On the Fourth of July, a spectacular Sunday with high skies and low firecrackers, those who trespass against us appeared.

I was pacing the skyline at the top of the Mt. Adams steps when I saw them: Cubs fans. Two of them. Matching jerseys. They were here for the game and also Mass but mostly to test my growth as a human being. No supervisor on shift here.

Work in education at the Red Hall of Fame and Museum created a long-since rustified reflex to attach a big smile and greeting to fans in opposing jerseys. This current manifestation of opposition stood in the distance, glancing down at an information plaque, looking at the skyline, pointing in various directions, glancing down again. These people had read the guidebooks on Where to Go When In Cincinnati for Holiness. They’d Yelped.

The sanctified nature of Holy Cross-Immaculata Church renders this, traditionally as well as spiritually, neutral ground. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the giant crucifix looming behind me, I needed to Be Nice.

                    Not pictured: Offending Cubs fans. Pictured: Offending Red Sox fans.

It’s easier to shift the blame to electrons and think of us as a meaner society now that we can send insults and threats at the speed of Internet, all anonymously and all with the backing of our equally anonymous cohorts. But I’ve been struggling with Being Nice long before the screeching of a modem dial-up entered it.

Part of this was due to my insta-flash sensitivity and heavy involvement with politics. Of all the reactions to 9/11, the one I understood and embraced the least at the time was the following, from a person whose name I do not remember: “If every single Catholic has not prayed for the people who did this, you’re not doing what Jesus told you to.” Oh. Ow.

Okay, but has Jesus met Cubs fans? Has He seenCatching Hell“?

This is why they send 18 year olds into war and onto the baseball diamond instead of 44 year old writers, I’m sure, but I had grown so accustomed to self-protection and radiating resentment waves at other-side human beings that it felt alarming when I tried to stop. Sometimes I fail to feel rage at stupid memes and I don’t even know who I am anymore.

But on this Independence Day, I continued walking back and forth behind the couple from Chicago, which is totally normal and fine and not at all creepy. They were fellow baseball fans, sibling human beings, spending money in my city. Maybe they would drop some cash in the collection plate of this struggling, historic parish. Okay. Just like when you had the employee tag on. Be Nice.

Credit where it’s due: I did not glare at their backs in the Communion line.

Credit where it’s not: I should have approached, offered a friendly greeting, and ensured they had no questions about where to go, what to do, and which chili to avoid. Then prayed for them, then prayed for Rob Manfred and Bob Castellini and the Bobblehead People.

Am I getting there, as a better human being? Maybe I’m getting there. Then again, I said “I’ll have to meet you, IT’S TAKING FOREVER” last week very loudly into my phone in a long deli line , so I could probably use some prayers from Chicago.

15 Responses

  1. Rut

    Which sucks more? The Cubs or Cub fans?

    Much like the Chicken and the Egg, I feel this question can never truly be answered.

    But from confusion, a lasting truth we can all agree upon: they both suck.

    • Gonzo Reds

      hokiebo – the good news is with the Supreme Court’s decision allowing players to get paid now UK won’t be the only school that pays it’s players (Callipari has been run out of his previous two jobs for paying players so we all know it’s been happening at UK which is how they get pretty much any one and done player they want). Will even the playing field for everyone else to have a shot at those players.

  2. Gonzo Reds

    I don’t mind them if they are in the rear view mirror of the NL Central standings.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Comments like this make me miss being mean

  3. Mark Moore

    Screeching of a modem … that’s a very descriptive phrase that brings back some deeply buried memories. You did well, MBE, just to tolerate the Cubbie Fans in the Queen City. At least they left unhappy in all their blue garb. Here’s hoping we keep them far in the rearview mirror.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      My mother put up with not being able to use the phone on command for maybe 4 days. #ThingsIDontMiss

  4. Scott C

    In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” That is proof that Jesus was God because the rest of us have a lot of trouble with that one, particularly Cardinal fans, Cubs fans and for me anything that has to do with Duke University. Those are the people that I have to swallow hard, put on a smile and be nice. I think at least that is a start. You did well in your restraint. We all need the prayers of others. You have mine.

  5. Mary Beth Ellis

    Oh thank you, Scott. I surely need them.

  6. RojoB

    I wonder if St. Yadier Molina of the wholely pine tar prays for non-Cardinals fans?

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      FACT: The second I read this, a cardinal flew past my window.
      So no, probably not.

  7. Scott Benhase

    A Reds fan and a Cubs fan both enter the Pearly Gates at the same time. St Peter welcomes them and says “let me show you to your eternal habitations.” The three walk together and they come by this enormous mansion. It has everything, fountains, rod iron gate, beautiful double verandas and St Peter says to the Cubs fan, “enter into your eternal bliss.” The Cubs fan smiles and walks through his gate. St Peter and the Reds fan walk a bit farther and they come to a tar paper shack. It’s run down, the roof is caving in, and the porch has a number of boards rotted out. St Peter say to the Reds fan, “enter into your eternal bliss.” The Reds fan say “I don’t wish to complain, I’m just content to be here, but this isn’t even close to being as nice as what the Cubs fan just received.” St Peter smiled and replied, “you must understand, we have many Reds fans here in heaven, but that was the first Cubs fan we’ve ever had!”