Two friends, bonded for life, meet in the crowded street, amid taverns, turnstiles and tattoos. The carousel playground of Lansdowne Street shakes and rumbles under vaunted footsteps, moving in unison toward the cathedral of green.
"Anyone got tickets? Need tickets."
Mike stands in the usual spot, in the northern shadow of Boston Beer Works, racing and baseball on his mind. The vice president of operations at Rounder Records is in the first few minutes of his vacation, precariously timing Dan to see if he indeed will arrive within three minutes.
Dan, notebook in hand with sweat on his brow, arrives in a rambunctious mood, the three-day Westin-Copley Monster client conference in his emotional rearview mirror. Dan walks through. Security checks Mike's bag. Dan looks for the premium beer stand. Mike looks for Dan.
Section 17. Box 123. Row AA. Seats 3-4.
Karen from the Herald stops to say hello to Dan. It's been a long time. Karen is a cancer survivor. Dan finds inspiration talking with Karen. They go back, industry peers covering the travails of Cam Neely and Vladimir Ruzicka's scoring prowess but lack of defense. They exchange e-mail addresses and Karen heads off to work.
Wonderful version of national anthem from North Shore girl. Prompts "American Idol" discussion. But on this evening, a sultry summer-like May pocket in time, nothing needs to prompt a Mike-Dan discussion.
It's an annual ritual (and sometimes more), two college roommates, close friends for 23 years, catching up in the house that Ted and Yaz built. Communications at work. Dealing with union issues. Good employees. Bad employees. Motivational techniques. Engaging your audience.
"Those are cool glasses."
Awkward moment when girl with the cool glasses, stalled in foot traffic in the aisle between boxes, slides into Section 17, Box 123, Row AA, Seat 2.
Another Harpoon IPA for Dan. A hotdog and bottled water for Mike.
Halladay has a two-run cushion. "It's a been a long time since we've seen the Sox lose," says Dan.
"Who says they're going to lose?" asks Mike.
Varitek scores. Daubach scores. Damon, his beard shaved for charity, grounds into a double play but Millar scores. Youkilis scores. Mike looks correct.
The girl with the cool glasses asks Dan who's playing right field.
Rush is doing a cover album. Alzheimer's. Acupuncture. Short-term disability. Sexual harassment. Mix CDs. Hell Toupee, Mindgrinder, The Weeds. Abe and Knutson together in a room, two guitar heroes with inflated egos. "Lunch with Ed." "Heart of the Sunrise."
The daughter of Busty Heart seems to know someone in the upper grandstand, shielding her eyes form the late-spring setting sun, bouncing in place, a distraction from runners in scoring position with first base open.
Party on July 3. Worlds collide. Christine's friends and colleagues. Dan's friends and colleagues. Core group sipping dark, rich Shiraz on the porch listening to Led Zeppelin long after the sun disappears through the trees.
"Haht dawgs. Sodah here."
Manny launches a moon shot onto Lansdowne Street, just a hundred feet or so from where Mike stood in his usual spot, in the northern shadow of Boston Beer Works, racing and baseball on his mind.
The bottom of the eighth has a long life. Youkilis swings and pops a foul straight back, directly over Section 17, Box 123, Row AA, Seats 3-4. Dan, a fresh Harpoon IPA in his right hand, makes a weak attempt to make the catch with his left hand, the ball slapping his palm for a brief second before deflecting off the side of the full plastic cup, soaking his hands, forearms and notebook, splashing the girl with the cool glasses.
Mike, though, is charged with the error. He shows Dan the growing welt on his right hand, another missed opportunity for a souvenir. Indeed, it was several years ago in these same seats that Mike kicked away a foul ball.
"I'm 0 for 2," says Mike, who has found a new friend to his left, discussing the merits of Grand Prix racing.
Game ends. "Dirty Water" blares from the speakers.
"9 to 5," says Dan. "Who would have thought?"
"11 to 5," corrects Mike.
Back in the carousel playground of Lansdowne Street, the energy level lower, the tired masses mispronounce their "R's." And Jeter sucks.
Mike's vacation continues. Dan's weekend is just getting started. Two friends, bonded for life, depart into the crowded street, amid taverns, turnstiles and tattoos.