Mooning Over My Honey

“In a restless world, like this is,
love is ended before it’s begun.
And too many moonlight kisses
seem to cool in the warmth of the sun.

When I give my heart,
it will be completely,
or I’ll never give my heart.”

—Edward Heyman

June 29, 2014—Colleen and I hadn’t really discussed before our wedding what we’d do for our honeymoon. There’d been talk about going overseas, maybe to Italy or even Israel, but I had no passport, and there would be issues obtaining one. I was born with a different surname—Dad had changed it when I was in the third or fourth grade—so even though I don’t look Middle Eastern, there’d be questions about the name on my birth certificate.

J. Conrad and wife Colleen at one of baseball's last cathedrals.

J. Conrad and wife Colleen at one of baseball’s last cathedrals.

The morning after the wedding we talked about going to Boston, where the Cubs would play the Red Sox Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Colleen is from the north side of Chicago and a diehard Cubbies fan. A woman who wanted to attend three ballgames on her honeymoon: did I choose wisely or what?

Once we decided we were Boston bound, Colleen got online and placed a bid on a nice hotel within walking distance of Fenway Park. Then she managed, how I have no idea—I’d thought the three games were sold out—to score two tickets for each game. They were great seats, too, at field level.

Getting to Boston was problematic. By flying, we’d have to go, from Michigan, through the Twin Cities. So, with my fear of flying, we decided to drive.

After spending thirty minutes packing, we loaded the car and were on our way a little before eight in the evening. We figured we’d drive four or five hours, which would get us a short way into Pennsylvania, before bedding down for the night, and depart early the next morning. Our ETA in Boston was a couple hours before the game—time enough to check into our hotel, maybe get me some Cubs gear to wear, and get to our seats before the first pitch.

We were unable to score me a Cubs cap before the game, so I wore my Detroit Tigers home jersey and cap, with the old English D on both. Armed with a couple of Fenway franks—not nearly as tasty as those at Wrigley—and brews, we sat next to some locals behind the visitor’s dugout, on the third base side, for game one. One of the guys took one look at me and for the rest of the night, to him, I was “Magnum.” It must’ve been the Tigers attire because never in my life have my looks mistaken me for Tom Selleck.

Funny thing about Boston. During a previous trip with another woman many years ago, I found the locals to be rather rude. Maybe it was the company I kept back then, or maybe it’s Colleen’s infectious smile that immediately wins over people, but on this night, and for the remainder of our stay, I found Bostoners friendly and good-natured. We freely told nearly everyone we met that we were newlyweds on honeymoon and received only congratulations and good wishes.

Game one was a good old fashioned pitchers’ duel, the kind of game I enjoy most. When the Cubs scored, Colleen let out a whoop and treated the crowd to a long and shrill whistle her dad taught her. She drew a few looks of admiration, and I felt my heart swell with love and pride.

Meanwhile, the Cubs’ starter took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

“Get your Fenway franks,” called out the vendor. “Franks!”

I’m superstitious about no-nos, and didn’t mention it to Colleen for fear of jinxing the feat. But the Fenway faithful did all they could to jinx it—urging each Boston hitter to break it up and groaning when they didn’t.

During the seventh inning stretch, I leaned over to look at the guys seated next to us and, grinning, said, “You know you want to see it.” I was careful not to mention what “it” was, but they knew.

They grinned back and one of them said, “You’re right, Magnum, for the history. But I gotta root for my Sox.”

Then I told them I’d been at Comerica Park a few years ago the night first base umpire Jim Joyce blew a call that was not even close for the final out of the game against Cleveland that cost Tiger starter Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

“You have my sympathy, Magnum,” one of the guys said. “Whatever happened to that kid?”

“Last I heard he was playing in the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan.”

“You don’t say?”

“I just did say.”

After recording two outs in the bottom of the eighth frame, the Sox broke up the no-hit bid; but the Cubs would win the game 2-0.

On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at O’Leary’s where we enjoyed a couple of cold ones and met a few Cubs fans who were staying at the same hotel.

We slept in Tuesday morning, but took a subway to Hennessy’s Pub in Faneuil Hall in the North End, where we watched Belgium knock the United States out of the World Cup.

I spotted a bottle of Irish whiskey I’d never seen before: 2 Gingers. Although it was well after noon, Colleen decided against ordering a glass, but after sampling mine, promptly ordered one of her own. We spent some time searching several liquor stores for a bottle to take home with us, but came up empty.

After finishing our 2 Gingers, we ordered a couple of very tasty Sam Adams Brick Reds, available only on-tap at venues on Boston’s Freedom Trail, and two more with lunch.

At a souvenir shop on Yawkey Way, across the street from the ballpark, we purchased a Cubs cap for me to wear.

“Get yer Cracka Jacks heeyah. Jacks!”

Game two was another close game, with the good guys defeating the home-towners 2-1.

“Get yer ice cold bee-ah heeyah. Bee-ah!”

Game three was a laugher, with the Cubs scoring early and often; but the Sox hitters got on track to make it close near the end, losing by a touchdown 16-9. By then, many of the fans had abandoned their team, although one diehard fan in our section, on the right field side and just outside the infield, sarcastically called for “the comeback of the century.” For him, it was not to be.

We returned to Michigan late Thursday after a nearly thirteen-hour drive, encountering some heavy rain in central Pennsylvania and several slowdowns for road repair. We were happy that the Cubs swept the defending world champion Red Sox—Colleen recalled that she’d attended a three-game series in San Francisco last year, with both her sons, noting that her Cubs swept the then defending world champion Giants.

But as I fell asleep Thursday night in Colleen’s arms, I couldn’t help but think that I was the real winner.

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