A Journey Between Bonfires and Sleeping Bags

JADed Remarks

Without a doubt, I'd never stored so much money in a sneaker before.

Shying away from purses on principle, and anxious to delude would-be wallet-snatchers, I deposited $200 between sock and sole of my right Nike.

Bought a box of chocolate donuts, a quart of orange juice and a package of Cracker Jacks and took myself out to the old ballgame.

It was one of those notions I'd stored in the back of my mind for a long time, a notion that refused to die. It drove me to pull $200 from my BayBanks account. It drove me blatantly to disregard the thought of four Monday classes. And it drove me to catch a cab into Kenmore Square.

At 4 a.m.

"I've never seen such a big sucker," the cabbie bubbled to my friend and me as we slipped into the back seat. "Twenty-five or 30 pounds. I rolled my window right up when that sucker started to back up on me."

A raccoon on Holyoke Street, we finally gathered. A very big raccoon indeed. A raccoon that we quickly forgot about as we sped down Mem Drive, crossed the River, thanked the cabbie and stepped into a nuclear wasteland.

Bonfires dotting the night. Huddled, grey-garbed figures half-obscured by darkness. Sleeping bags everywhere. Puddles of gas and beer and piles of discarded pizza boxes.

It took nearly 20 minutes just to walk to the back of the line, a curious line determined by those scattered, silent sleeping bags. Little outposts of faith.

We camped closer to the Prudential than to the ballpark, tossing backpacks on the grass and stretching out on a quilt.

Self-proclaimed official counters cantered down the path, told me I was number 7003. Told the crowds and the skies and the sleeping apartment-dwellers above all about "lucky number 7000," my neighbor.

And then the motion began, just as the sun was rising, a swelling like a mass exodus or military maneuver or demonstration, a convergence.

We poured across the streets and around the Fens, all 5000 or 8000 or however many of us there were, all headed toward Yawkey Way. Stop-and-go from about 8 a.m. on, as we wound our way under the Green Monster and past The Metro and Spinoff and around the park.

Barely moving for the last hour, the crowd squeezing and shoving and slowly, slowly inching forward.

And it was over so quickly.

And we got them, herded through the line past the booth and back onto the street, clutching two pairs of honest-to-goodness tickets.

Reserved grandstand for playoff game number seven, standing room for World Series game number three, the total package closing at $90. Not perhaps ideal choices, but oh, the satisfaction.

If the playoffs go to seven, we'll be there. Roger Clemens and Mike Witt at Fenway Park, the American League pennant on the line and we'll be there, behind home plate.

And when the World Series, the World Series if you can believe it, comes to Boston for game number three...

We'll be there, Fenway, we'll be there.