“Somebody turn up that Raiders game,” shouts a burly man in a flannel shirt, and a blind man complies, turning up the volume of the play-by-play.
It’s September 30 and we’re waiting in line for the men’s room at Comiskey Park, the last day for baseball at this historic stadium. It’s the seventh inning and the Sox have just gone up on Seattle by a run, and this throng of 75 is trying to shove its way into a room made for no more than 30. It’s dank and sweaty and foul in here; the Eau de Comiskey hangs in the air like a cloud of poison gas, a scent resembling that of an old T-shirt that’s been wet for months.
“This is one thing I ain’t gonna miss,” cackles a man in his 40s to his buddy, who’s carrying a camera. They’re big guys with mustaches, steak-and-potatoes guys. The one with the camera is wearing a navy blue jacket from a carpenters’ union. The other has on a leather jacket with the collar turned up.
“Gotta love that aroma,” shouts the man in leather as his buddy takes the lens cap off of his camera.
“YO!” somebody shouts. “You can’t take pictures in here. This is a sacred place.”
“This is the last time we’re ever gonna be in this historic place,” says the man with the camera. He laughs, “I wanna show my grandkids what the trough looked like.” He snaps a few pictures.
“You’ll need a wider lens if you want to get what I’ve got on film,” chuckles another man.
“Get a picture of me at the trough,” says the man in the leather jacket as he unzips his fly and begins to ease the discomfort of seven innings of Stroh’s, and the photographer snaps a few more.
“Hey,” the photographer says to a stranger in line. “Can you get a picture of both of us at the trough?”
“Sure,” the man says, and the two pose grinning in front of it.
“I’m getting all choked up,” the photographer says. “I can’t even piss; this is too goddamn sad.”
“Ain’t it?” his friend replies.
“Think we can chip off a bit of the trough and take it home as a souvenir?”
“Nah, my wife’d kill me.”
They zip up their flies, and the guy in the leather jacket waves a fond farewell to the place.
“G’bye, Comiskey trough,” he says, and they turn and walk out of the place.
“Shit!” somebody snarls. Most of us are still waiting in line.
“Gault just caught a bomb for a touchdown.”
“Shit!” somebody else says. “That guy never could catch a pass when he played for the Bears; now he comes back and burns ’em.”
“What’s the score now?”
“We can come back,” somebody says. “Goddamn Oakland Raiders. I don’t even call ’em the LA Raiders. You don’t breed a tough team like that in LA. They’re Oakland all the way.”
A shout comes from the back of the line. “Hey buddy, turn up that Raiders game!” And then, in the last hour of baseball in Comiskey Park, from the historic Comiskey Park bathroom comes a shout of defiance: “Go Bears!”