October 30, 2003
My girlfriend wants a ring.
To say that I didn't see this coming is the understatement of the century. In a way, there is not much to tell:
Los Angeles boy meets Boston girl living in Los Angeles. Though we had some differences -- seems the East Coast Ivy-Leaguers up there can even out-liberalize some of the most granola-eating free spirits out West -- we agreed on many a film, food and music (a girl who dug Springsteen!). In the first few months I started to sprout hope that this new relationship might even outlast Schwarzenegger's political career.
But then it happened. Suddenly, I sensed that our current relationship was not enough for her. She hadn't shown it at first, when my chivalrous romancing seemed to be more than adequate. But that was back in the summer. What changed?
It became fall -- though still 80-plus degrees outside my Beverly Hills apartment -- and everything I did and said fell miles short. She seemed to want, nay, deeply desire, something more, something bigger. I could sense that this "thing" welling up inside her was not going to fade away of its own accord. Soon I would have to make a serious decision about our future together.
One day, out of the blue, she said it: She wanted a ring. I gasped, I froze; sweat started to drip from every pore. How could she be jumping into things so quickly? I asked myself. We were getting along so well. How could she ruin it with talk of such a commitment? A ring! But this was no ordinary I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you type of ring. Oh no, to her, it was much, much more.
This ring was about baseball.
For many in Los Angeles, baseball has long been a cute, outdated national pastime which, from the moment Magic Johnson first stepped onto the court to be greeted by Jack Nicholson, has given way to our current obsession, basketball -- namely, the Lakers. I just blindly assumed that the rest of the country felt the same way. Heck, aside from Shawn Green (his being Jewish makes it a mitzvah to know who he is), I probably couldn't tell you the names of more than a handful of players in the entire league, and I doubt that many of my native Angeleno friends could either. But it seems that there are still more than a few people -- most of whom were raised in the Northeast -- who don't quite see things the same way. And it also seems I am dating one of them.
My girlfriend is many wonderful things -- but from Los Angeles she is not. Make no mistake about it: you can take the girl out of Boston but you can't take the Red Sox fan out of the girl.
And this Red Sox fan wanted a World Series Championship ring. This was not an "OK, let's go to Tiffany's" type request she had. This was not something that money could buy. She wanted something I couldn't provide.
Four hours after the Sox lost to their arch rival, the New York Yankees, I feebly tried to console her -- but right away, it seemed, I was DOA.
"How could you even call me on such a night of mourning?" she screamed, pointing out her other 200 friends (all Bostonians living in Los Angeles -- who knew there were so many?) would never call at such an hour. "You could never understand what I'm going through," she cried.
Am I really so callous? I really can empathize. I also get upset when my team loses.
Therein lies the rub. She, like other Bostonians, was always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Always the post-season loser and never the World Series champ. The Red Sox haven't even won one championship since 1918 (a date I have heard so many times it has taken on a mythical-type quality). So how can I even bring up not winning four in a row? The Sox have no "three-peats," so how can I even try to understand?
Her friends did. The following day, the Bostonians had a shiva-like lunch in order to just sit together and stare into their salads, not speaking, about what they repeatedly called "a death in the family."
At that lunch my girlfriend finally figured out that ... drum roll please: I am not from Boston. I guess she always knew it, but maybe she just didn't want to admit it. But with the finality of her "loss" it suddenly hit home.
With that realization came forgiveness. She finally concluded that we from outside of Boston are not the enemy. And that maybe I was being truthful when I told her that I do hate the Yankees as much as someone from Boston. (Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in the '77 World Series against the Dodgers -- what's not to hate?)
My girlfriend and I have moved ahead in our relationship. We just had to learn that there are many different types of people in this world, and that perhaps we can understand each other better sometimes by admitting that we don't understand each other at all.
Last week, as my girlfriend and I both rooted against the Yankees in the World Series that suddenly nobody cared about, the one thought that repeated in my mind was -- "Thank God I don't have to deal with this again till next year."
Greg Ross is an actor and musician living in Los Angeles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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