I spent part of last week in Washington DC straightening everything and everyone out, and then I had to leave, so it all fell apart again. Sorry about that.

Part of the time was employed in attending Twilight Tattoo, which is is a performance at Ft. Myer by every single show unit the Army has to offer. They fling rifles and bust out piccolos and bang drums, and really it should be a staple of every family’s trip to DC as much as a visit to the Washington Monument or the Smithsonian. It is sobering and inspiring.

It is also very loud. Very much present is the Presidental Salute Battery, which most Americans are familiar

with from every Inauguration. Guess what:  These guys have a full-time job. The Salute Guns Platoon wheel out their cannons to welcome state visitors, for ceremonies at the Pentagon, and funerals at Arlington National Cemetary.

I walked past the battery on my way to the bleachers. I had arrived 15 minutes prior the show, which of course meant I’d planned to be present 45 minutes earlier for an opening act, but I’d never been there before and had to follow

directions as well as a map as well as a dotted trail on my cell phone and I think we all know how that went. I saw the cannons facing well away from the crowd and figured, well, this is going to be a fine dramatic opening, and by golly it was.

All these cannons went off at once to let us know the show was beginning. This was loud, loud enough to set off every single car alarm in the adjacent parking lot, which somewhat undercut the historical veracity of re-enactment of the American Revolution unfolding before us. But the alarms settled down and the show moved on and… more cannons.

This happened at non-regular intervals, complete with corresponding smoke opacity and car whooping, to the point where a father seated next to the battery carried his wailing young son to the opposite part of the green, which meant it was time for the single cannon sitting on that side to go off, too.

Much as the English major in me appreciated the dramatic punctuation, I couldn’t understand why it had been deemed so necessary, so often. Why so much booming? Were we not already in the presence of all manner of soldiery, on a military base, just off the DC Metro?

The show had progressed all the way to Desert Storm by the time I finally figured it out:  We were watching a story of war, and war, by its very nature, isn’t comfortable. It isn’t fun, and it isn’t a color guard pageant. That a giant range of the American populace could sit on our butts holding glowing iPhones over our heads while a simulation of war roared all around us was a testament to the fact that we led fairly comfortable lives, and a few minutes of auditory discomfort in the name of authenticity made the entire event more meaningful.

I often hear “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable” from people in the fitness trying to make me perform physical feats that I just don’t feel like doing, often because I’m tired or distracted or want a cookie. We run from discomfort; in an age in which we don’t even have to get up from the laptop to change the thermostat, order a pizza, or unlock the door when it arrives, we have come to equate simple inconvenience with hardship.

You’re probably not very comfortable right now if you’re a Reds fan. Sports is a game; it’s supposed to be enjoyable, but thirteen games out of first place tends to diminish the Glory of Sport. Do we hang in, tune out, or fling ourselves further into the abyss?

How comfortable are you with discomfort? If the discomfort occasioned by watching this team is actually less than what you experience with the rest of your life, then God bless. But if the preset button on your car to the right of the onee tuned to WLW is jammed just a little further into the console than the rest because you’ve slammed it so hard so often just to escape the starting pitcher, it is perhaps best to re-evaluate. Is bad baseball better than no baseball? It depends on what you’re willing to endure.

This season is one big car alarm. If it does nothing more than make you comfortable with being uncomfortable for the larger travails of life, then it has served its purpose.

9 Responses

  1. Eric

    The 11-10 win over the Brewers on Friday night seems like a great parallel to this story. With the team up 10-2, you’re liable to get comfortable and think to yourself, “Let’s see how middle relief does when they’ve got a comfortable…” BOOM! Here come the cannons!

    I’m a lot more comfortable being this uncomfortable, actually. The Reds have bats — lots of ’em, it seems — and it’s no longer up to Joey alone to put the game on his back. It was a lot worse, to me anyhow, when the Reds had at-least-serviceable pitching, but seemingly only one or two bats.

    Here’s hoping Hunter Greene and perhaps some of the 25-out-of-41 Reds picks this draft end up making us a little more comfortable in future seasons.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s fun to watch the up and comers…field trip to Pensacola for everybody 🙂

  2. Bill Hedges

    Excellent piece Mary Beth! I’ve been to Twilight Tattoo several times . . . my former employer encouraged our support and my family always enjoyed it (and both my sons are now Soldiers as well).

    Frankly, yes I am somewhat uncomfortable with the current state of baseball affairs in the Queen City. However, I continue to exercise tactical bordering on strategic patience w/ the Reds organization. And I continue to “tune in,” watching via Fox Sports every day – trying to will some young man to (for God’s Sake!) throw strikes. My patience is beginning to wear thin though, notably with leadership decisions – whether they be borne of line-up construction and/or allowing our next competitive pieces to execute some “discovery learning” on the field (good to see Winker getting some more than occasional swings). I too have been through some “team re-builds” in my previous line of work. And yes those forays began with talent evaluation; but, they were coupled with apt and dare I say decisive teaching, coaching, and mentoring. I’m not looking (nor waiting) for baseball perfection, though I’m often reminded of more than one of my previous leaders who preached that “the 70 percent solution solution executed violently is better than Rommel up your ass in the assembly area.”

    Keep up the good work; we’ll be reading and (despite the discomfort) continuing to watch our Reds.

    • TR

      I also concur with your statement ‘…that if just kept throwing mud at the wall, enough should stick.’ After all the pitching prospects the Reds have garnered over the past few years, in the so called rebuild, and to have only one proven young starting pitcher in Luis Castillo, who didn’t come up in this organization, it is evident that something is not right in the organization. Whether that means a change in leadership or philosophy of operation is beyond me.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks…you must be a proud dad! I’m so embarrassed I used to live in DC and never heard to Twilight Tattoo until just a few months ago. It was amazing and I’d like to bring my nephews sometimes.

  3. Mike Glaser

    Thanks for the perspective. No one li keys when the Reds are losing and for some of us it is pure torture. But at the end of the day it is still a game.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Somehow we’re all better at “perspective” when it’s tough to be a fan!

  4. Mary Beth Ellis

    Well said. I have trouble letting go of what I can’t control.