Along with the spinning-around-the-bat race, Frisbee-toss-through-the-hoop competition and slugging for beer cans, the Travelers' entertainment on Sunday at Dickey-Stephens Park included the U.S. Border Patrol. The officers parked their big white SUV at the entrance to the park and made themselves known. Red and white striped caps with an A on the front and the Border Patrol insignia on the back were passed out.
One Travs fan, who was actually wearing one of the caps, stopped at the Border Patrol's enlistment table just north of the beer garden, where a couple of laptops were set up. Arkansas doesn't have a border, he politely noted. What gives? You have illegals, came the response.
A slightly younger Travs fan wanted to ask if it were Arkansas's borders the patrol was keeping safe. The Observer suggested she might specifically inquire about immigrants from Mississippi. But we decided not to josh the feds.
The agents made it onto the field at one point, stopping the Travs' mascot Shelly, who was running the bases with a kid, from making it to home plate. Just like in real life.
We were also entertained by the sight of older men, big around the middle, speeding around on Segways, those “personal transporters” cops and others now zip around on. Maybe they were ballpark security, or maybe not. At any rate, there's something really silly-looking about an able-bodied man leaning into his Segway, as if he were riding an upright Hoover. If you are speeding by on a Segway, how can you observe the sneak thief, the fight breaking out in the bleachers? How do you chase a perp on a Segway — demand that he run on the sidewalk? Our friend wondered, are these rolling podiums the first step, so to speak, to a world like Wall-E's, where legs are superfluous? Nah. They're new toys for no-longer-fleet of foot.
When a teen-ager notices that a pile of trash is a pile of trash, it's a big one indeed. Last Saturday, she and other passersby stood alongside shopkeepers open-mouthed at the sight of a car parked on a street in the Heights. There, in front of the fancy linen shop and the fancy baby clothes shop and the fancy teen clothes shop, was a beat-up Chevrolet sedan filled nearly — but not quite — to the brim with old newspapers, cups and other fast food detritus, a campaign postcard, underwear, mail, etc., things belonging in a trash bag or a washing machine. Not just filled, but packed solid, with just enough room between the headliner and the heap of wadded-up aluminum foil and other junk to get a rear view. The only unfilled space was the driver's seat, and even there socks lay atop the accelerator.
It reminded us of the office of an erstwhile co-worker times 10. His car, while it could contain hundreds of compact discs and umbrellas and coats and socks and old French fries, was pristine compared to the Chevy.
The stuffed auto reminded the teen-ager of a reverse art car, malevolently decorated on the inside instead of the outside. Surely it's a joke, she said. A joke a teen-ager could get behind.
Opening the doors would have set loose a cascade of crap onto the street, so we can't report whether there were any humans buried beneath the trash. It seemed a better idea to walk on, so we did.
The Observer didn't know how passionate we could get about parallel bars and swimming until we bedded down with the Olympics. There we were, waving the flag and admiring those healthy bodies, from a prone position under the covers, bowl of ice cream by our side, like the rest of the country. When our gymnast took silver to the “16-year-old” Chinese tot's gold, we were furious. We cheered Michael Phelps and Dara Torres (the Chinese may be wondering if she's really 41, especially if they saw her provocative picture on the cover of Maxim magazine). We saw Tyson Gay handle his loss without any bellyaching. We dreamed of being light on our feet and strong, able to fly through air and water (unassigned by a Segway). We actually gave some thought to getting a little exercise ourselves. But it's best these things are left to the exceptional.