Friday, January 13, 2012

When all else fails...

pull on the parental heart strings.

(This post is coming a little late. I got all distracted by that whole losing the National Title thing/new year exercise regimen.)

I, as mentioned, was vacillating on going to the Caps game in San Jose last Saturday. I pounded around my house all morning feeling grumpy and out of sorts. ("What else is new?" you probably asked.) I just couldn't decide. A 50 mile trek south solo, sitting at a sporting event not knowing anyone, which is a decidedly group activity. And then the drive home. Or forking over the money (that I don't really have, mind you) to spend the night in San Jose and attempt to have solo fun down there. But with all the not feeling great about...everything, I was having trouble making my brain work and thus making a decision.

I finally decided I'd go take my little dog to the beach for a walk and that would clear my head so I could figure out what steps to take.

I had planned on parking at Sloat and walking the entire length of the beach to the Cliff House and back, but the zoo happens to be at Sloat and with it being a weekend and the weather being far nicer than it will be come July, there was no parking. So I said screw it and headed to the beach house to park (at Noriega). This is also a convenient spot to store my purse thus not leaving it in my car for passers by to steal. (In retrospect, the beach house may have been my subconscious plan all along because there is no way Maya woulda done the whole beach. Yes, the dog gets to dictate her own walks. What of it?)

When I got there and walked inside, my dad was home, which I figured he would be now that he's back to his regular work schedule and home until about 3 p.m. before heading to work. He asked what was up. I sort of screwed up my face so as to be the visual demonstration of "meh" and launched into all that was going on. That Chuck decided not to go to San Jose and that as my consolation prize for not going to New Orleans, I wanted to go but didn't really want to go solo except then Mom said I couldn't go solo and... I just verbally vomited all that was going on.

He offered, "Well, I'll go with you." I sort of loved him for this. My mom had offered as well but it had been more perfunctory than genuine. I was still on the fence though. He was supposed to work, I hate inconveniencing everyone, moodiness, blah blah. I decided to still go for a walk and see where it all shook out after.

He grabbed Maverick and Daisy and I had Maya and we all headed over to the beach for a jaunt. He headed back after a little bit, as Maverick is incredibly dog averse and because of the unseasonably fantastic weather that means lots of off leash dogs on the beach. (For those of you concerned (is anyone?): my giant headed 90 lbs of muscle pitbull is always on a leash and only my dad walks him and keeps him under total control. The wild card is usually juvenile dogs going up and jumping on him even while my dad holds him close. He also gets lots of long night time walks. Additionally: around the house he is the most gentle, lap sitting, ridiculous baby of a dog I have ever ever met. My ten pound terrier mix is more ferocious than he will ever be.)

I walked Maya and laughed as she ran up and down the dunes, finally relaxing a bit (seriously, I love the fuck out of my little dog). And I finally came to the conclusion that I think I knew even going to the beach house: I'd love to go to a hockey game with my dad. He'd have fun, I'd have fun. I know he'd enjoy it and I could let him in on this thing that I have become utterly obsessed with. Besides, it doesn't take much arm twisting to get him to call in sick to work.

I got back to the house and he said, "Well...?" And I said, "Yeah. Let's do it." I love this team. I want to see them play for their one West Coast swing. I'm not gonna let idiot boy friends screw this up. So he called in to work telling them he had a family "issue" that he needed to take care of, being sure not to lie, as there was truth to that.

He picked me up at my house around 4. We had eschewed Craigslist tickets because while there were plenty of tickets available for cheap, trying to do one of those deals last minute can be a pain in the ass. I figured if we got down there early, we'd have no trouble getting them somewhere, somehow. Especially now that I was going with my dad. He has this magical power. Mostly because he doesn't hate every single person in the universe the way I do.

He once, in 1988, took my brother to the Oakland Coliseum for the A's/Dodgers World Series. He had a hand made sign that said something like "Poor man and son seek 2 tickets to game." It was more clever than that, obviously, but it worked. Some guy with a diamond pinky ring got out of a limo, handed my dad two tickets, said, "Have fun" and walked away. I may be a grown ass adult but as a self proclaimed, unabashed daddy's girl (in a totally non-creepy, non-issues having way (other than really high standards for who I'll date)), as far as I'm concerned, the man is still magic. I was now not sweating tickets at all.

We drive to San Jose and as it's just after 5, we find easy street parking right near HP Pavilion. $10 for metered event parking as opposed to $25 for the lots. From last year when I had gone to the game with Chuck, I vaguely remembered a nearby joint that seemed fun that we had skipped going to. I steered us there. Through sheer serendipity it turns out it is a New Orleans themed place and they have Abita Turbodog on tap and Purple Haze in the fridge. Dad has the former, I have the latter. Along with fried delicious foods. It was as close to New Orleans as I was gonna get that weekend (not bitter, not bitter at all). We grabbed a table on the outdoor patio and enjoyed the lively pre-game atmosphere. My dad asked me if there was anything he should know about the game. He hadn't been to a hockey game since the Sharks were housed at the Cow Palace before moving to San Jose some 15 years ago.

I pondered for a second and said, "Oh! You know how there are rules about grown men wearing jerseys?" "Yeah," replies my dad. "Well. Those go completely out the window at hockey games. EVERYONE wears a jersey. It's the most bizarre thing I have ever seen. Especially since the Sharks are predominantly teal and that's just an awful sports color." This launches us into our diatribe about the color teal and how the Diamondbacks got rid of that teal-ish color they had and how the Marlins have now gotten rid of it and gone to that awful Miami logo thing and...just us rolling. He says, "It would be different if they wore sweaters but..." "Actually!" I interject, "They call them sweaters in Canada! And they used to be actual sweaters!" (I love you, hockey. Love you so hard.)

