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When Friends Go Astray

[October 6th] -- This is my friend Bob. He and I were great friends our senior year at J.E.B. Stuart High School in 1974. Oh sure, we had our differences. He owned a Yashica camera, and I had a Nikon. His Dad drove a huge Chrylser the size of Delaware, and my Dad owned a sleek, sporty Olds Cutlass. He wore cardigans, I wore pull-overs. But we were able to get past all that and remain friends. That is, until I found out the truth.

I could have forgiven Bob for being a junky, a murderer, a cheat, even a Democrat [hmm, come to think of it, he did get a "wispy" look in his eyes when he talked about George McGovern]. Those are character traits that a person can look beyond. But Bob's problem went far beyond simple societal stupidity.

Bob was an Orioles fan.

When I found out, I remained his friend, hoping that I could somehow help him see the error of his way. I thought I had made some progress until graduation day, when, as he crossed the stage at Wolftrap, he did a high leg kick and threw an imaginary slider -- Jim Palmer would have been proud. After graduation, I left D.C. and traveled the world. Today, some 30 years later, I am enjoying my life of relative obscurity here in Idaho. Then "it" happened.

A recent sports poll indicated that there was one Oriole fan living in Idaho. I knew that it had to be him. There are no others with this affliction west of the Mississippi. Shortly thereafter, I got an email from Bob who was living on the other side of Idaho. We made arrangements to meet, and I must admit that I was excited to see him again after 30 years. I was sure that he had "outgrown" his Oriole fetish, or perhaps someone who loved him had him "re-programmed." It was not to be. Bob, even at this stage in his life, is still an Oriole fan. I am afraid there is no hope.

Bob is a success in business, has a beautiful wife and has enjoyed every minute of his life. All that, however, will go for naught when he passes from this life to the next. The gates to Heaven are clearly marked "Nationals' fans entrance" and the "other" place is marked clearly too: "Hell - waiting room on left is for appeals. Orioles fans enter immediately."

Ah Bob, you could have had such a great life. Why'd you spoil it by praying to the "orange idol" at Baltimore's baseball altar?

I particularly love the "beautiful wife" part of this sad tale--especially because I'm the spouse! Lemme tell ya: I, too, wish that he could kick the "orange habit," because I have to live through each young season as the O's play well and win many...only to watch the Baltimore gang inevitably (well, almost!) fade as the season gets serious.

So, Farid, perhaps his loyalties will move closer to the nation's capital, clumping his baseball and football obsessions. He's a Nationals fan, but didn't "enjoy" the early indoctrination of living and dying with the Senators. (As a Navy Junior, his formative years introduced him to a range of east- and west-coast teams.) I know, the Senators abandoned D.C. when you were a mere sprout, Farid, but tales at daddy's knee sometimes reverberate even more strongly than time actually spent at the ballpark.

So, as a loyal (and beautiful!) wife, I call out: "Go O's!" and "Play on, Nationals!" I can fully support this long-distance romance!
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