I’m the Guy who Makes the Fake Crowd Noise at Baseball Games, and Yes, I Have Been Secretly Inserting Rupi Kaur Poems
I’ll start by saying that being a sound mixer is not as glamorous as the worst part of the Oscars makes it seem. Some of my recent “gigs” have included sitting in front of a crackling fireplace for 10 hours and filtering Michael Barbaro’s nonsensical pauses out of interviews, the auditory equivalent of draining salt from the sea. So, as you can imagine, I jumped at the chance to create fake fan noise to accompany the dystopian human cut-outs in baseball stadiums. At first, I was doing a “good job,” but then I had a better idea; I decided- let’s show those sound editing guys how to really “steal focus from the things people actually care about”! I played maniacallaugh.wav and then downloaded the audiobooks of Rupi Kaur.
Like all menaces to society, I started small. It was the bottom of the 5th, and after their third out, the Cardinals left a man “stranded” on base. “Aww, shucks!” said the voice of a child. “Booo!” grumbled an inebriated male. Then, from amidst the general discontentment, a serene, ethereal proclamation: “fall/ in love/ with your solitude.” Boy, what a rush! I hadn’t felt that alive since playing the wrong track for Ashlee Simpson.
Once I got a taste, I couldn’t stop. “Let’s go Pirates!!!” screamed the “crowd” at the beginning of a home game. “C’mon ‘Buccos!” cried a local. “your name is/ the strongest/ positive and negative/ connotation in any language/ it either lights me up or/ leaves me aching for days,” said Rupi, truly articulating the experience of rooting for a team that’s 4–16.
The game began, and soon the opposing coach got mad at the referee over a perceived misjudgment. “Grow up!” screamed a fan. “Play the game!!” yelled another. Rupi cleared her throat, hydrated; “a lot of times/ we are angry at other people/ for not doing what/ we should have done for ourselves,” she declared. “Yeah!!!” cried the peanut guy.
At a certain point, however, Rupi began to go against the general sentiment of the crowd, focusing less on the statistical minutiae of the game and more on its implications for the human condition. When a Pirate managed to “steal” second base, he was met with enthusiastic approval from the crowd. Rupi, on the other hand, found cause for concern: “you have so much/but are always hungry for more,” she chastised the runner. “stop looking at everything you don’t have/ and look around at everything you do.” The player blushed, looking back at first base with remorse.
As my experiment continued, I began to lose control, and soon my work was causing controversy among the public. It turns out that Rupi Kaur poems are somewhat of a millennial dog whistle; people were watching the same game but having very different auditory experiences. If you’re a quarantined 20-something who’s been watching baseball with your family, you’re probably familiar with the following exchange:
“Nice hit, Trout!” says Dad.
“Succinct metaphor, Rupe!” you cry.
“He’s out!” cries Dad.
“She’s melancholic yet introspective!!!” you scream.
“Wow,” says Dad. “I like the crowd noise. It’s like you’re there!”
“I agree!” you say, “if by there, you mean perched on a rock overlooking a forested valley, a brisk autumn wind biting your cheeks as you contemplate the closure of a chapter in your life, a chapter that’s setting like the sanguine sun before your eye-
“[Your name],” he says. “What the fuck are you talking about!?”
“Dad,” you say. “It’s poetry!”
“NO,” he yells. “It’s BASEBALL. We should have never sent you to [liberal arts college]!!”
Of course, you were both right. Which is why I’m coming clean; I don’t want to drive a wedge between American families during this difficult time. Intergenerational conflict is bubbling throughout this nation, over important topics like unemployment, healthcare, WAP, who ruined the world; the last thing we need to be arguing about is subliminal Instagram poetry. I could even see this issue taking up important airtime in this fall’s political debates (Kamala is the only one who hears it). I know I’ll suffer personal and professional consequences for coming clean, but I’ll sacrifice my well-being for the comfort of the American people, just like the players themselves.
Now that we’ve reached the Scooby-Doo unmasking moment, there remains only one question: Why did I do it? Was it a mental break? A desperate call for help? By way of an answer, allow me to emulate my favorite poet, a prolific author with a gift for profound brevity;
sometimes, in life,
you just want to watch
Ramsey Daniels is a writer and comic currently living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. You can find his work published at Points in Case, Robot Butt, Little Old Lady Comedy, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse, as well as on his website