We made the long trek to Budget Marine at the head of Prickly Bay for what was billed as a massive tent sale that opened at 8am. There’s no easy way to get there by bus so we dinghy to the next bay over and walk up and down over steep hills to get there. As we came through the hole in the fence at the end of one of the shortcut paths a woman was just leaving her house to walk in our direction. We said our good mornings and talked about the weather, slowing down as we climbed up Lover’s Lane to the main road. “It’s my country,” she wheezed, “but I hate these hills.”
We asked her name and she told us Louise and that she had been to the US many times, mostly to Cape Cod and New York. She asked where we were from and Jack said, “Pittsburgh,” adding, as he always does, “Go Steelers.”
I wasn’t sure if Louise knew where Pittsburgh is but Jack went on to explain that Pittsburgh’s baseball team did very well this season. Louise furrowed her brow and said she didn’t understand baseball at all.
“For example,” she said, “they hit the ball, run around once and then stop!”
“You’re a cricket fan, right?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” she said, “I love cricket.”
“See, we don’t understand cricket either” I said. “But we’re trying.”
Louise launched into a detailed explanation of the game, and almost instantly my eyes glazed over. I could see Jack was as befuddled as I was. Crease, bowl, pitch, stump. Cricket terms are words we already know but mean something else entirely in the context of the game. And then there are the cricket-specific words: googly, nurdle, dilscoop, mullygrubber, hoik. Trying to learn cricket involves a new language as well.
“– and if the ball is caught out of the air it’s an out –” Louise was patiently explaining, sensing our confusion.
“Wait a minute!” I perked up. “It’s the same in baseball!”
Louise stopped her lesson and turned to us in surprise. “It is?”
And the three of us smiled that we had found a point of connection across the great sports divide between baseball- and football-based America and the rest of the world.
We’re still determined to learn cricket but I think it’s going to take more than Louise to get us there. We said goodbye when we turned onto “the concrete road,” as Louise called it, and continued to Budget Marine and the tent sale. Turns out it wasn’t worth the trip. But meeting Louise was.