp spiral, or half an hour at the parking lot exit, after which you’ll spend half an hour on the streets leaving the area. So you sprint or do that fast stiff-leg dork walk, all the while aware that a torrent of humanity is right behind you.
Been there, done that, sat through six cycles of traffic lights for block after block. So, yes, I’m looking forward to July 4th JOMO.
Next year? I’ll be at the fireworks. Since it’s forbidden, I want very much to do it. But for now, I’m imagining a baseball game that ends in fireworks. That way, I can get all my JOMO in at once.