The Fat Lady ain’t sung. Yet.


‘Expressions of glee from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Cubs’

I am (in)famous amongst Henrys for my lack of interest in team sports. I’ve been known to ask if baseball is the one where they throw the little white ball with the stitching, as opposed to the one where they throw the big orange ball with the pointy ends. (I do know that the big round orange ball is the one that gets ‘dribbled’; I didn’t attend Carlyle High School basketball games just to flirt, you know.)

Well. As some of you may recall from my ubiquitous Facebook presence, I recently spent a most pleasant long weekend with as many Henrys as could squeeze into Oldest Younger Brother Scott’s house in Petaluma. The ostensible reason for our get-together was to celebrate a couple of Henry birthdays (my Mom’s and Middle Younger Brother Roger’s).

That's Birthday Boy Roger on the left, Birthday-Venue-Boy Scott on the right

That’s Birthday Boy Roger on the left, Birthday-Venue-Boy Scott on the right

But what got everybody really excited was not the big ole dual-duty birthday cake (with a candelabra on top, seriously), or even the Second Presidential Debate (the Town Hall One with the Stalking), but watching the Cubs battle the Giants for a spot in the National League Playoffs.

SNL's spoof was almost as funny as the real thing

SNL’s spoof of the Town Hall Debate was almost as outrageous and crazy as the real thing

This was Big Stuff for the Henrys. See, Carlyle, the town where I grew up, was about fifty miles east of St. Louis. (Still is, unless they moved it without telling me.) Which made the St. Louis Cardinals the ‘home team’ for pretty much everybody in town — everybody who wasn’t a Henry, that is. This was because our family was from ‘away’; we moved there in 1960, which made us sort of Carlyle Carpetbaggers. Our roots were in farm country Upstate, about fifty miles west of Chicago. Which made our ‘home team’ the Chicago Cubs.

Now. Just in case you know even less about team sports than I do (which would be pretty amazing) or you haven’t looked at a newspaper or watched TV or been online lately, the Cubs have a reputation of being, well, losers.

Everyone's surprised when the Cubs win. Even the NY Times

They famously have not won the World Series since 1908. (Yup, that’s 1908.) Which means that no one is alive who remembers their last win. They haven’t even played in the World Series since 1945. (Nope, I wasn’t alive then, either. Though my quite-young-at-the-time Mom was.) Nope. During my lively youth, the Cubs were pretty much dead. Not only did they not win the World Series — or even get into the World Series — they pretty much lost every game they played.

[Note: there is plenty of Loser Lore surrounding this very long Cubs Dry Spell. What with goats and ghosts and silly overeager fans catching errant foul balls in the stands, I couldn’t possibly begin to fill you in. Go crazy on Wikipedia, if so inclined.]

I do know this, though. That if you rooted for the Cubs in a Cardinals Town, you were pretty lonely. I think I remember my Mom telling me the only other non-Henry Cub Fan in Carlyle was the guy who owned the IGA. The guy didn’t go to our church, and Mom was a Piggly Wiggly shopper, so they didn’t even get together to commiserate.

The Losers (er, Cubs) when I was a kid

The Losers (er, Cubs — AKA ‘Cubbies’ — but don’t call em ‘Cubbies’ around my Mom, no sirree!) when I was a kid

Anyway. My Mom, loyal to a fault, has stuck with the Cubs all these years. Her sister, my beloved-yet-frail Aunt Marilyn, could be considered even more loyal to the team, if that’s possible. These days she answers the phone not with ‘Hello’, but with ‘Go, Cubs’. Seriously. Give her a call and see. (Mom’ll give you the number if you ask her nice.)

My two favorite Cub Fans, taken in about Year 102 of the World Series Drought. Note Mom's lucky jacket. She's wearing it 24/7 these days

My two favorite Cub Fans, my Own Personal Sister Laura and my Mom, pictured in, oh, about Year 102 of the World Series Drought. Note Mom’s lucky jacket. She won’t take it off these days, not even to wash it

Well, the rest of us were rooting right along with Mom throughout that baseball-packed playoff weekend. I saw more games in three days than I’d seen in three years. BTW, nobody but me watched that nutty debate. And I only caught it on my iPad much later that night, in bed. What with the Cubs’ excitement and the Trump’s shenanigans, it’s a wonder I got any sleep at all.

Anyway, by the time I got home to New York I was throwing around phrases like ‘home team advantage’ and ‘pinch hitter’ like a Real Henry. And this from a person who didn’t know an RBI from an MLB a couple of weeks ago.

So now I’m all ready for tonight, the first game of the first World Series with the Cubs in it since I’ve been alive to watch. And I bet you’re ready too.

