One summer evening, when I was about ten years old, my father decided to take me to Fenway Park in Boston to see the Red Sox and the great Carl Yastrzemski.
I remember it was hot and humid, like many New England nights in the middle of summer. The sun had not set, but it was dark in the narrow streets outside the stadium. It smelled of hot dogs and beer and the sweat of people standing in line to buy tickets. I do not remember the game, or who the Red Sox were playing that night, but I do remember the life lesson I was about to learn from the man at the ticket window.
Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski played for the Red Sox from 1961 to 1983.
Having driven two hours to get to the ballpark, my father was eager to get good seats at field level on the third base line. In those days you could walk up and have a reasonable chance of getting good seats.
When we got to the ticket window, my father did his best to ask for our tickets like a Boston native. Full of confidence, as if we had just been there last week, and the week before that, and always sat in the same place.
But the man framed in the small window had some bad news. Holding a wad of cash in his hands, smoking a cigar and wearing a plaid shirt so worn through and soaked with perspiration that you could see through it, he told my father the best he could do was two seats on the upper deck overlooking left-field.
My father was of course disappointed and asked, "Are you sure?"
"Yes," the man answered. As he let the bad news sink in he glanced at my father and then he glanced at me. He had more to say.