Monday, June 2, 2008
A Very Jalen Saturday
For the second weekend in the month of May, Mrs. Bootleg went away for a "girls' trip". Now, I freely admit that when it comes to marital attendance, my wife is a LOT more understanding than some of the harpies out there. She's signed off on my solo non-work adventures to New England, New York, the Bay Area and Los Angeles for years.
That said, there is absolutely no f'ing way that she'd allow (her words, I'm sure) me two out-of-town, don't-come-home-at-night weekends away in the same month. I know this to be true, because since she's gotten back, all she's done is pepper me with questions about the status of a previously discussed out-of-town weekend event for me later this month that may or may not come to pass.
It's like she can't stand that I have TWO retaliatory all-weekend passes in my back pocket (or the equivalent of 10-12 local nights out where I actually come home). She wants me to cash them in as quickly as possible, just so she can regain her right of first refusal for what amounts to the remnants of my social life.
Anyways, this was my Saturday, May 31 with my son, Jalen:
5:00 AM - Jalen climbs into bed with me and, after 20 minutes of tossing and turning, his foot cracks me right in the jaw. We've got pretty high ceilings in the master bedroom, so the echo made it sound worse than it was – which is to say that it hurt like holy hell, but it sounded as loud as one of those ridiculous Tajiri kicks.
7:00 AM - The boy wants pancakes, so I comply. And, since I'm morally opposed to the microwavable variety, I'm forced to break out the Bisquick. This is a bad idea for two reasons: (1) I always screw up the first few pancakes, as I tend to get the griddle too hot or not hot enough before I begin and (2) for the next week, Jalen will want pancakes for breakfast every morning.
9:00 AM - Mrs. Bootleg enrolled Jalen in a pre-sports class. It teaches preschoolers the basic rules and fundamentals of football, soccer, basketball, etc. As my boy Smitty asked when I told him about this, "Doesn't Jalen have a father?" Anyways, today was baseball, so I guess we weren't missing this. As the "coach" told me after class, "(Jalen) was the only one who knew all the bases and positions." Looks like someone's earned himself some ice cream! We'll ignore his two "hits" off the tee that went a combined three feet.
10:25 AM - My son's absolute refusal to stop running the bases caused us to be 10 minutes late to his 10:15 AM music class. There's only one thing that can offset a roomful of off-key kids singing, dancing and assaulting musical instruments: the Hades-hot instructor who, on this day, favored low-rise jeans with high-rise red lace draws.
11:00 AM - I ask Jalen what he wants to do now. He replies, "Umm, baseball game?" It's probably going to be 85 degrees in Lake Elsinore (the Padres are on the road) today and I'm not driving another 45 minutes north for some un-shaded heatstroke with my single-A baseball. He then comes up with "Go Karts?" I was really hoping for "pizza at the mall": air conditioning, decent sports bar, FOX Game of the Week on their big screen. But, sure, go karts will be a dandy consolation prize.
11:30 AM - We end up at a place called Boomers (formerly "Family Fun Center"). If you're not familiar with the franchise, it's just because they call themselves something else in your city. It's miniature golf, video games, bumper boats, junk food galore and lots of other things my son ignores in favor of a five-lap, five minute ride around the track in the go karts.
1:30 PM - Two…straight…hours…we do nothing but get in line, wait five minutes, ride the go karts, get back in line, wait five more minutes and ride 'em again. Jalen thinks this is the greatest invention since ketchup (which, on a disgustingly unrelated note, he'd suck straight from the squeezable bottle if me or the wife turned our backs).
And, somewhere along the way, Jalen developed this age-inappropriate competitive streak, so I'm obligated to pass as many other cars as our half-horsepower, 12(?) mph maximum speed will allow. Afterwards, he'd ask who "won", I'd tell him we did, then he'd point to other cars around us and say, "you lost".
Quick note on Boomers, before we continue: since this was only my second time here (the first was in early May during the wife's first weekend furlough) I'm p*ssed that I'm just now discovering it to be THE place for 16 and 17-year-olds to take their own 3 and 4-year-old kids. No one can whore themselves up on a warm spring day better than a young mother. You think they all meet at the arcade to exchange parenting tips or would I have to be a friend on her FaceSpace page to access some of that sage wisdom?
1:45 PM - Lunch = one hot dog, one order of nachos (with a thimbleful of cheese) and a bottle of water. Cost = $12.72. Unless I'm getting three hours of National League baseball, four hours of American League baseball or a five-hour flight from SD to DC immediately afterwards, I think I overpaid for food.
2:00 PM - In what surely must be against the law, Boomers gives you three video game tokens for one dollar. OK…notwithstanding my 1:45 PM entry, I really don't complain about the cost of anything. I'm even conceding that most of these arcade games take anywhere from two to six tokens for one play. It's just that way back in the Reagan '80s, it was established that one token = one quarter. Of course, they have no value outside the arcade, we understood that then and now, but the 1:1 token-to-quarter ratio was never compromised. A colorful sign tells me that for $5.00, I can get 15 tokens and an additional "three free" tokens for a total of 18.
I remember taking math tests in 2nd grade that used "tokens" in place of "quarters" for money-related word problems, just to be hip. Now, the only tokens we'll learn from are…yeah, yeah, in the Bush Administration. King of a long way to walk for the low-hanging fruit, huh, kids?
2:30 PM - I give Jalen what amounts to a 30-minute warning. For my son, that means the first of 500 reminders over the next half hour that we'll be leaving at 3:00 PM.
2:40 PM - While in line for another ride around the go kart track, Jalen tells me he doesn't want to ride them anymore. I f*cking run out of there.
2:43 PM - Whoops, forgot the boy.
2:45 PM - He catches up to me at this flying swing carousel contraption. And, since our unlimited all-day pass (including money-saving coupon, which I wasn't too proud to use) includes this ride, I let him have at it.
3:00 PM - Jalen probably could've stayed another hour on this, but the ride was immediately shut down after a toddler wandered passed the unlocked gate and passed the disinterested teenager charged with turning the ride on and off and ensuring everyone's safety. The poor kid was clipped pretty good by a rider's foot and his screams of pain n' anguish (no blood, lots of tears) were only overwhelmed by his mother's.
Which, in turn, were only overwhelmed by my son's, "Let's do it again!"