Extreme at times, blinded by my passion and fury
Look at me laugh at my competition, flashin' my jewelry
- - Makaveli, "Life of an Outlaw"
Part I -- Part II -- Part III
Friday, March 19
7:15 AM - The day begins with two morning news anchors who appear to be identical twins. I'd like to thank the good people at FOX-10 Phoenix for genetically constructing Alexis DelChiaro and Andrea Robinson from discarded Barbie dolls, dark natural roots and recycled magazine toothpaste ads. While we're at it, let's credit the network for Cecily Tyson - Weekend Anchor! Her Twitter handle is the definition of professional Afrocentric credibility, n***a.
8:00 AM - I finally get around to my usual hotel routine of scrolling through every TV channel available. Sure, I could look for the "channel guide" card. In fact, that's probably it -- right under my foot -- on the coffee table in front of me. But, "remote control lotto" is infinitely more fun. Maybe we'll get the east coast feed of HBO or a trashy, borderline soft-core telenovela from Mexico. Who knows? But, after nearly 90(!) channels, I'm ready to throw in the towel and...NFL Network! In high-definition!
8:01 AM - Ah, of course. I come in just as the live studio show is ending and a re-airing of Super Bowl XXV is beginning. I don't get the NFL Network at home, but whenever it's on in a bar or down at my barbershop -- regardless of the time of day -- Super Bowl XXV always seems to be on. Even Mrs. Bootleg, after awakening from her hibernation, turned towards the TV and asked, "Is this Bills and Giants, again?" When oblivious little black women are picking up on your programming tics, it might be time to freshen things up, NFL Network.
10:00 AM - Mrs. Bootleg brings back breakfast from the resort's restaurant: an omelet as big as my head for her; pancakes for Jalen and a giant Styrofoam to-go box of oatmeal for me. The bottom half is filled to the brim with the most buttery, maple-y, brown sugar-y (and other made up words) oatmeal I've ever eaten. Think of homemade oatmeal cookies, but melted down into magma. Probably a good thing that Mrs. Bootleg still hasn't told me how much it cost, though.
11:00 AM - It's time for Mrs. Bootleg's traditional vacation routine: shopping. We're less than a mile away from a sprawling, high-end shopping district. Kierland Commons is 600,000 square feet of shops, restaurants, office space and condos. I park the rental car and unleash the 4'8" retail beast from the passenger's seat. (Yes, we drove the three-quarters of a mile. The entire state marks-up everything related to tourism during spring training. My response: some Sweet Chin Music with my carbon footprint.
11:30 AM - I bought some books for Jalen and we soon found ourselves sitting alongside a large fountain. People-watching here in the upscale part of Scottsdale seems awfully...familiar. I see women with unnaturally platinum hair that falls just above their exposed Crayola orange shoulders. There are breast enhancements everywhere; each pair precariously perched atop a set of six-inch stilettos. Those big ol' Beyonce shades eclipse the top half of every trophy wife's face. As a native Californian, I'm entertaining the notion of filing a class action suit on the grounds of "gimmick infringement".
12:00 PM - Still no sign of Mrs. Bootleg. Jalen and I are walking around and I'm feeling slightly self-conscious in my faded, eight-year-old Duke University "CAMERON CRAZIES" t-shirt and XXL Nike Jordan shorts. Jalen, meanwhile, seems a bit bemused by all the small novelty dogs under everyone's arms and the Salvador Dali dishes atop the rare, empty table at any of the assorted outdoor cafes.
12:30 PM - I'd promised myself that I wouldn't rush the wife along, but I'd reached the end of my rope. During large parts of my youth, I was bused into "better" schools and now I'd experienced the awkward adult version. Even sitting on a bench while sipping one of Starbucks' passion fruit lemonade iced teas (sweetened and with a little bit of extra ice, please!) didn't lend itself to blending in. I'm this close to sending Mrs. Bootleg the "we gots to go" text when she sends me one of her own. She's balancing five bags when we meet up with her. For Mrs. Bootleg, this was a good vacation.
1:15 PM - And, it was also the last vacation contribution Mrs. Bootleg would be making for a few hours. Since she can't swim, I was tasked with taking Jalen down to the resort's water slide and pool. The wife, however, was gracious enough to walk with us towards the water and lounge poolside under the mild desert sun while sipping a surprisingly steady stream of Bahama Mamas. Hers was the parental equivalent of "temporary unemployment", while I put my bony little upper body to work in the water AND had to keep an eye on Jalen at all times.
2:15 PM - Jalen had taken around 2,000 turns down the enticingly twisty water slide and my curiosity finally got the best of me. There didn't appear to be any posted height or weight restrictions, so I v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y lifted myself from the pool and v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y climbed the surprisingly steep steps (the gaggle of sprinting kids behind me tried to cut in front, but as I reached the top, I had just enough breath left to gasp, "Wait your turn!" It took 2 1/2 decades, but NOW the "too cool" preteens are listening to me!).
Here now is a short film that accurately depicts what happens when a 167-pound man goes down an enticingly twisty water slide.
My butt literally bounced off the bottom of the pool like a SuperBall. Instinctively, I attempted to yelp in pain, but water filled my mouth. I've watched enough of my son watching NASCAR (new readers, don't ask) to realistically estimate my top speed was 200 mph. The thought of drowning, nearly a year after the events of 5/11, briefly appeared in my mind. Instead, I stood up and came to the realization that a six-foot-tall man should never water slide into 3 1/2 feet of water. I wish I'd paid attention in high school geometry or physics or whatever class taught that sh**.
4:00 PM - After nearly three hours, I could barely lift my arms. It was time to go, but Jalen -- God bless him -- sensed that I was in no physical condition to discipline him. After I finally pulled him out of the pool, he jumped right back in. Unwittingly, Jalen had briefly ascended to the alpha male of the family. If you'll allow me to roughly translate an ancient African fable, I was "Mufasa" and Jalen was "Scar". It took me another 15 minutes to drag him back to our room, but as much as he deserved a spanking, I could only applaud his exploitation of his exhausted father.
8:00 PM - After meeting one of my oldest friends and his family for dinner, Mrs. Bootleg issued the ultra-rare "vacation kitchen pass" so that I could go drinking with my boy, JP. He's on the short list of friends that my wife absolutely adores, so allowing me to take a vacation from our vacation was more about not disappointing him than making me happy. Pfft...whatever.
11:00 PM - Me and JP kill a few hours at Papago Brewing. He's turned into one of those beer aficionados (home brews, already on national liver transplant list, personalized license plate related to beer)*, so it's always a great time drinking with him. My three favorite discoveries of the evening: (1) the mocha porter I enjoyed at the bar; (2) the vanilla bean porter I took back to my room; (3) prime time television starts an hour earlier in Arizona. I still wouldn't watch Letterman and/or Leno at 10:30 PM (or 11:30 PM), but it was nice to know I was the last man out west to realize this.
*-- Only two of these things are true.
Saturday, March 20
2:00 AM - I stayed up late to edit my latest baseball post and finally crashed after 1:00 AM. I hadn't been asleep for an hour when I was awakened by Jalen's best bloodcurdling scream. This was one of those screams that, as a father, rip your heart out. At this point, Jalen's ailment was my family's only concern.
"My ear hurts!", Jalen whimpered.
His ear? But, we've gotta be in Goodyear in less than 10 hours for another spring training game! I've already bought the tickets! If this boy ruins my vacation...
Next: My greatest moment as a parent! And (in the eyes of Mrs. Bootleg) my worst moment as a parent!