Married to the Mets: Hey Blondie

“HEYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!! BLONDIE!!!!!!!” They chanted as they ran up the stairs after a Mets/Cubs game in 2005.

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Rumor has it that I didn’t get a full head of hair till I was about two years old. I had peach fuzz to the extent that my parents were afraid I might never grow hair. I did though, grow hair, that is. I was a nice flaxen blonde in my youth. Nowadays, I need to buy it.

There’s a rumor, also, that somewhere someone once said that blondes have more fun. Since the only time I’ve ever been a true brunette (I have no idea what color my hair is), I can’t attest to it. What I can say is, though, that being a Mets fan has made things more fun in my life. No matter how they perform, I can guarantee that most of the time, I am having fun.

Also, when you have some semblance of blonde hair, you get called “Blondie.” A lot.

I stood out like a sore thumb because I was a tomboy growing up. Along with my long hair, usually pulled back in a ponytail, I wore a hat, usually of the Mets type. Dad would go to Cap Day, and I’d often inherit the cap. The standard uniform was jeans, some kind of sports shirt and my cap. Kind of like when you see me at CitiField these days too.

When I was 12 years old, I had big hair. Like big-Aqua-Net-extra-hold-supported-Jersey-hair hair. My mother spent a lot of money on my hair being permed, and I spent a lot of time in the bathroom styling my hair. When the Mets had bucket cap day in 1988, I was thrilled, because it complimented my hair style so well. (More than I can say about the actual style. I mean, seriously, did we really think we looked good??)

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By the time I was out of high school and in college, my hair was straight as a pin. Save some stints where I would just go to those walk-in places in the mall and ask them to chop my hair short, it had lots of long periods. In Mezzanine 22, I once wore a cap with a ponytail sticking out, and Richie (the yeeeeee haw! guy who sat behind us in Row C) yanked on the tail. The temptation, he said, was too great to do so.

This was 2002. At that point, I was in a relationship with the guy I call the “Big Ex” in my lexicon. We had lived together at that point, and to say he wasn’t a big baseball fan was an understatement. At first, he had a whole self-righteous attitude towards organized sports, but once he saw there was alcohol and usually a food bribe from me, we went to a few games. That was when we had met Frank, Tommy and Kim from the Woodside Crew. The infamous crew that gave us the famous saying, “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s” when the Mets are doing particularly bad.

We went to a lot of games back then, probably because my dad and I had our Saturday plan at that point, and my dad was off doing other things on the weekends. Not to mention the Mets were just horrible then. Not just bad in the traditional sense. Boring beyond belief. The only thing that kept us going then was the relationship with the folks in 22. They made the games more fun.

I was going through a lot back then too. Stuff at work, where I was very unhappy. But also stuff in my relationship. We ended up together for almost seven years, but it was still relatively new then. My hair ended up getting a brunt of the frustration. Short. Blunt. Bangs. Grow it back. Cut so short to barely to put back. Blonde. Blonde streaks. Brown. Brunette. Straight color. It wasn’t nearly as bad as when I was in college: I had been a redhead at some points (and let’s not talk about when I went nuts and dyed it blue).

Being a blonde was part of my identity. But like many chapters of my life, I was constantly reinventing and trying to find myself. It’s difficult to do that when you’re in a relationship with someone. Especially when there’s not a lot of compromise. So my hair took a lot of the hits to the experimentation.

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But there was compromise when we went to Shea. We started out driving there, but ultimately, the train won out. We discovered the Long Island Rail Road that dropped you off behind the 7 train, closer to the park. I think this was 2005, and I was blonde again.

Things were going south in the relationship. The Mets, though, were finally looking up. Carlos Beltran was new, and while the Scott Kazmir trade the year before had left us Victor Zambrano, new General Manager Omar Minaya had made a splash with Pedro Martinez, future Hall of Fame pitcher fresh off an improbable championship run with the Boston Red Sox the year before.

It was fun going to Mets games, but I can’t say I went to many that season. I know that I went to a lot, and I still had the Saturday plan with Dad. The Ex and I went to games, but I remember going to many by myself. I had no problem doing things by myself, but looking back, it was really the beginning of the end when I started doing my own thing over the weekends, and he was more than happy to give me my space.

