Thumbnail image for toilet.jpgYesterday was St. Francis Day and I had the day off. So the wife said fix the toilet or else. Not wanting to know what "or else" meant, I drive to the hardware store at 17th and Ritner, get the parts for the toilet and get back into my truck.

My cell phone rings. Now, as nephews go, I've got great ones, on both sides of the family. This one nephew, the one that flies the big jumbo jets around, calls me from the ball park. "Hey Uncle Ron," he says, "I'm at Citizens Bank Park."

This is equivalent to calling a level-10 alcoholic in the second day of rehab and saying: "Why don't you come out to the parking lot, we've got a keg of Miller Lite here."

But knowing that I have domestic duties, I return home to fix the toilet. I'm in the bathroom with the lid off and parts all over the place and I start thinking: Ball game. Toilet. Ball game. Toilet. Ball game....

The subway was loaded with fans heading south for the Phillies-Rockies game. Getting on a crowded subway car with all kinds of people dressed in red, and without a ticket, is like going to a dance without a date. You are on your way, yes, but you're not sure what will happen when you get there. They are happy and I am not. Well, sort of not.

Once above ground there are opportunities with scalpers, but I have enough ball game experience to know not to buy a ticket from them. I envison myself standing at the turnstile: "Sorry, sir, this ticket is invalid." Meanwhile, the scalpers are headed to Pottstown for their  second beer run. I walk the thousand yards to the Park and there are hundreds--no thousands--of happy people all around me. Just one fan, I tell myself, just somebody, has an extra ticket to sell. But how do I know who?

Standing by the Park entrances, I make my move. Like jumping into a cold swimming pool, I go for it. I thrust my arm straight up with my index finger extended and yell, "Need one ticket, who's got one ticket to sell?" At first it was awkward, but heck, I'll never see these people again. After a few minutes, I got use to it and in a way it was slightly enjoyable.

 "One ticket, need one ticket. Who's got a ticket? One ticket here, who's got one ticket?"

  You would not believe the folks who came up to me with all kinds of tickets to sell, from $200 Diamond Club seats to the last row in the Harry the K bleachers. Of course, they were all trying to make big bucks. But this is one situation where time was on my side. The closer I got to game time, the cheaper the seats became. Finally, one lady approached me and said she had one standing room only ticket that she would let go if it would pay for her parking. I offered twenty bucks, she took it, and I was at the dance with a date. Once inside the Park, I used my cell phone and called my nephew. We met in front of Tony Lukes--he had a standing room only ticket, too--and we began to try various locations around the park.

We stood behind home plate. We stood in center, in left, upstairs, downstairs, in Ashburn Alley, near Harry the K's, back to center, then we moved over to right. We stood in places at the Park that I've never imagined existed. I learned one thing from this experience, people who buy standing room only tickets are real fans. They don't have fancy season ticket packages, 18 game plans, or an air conditioned suite or prime seats two rows behind the dugout. But they are there, cheering, slapping five, drinking beer, eating, and having fun.

We cheered the National Anthem. We saw the Bull throw out the first ball, and then we saw J-Roll lead off the Phillies first with a home run, and the crowd chanted M-V-P as he circled the bases. But by the 4th, after Colorado put up a four spot and led 6-3, to tell you the truth, I started thinking about the toilet, and the parts scattered around the bathroom floor.

So in the fifth, I waved goodbye to my nephew and headed for the subway. Got home, fixed the toilet, did the dishes, straightened up, and greeted my wife when she arrived home from work.

"How was your day, dear?" she said. "Fine," I replied, "just fine."

By the way, the Phillies lost 10-5, but you  know what? It didn't matter. I was there.

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