Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Cam Fam is in San Fran. – Day One

Yeah, that title just came to me.

So, Little Boy Bootleg has been in preschool since September. Before that, he spent about three years in home daycare. The woman who ran it was eight shades of awesome, mostly because the only days she took off were the ones that either me or Mrs. Bootleg had off, too.

Now that Jalen is in preschool, there are two marked differences from the daycare days – (1) we're paying twice as much for the same "just make sure he doesn't wander into traffic" supervision and (2) his school schedule is tied directly to the local public school district's.

This is ridiculous. Jalen is on spring break this week after getting a week off for President's Day back in February. Later this month, he'll be off for another two days for parent-teacher conferences. Then, a week after that, the teachers get a day for training. Preschool training. Apparently, 66% of their supposed "circle time" has actually been closer to "oval time".

But, I digress…I'm in a hotel just north of San Francisco's Union Square. It's about eight degrees outside on Sunday evening with winds that are howling like the first two seconds of
this. But, before there was Sunday…there was Saturday:

11:30 AM - After our last vacation – the one where our adopted hometown burned during the October wildfires while I enjoyed 7:00 AM NFL games and a sunrise Sam Adams – Mrs. Bootleg wanted as little pressure as possible. To that end, she hired a car service to take us to the airport. Oh, don't look at me like that…it's just a taxi with seat belts and no scent of tinkle within.

11:45 AM - It's like an oven in the back seat. My first car was a 1986 Ford Tempo. It didn't have air conditioning and in August/September the mercury often sees 80 degrees out here. Sometimes slightly higher. Anyways, the point is that I'm always running the A/C in my current car. If it's 68 and awesome outside, I've got it set to 66 just because "awesome" can always be "awesomer" when you're in California.

12:10 PM - I tip the driver, with points for not engaging us in awkward banter. That's really all I ask from those who were sent here to serve me. Sure, I probably overtipped a bit, but the driver's ill-fitting $40 suit and eight syllable Eastern European surname reached the ol' sympathy gene…

12:11 PM - Mrs. Bootleg informs me that she already included the tip when she pre-paid the bill a few days ago. Who "pre-tips"? (Full disclosure: I'd written a pretty long paragraph here pissing and moaning over the fact that I'd handed over money that I could've kept, when that whole "pre-tipping" thing hit me. And, for those scoring at home, the wife and I set a new record for "fastest vacation fight" – 90 minutes before our flight.

3:00 PM - Pretty uneventful flight until the last 20 minutes. I've been nursing some kind of sinus nightmare, off and on, for most of '08. During our descent into San Francisco, the pain inside said sinuses was…well, let's just say if this was 300 years ago (and, assuming us light-skinned bruthas were actually in the fields) I'd tap out and tell 'em where the fleeing slaves were hiding.

3:10 PM - My personal head torture continues as Jalen starts to nod off. He still needs a nap in the middle of the day or else he becomes one of those reasons why Black fathers leave their families.

3:20 PM - We're on the ground, my sinuses are back to just "moderately uncomfortable" and the boy is wide awake. On the plus side, whenever he misses a nap, he usually crashes around 5:30 - 6:00 PM and pulls a 12 ½ hour straight shot to sunrise. On the minus side, we're meeting one of my best friends for dinner at 7:00 PM.

3:45 PM - We've got our bags and we're ready for another overpriced ride. This time, however, I'm OK with it. There'll be no rental car for us since the Bay Area does public transportation better than anyone on the west coast and, more importantly, our hotel charges $40/day to park your f*cking car. Plus, your only option is valet and all those $2 tips add up over the course of five days. So, sure…car service from the airport is expensive, but I know we're saving in the end.

3:47 PM - The driver drops my laptop in the street.

3:48 PM - I text myself the driver's license plate number and company ID number.

3:55 PM - I finish texting myself the driver's license plate number and company ID. 15 characters total. How do you kids do it so fast? And, I why do I have to change the setting from "text" to "numbers" if I want to type "1", but every other number on my phone's keypad shows up in text mode?

4:05 PM - As someone who grew up watching one of the most successful sports teams of my generation, passing signs for
this bastardization hurt my heart and I don't even like them. (Yeah, yeah…the name is changing back, but not until June.)

4:10 PM - The no-doubt highlight of the day, as we're entering the infamous
Tenderloin section of town, is a billboard that preaches "Turn Off the TV…GET OUT AND PLAY!" Have fun, kids!

4:15 PM - We reach our hotel. At check-in, the predatory bellhop pounces and asks if we need his help. I brush him off. Moments later, I find out we're on the ninth floor and the elevator only goes to the eighth. Even better…the "stairs" from the eighth to the ninth floor are akin to one of those old-timey rope ladders.

6:00 PM - The dinner plan is to squeeze four adults, one four-year-old and an infant into a booth at The Cheesecake Factory – one of the most popular chain restaurants in one of the most overcrowded cities on one of the most inherently insane days of the week. My friend is still driving over, so we agree to "get our name in" in the meantime. Expected wait: 1 hour. Needless to say, this wasn't my plan.

6:45 PM - Mrs. Bootleg and the boy have disappeared…my friend and his family still haven't shown up…and, I'm still standing with that ubiquitous brick-sized beeper in my hand. My one SF observation from the past 45 minutes: I've seen more white men with African-American women in less than an hour than I've seen in my entire life. And, each time, the women give me that sideways "you could've had this" look. Little do they know, I do have it. Sigh.

9:00 PM - Dinner for me was a California omelet and two 22 oz. Fat Tires. Breakfast for dinner? Bananas! And, yes, the only thing that made the eggs "California" was the avocado inside. Seriously, Cheesecake Factory…I expect that kind of lazy menu construction from Chili's or Applebee's…not from you. Not from you.

All in all, a long day, but a good one. Jalen crashed around 8:00 PM and a fine time was had with my boy, Vig, his lovely fiancé and their beautiful daughter. Who knew that the one block walk back to our hotel, with 42 lbs. of my sleeping son in my arms would not prepare me for what was to come on Sunday?

Next: Oakland A's vs. Cleveland Indians…vs. Jalen Cameron

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