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By the 2006 All-Star Break, it was evident the Mets were running away with the division. Adding big bat first baseman Carlos Delgado, the emergence of Beltran (who had a very quiet debut year in 2005), and lightning in a bottle help from Jose Valentin, the Mets were the toast of New York. I had no problem getting him to the games, since we were having a lot of fun. He had given up drinking, but at that time, drinking was part of my boisterous fan persona. I guess I had retained the attitude of Mezzanine 22, though my Saturday seats were in Section 10 at that point (the “family-friendly” section). When we found ourselves at games midweek, we thought, hey maybe we should look into season seats. Those turned in Mezzanine 14 Box, with Diamond Club access, which ultimately translated into CitiField seats.

I kept the tickets. He got the TV in the breakup in 2007.

I didn’t cut my hair off till 2008, though, when I found out he got married without my knowledge. Never thought it should have been me, but definitely thought I should have known.

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The year 2005 was the turning point. Things were miserable, just as the Mets were getting good. They were a distraction. I went to games by myself, and he let me. One day, I wanted to go to a game. He was cranky. I told him I wanted to leave him. We talked it over.

We decided to try to make it work. In all honesty, when I look back at that day, it should have ended. Yet, what did we do? We went to see the Mets play the Cubs on a Friday night. They won that game. It was fun to watch. I believe we sat in the Mezzanine. I had blonde streaks. But I was also tan, so my blondeness stuck out like a sore thumb.

This was a night we took the Long Island Rail Road in. One of the drawbacks to the service was it left every hour, even after the games let out, which was difficult to time (even though the travel time was 15 minutes from midtown, a distinct discount from the nearly 30 the 7 train took).

Back then, remember the old set up at the 7 train? There was that weird platform, and you had little crowd control. There would be bottlenecks after every game. This was no exception. Yet, we had about four minutes to make a train, and an ocean of people to swim through to get there.

Seemed impossible.

We tried to cross the street, and there was still a little wait on the stairs. The time was ticking.

Till one of the loudmouths started yelling at his friend in front of us. Apparently, it seemed, there was a trivia question to which his friend didn’t know the answer.

“TODD HUNDLEY!!!! HIS DAD!!! THE CUBS CATCHER – CUBS CATCHER!!!! THOUGHT HE TAGGED AGEE AT THE PLATE!!! HIS NAME!!!”

It looked as though he forgot former Met Todd Hundley’s dad’s name.

I knew it. I thought someone else would chime in.

Till I found myself yelling out, “Yo!! It was Randy! RANDY!! HUNDLEY!!!”

The guys did the double-finger point and yelled, “HEYYYYYYY!!!! BLONDIE!!!! AHHHHHHH!!! MOVE!!! MOVE!!! MOVE!!!!!!!”

Holy cow. I think I started a riot.

The crowd all of a sudden busted up the stairs. We had about a minute to spare. Running across the wooden almost-boardwalk to the LIRR platform, we just beat the train by a hair.

Probably the first time we smiled the whole day.

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In 2009, I was talking to one of my coworkers on an elevator. I was on my way to a hockey game. Everyone in the office knew me as the resident Mets fan, but the hockey thing caught him by surprise. I shrugged and said, yeah, I’ve liked the Rangers since I was 12.

My coworker asked, “So let me get this straight. You have baseball season tickets. You have hockey season tickets?”

I shook my head. “No, I just buy a few games from my friend during the year.”

“But still, you willingly go.”

I nodded.

“Why are you still single?”

I brushed it off, laughed. Truth was, I wondered that myself. We hear that women who like sports are, like, the most desirable and least attainable prime mate out there. I had been seen as “the friend” for a long time, or the buddy who was fun to go to sporting events. Truth be told, even with the Big Ex, I had a tough time imagining myself ever getting married. The irony was I had more of a relationship with my teams than I did with any man.

I guess my point is never say never. But I also wondered why people just can’t be content with a woman choosing to be single.

I had an ear-length bob then. In 2009, I was also a brunette.

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