* Flu Times Two, And Patriots Day Too

The Boston Marathon, Red Sox baseball, spring weather. What’s not to love?

Today is Patriots Day, a holiday in Massachusetts and Maine, the two states where I’ve lived almost all of my life. (I’ve lived a total of about four combined years in Finland (Rautaruukki), Texas (Air Force), and Colorado (Verio).)

Patriots Day is also when the Boston Marathon takes place, and on this day, the Red Sox play an early game. If all works out right (good weather, no extra innings), the Sox game will get out when marathon runners are entering Kenmore Square in Boston, creating an incredibly large crowd and and incredible sports experience.

For years, it was a tradition for my friend Joe W. and I to attend the Patriots Day Red Sox game at Fenway and then spill out into the overflow marathon crowd. Two years were particularly memorable.

On Patriots Day 1990, the Milwaukee Brewers (then still in the American League) defeated the Boston Red Sox 18-0. Joe and I had great seats for this game, right behind the third base dugout. We didn’t buy the tickets in advance, we bought them the day of the game from a scalper. In those days, you could get decent seats at the last minute, and occasionally great seats. These were great seats. Unfortunately, the game was not great, and the Red Sox couldn’t buy a break or a run. The Brewers just kept piling on the runs, inning after inning. The Red Sox fans were so dejected that they started sarcastically cheering for the Brewers.

For Patriots Day 1991, Joe and I needed a different strategy. I was on active duty in the Air Force at Hanscom AFB. Patriots Day was a state holiday but not a federal holiday, so no vacation day for me. But I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of our tradition. Tuesday was traditionally “fatigue day” at Hanscom, but I decided to wear them on Patriots Day Monday instead. That morning, I made the rounds at the office, making sure that all key people had seen me that morning. Around lunchtime, I walked out with my duffel bag, ostensibly going for lunch and/or an afternoon run. I had left my briefcase at home, my cubicle office lights on. Joe picked me up at Hanscom in his pickup truck. In the truck, I removed the top of my uniform and replaced it with a college sweatshirt (from the duffel bag). With the sweats and fatigues, I looked like any other 20-something Red Sox fan.

Unlike the previous year, our seats were not great. We were in fight field, and we were in the (hazy) sun most of the afternoon. The game went long, and the Red Sox ended up losing to the Cleveland Indians 1-0 in 13 innings. My plan of having a bonus holiday almost worked. When I woke up the next day and got ready for work, half my face was bright red. I turns out that I got sunburned on one side of my face. I contemplated possible explanations. Skin rash? Allergies? If the game had only been 9 innings, it might not have been a problem. But I ended up walking around the office that day with my head tilted to one side.

Today, I have the flu. My wife does too. It is raining. And the Red Sox game, originally scheduled to start at 10:00, was delayed over two hours. And I am not at the game. But maybe someday, the weather will be perfect, the Sox will win, and the happy crowd will spill out into Kenmore Square as planned. Ah, spring in New England.

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