Part I -- Part II
Why I want a holiday?
Dammit, cuz I wanna
So what if I celebrate it
Standin' on a corner...
-- Public Enemy, "By The Time I Get to Arizona"
9:00 AM -- After vetoing Jalen's repeated pleas for a Saturday morning swim, we hit the pool and water slide bright and early on Sunday. However, my right shoulder had grown increasingly sore since my Spring Training pitching debut 48 hours earlier. Combine that with Mrs. Bootleg's poolside breakfast order and Jalen was essentially parenting himself for the next six hours.
11:00 AM -- I sometimes forget how difficult it can be for Jalen as an only child. He's forced to seek out other groups of kids and hope they'll shoehorn him in. Difficult? After two hours, Jalen had schmoozed with everyone in the pool while laughing and playing as if these complete strangers were lifelong friends. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, but here was a young idealistic African-American winning over a red state. Jalen even made inroads with the senior vote, as he was invited to join a quartet of septuagenarians who were playing volleyball in the water. Throw in his established speech making ability and Jalen could be a viable political candidate by 2040. You've still got time to tear him down, FOX News, but you'd better hurry.
1:00 PM -- Her eyelids weighted down from rum, Mrs. Bootleg still managed to flag down a poolside server to place our lunch order. When Jalen came out of the water, he looked down at the grotesquely overpriced, but delicious-looking thin crust pizza that sat on the small table in front of him. Eight slices. By my estimate, this edible rectangle was 8" x 16". Most of my readers will have to humor me here, but it's not unreasonable to assume that two adults could satisfyingly split this pizza. In the blink of an eye, my seven-year-old son channeled the gluttonous spirit of a certain merciless planet-eater. There were no survivors.
3:00 PM -- Jalen has obliterated the modern day record for the longest time any African-American has spent in the water. He broke the two-way tie held by this guy and this guy. Jalen could've made it until the pool closed at 5:00 PM, but we were meeting friends for dinner AND the NCAA college basketball tournament selection show was about to begin on CBS. Kudos to Jalen for the adamantium-clawed indentations he left around the edge of the pool when I forcibly hauled him from the water. Thankfully, we got back to our room to see the assignment of San Diego State University – my alma mater! – to the West region as the #2 seed. "Couldn't you have followed along on your web-enabled phone?", you ask. "Hey, I don't tell YOU how to disappoint YOUR kids", I retort.
4:45 PM -- True to form, Mrs. Bootleg keeps her "meeting friends for dinner" double-standard streak alive. If we're meeting her friends (by definition, someone she works with or otherwise knows independent of me) I'm expected to adhere to Mrs. Bootleg's inelastic schedule. We MUST leave the house on time and not ONE minute later. (Several years ago, she laid on the car's horn from our garage as I was 60 seconds behind her itinerary for a Christmas party – which, as everyone knows, are famous for their set-in-stone start and stop times. If we're meeting my friends, she unfailingly reads from this predictable script:
Mrs. Bootleg: "What time should we leave?"
Me: "Let's get on the road no later than 4:15 PM."
Mrs. Bootleg: [At 4:15 PM, not dressed, curling iron in hand] "Wait, what time did you want to leave?"
Me: "Four. Fifteen."
Mrs. Bootleg "What's YOUR problem? If you're going to be like that, you can go by yourself."
The above conversation may or may not have occurred.
5:00 PM -- I'll never get used to driving in Arizona. Sure, all the open and unincorporated land is in stark contrast to what I see every day in Southern California, but for the uninitiated, it's like you're perpetually lost as everything seems to be in the middle of nowhere. Nothing, nothing, nothing…hey, an enormous strip mall! Turn left at the light…nothing, nothing, nothing…hey, where'd this sprawling residential development come from?
5:10 PM -- We arrived at Stately JP Manor. It doesn't take much to sway my son, but m'man JP had the end of the Oakland A's game on his flat screen and his two adorable young daughters weren't far away. (A week later, JP and his family purchased a trampoline. If it had been set up during our visit, Jalen might've been angling for an interracial adoption.)
5:15 PM -- JP is one of the original beer snobs and he'd meticulously selected an evening's worth of drinkin' for us. Before long, a glass of his homebrew was gently cooling the palm of my hand. This entire scene should've happened 45 minutes earlier, Mrs. Bootleg!
5:45 PM -- The evening's dinner menu was highlighted by racks of ribs straight from JP's smoker. Ribs – pork, not beef, for the love of God – are Mrs. Bootleg's favorite entrée and JP had me hooked at the smoky aroma that scented all the air within a five-mile radius (+/- five miles). Jalen, however, would be a tougher sell. The pickiest eater on earth was politely exiled to the kids' table in the backyard. From the dining room, I could see my son entertaining his feminine audience; but was unsure if he'd eat his meal since it wasn't on a crust, on a bun, in nugget form, loaded with chocolate chips or ending with "…and cheese". I'm ashamed to admit Jalen did eat some of his ribs…after drowning them in ranch dressing. We can all agree that's a spank-able offense, yes?
6:00 PM -- I like to think I redeemed my family's gastronomic honor.
7:00 PM -- Our respective wives have caucused around a laptop and appear to be planning a future cruise for our families. Due to the lack of ballpark proximity in the middle of the ocean -- unless the Tampa Bay Rays get really inventive -- Mrs. Bootleg will almost certainly be sailing solo. In all honesty, my grade school psyche never recovered from this.
8:00 PM -- After my fifth high-quality craft beer (the evening's winner was the Founders Breakfast Stout), I'm in no condition to drive. Mrs. Bootleg gets behind the wheel...but, not before her standard "I can't BELIEVE you drank that much" silent snit. Tonight, it manifests via an extra, unnecessary 10 minutes of adjusting the mirrors, seat height, seat incline and thorough familiarization with the headlights and turn signals. That's right, Mrs. Bootleg. Teach me a lesson!
8:30 PM (approx.) -- I've passed out in bed next to Jalen. Honestly, I'm not sure if I was reading him a story or vice versa. Mrs. Bootleg abandoned us both for the sofa bed in the living room. I've spent time with everyone except my wife all weekend long. Maybe on Monday...
...at the Athletics v. Indians Spring Training game over in Goodyear.
Next: Autographs! Sauerkraut! The Incredible Hulk! And, a chocolate milk horror story!