The leggy blonde behind the microphone clears her throat one final time. The capacity crowd-already restless in anticipation of the first pitch on Opening Day-struggles to temper themselves. The players line the base paths, hats over hearts, shifting their weight from leg to leg as nerves tighten. Finally, a silky but dynamic voice fills the stadium.
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Out of the western skies-over the right field grandstands-a whisper like a faraway wind that merely tempts, "Hey, over here." At first you ignore it, but the whisper intensifies, "Hey you, look over here." You still don't, until the whisper finally becomes earsplitting, "For God friggin' sake, look up here dumbass."
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
There's nothing over the grandstands but wispy clouds and a few wayward seagulls. However, an F5 tornado may be fast approaching. With one hand, you grab your seat's arm rest to anchor yourself to the ground, and to dear life. With the other, you snatch some sagging fabric on your 4-year-old son's jacket. You pinch him by accident. He yelps and drops his Cracker Jacks.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Even an F5 tornado would shit its pants in the face of whatever is right outside the stadium. "God willing, we'll meet again in death," you tell your son.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet waaaave
"Let go of me jackass," he yells back. Where did we get a mouth like that?
O'er the land of the free and the home of the braaaaaaaaaaa…
Suddenly, four fighter jets appear above the grandstands like mighty baby phoenixes exploding out of the vagina of the gods. The robust roar of internal combustion turbojet engines shake your bladder dreadfully near, and possibly even a bit beyond, the point of incontinence. Your soul is rendered impotent to its core. You impulsively let go of both your chair and your child, thrusting two fists into the air, pumping them as if you're beating a hole in the heavens. Every molecule of which your physical body consists is screaming "Fuck everybody, everywhere." This is the point where your life would flash before your eyes, but you haven't truly lived before this moment.
When you finally come to, the rumble in the sky is gradually dissipating. The collateral damage is profound: the scattered Cracker Jacks, the hot dog smooched under your foot, the bleeding of your son's arm. Despite the lingering shame, at least next time you'll know it's coming.