Last Saturday, I navigated the 90-some miles from San Diego to Long Beach – my old hometown. Despite giving her tacit approval weeks in advance, Mrs. Bootleg seemed none too pleased when I hit the road around 11:00 AM. In response, I opted to give my wife some Jalen-free time on Sunday.
8:00 AM - Mrs. Bootleg has been complaining all weekend, off and on, about a headache she couldn't shake. But, in 30 minutes she's supposed to meet "the girls" for breakfast. What a shock…she's strong enough to make the drive for waffles and home fries. Keep this in mind when she returns home…
9:00 AM - Dipping into TBG's debauchery fund, I lay some real money on the Falcons (vs. San Diego) plus 4 ½ points. Absolutely, the most ill-informed spread of the season.
10:00 AM - I'm sitting on the couch, self-lobotomized by a kid-friendly DVD of this when Mrs. Bootleg returns. She plops down next to me and exaggeratedly rubs her left temple and eye socket. Which sympathy card will she play? Migraine? Sinus headache? Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan ear canal critter? Regardless, given the choice between a day with my uncontrollable son or one with him AND my wife…
11:00 AM - My son and I steal the wife's SUV. Our first stop is Wal-Mart. I don't know why, but I always feel better about myself after spending 10 minutes amongst the typical Wal-Mart customers. I'm not sure if it's my gainful employment, the college degree or the simple act of occasionally brushing my teeth. Probably all of the above.
11:30 AM - I've purchased a toy (Autobot Jazz!) for the Toys for Tots donation box outside Wal-Mart, currently being guarded by two 18-year-old Marines in full dress blues. I'd criticize their never-ending retail occupation of this territory, but maybe if we'd stationed a few at the Wal-Mart in Long Island on Black Friday '08… (Also, anyone know the over/under on how many times the words "thugs", "animals" and "savages" would've been used if that trampling occurred at a Wal-Mart in "the bad part of town"?)
Before I forget, here's how Jalen translated my explanation of the Toys for Tots purchase to the cashier: "We bought this for the poor people." Then, in the next beat, he tells her: "We bought this because it doesn't cost a lot of money." Jesus.
12:00 PM - We're now at Old Poway Park and onboard the replica steam engine that loops around the acreage a couple of times. I remember liking trains when I was Jalen's age, too. Then, in 2000, Girlfriend Bootleg and I took Amtrak from San Diego to Santa Barbara for my boy JP's wedding. In the pantheon of filth, rubbish and refuse there's public beach restrooms, Qualcomm Stadium restrooms when the Chargers host the Raiders and Amtrak restrooms at the end of a six-hour ride. We'll leave it at that.
12:30 PM - I ask Jalen where he wants to go for lunch and he offers up "Old McDonald's". Not as awesome as his "Hamburger King" misnomer, but it's worth a few points on the ol' anecdote scale. I decide on The Hamburger Factory, instead. It's right next to the train, has a couple of
12:45 PM - I've ordered a "schooner" of Karl Strauss Amber Lager, which dictionary.reference.com defines as "a very tall glass, as for beer". What I get is a pimp goblet that could've held 80 ounces of malt liquor. For the next 30 minutes, all the customers who walk past en route to their tables gawk and offer up unsolicited, unfunny commentary like "hope your kid is driving" and "got enough beer there?" One woman even huffs, "Oh, that's just too much" to her teenaged son.
12:50 PM - The Colts have just returned a fumble for a touchdown to take the lead, 10-6.
12:55 PM - Browns' QB Derek Anderson is injured, so Cleveland is left with their 3rd string QB Ken Dorsey. He promptly lofts two or three pieces of wobbly, wind-swept trash to no receivers in particular sealing the deal for Indy. Eat it, Aaron Cameron.
1:00 PM - I've ordered a giant strawberry shake with our lunch. It comes with whipped cream, which Jalen apparently doesn't like. I tell him it's "vanilla syrup". He believes me. Wow. And – just to expedite the inevitable – if any future exiled Nigerian princes are reading this, save your fraudulent emails. Jalen keeps his piggy bank on the dresser by his bed. Help yourselves.
1:15 PM - We're at the park, which is adjacent to the train, the restaurant and the homes of several people who really should kill their realtors. Jalen meets a little Hispanic girl who doesn't speak English. They're still able to erase their communication and ethnic boundaries, playing for nearly ½ an hour in a scene that could foster harmony between the Blacks and the Browns for generations to come.
1:45 PM - It's 80 degrees and I'm in a long-sleeve shirt, as the temperature has jumped from the 65 it was when we left the house. Playtime's over.
2:00 PM - That two gallon jug of suds has negotiated an untimely exit strategy with my urethra. I pull into a Target in the hope that Jalen and I can just use the restroom and be on our way.
2:30 PM - Half an hour after peeing, we're still s-l-o-w-l-y roaming the toy aisle.
3:00 PM - We're finally back home. The Falcons are nursing a precarious lead over the Chargers. The isolated shots of LaDanian Tomlinson's sullen, solitary presence on the bench would increase over the next hour.
4:00 PM - Falcons win! Aaron wins! Gambling…f*ck, yeah!
5:00 PM - Mrs. Bootleg wraps up her hour-long "You can't be gambling in this economy" dissertation. Good to be home.
Proving just how small the blogosphere really is, m'man Tom Daniels put up a similar Wal-Mart highlighted Thanksgiving weekend diary, but with an upstate New York flavor.