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Americans Taking Pictures of Americans

This is not a post about baseball.  But on Saturday, we went to see the Nationals (remember, I’m a super fan) play the Colorodo Rockies.  It was our first time in the park this season, and when we walked into the stadium, it felt like going home after a long time away.  We have two usual places we sit, either behind home plate or near third base, but Josh suggested that we take four tickets by the Nats bullpen just to switch things up.

It didn’t occur to me until after he bought the tickets that I could possibly be brained in these seats.  He brought his glove to protect me.

While I didn’t enjoy watching the game from that angle — it made me feel very removed from the action — I did enjoy being a few feet away from Roger Bernadina.  He turned around and gazed at us calmly while we jumped up and down, shrieking his name.  Because that’s what super fans do.

Nats 1

The other cool thing was that we were next to the Nationals bullpen.  I hung over the side watching Curtis Ohlendorf warm up before he jogged out to replace Dan Haren.  My boys completely ignored me as I leaned over to stare at them.

Nats 2

“I think you’re being rude,” the ChickieNob informed me.  “How would you feel if people stared at you while you were at work?”

“I would hate it.  But I also wouldn’t take a job that encouraged people to stare at me.  The whole point of being at a baseball game is to watch baseball.  And in order to do that, I have to watch the baseball players.”

“I still think you’re being rude.”

I probably was. But it is true; I would never choose a profession that made people watch me while I did my job.  I would never be on a reality television show or a regular television show.  I wouldn’t be in theater or in a movie.  I wouldn’t be a musician.  I didn’t even love being a teacher, and I set up my classroom with my desk as part of a circle so people were encouraged to look at other students as well as me.  Being a pitcher looks like my version of hell.  You not only have to sit outside, even when it’s really really hot, but people just sit there, looking at you.  Watching your every move.

Being that close to the bullpen was sort of like being at the zoo, with the pitchers as the caged animals.  They sort of were like caged animals.  I mean, they’re animals.  And they were in a cage.  And we were all gawking at them.  The only difference is that they were being paid several million dollars whereas the animals get nothing.  Oh… and when the game was over, they could leave.  So perhaps the analogy falls apart a bit.  But I’ve never been that close to real, live baseball players before.  Exotic baseball players in their natural habitat.

Nats 3

Spaulding Gray has a great part in Monster in a Box where he talks about being in a group of actors and actresses over in Russia for a film festival, and they bump into a group of American high school students who start snapping their picture in the Hermitage.  And the Russia official screams, “Nyet!  No photo!  No!  Nyet!  Nyet!  Nyet photo!  No photograph!  Why are Americans taking pictures of Americans?”

Why do Americans take pictures of other Americans?  It’s almost America’s past time… like baseball.  Taking photos of random people who are not integral to our lives.  I mean, these pitchers have no clue who I am, so why am I documenting their existence on the bench?  What the hell does one do with these photos beyond embed them in a blog post?

And yet I know I would have had regrets if I hadn’t taken them.  And they were being filmed anyway.  My camera just added to the visual cacophony.

It goes beyond just documenting random Americans.  Josh and I talked about Paula Deen yesterday.  And he asked me if I had heard what Kanye named his baby.  And I devour People magazine: why?  Why do I spend so much time reading about other random Americans when I can be putting all of that time towards Candy Crush?  Level 79 isn’t going to solve itself on its own.


1 a { 06.27.13 at 8:30 am }

Did you get their permission to post their pictures? 😉

I don’t really understand at all what drives us to be so interested in celebrities. I’m not hugely interested in celebrities, but I do enjoy watching people in general. I think it’s all part of the same thing – we’re curious about how other people live. With celebrities, they give interviews and such to promote their work, so we feel like we have an opening to know more and more. Sometimes it goes beyond the bounds of polite society (i.e. paparazzi), but there’s a market for that, so it continues.

