Advice for the Young Gentlewoman on Attending her first Game of Base-ball
A young lady finding herself alone in an American city and desiring an evening’s diversion could hardly find a more purposeful employment for her spare time than in attending a game of Base-ball [definition: that bat and ball ‘sport’ formerly toyed with upon English soil, though long since there dispossessed and handed down as a parting jest to our former Colonies]. Indeed, to a gentlewoman who strives to be both observant and opportunistic, an evening at the ball-game will provide not only ample anthropological study of the American, but even the possibility of attracting a permissible male suitor.
For no ‘sport’ serves the female in the game of love as well as baseball. The players pose neither temptation nor distraction from her purpose, seeing as age and portliness are no barriers to peaking at a do-nothing pastime. A man however who regards pyjama-wearing men waddling occasionally (that is, very occasionally) around a field as first-class entertainment will possess, young ladies may be assured: a steady, temperate, unexcitable character; a healthy appetite; and a proper respect for the elderly. He is therefore, you must concur, an ideal suitor for the respectable young gentlewoman.
In the worthy cause of helping my readership attract him I will now humbly offer the following points of advice to all females attending their first baseball game, drawn from my own recent induction to the ‘sport’ at a meeting between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians:
- Wear a hat. A person is never properly dressed without a hat, but as this rule is today sadly violated by the majority of the population, the slovenly are rarely chastised. Expect no such liberality at the baseball stadium, the last bastion of correct dress in the western hemisphere. The standard uniform of baseball attendees is the ‘cap’; however, headwear more flattering to the feminine face is also accepted.
- Eat traditional cuisine. The modern baseball stadium caters for a global palate. However, the Ideal Suitor may suspect commitment less than total to the ‘sport’ from a lady who selects sushi and mineral water over a hot-dog and a vat of beer.
- Tolerate the language. You may find the fact that baseball attendees are referred to as ‘guests’ rather than ‘fans’ curious. You may be annoyed by a vendor offering you ice cold beer. On no account however should you suggest that the former is a resigned acknowledgement from the base-ball bosses that nobody really is a real fan of baseball, nor that if the latter were literally true the vendor would be flogging lager lollipops. On the contrary, young ladies should learn the language: not only will this ensure that the hotdog you get is the hotdog you thought you were getting, it will also impress the Ideal Suitor that you, like everybody else there, are a real non-real fan.
- Strategic seating. The easiest way of picking up the language is to seat yourself next to a couple on a romantic date. From the man you may learn the correct terminology and as many of the rules of the ‘sport’ as he can remember from school; and from the woman you may learn which responses convincingly feign interest.
- Appear interested. Even if you do not have an Ideal Suitor at hand to impress, it is important never to allow the mask of interest to fall from your bored face. For you never know when a camera will relay your vexation upon the giant screen, nor know how many hundreds of Ideal Suitors could in that moment be repulsed by the sight of you reading your book rather than watching the ‘sport’. There is no need however to overdo it. A quiet queenly smile and an occasional nod of engagement will do. On no account take your cue from the courser kind of woman who screams at unpredictable intervals like a crazed Amazon giving birth.
- Maintain your dignity. The gentle male who favours baseball will hardly look favourably upon a gentlewoman who cannot keep a calm composure, and there is no better place to prove your manners than among the roughest ruffians of the baseball crowd. Therefore: even if you arrive at your seat to find it showered in peanuts by the people behind, do not lose your temper. Even if those people laugh as you vainly try to clean your seat, do not lose your temper. And even if, five minutes later, you are told you are in the wrong seat and that you actually belong in the neighbouring stand: do not allow embarrassment to lose your temper.
- Finally, be vigilant. It is difficult to keep your eyes fixed on a game in which in one whole hour only one man reaches first base, but fixed your eyes must be, lest a projectile far deadlier than the peanut flies in your direction. For it turns out that ‘guests’ is but a euphemism for ‘targets’, as on the rare occasions when the players do hit the ball they hit it towards the crowd, this being the only way of guaranteeing themselves a home-run. Ladies therefore be warned: while the Ideal Suitor may thank you for catching him a ball, no man was yet wooed by the sight of a bloody nose.
I trust that the above advice proves useful to women pursuing the Ideal Suitor, and to those it does not I offer this simple consolation: at least you will never have to go to another baseball game.