Cognitive dissonance: the state of psychological discomfort that comes from recognizing a gaping divide between what is real and what you believe. Or something like that….
So… that is not the official definition but this version – my version – certainly puts how I’ve been feeling lately in perspective…..
Sure, in my “glass is always over-flowing” world, I have fairly regular brushes with reality mismatches but nothing major and rarely anything I would classify as dissonance. This is bigger and its roots began growing about 50 years ago.
I grew up in the Calumet Region in Northwest Indiana, firmly nestled between the south side of Chicago and Gary, Indiana. At the time, the area represented the best of American manufacturing – steel mills, auto plants, and household product producers – all fueled by the big Unions and powered by the big “political machines” that both supported and benefitted from them.
Pretty sure I was five when my big brother and I walked into a O’Connor and Goldberg Shoes store to wait in line to meet one of the most influential characters in the area. When it was my turn, I watched in awe as a smiling, gentle man took out his 8 x 10 glossy photo and a pen and wrote “To Ruth, My #1 fan! Ernie Banks”. At that moment, a Cub fan was born.
Fifty years and so much life between, I can’t think of a moment that shaped me more than this one. Yes, I married the person who completes me and I gave birth to an amazing and pretty awe-inspiring young man but those events did not fundamentally change my world view and how I define hope and persistence as much as the moment I first thought of myself as a devout Cub fan.
Here’s the thing. There is no coming back from that first declaration – being a Cub fan leads you down a path and there is no easy escape route. And the moment a self-declared Cubs fan steps foot in Wrigley Field, it is all over – the legendary ivy so firmly growing up the wall in front of the bleachers seems to get a hold on your heart somehow.
Every year I sing the “there’s always next year” chorus and, even in years when the date the Cubs are “mathematically eliminated from the playoffs” comes entirely too early, I have hope up until the very last moment.
For some reason this year feels different.
Maybe it’s because it marks 50 years of “believing”.
Or maybe it’s because the Cubs didn’t have a spectacular or a horrific start this year – mediocre baseball just doesn’t feel right. Where’s the passion of the roller coaster ride?
Or maybe it’s free agency. My husband firmly believes that free agency is at the core of all things impure about baseball.
Or maybe it’s the tensions in Wrigleyville, the holy land and where every young Cub fan dreams of living, over changes to Wrigley Field.
Or maybe it’s really because the perfect anthem, By the Lakeside – the song that summed up exactly how I and so many others just like me, have felt every year for the past 50 years (written, recorded, and performed by my oh so talented niece, Katie Day) was dissed by whatever genius organized the Cubs’ victory song writing contest. What the hell people?
As I sat down to write this piece I decided I was done. There is something wrong –systemically – and short of raising the dead, nothing can bring it all back for me.
Fifty years was enough and it is time to move on.
I sat down to write out the lyrics to Katie Day’s song just so you could all feel my pain. Here’s how it starts….
“It’s been long a time comin’ Feelin’ like a hundred years of rain all summer. But something’s in the air now, I can feel it, so baby you can dry your tears away…away.”
Hang on…. Is there something in the air?
“Maybe I’ve lost my mind just thinkin’ we could wear the crown. But I think it’s worth the fight so don’t you give up on me now.”
She makes sense. Really? Give up now after all this time?
Enter the haunting chorus:
“ ‘Cause when the gods decide, it’s about damn time, we’re gonna pop champagne… by the lakeside. When the evening comes and the stars align… we’re gonna pop champagne… gonna pop champagne… by the lakeside”
Can I really see that? Imagine the champagne and fireworks? Yes, I can.
“Talkin’ bout the hard times, tears cried, that don’t even mean a thing. It’s on and up now. And I know how the heartbreak frustrates but all of that was yesterday. It’s gone away.”
Yes, 50 years of hope starting to build from the bottom of my soul – I can feel it.
“Maybe I’ve lost my mind just thinkin’ we could tear it down. But I think it’s worth the fight so don’t you give up on me now.”
Ahhhh…sinking in to that old familiar feeling and then this…again, sending me over the edge:
“ ‘Cause when the gods decide, it’s about damn time… gonna pop champagne… by the lakeside. When the evening comes and the stars align… we’re gonna pop champagne… gonna pop champagne… by the lakeside.”
Cue the images of me with a transistor radio plastered to my head while Jack Brickhouse sings Hey, Hey Holy Mackerel No Doubt About It so loud you could even hear him on the Southside in Comisky Park. And Harry Cary every seventh inning stretch singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. And the field fills with some of the greatest players in the history of baseball – my childhood heroes – and I am back in the game, heart filled with hope, expectation, and wonder.
One more year? There is something in the air and yes, I can feel it.
For the record, whatever soulless creature decided that By the Lakeside was not worth voting on doesn’t get what it means to be hopeful and steadfast and truly loyal and is, without question, NOT a Cub fan.
Check it out for yourself. I dare you not to be inspire to believe!
Off to visualize the headlines “Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!”
For those of you who want to download this song free (thanks to the artist) and play it on repeat from now until October, check out this link: https://soundcloud.com/katiedaymusic/by-the-lakeside … at least until her album comes out!
Chicago Cubs 2015 World Series victory song.
Written by: Katie Day
Produced by: Katie Day and Scott McDowell @fadersolo
Mixed by: Scott McDowell @fadersolo
Mastered by: Jonathan Kirchner
Drums and Bass: Peter Labberton
All other instruments and vocals: Katie Day
All rights owned by Katie Day Music 2015