And in case you’re wondering about the title of this post, it comes from an old baseball saying: ‘It ain’t over till the Fat Lady sings.’ I looked this up, and got lots of different derivations, from an opera reference (oh, really?) to a tweak on Yogi Berra’s ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’. But the one I’m going with is the one that agrees with my (foggy) memory: which is that I remember Kate Smith singing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ when the TV went dark for the night. (Yep, it used to do that. There would just be what they called a ‘test pattern’ on the screen if you turned it on at, say, one in the morning.)

The kind of thing that used to be on TV after the Fat Lady was done singing

So. This column is officially going dark. At least for another week. Cue the Fat Lady. And Go, Cubs, go!

New York City. October 2016.



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16 thoughts on “The Fat Lady ain’t sung. Yet.

  1. Congratulations to you, Cubs Fan! And this is coming from a devout Cleveland Indians fan 🙂 We know what it’s like!

    And I mourn with you over the Orange Man as we enter the Age of Shame….

    • How generous of you, Cleveland Fan! Let’s hope we can all work together to not only survive the Orange One, but be (gulp) happy under his rule. BTW, my personal theory is that it’s a kharma-balancing sort of thing: the Cubs got to win, but then so did Trump.

      • I think the only good to come of this will be be the voluntary unification of Americans against his bigotry.

        But the Cubs winning is good for national morale! I didn’t mind the loss, though it would have been a magical year for Cleveland if we had won.

        • Let’s hope you’re right. The Child called the day after the election ‘to see if I was okay’, which I thought quite dear of her. She also said she’d made a contribution to Planned Parenthood. And she is only 25!

  2. I know nothing about ‘American’ sports and nothing about British sports! I hate watching sports unles its gymnastics or horse riding/eventing or dressage. I do like the olympics but I’d get bored if I followed a team. Well done your mum for maintaining the faith when a lesser person may have defected and well done you with all your snazzy new baseball phrases! As always, Thank you for joining the #weekendblogshare x

    • Well done you, for plowing thru a post on American baseball! (I’m not sure I could have done it a year ago, before my weekend of baseball immersion.) Thank you for reading, commentng, and — of course — for hosting #weekendblogshare xoxoxo

  3. As the only member of my family, currently consisting of just Spouse and myself as we are empty nesters, though even flying chickadees are barely and only moderately interested in basketball and possibly soccer and occasionally tennis, who is interested in baseball these days, I feel I must respond to your current Cubs missive. I do so mainly in homage to Grandpa, aka the Buddha, who raised Sis and me on it, taking us to Dodgers games after both he and the team had moved to L.A.. Also recently discovered from Uncle, aka Buddha in training, that Grandpa won a bet from his co-workers when the Brooklyn Dodgers won the pennant in 1955, the year of my birth. Note that this is posted on Halloween Eve, the day of the Cubs’ potential last gasp before once again choking in The Series, and the weekend when the Donald has closed the gap on The Woman who we ALL hope will finally break that highest of glass ceilings, at least here in the U.S, thanks to the FBI director ignoring orders from his superior, also a woman. This messy country needs a woman’s touch to clean it up from the top down, and I still hope that will be accomplished this year. I mean, after all, the US Women were first to win the Soccer World Cup, so maybe the men will catch up, eventually, and by that time maybe the women will be earning as much as those unsuccessful men.

    • Wow! What a terrific comment! So cool to hear about not only your sports background, but nice to hear that we agree on politics as well. Keep that good kharma coming and your fingers crossed — for the Cubs AND for Hillary xo

  4. Oh my, being a Brit, I have absolutely no idea at all. Although I did go to a Baseball game when I visited LA years ago. It was rather like cricket, but louder and more colourful and lacking the British Tradition of a break for ‘tea’. I hasten to add, that I do not understand cricket at all. I am so pleased I am not the only person in the World not to appreciate team sports. Have a fab weekend #WeekendBlogShare x

    • What a good sport you are to comment on a post about a topic as confusing as American Baseball! I grew up here, and didn’t understand it till that fateful family weekend (er, I still don’t really understand it, but now I know which team to root for!) Thank you for weighing in. And you are absolutely right — it’s like cricket, only louder! (And with no tea, though beer goes nicely with a game)

  5. Petaluma, the town where Alice was reintroduced to the Cubs. Your mother and other faithful have quite a weekend ahead of us. I’ve pulled out my 1984 Cubs jacket and doing my little part.

    Lots of memories for so many people are stirred while watching this silly game with the little white ball. At times like this, they swirl and howl.

  6. We have Cubs fans even way out here, Alice. And you are just as out of it about sports as I am, although I surprise my husband sometimes. Last spring there was a baseball game on TV and the big deal was about the pitcher, etc. Well, a bird flew over home plate as the ball rocketed in at the same time and I said to my honey: “Wow – that is a meadowlark!”

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