Fenway Park--home of the Boston Red Sox--is a national treasure.Â How do I know?Â BecauseÂ no other major league stadium has been immortalized in a snappy three-word catchphrase by a major American novelist, as John Updike did when he hung the tag "lyric little bandbox" on the place.Â Stick that in your Oxford Anthology of American Literature, pal!
John Updike,Â bullpen coach of the 2004 World Champion Red Sox
And yet Fenway'sÂ mystique is a two-edged sword, a Scylla and Charybdis, an Abbott and Costello.Â Just as the place radiates the charm of your 97-year-old uncle, its furniture, fixtures and equipment have outlived their useful lives, like your uncle's eyes, memory and bladder.Â Here are some tips to help you get the most from your day at the oldest of all current major league stadiums:
Seeing-eye single through Scylla and Charybdis
People Were Apparently Skinnier in 1912:Â The seats at Fenway were designed for a different time, when a dollar bought a bagful of groceries, but most people only had a nickel.Â Fenway's seats are the narrowest in the major leagues, so you will want to fast for two days before attending a game, the better to slip under the flapping love handles of the fat fan seated next to you.
All Roads Lead to Rome, But Some Aisles Go Nowhere.Â By a weird inversion of the laws of physics, Fenway has aisles that lead to--nowhere.Â Many parents have been lost when they leave their kids to go get hot dogs, admonishing them (the kids, not the hot dogs) not to talk to strangers, only to find themselves trapped in a Bermuda Triangle surrounded by fans from Swansea, Seekonk and Scituate saying things like "I hod to loff".Â Be sure and bring dental x-rays of your kids' teeth for positive identification when you are finally reunited.
TakeÂ a Leak the Babe Ruth way!Â Fenway's restrooms have been lovingly maintained in the early twentieth-century style that is now reproduced at great expense in Restoration Hardware catalogs.Â Maintenance crews preserve the historical patina of les toilettes by cleaning them once every twentieth century,whether they need it or not.Â To get a sense of the ambiance of Fenway's few and far between salles de bain, complete this simile, the apercu of a long-time Red Sox fan.Â "Hey--this place smells like my old lady's: (a) cologne, (b) armpit, (c) (other body part)."Â See page 43 for answer.
Yankees and Red Sox fans exchange addresses in the hope of becoming Pen Pals.
Get in a Fight:Â Everybody knows baseball is the most boring of the four major sports groups.Â What better way to liven up a day at the game than to borrow from the fifth or sixth major sport, boxing!Â Your fellow fans will appreciate the diversion you create from aÂ scoreless pitcher's duel or double-digit pounding when the wind is blowing out.Â No less a military strategist that Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, first laid down the fundamental rule of bleacher fighting:Â "Fight downhill."Â Always punch the guy in the row in front of you, never punch the guy in the row behind you.
When Somebody Throws Something, Duck:Â There are numerous security guards stationed throughout the park, ready to watch the game from their privileged vantage points while the Fenway Faithful spill beer on you.Â When you getÂ the attention of a uniformed usher, be sure and tip him for wiping off your seat!