Part I – Part II – Part III – Part IV
Saturday, March 14
11:00 AM - Despite the fact that I'm on vacation AND it's Saturday, I'm gently persuaded by my management to dial in to a teleconference with the Unnamed Defense Contractor. Unfortunately, the first three months of the year are "personal review" and "merit increase determination" season, so the decision has been made for me.
11:30 AM - Still on the cell phone as we leave for the A's spring home – Phoenix Municipal Stadium. After 30 minutes, I've offered up about a dozen cogent sentences and been on mute the rest of the time. First time I've ever taken part of a conference call in the restroom, too.
12:00 PM - After 60 minutes of administrative nonsense and with NO end in sight, my Blue Tooth dies. Or, as I will tell my colleagues on Monday, "my cell phone died". I debate with Mrs. Bootleg on whether this is a lie. She says, "yes", I say, "yes, but who gives a…". Looking back, there was merit with both our positions.
12:30 PM - Phoenix Municipal Stadium is the Spring Training equivalent of the Oakland Coliseum. It's old, outdated and compared to all the new "mallpark" ballparks, it's a sack of crap. With only baseball to occupy the boy's attention, I silently wonder how long this afternoon will actually last.
12:35 PM - The answer, apparently, is "an eternity". Jalen is asking where the kids' field is, to which I respond, "they ain't got one". He then begs and pleads to go back to the Indians' spring ballpark. And, in one of those "married people moments", I gauge Mrs. Bootleg by suggesting (and, fellas, it HAS to be in a "jokey" way) that she take the boy away, lest he ruins
12:45 PM - M'man "JPinAZ" is at the game with his young daughter. As luck would have it, he's sitting just a few rows behind That Bootleg Family. Jalen and his daughter are almost the same age. I mention to Mrs. Bootleg that JP is sitting in our vicinity. She turns, establishes eye contact and waves. I then offhandedly remark on how well the kids played together when we met for dinner two nights earlier. Step 2: water the seed. (Be careful not to over-water!)
1:00 PM - OMG! OMG! OMG! Rickey Henderson is on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch~! And, might I add, he looks resplendent in a pair of lime green linen slacks. His throw is high and away, as Jason Giambi can't be bothered to rise out of his ceremonial first crouch. Your indifference isn't winning over THIS fan, Giambi.
1:15 PM - Jason Giambi homers to right! I never stopped loving you, G!
1:16 PM - Landon Powell homers to right! Jesus, he's fat!
1:45 PM - Step 3: HARVEST! Mrs. Bootleg spontaneously offers to take Jalen and JP's daughter over to the stadium's miserable kid's area, thereby freeing up her seat for m'man JP. I'm doubtful that JP would trust his first born with my wife. It's just that, in this day and age, parents are hyper-paranoid and convinced that no one can protect their child like they can.
1:46 PM - Mrs. Bootleg and the kids are gone, as JP settles in next to me. His paranoia is apparently in remission.
3:30 PM - Never let it be said that I don't praise the wife in these parts. She kept the kids for close to two hours, somehow keeping them entertained within the confines of a 45-year-old facility. I don't wanna tip my hand, but me thinks someone has earned a Mother's Day feast at Applebee's this year!
3:45 PM - Game's over, A's win. JP has invited me out for beers later in the evening. It's my last night in Arizona. Now, I'm not sure how white women would react in this situation, but I do know how Mrs. Bootleg would react. Here now is a helpful five-minute video to illustrate my point. NSFW!
4:30 PM - On the way back to our hotel, we stop at Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall so that
5:15 PM - As Jalen and I finally leave The Disney Store, we run into former Major League reliever Lee Smith! Dude looks tremendous, save for a limp that might make Heather Mills wince. I wanted to say 'hey', but he was with his family and inhaling a quart of frozen yogurt.
6:30 PM - We're back in our room. It's pretty much now or never, so I subtlety float the notion to Mrs. Bootleg of a "guy's night out" while on vacation with my family. Fortunately for me, my brazen request is muted by the amount of love she has for JP, so it's a go!
6:45 PM - I'd promised Jalen that we could go swimming. I'm not crazy about the water, as my underdeveloped musculature provides for about 10 minutes of a bad Aquaman impression before my spindly little arms and legs completely shut down.
7:15 PM - 30 minutes later, rigor mortis has set in on my saturated corpse. Mrs. Bootleg is toweling down the boy, while I'm discovering the difference in temperature between a heated pool and the nighttime air in Arizona. I literally can't f'ing move.
7:30 PM - Armed with only my singular will – and a dozen or so complementary towels from the pool area – I make it back to my room. I realize that I still haven't let JP know that we're on for later in the evening. I'll call him just as soon as I dry off.
7:32 PM - Zzzzzz…
3:15 AM - Aw, crap.