I hesitated before posting “stranded in the park,” partly because I was still working through my thoughts and emotions, and partly because I knew that meant I’d do a poor job of explaining myself.
The point wasn’t to denigrate so-called bandwagon jumpers … they’ve added so much to the local environment, who could complain? The point was one of self-criticism, if not self-loathing … when you can pretend you are one of a few, you can pretend you are special, but when it’s obvious you are one of many, then you are just like all the rest, stranded in the park, and forced to confess to hiding on the backstreets. I detest nostalgia, and when it rears its ugly head from within my own being, I hate myself for it. That I waste even one second of my current joy wondering about the guy on the street with the fake beard disturbs me … and it’s not the guy with the beard that makes me uneasy, I am making myself uneasy.
To say that I am a long-suffering Giants fan is to give in to nostalgia, for I can only be long-suffering if I look into the past. To say that I suffer more than other fans because I got Orlando Cepeda’s autograph at Seals Stadium is to wallow in the good old days. I don’t like that about myself.
And yet … maybe this is why I worry so much about nostalgia getting the upper hand, because the older I get, the easier it is to fall into its trap. I posted the following video on Facebook. It has gotten a couple of replies and “thumbs up/like this” votes … interestingly, all from cousins of mine. It is, for people of a certain age who grew up in the Bay Area, a guaranteed trip down Nostalgia Lane. I mean, no one who hears this and remembers it can resist its call. But also, no one who isn’t of that age and from that place and time will understand the emotions this elicits from us old-timers. When I hear this, I get nostalgic, whether I like it nor not. When I post it during the 2010 World Series, here or on Facebook, I am doing what I detest, drawing a line between those of us who remember and those who do not, who can not because, for whatever reason, they weren’t “there.” It is a covert attempt to make myself special again, to allow me to pretend I am one of a few. In the immortal words of Robot Monster, “I cannot - yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do ‘must’ and ‘cannot’ meet? Yet I must - but I cannot!”