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There is something automatically fascinating about a living creature with a face that
doesn’t change. Mr. Met has had a big baseball head for over 40 years, and he has
had the same smile and the same unnerving, unblinking eyes. Mr. Met looks as if he
always feels the same thing about you, and about everyone he meets. He is as happy
to see adults who turn away from him as he is to see children who run to him. He is
as happy to dance with Greeks as to dance with Pakistanis. Everything pleases him
and nothing fazes him. He does not speak, but he loves to dance. He reminds me of
the Laughing Buddha you see in Chinese gift stores. He may not have a big belly,
but he has a very big head. And his perfect happiness makes you wonder if he will
Mr. Met is the right host for the ballpark because he makes you feel goofy. He
convinces you that an undiscriminating silliness is a precious state of being. He
follows the people who shoot the t-shirts into the crowd and yes! you want a t-shirt.
When he dances on the dugouts, you bounce your head from side to side. He is
happy when the Mets do well and you are happy when the Mets do well. He raises
his arms and you cheer.
He doesn’t seem to be around when the Mets screw up. Where does he go? Do
they hide him? What’s the story with this? Is there a policy that requires him to stay
in the clubhouse when things aren’t going well? Is he in there? Smiling, happy,
surrounded by glum and foul-mouthed players? That would be something to see.
How does he make the players feel? Maybe he actually stays on the field but you
just don’t notice him.
You forget that someone is inside, someone who probably doesn’t have that smile on
his face. You forget that someone is paid to dance and to manage the big bobbly
head. You don’t think of Mr. Met as a guy in a suit. He seems real. He is as real as
anything else at the stadium.
I see a part of myself in Mr. Met. I see a part that I need in order to be a baseball
fan. I see the part that doesn’t get upset, that keeps coming back for more and
more, that is happy with everything he sees at the park from the moment he comes in
to the moment he leaves. I see the part that lives with the lousy trades and bad
decisions and disappointments and never once thinks of rooting for a different team.
The part that stays happy as I wait in the line to leave the big lot through the space in
the fence that puts you out on the road with the little shack shops that sell parts for
cars and hubcaps.
©Dana Brand 2006