2 liljan98 { 06.27.13 at 8:34 am }

I don’t think it’s restricted to Americans taking pictures of Americans, the same thing happens over here in Germany. I know I do take pictures of my hockey players when I get the chance to be close to the bench or at team&fan events. I guess it’s our way to prove to us (and everyone else) that we’ve been there and that this really has happened. I don’t know…

By the way, I love how you (blatantly) manage to include your Candy Crush addiction in each of your posts recently 🙂

3 Pepper { 06.27.13 at 8:56 am }

It’s a nice break from reality for me. I love my life and the fact that it’s relatively free of drama so it’s entertainment to see what happens in other worlds. As for pics of other people, I don’t actually take lots except of my daughter who is just too cute not to photograph constantly – I mean, duh. And it’s a way to hold on to those fleeting moments. They pass all too quickly and I can freeze them in that photo for just a second.

4 loribeth { 06.27.13 at 8:59 am }

This post reminds me, dh & I got married on the campus of the university where we had met. After the ceremony in the chapel, we had pictures taken on the grounds of the beautiful old administration building, just across the street from the student union building where we were having the reception. There was some kind of conference going on, and it must have just been wrapping up for the day because suddenly there were all these people with cameras spilling out of the building and I heard them saying, “Look!! A wedding!!” & they started taking our pictures. So my wedding is in a bunch of strangers’ photo albums. I thought it was a bit bizarre, but I didn’t mind. (This was long before the Internet & Facebook.) Everyone loves a wedding, I guess. 😉

Athletes are in part performers, & dealing with the public and having them take your photo while you perform/play is part of the deal; I think most of them understand & accept that. Whether you should be lying in wait to take their photo when they take out the garbage at home is another matter. And there’s also the question of documenting an event for posterity, to have proof that “I was there and this happened” vs being truly present & just enjoying yourself… digital photography makes it so easy & inexpensive now to take a kajillion photos of each event — it gets kind of ridiculous sometimes.

5 N { 06.27.13 at 9:15 am }

I think the pictures thing both overlaps and is separate from the celebrities thing.

Because picture taking… if it’s of friends, people we don’t know, or places/things, documents what we’re doing. It’s a way to remember, later. Those pitchers don’t know who you are, and you may not know all of them, but later, you can look at the pictures from the game, and remember the game, the seats, the conversation with Chickie Nob, etc.

6 cindy { 06.27.13 at 10:42 am }

I am on level 91 and I cannot get past it 🙁

7 Scooter { 06.27.13 at 11:14 am }

Good thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.

Also, you’re such a SuperFan that you call Ross Ohlendorf by his Secret First Name. I am in awe.

8 Denver Laura { 06.27.13 at 11:14 am }

Sorry the Nationals lost 😀

(Rockies fan)…

9 It Is What It Is { 06.27.13 at 12:59 pm }

I think we find the human condition interesting and other the following blogs, celebrity news gives us glimpses into the lives of others. I do find, though, that as I age, I am far less interested and tolerant of their shenanigans. In fact, for the first time in, gosh, over a decade, I don’t think I’m going to renew my subscription to People mag. I know, horrors!

10 Tracie { 06.27.13 at 2:13 pm }

I took pictures at a concert last weekend (and used them in a blog post). I think some of it has to do with wanting to remember that moment. But other than the blog post, I’m not really sure what I will do with them.

I wish level 158 would solve itself, because I’m getting concerned that I won’t ever pass it.

11 Mina { 06.27.13 at 4:30 pm }

I am pretty sure there is a song with ‘you are my north, my west, my everything’ and this is where kimye’s baby got her name (poor soul, I hope her parents have enough money for the therapy she is going to need). And I know this because I follow celeb news. Why? Coldn’t really tell you, but I do. Hope my children won’t need that much therapy because of that.

And level 79 is a BITCH. every time. EVERY time. Gah. And so is 102. Pfoooieee.

12 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.27.13 at 7:08 pm }

What Denver Laura said.

Your post made me laugh!

13 Eric Schwartzman { 06.28.13 at 5:10 am }

Very funny. I will be at my first Nationals game with my kids on Wed July 25th. So excited.

14 Eric Schwartzman { 09.24.13 at 5:18 pm }

Next time my kids and I are back in DC for a game perhaps you guys can join us?

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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