I control the kiss-cam. That’s my job. That’s what I do.
It might not sound like a very important job, something that could be done by a bored intern with no training. But it’s not like that. It’s more than that. It’s a calling.
Operating the kiss-cam gives you a lot of power. You direct the attention of a hundred thousand people. A hundred thousand people cheer and shout, encouraging the couple to kiss. That’s a lot of power. Peer pressure, you might call it – if a hundred thousand people are shouting at you to do something, you’re probably going to do it. And all that power – that tsunami of attention and encouragement – is at my disposal. I’m the finger on the trigger, the eye sighting down the scope. All of that power, at my command. It’s a big responsibility.
Some people don’t take it seriously. The operators in other stadiums, they use it for cheap thrills, to titillate the punters. They look for low-cut tops, drunk girls, anything they think will entertain.
That’s not what I do.
In every crowd, there are happy couples, affectionate couples. Couples who don’t need the encouragement, who kiss anyway, all the time. I don’t point the camera at any of those. That’s too easy. It’s a waste of power.
Instead, I spend each quarter carefully scanning the crowd. I look for the couples who aren’t so affectionate. Perhaps a pair of teenagers on a first date, the boy too nervous to do more than stutter. Or a tired looking woman with a baby, who wants her husband to see her as beautiful again.
It’s subtle cues. A tilted head, a quick look when they think they won’t be seen. A quiver in the hand of a young man who wants to grab the hand next to him. Little signs, unnoticeable to anyone except me. I have the camera, the zoom lens, the bird’s eye view that shows me every tiny indicator.
I choose the people who need that extra push. The longterm friends who have wanted to get together for years. The squabbling couples who aren’t arguing about anything serious, who just need an excuse to reconcile.
I point the camera at them, and watch it all change.
A hundred thousand people cheer them on. They surf the wave of that attention, that encouragement. They find the strength to make that extra step. Something they’ve always been too scared to do before, something they never imagined would ever work – a hundred thousand people make it happen. I make it happen.
Every game, every little break, I change lives. I find the men who have always lacked the courage to kiss the girl next to them. On one memorable occasion, still talked about by the crowds, I found the cheerleader who had always lacked the courage to kiss the girl next to her. I find the reserved wives, and give them a chance to show how they really feel. I find the old couple who only grumble at each other, and remind them why they first fell in love.
I point the camera. I press the button. And then I watch the roar of the crowd give the couple what they really want. A single kiss, but one that means so much more.
There are so many. So many people who hold secret loves, so many people who are filled with longing. All they need is that little extra step, the courage to go beyond their comfort zone. I give them that. And every time, it turns out okay. All they needed was the boost.
Ironically, given how much time I spend helping other people make that step, I can’t make it myself.
I can direct a crowd. I can show countless couples what they really want. I can fix twenty troubled relationships in an hour. But I can’t fix my own relationship. I can’t start my own relationship. On my own, I can’t take that extra step.
I see her every day. While I’m directing the camera, she’s in the seat next to me. She handles action-replays, looking for pivotal moments in the same way I look for couples on the edge. Finding the point to focus the crowd on.
I bring coffee in the morning – she brings donuts. We exchange cards on birthdays and at Christmas. We spend most of our day talking, laughing. Enjoying each other’s company. She makes me happy.
I’d like to take it further. I’d like our relationship to progress past friendship. But I worry. What if she rejects me? What if she laughs? I can’t do it.
I’m not brave enough. I need an extra push.
Today’s the day. The day I’ve been waiting for. I invited her – as friends – to a ballgame.
A different stadium. A kiss-cam operator who isn’t me. And we’ll be in the crowd. Just like any other couple. A couple who need a nudge. A little push.
A hundred thousand people, cheering me on. Enough borrowed courage to make that extra step.
Very few of my stories are happy and romantic; I think Scrabble might be the only other one posted here. It seems that positivity is not my forte.