Now where was I before I so rudely interrupted myself with a long-winded part one a few weeks ago? Oh yeah, small towns in close proximity yet so far apart. If you recall, I somewhat blamed Powell and the vast expanse between us for the Blough family fracture. Well, just a sprain really, but extended family get-togethers have been few and far between … at least 30 miles, in fact.
I’ve always been intrigued by the psychology of sports fans who passionately love whichever pro team’s city is in closest proximity while violently loathing the nearest town they can drive to in minutes. That rival berg bitterness is what long ago gave birth to the ever-popular fistfight behind the bleachers.
I remember coming to Cody for summers to play baseball as a brutally handsome teen, and my teammates would be like, (I try to talk in a younger syntax these days) “As long as we beat those freakin’ [I’m paraphrasing] Powell guys, the season is a success.” When I’d ask my new crew of running buddies why they just angrily raised a middle finger to the passing car, I’d hear, “That was some of those Powell ne’er-do-wells,” (again I paraphrase). I was repeatedly warned, “Quit waving at them Powell jerks.”
Further inquiry clued me in as to how Powell studs apparently come over here to take our girlfriends, among other atrocities. My passive, voice of reason was, “Are we really that different, them and us?” I was not only shouted down, but if memory serves, sometimes thwacked squarely in the family jewels by the guy seated closest to me.
The rancorous heat cranked up dramatically by our left fielder and my best buddy’s cheerleader sister dating one of these Powell Philistines. Once when we rode by my pal’s Stampede Avenue driveway in the middle of an irresponsible night out and saw this foreigner standing by his car hugging Sis, beer cans were thrown and ugly invectives filled the night. I was nothing if not mortified.
In my Pennsylvania homeland, where towns are many and short-between, it was always my homeboys from Jerome and Hollsopple behind the bleachers with those bums from Boswell and Windber — 6 to 10 miles in either direction. But we ALL were Steelers and Pirate fans of course, for the sole hypocritical reason the Iron City was only 60 miles away. The Powell/Cody boys absolutely love the Denver Broncos for similar reasons.
Hundreds of miles removed, Denver is close enough to capture our (well, yours anyway) devotion. Yet Powell is only 30, and I get struck in an erogenous zone for defending them? Ditto with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the hated Boswell Cougars a stone’s throw away.
Color me amazed and perplexed: Those from a town nearby are natural, bitter enemies resulting in many an epic slugfest, yet a town/city a hundred miles away is revered with glorious adoration. It raises the question, “Huh?”
That same logic should in turn compute to “I love my Uncle Ted, but hate my dad with a passion.” Or how about, “Of course I love God, but I hate my stinking neighbor with a passion.” It’s an interesting psychology indeed.
Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I dare to envision a world where rival town teens get together for picnics and cornhole tournaments, and the only reason to congregate behind the bleachers is to pass around a bottle of peppermint Schnapps and tell dirty jokes.