We wander into town to buy a pair of cleats for the start of spring intramural soccer season. The year is 1990, and world cup fever is brewing for the tournament that summer in Italy.
We’re on the campus of Colgate University in upstate New York, a tiny town called Hamilton. The sports are good for a small school. My friend will inevitably dominate the co-ed league with the right pair of boots, as they say ‘cross the pond, and I am happy to join him in the search.
We putter around the one store that sells such items, and after a stroll in a pair of snug fitting kicks, my friend decides on the Copa Mundials. They are Adidas top end soccer cleat, and cost over $100. But considering that Colgate is the 7th most expensive college in America for smart white kids to experiment with mushroom at, he sees it as a bargain. Danka.
After paying in cash (credit cards did not exist in 1990) we exit the store to see the New York Yankees season opener playing in the window display of the electronics store across the street. We head over to watch Lee Guetterman throw the first pitch with smiles migrating across our faces, when a youngster appears next to us, baseball mitt in hand.
We nod, amicably, and turn back to see the next two pitches burn past the batter for a strike out. Great start to the season, we say, hi-fiving. The kid seems happy too, so we include him in the celebration.
“You like the Yankees?” The youngster inquires, wanting to fold into the fun.
“Of course,” I say. “Been watching them since I was your age.”
“Really?” He replies, eyes beckoning. “Where are you from?”
I pause for the next pitch, high and outside, and then say with pride and a dash of nostaligia, “I grew up in the city.”
“Really? He says, his expression morphing into awe, “You mean… Syracuse!?”
I balk, as does the pitcher. “No… Manhattan.”
My friends wipes the snot that shot out of his nose along with a suppressed laugh, and walks away.
“Oh…” The kid mutters, still not really getting it.”
“Yeah, that’s where the Yankees are from.” I say with an adults’ tender empathy. It’s a mistake any youngster from a small town might make.
“Now… fuck off, kid.”
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Poor kid didn’t know any better. Hope you didn’t traumatize him too much. We small town hicks don’t often get to the big shitties.