Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a blender. No, I’m not talking about the kitchen appliance. I’ve always wanted to blend in, be just like everyone else or – even better – achieve total invisibility. Why does that never seem to happen?
The MasterCard Priceless Chicago event that my daughter and I attended last week at Wrigley Field is the perfect example of my complete inability to be inconspicuous. As part of the Priceless Cubs Experience, we had the good fortune to join a bunch of local families for a warm-up session with a few of the Cubs’ coaches. Just picture it: the kid and I catching some fly balls and hitting home runs with the pros right on Wrigley Field, a dream come true for countless Cubs fans. I could hardly wait.
Upon arriving, I quickly discovered Cubs faux pas number one: my unfortunate wardrobe selections. My daughter and I were the only ones out of the 40 or so attendees not dressed in Cubs regalia. I had on black Capri pants and flip-flops and my daughter wore a pink and white frilly dress that screamed ballet practice, not ball game. While everyone else was running to catch fly balls or taking a few swings in the batting cages, the kid and I sat alone in center field in our lovely and impractical not-fit-for-baseball outfits. Or lying, as you can see in the pic of me above.
As you know, five-year-olds don’t sit still for very long, and I soon noticed the kid was getting restless. So my buddy, who had invited me to the event, and I came up with the brilliant idea of encouraging my daughter to run to a random pole in the left outfield’s foul zone and back. Every time she complained she had nothing to do we sent her off for another sprint on her own. I’m surprised she didn’t throw up on the field before practice was over. Me and the kid – two outsiders in the outfield.
Why, I just have to ask, is it so hard for me to be like everyone else?
I didn’t realize what a misfit I was until I moved from New Jersey to an itty-bitty town in Pennsylvania when I was about seven. The town was so small that we hardly ever referred to it by name; we simply grouped it together with a bunch of other neighboring villages and called the whole deal the Poconos. It was there that I discovered the difference between country and city, Christian and Jew, haves and have-nots. As fate would have it, I fell on the unpopular side of all three dyads. I had achieved the outsider's trifecta.
That feeling has stayed with me ever since, in college, through my Peace Corps service, and during my not-exactly 'Sex and the City' existence in New York. It's even clung to me since becoming a wife and a mom. But recently I'm noticing that something has started to shift. Maybe it's my 40th birthday on the horizon. Maybe it's temporary insanity or heat exhaustion. Whatever it is, I think I'm beginning to realize something cool: Being an outsider has its perks. In fact, it can be pretty darn fun.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself after experiences like the one I had at Wrigley Field. As Mitchell from Modern Family (when the show was funny) said to his young stepbrother Manny who, like me, felt he’d never fit in, “This is the funny thing about growing up. For years and years everybody is desperately afraid to be different in any way. Then suddenly, almost overnight, everyone wants to be different. And that is where we win.”
Words to live by, whether you catch that fly ball or lie smack in the center of the outfield in cute Capris and flip-flops. Many thanks to MasterCard and Chicago Cubs for a Priceless Experience my daughter and I will never forget.
~By Wendy Widom, Families in the Loop
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