The Great American Pastime
Elizabeth knew the danger of checking her Facebook feed. Her article was due and she only had the beginning paragraph and a vague idea as to where it would go. “Just a few minutes”, she muttered to herself telling herself one of those lies we all use to get by.
Her Facebook page had the usual stuff. A recipe from her sister…a message of inspiration from her pastor…a note from an old friend who was coming into town. She had over two thousand friends on Facebook which was a bit of a running joke with her husband who found the whole thing quite preposterous. “The friends list is our readership”, Elizabeth would tell him. “If I can get them all to pick up a copy of the paper, Judy says we can increase our ad charges.” Since the Lowcountry Sunfun was a free weekly and all their income came from advertising it was hard for Thomas to argue the point. “Just don’t get too distracted”, he would say. “There’s too much real work to be done to spend too much time on the nonsense”, he would say and she would agree.
Thomas and Elizabeth had bought the paper on a whim many years before. They had moved to Beaufort where Elizabeth had a job helping Pat Conroy put his papers in order. There was a remake of the movie of his life being made and Conroy wanted the facts to be just right. Thomas and Elizabeth were young and hoping to settle in when the “opportunity” to buy the paper arose. The paper was well written and really captured the vibe of Beaufort but was failing due to the death of its former publisher who seemingly worked 20 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep it above water. The young couple figured that they could split the chores, raise their newborn son, and live as a vital part of a beautiful Southern community, which Beaufort certainly was. Tourism was growing as many who visited nearby Hilton Head and Charleston saw it as a nearby destination, full of real Southern charm. The Sunfun catered to both the locals and the tourists and their advertising revenue from things tourists do was growing. One of Elizabeth’s jobs was to make sure the paper was well stocked at all the local spots where tourists would gather. Today she would have lunch at the Old Bull, stop for coffee at the Produce Market and get some ice cream at Southern Sweets. “Yea,” she would say, “it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it”. And she was correct. The local spots fed the tourists and fed the paper and the paper fed the local spots. Hobnobbing was a joy and a job and the lines between the two were blurry, if they existed at all.
So even as Elizabeth was finishing up on her Facebook diversion she was thinking about the column she was writing. It was about baseball of all things. Her interest in it was derivative, being the sport of choice of her husband and son. In fact that was her angle. She having two degrees from the University of Alabama was, of course, a football fan. Just as the welcome breezes of fall could cure the summer doldrum, so too was the doldrum of the baseball cured by the SEC. But the thing about baseball was that it was always on, or so it seemed, but football was intense and singular…once a week like the publication of the paper.
Then the rhythm of the morning was destroyed in an instant. That darn Northerner. A Facebook poster who had never been to Beaufort but seems to want nothing but to destroy her peace and quiet, tear down Beaufort, ruin everything. She read his post even though she wanted to ignore it. “Hey Liz”, it read. “How bout a piece on the great Beaufort slave massacre of 1865?”