I have gone to many Opening Days in my life. Some things change, some things stay the same. I will now compare and contrast my Opening Day experiences juxtaposing Opening Day 1992 and Opening day 2007.
1992: Nursing a mild hangover I drink 1/2 a pot of coffee while reading the Globe sports section, The caffeine brings me back and within an hour I'm ready to start drinking, again. I call my friends to make sure we have enough beer and weed for the ride to Boston.
2007: For some unknown reason my kids have already been awake for two hours. I feel hungover, but its only the sleep deprivation I've constantly felt since my oldest was born four years ago. I drink 1/2 a pot of coffee, but am still exhausted.
1992: We are already passing Sturbridge. I am driving, as usual with this crew.
Zucher already has two DUI's and gets really sloppy.
Eric has a penchant for passing out (usually on the bar).
Chris smokes about an ounce of weed per week; his eyes are permanently blood-shot.
We have already finished off half a case of Bud Light even though Chris isn't drinking, yet. "You're a bunch of fucking drunks" he wheezes, while blowing out a massive hit off of his bowl.
We get to the toll plaza in Weston and realize we need a light for a joint Chris rolled for our entrance into Boston. His lighter is dead from his non-stop toking. We roll down the window to pay the toll and I ask "Riley", an elderly toll taker if he has a light. He leans over and lights Chris's joint who is leaning over me toward the window. I say thanks and he smiles. He knows whats up. We decide that Riley is the coolest old-guy ever.
2007: We park behind the B.U. bookstore on the street. Its a 50/50 chance that we will get a ticket, which if we get one will only cost $25 compared to $35 or $40 to park in a lot. We roll the dice.
I pee in a bush near the car; my wife is angry she has to hold it until we get to a bar. Its nice to have a penis.
1992: We leave the "Cask" after three beers each and head to "Who's". During the five minute walk we lose Zucher. Chris starts complaining that there are too many people around to spark up. I suggest an alley next to the souvenir shop. He sees a couple of kids down there toking and decides its safe. He is placated for the time being.
2007: We are having a good time at "Who's". We are drinking $6 Bud Lights and we have won a hat and a key chain during some contests put on by some local radio station. Its shoulder to shoulder but people say "excuse me" and "sorry" when they brush by. We drop $30 on beer and decide to head into the park.
There is "Goose" a guy who is perpetually hammered and bears a striking resemblance to Goose Gossage.
Stein, who is always keeping score and pouring over stats. He looks just like Rudy Stein from the "Bad News Bears
(Stein is the third from the left in the back row)
We all head down to the beer line for a few more pre-game beers
2007: We stop behind home plate for a few photo ops then we head for our seat in the bleachers. We grab some beers and wait for my employee Tim to show up. I sold him tickets for the $23 per ticket face value and he offered to buy my beer. That raises the ticket value to $100 per. Tim comes up from underneath the bleachers carrying four beers, all for me!! (and Lori). He has brought his friend Jeff from Oregon. When I think of Oregon I think of green, sticky kind-bud, with purple and red hairs intertwined throughout. I almost ask him if he's got any, then I decide that I don't want to be curled up in the fetal position in a shit-covered stall with dudes banging on the door, angrily, pushing in their turtle heads. I can't smoke weed anymore without chancing disaster, so I live vicariously through Tim who hasn't had a drink in a year, but still partakes. He is living vicariously through my intoxication.
1992: The pre-game ceremony consists of a Marine singing the National Anthem with accompaniment of a band. No real pomp and circumstance, not enough to keep us in our seats. I see the first pitch on TV waiting in the beer line.
2007: The 1967 Sox are the feature of a 20 minute pre-game ceremony which includes the unfurling of an American Flag the width and length of the "Monster", each member of the 1967 Sox taking their position in the field (was that really Tony C.?) and the singing of "America the Beautiful" by Harry Conack Jr. Johnny Pesky even proclaimed "Play Ball". We all stay standing waiting for the National Anthem, but Ichiro digs into the batters box with no "Oh Beautiful..". Did we miss it. Am I that drunk?
