Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
Greetings from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where the citywide mood is whatever the spiritual opposite of a disaster movie is. Like, we have all the outward signs of a disaster movie--streets closed off by flashing police cars, hoards of people choking traffic, the constant urgent bleating of car horns, fire truck sirens non-stop, helicopters droning above, screams nearby and all around, vuvuzelas blaring somewhere far off, in the distance: explosions. But it's festive!
Tonight the Phillies clinched the NLCS title, advancing them to the World Series for the first time since 2009 and the people of this fine city responded as we always do: with a complete meltdown. I know that every city has their own claim to city pride, but I firmly believe that no city loves their city in the way that Philly loves Philly, which is apocalyptically.
There's a lot of talk about this city being a gatekeep-y city and the true Phillies fans being very anti-fair weather fans, but I don't find that to be the case at all. I'm not originally from here and I'm not really a baseball person, but I found in 2009 and again today that Philly just wants you to be happy for Philly. And not park stupid. If the spirit moves you to climb up a greased up lamppost, as is the local tradition, have at it.
The Phillies won while I was in a playwriting work group in Center City. As soon as I finished and left the underground hovel where we make stage magic, I knew from the screams that something had occurred. I opted to walk home instead of taking the subway, because that's what you're supposed to do in an emergency situation.
It was still drizzling a little bit but I realized that the umbrella I brought with me--a Towson Tigers umbrella that was a very kind gift I got for speaking to a class there--was the same color as the Padres, the team the Phillies beat. I quickly wrapped it up and shoved it inside my sweater. I don't want no smoke! I would rather get wet than get confused for someone not supporting the team, or--more importantly--not engaging in the Rumspringa erupting around me. I'm not a fair weather fan. I'm an inclement weather fan and I will swear to that in court!
"Go Phillies!" a child shouted at me, aggressively. "Go Phillies!" I shouted back, equally as rough. Tears of joy brimmed in both of our eyes. Across the street, fire trucks were blaring their sirens and flashing their lights constantly, as the fire fighters stood out in front with a huge speaker and blasted "Dancing On My Own", which is the Phillies rally anthem. Unfortunately it's not the Robyn original, but rather a cover by Calum Scott. Nevertheless, I will take it as a gesture in support of sad in the club rights and gay rights and sad gay in the club rights.
There were people filling both sides of the sidewalk on Broad Street, most of them walking north from the stadiums. At each subway stop, the intersection was filled with people standing around, blowing vuvuzelas, whipping rally towels, and dashing into traffic. Every time a car managed to get by, the driver would lay on the horn and everyone would scream. People climbed on top of the subway entrances like they were escaping a flood. FEMA was called.
As I got close to home, I passed my car, which was parked on a side street. I noticed that I'd parked stupid a few days ago, with my rear tire up on the curb. I got in and tried to fix the job but the cars behind and in front of me were parked too close (also stupid) so I was able to get out but not get back in. So then I just drove around honking my horn for half an hour. Beep beep, toot toot! Clang clang clang goes the trolley, fellow sports fans!
I ended up parking in the middle of the street--which is technically illegal, but we do it anyway and it is not considered stupid. The spot I found was near one of the subway stops so I just coasted into a crowd of people running and screaming, turned my engine off in the middle of the civil unrest, left my umbrella under an ACME shopping bag, and bid my car goodbye.
Anyway, I gotta go. Tensions are high here. Danger is all around. It's wonderful.
I'm back writing a monthly column for ELLE in print!
Random Thing on the Interernet
I love, love, lovvvve the podcast Heavyweight. I know I've shared about it before. I'm sure I'll share about it again. One of the latest episodes, titled "Dan" is such a delight, so full of surprises and humanity and well-earned emotional resonance. I loved it.
I don't want no smoke!,