I must admit that there are perks to life in Exile. You get a little extra cash on hand to fund some frivolity and some slightly better proximity to friends you don’t get to see nearly often enough. On occasion it gives you access to a little bit of whisky and fair dose of redemption.
At the moment I am writing this I am on ground delay at SFO airport while the Blue Angels are monopolizing the airspace. This is the first time I have ever thought that the Blue Angels have pissed me off. So I took advantage of the extra time to prep for an Exile post.
This past weekend I took little trip down to Los Angeles to visit my good friend Tim. Hopping onto the most affordable airfare I could find put me on Jet Blue. Not that anyone was asking, but Jet Blue is pretty cool. Every seat was leather and had 36 channels of Direct TV and 3600 channels of XM radio. For the first time in I have no idea how long I was sort of upset that my flight was going to be short. Then I came to my senses as the mother with the two kids sat in front of me.
I guess I have become a snob to the front of the plane because my first inclination was to think “Oh man, is it too much to ask for sedatives for kids on airplanes?!” Next I had a series of emotions which started with upset at myself for being unsympathetic to this mom in a difficult situation. Quickly that emotion passed as the 5 year old spilled his soda all over my feet and I wanted the kids sedated again. In the “justification” phase of my emotions I figured that the mom probably would want some peace and quiet too. Thinking that there is probably some medical danger in drugging the children I hit upon the brilliant idea of given the sedatives to everyone else near the children. Why has no one ever thought of this before?!?!
Landing at Long Beach airport was a new, and very brief, experience for me. It is the first airport I have ever seen where you can see the baggage claim and airplane gates just by turning around and looking the other direction. Half of the gates exist in what is the airport equivalent of a double wide. I almost expected to see a 727 up on cinder blocks off to the side.
Friday evening somehow turned into throwback to college era decision making. Tim invited over one of his friends, Chad, for the evening and as he arrived he produced some really expensive bottle of whiskey that Toby Maguire gave him (yeah, this stuff happens in LA). Normally I am not a whiskey guy but this is Spiderman’s whiskey! Next thing I know it is 5 am, Ally abandoned us long ago, and the Spiderman whiskey is kicked. We have been arguing over who would win the “Forthcoming and inevitable” east vs. west civil war (3-1 votes for the East), who are the best actors in Hollywood, and which stars are “douchebags” (apparently “Russle Crow”).
On Saturday Tim was granted by the misses a “Guy pass” for us to attend the Dodgers game. I used to think that LA fans didn’t care about the team because it takes for the third inning for all the seats to get filled up. I learned going there that this is because getting into the stadium is darn near impossible! Once inside however we had a great time. Scoring some field level seats we got to see LA clinch their division, some guy propose to his girlfriend two rows behind us, and some fan bring his ‘A’ game in a lip sync to “Don’t Stop Believing”.
After the we left the ballpark however, the fun and games were now over and Tim and I had to get down to business. The traditional and obligatory air hockey tournament had to be completed and was held at a bar called Jerseys. When last Tim and I met last he delivered me a crushing loss and claimed the 804 air hockey crown for his own and it was my goal to get it back as my sleep has been restless since I lost. Tim seemed relatively calm for the “head that wears the crown”. As we began to warm up for our game it became apparent that Tim’s whole plan with getting me drunk and tired the night before was just to wear my down for this moment! Would his devious plan work?
The table was crammed between the door and the jukebox. Less than favorable conditions to say the least. But no excuses are accepted in air hockey. If you want to be the champion you have to play like one and rise above the conditions! As play kicked off it was immediately clear that I was not on top of my game. My left side goaltending was practically nonexistent and Tim easily won game one. Game two I again fell behind on the score early. As the score turned 4-2 in favor of Tim I finally decided that I had been playing to tense and loosened up a bit. Shoring up my ‘D’ I finally got a little bit of a groove and eventually battled to win 7-5.
Game 3 it was all on the line. An epic defensive struggle ensued the likes of which had never been seen at Jerseys. No quarter was given and none was asked. As the puck caromed from wall to wall our goaltending kept the flurry of shots off goal long enough for the table to actually time out with the score tied 5-5! Tim and I stared in disbelief. We would have to soldier on to play a full game four of our best of three series.
Now both of us are conditioned only to play three games. Going to game four would require us to dig into that energy reserve that when you get as old as we are you have to keep on board for emergencies only. But this was an emergency. Pride was on the line. As game four started I quickly fell behind again. Fighting back and fending off Tim’s puck control offense I overpowered him and eventually went up 6-5. A sloppy possession by me gave control back to Tim and he capitalized without hesitation, just like a champion should. Now at 6-6 I pulled the puck from the return and placed it on the table knowing it was now or never. Watching my opponent I needed to wait for the right moment, for him to blink! As his lids began to close I had an instant to launch my attack. By the time Tim opened his eyes it was all over. Game over, 7-6! My passionate and worthy opponent and I shook hands at center ice. The crown was back where it belonged!
That night I rested well.
Oh yeah… Ally looks great, they have a nice new place, I got home safe, and it was great to see my friends again!