I can still remember the first time I saw her. She was walking with a much older man that I assumed was her dad. Her brown hair was pulled into a ponytail type thing that came out from the left side of her head. She had on an oversized turquoise shirt with a black t-shirt covered in sequins underneath…
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It was 1985; I was 13 and had just beheld a goddess at the baseball card show. Looking back with the experience that years bring, I have often tried to unearth if she really was as beautiful as I first imagined, or if the impact of her appearance was simply some sort of ode to the relativity of all things. In essence, I have tried to discern if she really was as awesomely radiant in an absolute manner or if she appeared so simply because she was the only other girl of my age in the entire Ramada conference room that day. The crowd at baseball card shows in those days was predominately male and could be sorted into two general categories. First was the pre-to-young adolescent cohort. This was made-up of kids that were old enough to have some sort of job that provided income for their baseball card habit. They were also old enough to be trusted by parents to walk or ride a bike to the Ramada without stopping to take candy from strangers or getting into a rusty Dodge van with a man that promised to show you his pet turtle. We were a decidedly pimply lot with greasy hair, greasy smiles and pale skin from marathon baseball card trading sessions in basement entertainment rooms of friends and relatives. The second cohort was the gentlemen whose waist sizes were keeping pace with their age well into their late forties and early fifties. They were a beefy, jovial bunch of men that found great pleasure in statistics, speculation and talking with young adolescents for hours on end about baseball players. They never talked baseball. It was always the players. Like a secret language, the mention of certain surnames among these gentlemen could inspire awe and reverence or loathing and argument. Names from the recent past such as Yastremski and Morgan were invariably compared to older players such as Ruth and Young. Not just compared as players, but compared as commodities. This was the real love for these men. Who’s card would raise in value, fall in value? The future was the real interest for these men. Who was playing now that would be the next Ruth or Aaron? And more importantly, how can I get his cards cheap now so I can sell them at a profit in the future? So it is understandable why, given this backdrop of greasy, pimply, fleshy maleness, I might think that her beauty was somehow a mirage. How I might think she was the most beautiful girl simply because she was the only girl in the room at the time. For years, pondering on this first vision of her loveliness was one of my great pastimes. When I was too tired to pick up a book to read or simply didn’t want to invest the effort, I’d think about seeing her for the first time. Over time, I have come to believe that she was not lovely in relation to anything else, she simply was lovely. I now believe that had I seed her for the first time at poolside in the midst of a wild party full of gyrating, bikini-clad supermodels, her immaculate high-tops and ponytail would have had the exact same effect upon me. I would have forgotten my name, surreptitiously glanced her way at every opportunity and chiefly, nearly forgotten that I had embarked upon this particular trip to the card show on a special mission. I was, in fact, convinced that I had out speculated the men with the bellies. I was certain in 1985 that I had seen the future of baseball. I could see my fortune being made with a few purchases of a particular player.
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