My Opening Day Tradition
by, 03-29-2013 at 12:28 PM (574 Views)
I remember Sunday, April 5, 1992 very well. I was more than somewhat aware that the Twins' Opener was the next day. I had been a huge Twins fan since I was like four-years-old. By 1991, I was nine and I had started collecting baseball cards, going to the occasional game and I was about to start a tradition of skipping school on Opening Day. Well, not really skipping school. You can't really skip school in 3rd grade. However, my devious plan was to fake being sick, in order to stay home and watch the game on television. It was a brilliant plan, but not exactly a unique plan for children of various ages. I mean, it's basically the plot to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. But, I hadn't seen that movie yet, so no help there.
Now, I had never stayed home sick before. I missed a week with chicken pox, but never missed school for a cold, the flu or anything like that. I certainly never faked sick, as I was way too ingrained as a teacher's pet/golden child to do that. As a result, I had no idea how to even approach the idea of staying home from school sick. Luckily, my brain had developed enough where I had that deception center firing and I started to develop a plan. I knew this would take all of my cunning, and I knew that I had to lay the foundation early.
That Sunday morning, I woke up and immediately started with some subtle, fake coughing. Not a lot of coughing, and nothing too horrible sounding; you can't overdo it after all. I just wanted that cough on my Mom's radar. I was a pretty boisterous kid, and usually very active. So, I just kind of laid around all day. I didn't want to do anything outwardly notable, as I wanted my malaise to be what got me noticed. Sure enough, my Mom came to see if I was feeling ok. I said, "yes, I just have a little headache and I'm tired" and we all went on with the day.
The plan carried into the evening. Normally, I was all about staying up late. Not on this evening. I announced to anyone listening that I was off to bed, at a surprisingly early time. My Mom came to check on me, and I admitted that I wasn't feeling great. She felt my head, proclaimed that I "wasn't warm" and let me be. I had planted the seed, and now I needed to plan the events that would transpire the following morning. I laid in bed and calculated my every move. It had to be done just right, so that I would be able to stay home, but still watch the game. It was intense. However, part 1 of my plan was completed.
When I woke up, I purposely stayed in bed longer than usual. I have always been a person that wakes up immediately to my alarm. I don't mess around with snooze and I don't screw around in the morning. I'm all business, and everyone around me knows that. When I didn't head downstairs at my usual time, my Mom came to look for me. I confessed that I was ill and might need to stay home. I braced myself for a negotiation, but to my surprise, my Mom simply said "of course, go back to sleep and I'll call school."
Success! Part 2 of my plan had been carried out. Not only was I one step closer to watching the Twins' Opening Day game, I was also able to get some freaking sleep. We really make kids get up early for school! I woke up a few hours later, and I started the third and final (and most challenging) portion of my plan. My Mom wasn't just going to let me watch TV all day. I needed to wait for the exact right moment to declare that I was feeling "better."
About an hour before game time, I went and ate some food. I figured, if I could always pretend that the food had magical healing powers. After lunch, I went back to bed for a few minutes. I then wandered into the living room and sat next to my Mom. She was taking a break from cleaning up after me and my brother and sister, with a little television of her own. This was not in the plan. I am very non-confrontational. I didn't want to take the step of asking my Mom to stop watching her show. It was bad enough that I was being so deceptive. THIS WASN'T PART OF THE PLAN! I sat there, just hoping that things would work out. Right as the game was about to start, my Mom said "wait, isn't the Twins' game on today?"
I meekly responded with a "yes" assuming my evil plan had been figured out. I readied myself to head back to bed, to get rest and "recover" from my illness. However, my Mom, being consistently awesome, put the game on, told me I should lay down, and then watched the game with me. When Kirby Puckett hit s a 3rd inning home run, we both cheered and I think I forgot all about my "illness." The Twins beat the Brewers 4-2 and I was pumped.
When the game ended, I went back to bed, figuring I should at least pretend to rest up. My Mom checked on me a little later and I admitted that I was feeling much better and would probably go back to school the next day. She smiled and told me that she was glad I felt better and then went off to do any number of things that she did for us when we were little. I couldn't help but feel bad, but I enjoyed that time, watching the game with my Mom.
And so a tradition was born. Each year that school interfered with the Opener, I would fake an illness and stay home. Sadly, I don't think any game was as enjoyable as that first one. My Mom went back to work shortly after the 1992 Opener, as she had been laid off a couple years prior. Luckily for my brother, sister and I, my Grandmother would come to watch us after school, until I was old enough to keep an eye on the house for everyone. Regardless of who was in charge, you can bet that I was home to watch that first Twins game of the season.
Traditions change over time. Once I reached high school, I didn't put as much thought into my plan. I'd just say I had a stomachache and go back to sleep for a few hours. In college, I would just skip class. Oddly enough, I became a teacher. However, my school seems to like to accommodate my Twins schedule, as our Spring Break has coincided with each Opener since I started teaching. What a perk!
For the past 21 years, I have not missed a live Twins opener. Sure, I could tape or DVR the game, but it's just not the same. I need to experience the first game live. This Monday will be my 22nd straight season. My school is on Spring Break again and I will be home in front of my TV, watching when Vance Worley throws the first pitch of the season. It's a Ripken-like streak, no doubt, but this will also be my final time sharing this tradition alone.
My first child is due in June. She will be 10 months old next April. You can guarantee that she will be sitting right next to me when the 2014 season opens. Once she gets old enough to make her own decisions, I'll just have to hope that she chooses to watch those games with me. As important as I know school is, I'll gladly call her school on those future April mornings, to let her stay home and watch the game with me. Even if she isn't interested in baseball, I hope that she will sit and watch the game with me anyway, much like my Mom did when I was nine-years-old.
Going back to my Mom, I used to feel bad for lying and deceiving just to watch baseball. The reality is, my Mom was smart and she likely knew what I was doing all along. It was no coincidence that she knew exactly when that 1992 Opener was starting. I mean, where do you think a nine-year-old gets the kind of smarts it takes to pull off a brilliant plan like mine? Ultimately, it is one of my fondest memories and a tradition that I look forward to each year. It was completely worth the make-up work that came with the second day of the season!
What are your Opening Day Traditions? If you enjoyed this piece, please check me out at Kevin Slowey was Framed! Not everything I write is sentimental. In fact, I drew a ridiculous picture of Kevin Slowey and Mike Redmond that you can enjoy.