An Effective Conversation Starter in the Dominican Republic By Doing This One Simple Thing…

Figuring I was going to lounge around by both the side of at least one swimming pool and on the shore of the Caribbean Sea while I was in the Dominican Republic, I brought along an old shirt which someone gave to me years ago.

An Effective Conversation Starter in the Dominican Republic By Doing This One Simple Thing…

Cardinals T-shirt

With the exception of self-professed fashion plates who ooze style everywhere they go, guys generally tend to like to hang onto old clothes. They are almost like old friends, having been together through the good times, the tough times, memorable times, and times which are generally so mundane that no one would even think twice about them.

Stains? Check. Holes? Check. Worn graphics? Check.

Throw it out? No way.

Included in my collection of one of those rag tag shirts which a spouse, girlfriend or significant other would have improperly disposed years ago is a Saint Louis Cardinals T-shirt. I have never lived in Saint Louis. I have never rooted for the team to win. Frankly, I feel nothing for the team — not that there is anything wrong with the team. I have a friend from long ago who still lives in Saint Louis after she moved there from New York years ago and once called the neighborhood in Brooklyn where I grew up a “mythical place in a blue tinted pickle jar in the back of Gussie’s Bar & Grill” — I can never forget that for some reason — but I digress.

“Heeeyyyy. Cardinales!” was what I kept hearing while I was in the Dominican Republic. “Alberto Pujols!!!”

I look around and realize that whoever says that is talking to me. “Um…what?!?” I asked, confused at first, initially wondering how they would know about some baseball team in the United States.

Cardinales” they repeat, pointing to the shirt which I was wearing and smiling.

The thought finally dawned on me: that’s right. Dominican Republic. That is where many baseball players have been discovered in the past couple of decades or so — and people who live in the Dominican Republic are unabashedly proud of their brethren who unofficially represent them in Major League Baseball. I know of the name Alberto Pujols; but I had to look up his statistics: before currently playing for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — a name for a baseball team similar to how Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is a name for an airport — Pujols was a member of the Saint Louis Cardinals baseball team from 2001 through 2011.

I cannot tell you how many conversations were started that way and continued onto other topics — prompting me to recall my nonexistent Spanish which I never learned.

Summary

I put absolutely no thought into choosing to pack that shirt for my trip to the Dominican Republic — other that it would be perfect near the water and thin and lightweight to carry — and did not even think about how it would have started many friendly conversations in the Caribbean nation.

If you are a naturally gregarious person, bring at least one article of clothing with the logo of a Major League Baseball team in the United States. Chances are that at least someone from the Dominican Republic had played for that team — or is still on the roster.

If you prefer to keep to yourself — or, at least, field a few more than your fair share of ¡Holas! from some very friendly people — while visiting in the Dominican Republic, leave the baseball T-shirt at home.

Although I am not into professional sports as much as in the past, I have been known to still attend a Major League Baseball game at a stadium once in a while — thanks to a special friend.

As for the T-shirt…well…I think I will hang onto that outdated rag just a little bit longer.

Hey — I am a guy…

All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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