1992: Viola is getting pummeled. We are all hammered. Zucher is passed out. Eric is doing the "head bob". Chris is getting bitchy, he wants to leave. I am drunkenly professing my love for Ellis Burks. "Your the best Ellis"..."Ellis we love you" I scream. Some guy a couple of rows down says "why don't you go suck his dick". I say "I will, right after I kick your ass!!". We have a stare down. Then I decide I don't want to be one of the 2 dozen assholes already thrown out and sit down. I am drunk enough that I just might felate Ellis, if he'd have me.
2007: Sox are up 7-0 after three innings. Beckett looks like Clemens circa 1992. Lori is freezing, so I head down to Dunkin Donuts to get her a coffee. The line is longer than the line is for the bathroom, which is ridiculously long. I grab a couple slices of pizza and head back to our seats. Tim has more beer waiting. If it wasn't 25 degrees with the wind chill factor those tickets would be a $200 value.
1992: Zucher wakes up and sloshes down to the beer line. He is shut off. The Sox have tied the game, so Chris is calm (he also took a few hits in the bathroom). Fossas blows the tie in the eighth and Darwin gives up an insurance run in the ninth. Sox lose. On the way back to the car I see the guy I had the beef with in the park. I call him a pussy. He calls me a fag. We go our separate ways.
2007: We are freezing. Its 14-1 in the eighth. We stay because in baseball you never know when you'll see something you've never seen before. We see nothing except for Timlin giving up 2 in the ninth to make the final 14-3. We walk briskly toward Kenmore and decide to hit a bar on Beacon, just to warm up.
1992: We finish the rest of our beers at the car then drive down Brookline Ave to catch Route 9 West. We have to take a leak so I pull over in the Chestnut Hiil Mall parking lot. We wave to the motorists with the hands we aren't using. Eric pukes which makes me puke. We pile back in and decide we need more beer. Zucher remembers that he has a six pack of "Micky's Big Mouths" he put in his nap sack for just the occasion. We crack them open as we head west. After a few swigs I realize that my beer is skunked. I roll down my window and throw the almost full beer out onto Route 9. I immediately realize it was a stupid move and concentrate on my driving. They all think it was hilarious and continue drinking their skunked out beer.
2007: We go to an Irish bar called "An Tua Nua" which means "drink our overpriced beer, sucker" in Gaelic. Tim is still buying, so I order a Guinness and Lori orders a Bud Light. We are there over an hour and I only drink half my beer. I have 100 miles to drive and need to sober up a bit. Just as we finally warmed up we decide to walk the 5 blocks back to our car. We say "bye" to Tim and Jeff who are staying in town to se Matsusaka the following evening. We have a bright orange ticket on the windshield. Craps, Line out.
1992: We get back into Western Mass and decide to hit a stripper bar. We go to Anthony's Gentleman's Club. Zucher pukes in the parking lot and Chris calls us light weights. They have the "B" squad working. No one gets a lap-dance, but a few girls are worthy of some ones. I am 27 and all of the girls look older. We leave, disappointed at the lack of quality girls. A block from the club Chris is mumbling something. I pull over and he runs for the side of the road and pukes for about two minutes. Cars honk at him as he heaves. He gets back in the car and we heckle and chide him for the entire 20 minute ride back to Nothampton.
2007: Lori and I arrive at an Italian restaurant in West Springfield we've been wanting to check out. We enjoy the hour eating casually without the kids. We talk about the game, the kids and gossip about friends.
1992: I am passed out in bed. Safely. I tempt fate once again. Lucky.
2007: We pick up the kids at my sister-in-laws. They are sleeping. We get them home and in bed. We pass out.
The Next Day
1992: I spend the entire day hungover, lying in bed.
2007: I am tired, but not hungover. I drink 1/2 a pot of coffee while reading the Globe On-line and listen to the boys play in their room. I reflect on the game yesterday, opening days in years past and other binge drinking episodes. I decide that I am glad I am no longer 25, but I certainly made the most of it when I was. I ponder how I've made it to 42 in one piece.