I’m so excited to be switching blogs today with my MFA Big Brother Phil. The other day we were talking about how excited we were for baseball season to begin. I’m a bit (okay, well I’m completely) apprehensive about this season. I’m a huge Francona fan, and to not have him as the manager of the Red Sox bothers me. I also am nervous about all the other trades and changes. The 2012 Red Sox will be a team I do not recognize. I’ve had a long love affair with baseball and the Red Sox in particular. In honor of today(the day the trucks leave Boston to get the equipment down to Floriday for Spring Training), we decided to switch blogs and write about our experiences with…. drumroll please….dating Yankees fans! Enjoy Phil’s post, and when you’re finished reading, come find me at his blog.
It was my third date with Jen. We were shooting pool at Owen O’Leary’s, a low-key pub on Route 9 in Southboro, in September 2007. I was lining up to whack the 3-ball into the corner pocket. I heard Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo’s voice on the TV over the bar, as underachieving relief pitcher Eric Gagne took the mound in the eighth-inning of a late-season game in Toronto.
That’s when Jen ambushed me.
“So, I hope you don’t mind that I’m a Yankees fan,” she said. Like clockwork, Gagne threw a meatball that got launched for a triple, pissing away a two-run lead.
“Yeah,” I said, looking back down to line up my shot again. “I guess I can live with that.”
It actually wasn’t the first time I found myself dating a New York fan. For some reason, Yankee girls seem to find me. Most of my girlfriends have been, like me, card-carrying members of Red Sox Nation. But as first dates go, I’ve probably been out with almost as many Bronx Bomber fans as Sox fans. For the most part I’ve emerged unscathed. One of the worst dates I ever went on was with a Yankee fan, though to be honest, it wasn’t an epic fail because of her love for Derek Jeter. It was because we connected on a dating site and when I met her in person it became obvious that her profile pic was at least 10 years old.
When I asked Jen, she said she inherited her Evil Empire loyalties from her family. Her grandfather came to Boston from Italy in the 1930s. Like many in the predominantly Italian North End back then (and to a lesser extent today), he shirked geography in favor of rooting for a team with players named DiMaggio, Berra and Lazzeri.
I didn’t let this phase me. To be honest, 2007 wasn’t such a bad time to date a Yankee fan. The Yanks barely registered a blip in the playoffs that year, losing in four games in the opening round, while the Sox would go on to win their second World Series in four seasons. Besides, Jen had a lot going for her. She had a great sense of humor. She was caring. She was beautiful. And she gave great massages. I mean killer massages. Those hypnotic, I’m-paralyzed-with-ecstasy massages that most people have to pay $100 for.
We refused to succumb to petty arguments over our teams. Jen never brought up the 2003 ALCS, when the Sox blew a three-run, eight-inning lead against the Yankees in Game 7 to blow the pennant. In return, I never brought up New York blowing a 3-games-to-none lead to Boston in the ALCS a year later. One night we came home from dinner and the 11 o’clock news showed highlights of the Yankees beating the Sox. Jen turned to me and smiled. That was the extent of our smack-talk.
Alas, while baseball loyalties can be overcome to make a relationship work, other things can’t. As time went on, the relationship began to hemorrhage, and it had nothing to do with Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.
The issues never major, but they were relentless. Whenever we were sitting on the couch, Jen always sat to my left. Always. I never really got an explanation why, but one time I tried to sit on the left and she wigged out. (I mean, it was my couch.) When it came to making plans, Jen never called me. I had to initiate every phone call – once I went five days without calling her just to see what would happen, and when I finally broke down and picked up the phone she was shocked to hear from me because she assumed I had broken up with her. I had to set the itinerary for every date. I had to initiate every level of intimacy – even the killer massages. And much of what I initiated was branded by her as “slutty.” She wanted to move in with me, but she had never lived away from home and I suggested that she live on her own for awhile. She said that if she was going to move out of the house she grew up in it would be for a live-in relationship.
None of these, by themselves, are egregious offenses. (Certainly not as egregious as rooting for the Yankees.) But the cumulative effect led to an epiphany to me. I couldn’t be what Jen wanted. She wanted a take-charge guy. I can be that person when necessary. But dating Jen made me realize how attracted I am to assertive, take-charge women. They make me feel wanted. And I’ll be happy to share the assertiveness duties in a relationship if it makes me feel good about myself.
After Jen and I broke up, my friends asked me if I had “learned my lesson” and sworn off Yankee fans for life. The answer is no. Obviously, if I could design my dream mate she would be a Sox fan. But I’d rather date a Yankee fan who treats me well than a Red Sox fan who treats me like dirt.
Dating Jen ultimately didn’t work out, but I learned a lot about what I need in a soulmate. And for that, it was worth being with someone who worships pinstripes.