We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Watching that magnificent Women’s Final at the French Open yesterday reminded us to dig up an unsigned letter written to the Middlebury Women’s Lacrosse Team on the occasion of their National D.III Championship, way back in 1997:
YOUR OLDEST FANS
I wish you could see yourselves the way the old men did who came, faithfully, each home game, to watch you play. (Did you ever even know they were there?) With too much time on their knobby hands, and being no particular use to anyone else on those spring afternoons, they arrived, punctually, to stake out the top row of the stadium bleachers. They had names like "Walter", "Bob", "Ed", "Ralph" and "Gordie". They were between the ages of 70 and 85, but not when they watched you throw and catch. When your games began, the old men leaned back against the chilly cement stadium and forgot the prisons of their own arthritic bodies. They became lost instead in the wondrous distraction of able young women playing their hearts out on a green field.
The distant mountains that lie east of Middlebury's playing fields were of a blue, on those spring days, that suggested a glimpse of heaven on earth. The old men owed you no duty to be there. They did not know you; you were neither their grand-nieces nor granddaughters. They were not trying to set right any male chauvinistic sins of their generation, or to prove their hipness to Title IX. Your gender, in fact, had next to nothing to do with the rapture that this scene - viewed from their top row seats - stirred in them. You were athletes. That is all. Athletes at the pinnacle of youth and at the top of your sport. Graceful, strong-legged, and in love with a game that required only sticks and a ball. It was the simplicity that they loved. When you played this game of run, throw and catch, you embodied such grace and apparent ease that the old men allowed themselves the illusion that you did it all through them. (This is the essence of being a fan, to feel power vicariously through the athlete observed). Each well-turned play you made lifted up the hearts of Walter, Bob, Ed, Ralph and Gordie, and made them believe in something like a heaven on earth.
For 60 minutes it made small boys of them, returned them to an age when it was not corny to invest in one's heroes. When the games were over, they left for home, winners themselves, and they felt less afraid of living in the lonely winters of their lives.
I don't know whether any of this makes sense to you, at your ages, but you did this for a number of old men who were among your greatest fans in the spring of 1997. I just thought you should know.
Great letter. Reminded me of the days when my father and a neighbour used to frequent the local hockey rink when the local (and very good) league was in town. They had a great time cheering on the home team; home team benefited from they admission tickets - as well as cheers.