Wednesday, March 26, 2008

As American as Apple Pie.

I've had this conversation before. I'll have it again. But I have a hard time self-identifying as American. Along with that comes a slight disdain for things consider quintessentially American, like Baseball.

I had one immigrant Grandfather. And one grandmother with an immigrant father. That's it, everyone else is American. But even the most American amongst my family come with a heavy dose of internationalism. My parents spent their first year of marriage abroad. My sister studied Spanish in Mexico. One cousin went to Cambridge. One cousin went to medical school in Australia. One cousin works in Peru. Another is married to a Peruvian.

But really, this came from my summers in New York with my grandparents. Those long days by the pool in Long Island is where I learned about Greek food, French Art, Inuit culture, and Russian dictionaries. In that big, rambling house is where I started to suspect that Mussorgsky held more cache than Sousa. That traveling to Italy for the World Cup was more important than watching the World Series. And especially I learned to be sceptical of things upheld as American. The descriptor American did NOT under any circumstances mean that it was better, and often meant that through the lens of the world, it was worse.

Ok. Don't send me hate mail. I didn't choose my family. That's just how it was.

Now, I continue to be sceptical of all things American. I love chevre but usually dislike American cheese. I accept that I must listen to Sousa, but certainly wouldn't download it. I don't love any sports enough to watch them without company, but if I had to, I would choose soccer, not baseball.

All of that is a long-winded introduction to what I did today while at work. I went to a special Phillies event.

I was prepared to be miserable. I even put it on my Outlook calendar as the "I hate baseball" event. But I was wrong. I had fun. It was infectious.

We got a special tour of the batting cage, the dugout, the field, the Diamond Level, and the locker room. I got to hold the bats of Chase Utley. I got to sit in the Media Room where all the press conferences happen.

It's interesting though, because what was fun was the feeling of seeing something exclusive. I still wouldn't necessarily want to sit through a game, but now I'm sceptical of my own view. Perhaps I need to give all things American another glance through a more objective viewfinder. Maybe I still won't like American cheese, but perhaps there are a few things I need to just enjoy - like the 1812 Overture on Fourth of July - without thinking like such pseudo-cool-euro-trash all the time.

The picture at the top of the post is me having fun... at a ballpark!

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