I turned the transistor radio off in disgust and huffed in to the bedroom. My girlfriend, Colleen, was reading in bed, listening to Vivaldi. “I’m sorry,” she said and kissed me goodnight. I closed my eyes and let the tears flow. Thinking about the incredible highs of the past few months with Colleen and the inevitable low. A few minutes later, Elmhurst, Queens, erupted in shouts and honks.
I ran into the other room and grabbed the radio, fumbling for the on/off knob as I streaked back to the bedroom. The Mets had just won Game Six of the 1986 World Series, and I—their biggest fan—had given up on them again. Colleen looked like a young Julie Andrews and had the sense of humor of George Carlin.
We started an instant relationship in February, and she learned my passion was baseball, and that I watched most sports religiously. She didn’t like sports, preferring singing, dancing, and acting, my Triple Threat. “I have a request,” she said sometime between Spring Training and Opening Day. “I want you to choose only one sport to follow. I can’t compete with them all.”
After a pause to catch my breath, I asked if I could think about it. A few days later, I told her I chose hockey. Her eyes widened.
My decision was based on love and self-sacrifice. Baseball fandom requires 365/24/7 attention, while in New York, hockey is a niche sport and not nearly as labor-intensive to follow.
I did my best to honor our agreement. By late September, she she said it was okay to listen to the World Series since she couldn’t deny me that. Baseball kept my family together after my mother died right before my tenth birthday. It filled the void as much as anything could and gave me a reason to keep going.
Colleen hid our relationship from her strict Irish Catholic parents, craving their approval. She wanted to give them lots of grandchildren or at least to become a nun.
On Father’s Day, 1989, Colleen and I were at her new apartment a few blocks away from mine in Washington Heights. It was a warm morning and I sat on a kitchen chair with the cat, a tuxedo named Patricia Solameda.
“Am I crazy to be jealous of Michael?” He was her co-worker at a Catholic non-profit in northern Manhattan.
No response. My heart stopped. I jumped up and strode to the door. She got there before me and thrust her arm out to keep me from opening the door. My body let go and collapsed against the bottom of the door.
“I’m not sleeping with Michael, but I am breaking up with you and he and I are going to get together.”
All my questions went unasked. Did it matter? I always knew I couldn’t compete with a man who could provide legitimacy and babies, and parental approval. I pretended it wouldn’t happen.
My dad and I had plans to go to Yankee Stadium that day, since the Mets were on the road. I tried as hard as I could not to tell him what happened. I broke down during the first few innings and told him. It didn’t help.
For months I wanted to kick Michael’s blue motorcycle down whenever I passed it. It never occurred to me to walk a different way.
I had always considered Colleen the love of my life. After years of learning to love myself as much as I loved her, and to forgive myself for putting her happiness ahead of my own, I realize that Baseball is. G&S
Queer Stories in G&S are dedicated in memory of Holden McCormack and edited by Robin Goldfin.
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