More Cowbell! (a big fan in a small town)

I live in a small town.  My small town has all the same offerings as the big city . . .only . . . smaller.

My sister lives in Minneapolis.  They have a Christmas parade called “Holly Dazzle.”  It features hundreds of locals dressed in beautiful costumes, riding on ornate floats, all wrapped in christmas lights.  It runs every night from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and thousands bundle up to sip cocoa and bask in the glow. 

We have a Christmas parade too.  It features the Dial-a-Bus, the Public Librarians dancing with their book carts, and the local Yorke Club.  The only thing that lights up is the motor-cop at the end.  He usually does a couple of donuts to awe the crowd.  It happens the day after Thanksgiving, and it usually rains.

My friends from college all live in San Diego.  They are always posting about trips to Sea World, days spent at Disney Land, and the new water park at Lego Land.  A quick trip to a theme park is just another day in the life, and they don’t even bother to buy the Mickey Ears.

We have “Enchanted Forest:”  where a series of paths wind through a hill-side, taking you through remnants of classic Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales.  For twenty dollars, you can stick your hand in the nostril of the wicked witch, ride down the little old woman’s shoe slide, walk through the crooked house, and peek through a small window at three little bears.  There is one roller coaster.  I rode it once.  It was so old, I thought for sure it was the last thing I would ever do.  And I know a guy who once got stuck in the rabbit hole.  It took five men to pull him out.  The only thing in the gift shop are giant pencils with Enchanted Forest written on the side.

A guy in my Water Aerobics class spent the weekend in Seattle watching Mariners’ games.  He caught a foul ball, ate the best hot dog on the west coast and  spent $100 on team gear.  Best weekend he’s had in a long time.  The Mariners’ (and their manager) put on quite a show.

We have the Knights.  A College level, Summer league, baseball team.  Every game has a theme like “Faith Night,” and “Corvallis Clinic Health Night.” At the end of each inning they play games like “Togo’s Sandwiches Hoagie Roll Races.”  If the team scores seven runs, the crowd wins coupons for free Tacos, and at the end of the game all the kids jump the fence to run the bases.  It costs $5, or $3 on Miser Mondays.

My family sat on the first baseline last night.  One row down sat a middle-aged guy who was obviously a big fan.  He wore the Corvallis Knights T-shirt with matching hat.  He had a giant camera around his neck, but I never could figure if he was taking pictures or just using the telescoping lens like binoculars.  Even larger, were the headphones cupping his ears so he could hear the commentary playing on some obscure public radio station.    At his feet sat a very used cooler full of peanuts, sunflower seeds, drinks . . . everything he needed  . . . he did not miss a second of the game.   During the seventh inning stretch, he stood and sang louder than the announcer on the microphone.

My favorite thing was his cowbell.

At the end of each inning, after every strike out, immediately following every run; he would reach under his seat and pull out his cowbell.  He rang with enthusiasm.

One might have thought he was sitting at the seventh game of the world series, with a Cubs hat on.

He did not. 

He sat in a small town watching players who (most of which) will not even be remembered in two years.  His fanaticism was not tainted by Nike contracts nor $20 chili dogs.  He was just a big fan in a small town.  The players may never know him, but I’m sure they heard his bell.

I got an email from a friend today.  She knows that I am less than one month from my first 50 mile trail run.  The email was a poem about not quitting.  My friend  holds no hope that I will win or be featured in the next Endurance magazine.  She rang her cowbell anyway.  I needed more cowbell today.

Everyone needs a little more cowbell.  Everyone, no matter how small, needs a fan ringing their praise.   

I know sometimes I get so busy with my stuff, I stop caring about other peoples’ stuff.  Sometimes I’m just jealous.  Sometimes, I get a little competitive and try to be better as opposed to being supportive.  It is not very fulfilling.

That guy last night, found more joy than anyone else in that Stadium.  All because of a little more cowbell.

So to my husband, my sisters, my children, to all my family and friends:  I raise my cowbell.  I hope someday you will look up and see me in the stands ringing your praise.  And may you know that, that is where I will find my joy.