We talked about how, despite not being a hockey family at all, there was always a plethora of hockey stuff around. (There is a signed Stevie Yzerman stick in our garage. Just sitting there. Can I sell that for money?) My brother used to wear this cheap Penguins sweatshirt all the time, that my dad claims he bought on sale to work drug busts. (Stories from a cop family!) My brother also had this Chicago Blackhawks hat that he loved. It was white. And disgusting. (I've mentioned it before.) Funny enough, a few days after the game my mom bought me a new LSU t-shirt and because my brother doesn't get as much as I do, she bought him a new Blackhawks t-shirt. Life is hysterical sometimes.

We finish up our meal and Abitas and head over to the pavilion to start our quest for tickets.

As we're walking over, I'm being hyper observant (per usual) and I notice a man in a nice suit walking towards us. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for anyone who might have a few tickets they want to cough up. It worked for my dad in 1988, why not now? A guy in a nice suit seems like he might want to. As he approaches, he makes eye contact with me. I recognize him and smile. "Hi!" he says. "Hi!" I respond. "Have a great evening!" he says. "You too!" I reply. My dad, completely puzzled, says, "Friend of yours?" I laugh, "No! He's the television broadcaster for the Sharks games!" (I could not for the life of me think of his name in that instant, even though I've watched plenty of Sharks games on TV.) We totally had a moment, you guys. Had I been quicker on my feet, I would have asked him if maaaybe he could have helped me with the ticket problem, dad's first game and all, blah blah. But much like Calvin of "& Hobbes" fame, I always think of the clever things to say too long after the incident has occurred. D'oh!

My dad then walks up to the SJPD sergeant organizing traffic for the game and says, "Hey sarge..." engaging him in asking about where we might be able to get tickets. He's nice, and it turns out he went to my high school, graduating 16 years before me. Here's the minor problem with hanging out with my dad: people think we're, like, together. My dad has a passing resemblance to bald Bruce Willis. And I'm, ya know, grown. And my stepmom is 3 years older than me. So. People aren't as friendly as they could be? The SJPD guy is nice enough but not forthcoming with "Yeah, here's where ya get the tickets." My dad volunteers that we'll just go see if there's anything at the box office and lo, they have 2 tickets. He purchases them there.

They aren't the on the glass ones I had secretly hoped we'd score through magic, but they end up being great. My dad laughs hysterically that I was right about all jerseys. My favorite was the 40s-ish couple in matching Ryan Clowe jerseys. Then we spot a guy in a brand new Miami Marlins hat, as we'd also been talking about, with the sticker still on. One of my favorite things about my parents getting "older" is that they now make lame parent jokes. "Do you think he knows the sticker is still on? Should I tell him so he can take it off? Hahaha!" says my dad. *eye roll*

Our seats are in section 209, which is just to the left of the Sharks attack twice net. They end up being great seats because you can see the entire rink and don't lose the puck against the boards in the corner. And we're on the aisle. We're there early enough to walk around the arena, check out merchandise (though we won't wait in line to get into the Sharks store), continue laughing about the proliferation of the color teal/jerseys and have a generally great time. I'm in my "I Laich Hockey" shirt and my dad is wearing a red Pendleton. There is far more red than when I went to the game last year, probably a function of it being a Saturday night game and not a Tuesday night one. But the Sharks fans are friendly.

My dad and I watch all the pregame warm ups. The Caps warm up in our end, which is great, so I explain who Ovi is...and that's about it. He doesn't really need to know about the IHB. I do tell him that Alzner should be his favorite player because they share a first name (dad's with a c, though).

The game is all Sharks. Which, it's their arena, that's fine. Though Ovi's play was driving me crazy. Can he play a LITTLE defense? Just a little? Even still, I had a great time. I'm so glad I went. My dad asks really great questions about rules, stuff I don't even know all the answers to hockey resources are limited and I haven't looked into it all. Though I'm starting to learn more about offensive schemes and such. (If any of you have a great suggestion for hockey books, either history of the game or compelling bios or...whatever. Let me know. I'd like to read them.)

My only minor complaint is the large gentleman and his large girlfriend who came midway through the first period to the seats next to me. Look, I'm no wilting flower but these were the kind of people who are require second seats on airplanes. It was...awkward for a bit. I started to lose my cool and forget where and why I was. But I got a soda at the second intermission and felt better. They also didn't return to their seats for the third period.

We had a really great time. I did leave thinking two things: 1) I should go to more Sharks games, even if they aren't really my team and 2) I'd LOVE to go to a game in D.C. and see the Caps on home ice.

And then, a few days later, I found out that second one is coming true. We're D.C. bound March 17th-24th. I immediately checked the schedule and discovered the Caps are only home for one game that entire time: a Friday night contest against the Winnipeg Jets. Before I even worried about what hotel we're staying at, I texted my dad "Hockey. Tickets." As of today he'd already procured 3, for him, my stepmom and myself. I'm gonna go rock the fuck out of some red. I'M SO EXCITED, YOU GUYS! It almost takes the sting off of whatever the fuck happened Monday (no, I will not talk about it). I also just realized that playing the Jets means U.S. AND Canadian anthem! (I'm all country proud, sure, but Oh Canada? Love it!)

Geaux Caps!

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