Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Saturday Sojourn (Written In 'Third Person' To Protect The Innocent)"

It was the weekend.  She wanted to get out of the house.  He wanted to stay home.

They got out of the house.

Meaningless Destination:  Huntington Gardens. 

Featuring:  A library and flowers.

And there you have it – a twenty-five-mile drive for a library and flowers. 

Their daughter Anna – there’s a coincidence – suggests a nearby restaurant in Pasadena where they can have lunch before visiting the library and flowers.  The lunch place is called Burgers and Pie.  Getting close to Pasadena, they recruit their car’s GPS system to accurately direct them to their lunchtime destination.

Forty-five minutes of circuitous driving later,

They arrive at Dodger Stadium.

Not Burgers and Pie.

Not even Pasadena.  (Dodger Stadium’s located in downtown Los Angeles.)

Fortunately, their car has an alternate GPS operation, where you can call an actual person who will install your route guidance destination for you.  It is there they learn that the restaurant’s actually called Pie ‘N Burger.  Apparently, their car’s personal GPS system was so annoyed they had gotten the name wrong, it responded, as only GPS systems can, by dispatching them punitively to Dodger Stadium.

(The Real Reason, They Subsequently Surmised:  Dodger Stadium had been their immediate, previous GPS-directed destination.  Somehow, their GPS system had accidentally burped backwards.)

Though they did not arrive there till almost two, the burgers and pie at Pie ‘N Burger proves worth-waitingly delicious.  Their more or less mutually agreed upon pie selection is rhubarb, because, the argument goes, “Why drive all the way to Pasadena for ‘just apple’?”

Their misdirection to Dodger Stadium reminds him that the Dodgers are playing an atypical four-fifteen afternoon game that day against the Cubs.  He mumblingly muses that since they are already on that side of town and therefore able to bypass the hellacious pregame traffic, they might want to take advantage of the opportunity and get tickets to that game. 
Interpreting “might” as “should”, because she thinks that’s what he wants, and also because the Cubs are her beloved “home” team, but mostly because she does not want her “getting out of the house” time to comprise of simply a lunch, a library and flowers, and then straight back to the house, while awaiting their burgers to be served, she contacts a local ticket agent, successfully procuring two tickets for that afternoon’s encounter. 

“Do I want to know how much they cost?” he inquired.

“No”, was her abrupt subject-closing response.

With an impending ballgame on the agenda, the trip to Huntington Gardens is necessarily curtailed.  Picking one building to visit – the vaunted Huntington library – on their way there, they pass numerous flourishing flower beds, many of them, he is informed, offering varieties of flowers they grow in their very own backyard (making him wonder why they hadn’t skipped the excursion and just gone outside and looked at them.)

The library displays dozens of priceless “First Editions”, penned by the iconic likes of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Isaac Newton and Percy Bysshe Shelley.  His eyes not being the best, when he bends down for a closer look, he bumps his nose on the protective glass before getting anywhere close to “reading distance.”  (Not to mention “protective glass-judging distance” distance.)

But it was still pretty cool.  On The Origin of Species, stamped on the inside, “Please return to Charles Darwin.”

And then it is off to Dodger Stadium.  This time, deliberately.

The first thing they do after parking their car is to take a dozen or so iPhone pictures of the surrounding area, so they can find their car after the game, a feat proven more difficult than it sounds on the two previous occasions when they couldn’t.

The game itself?  For him, there are only two kinds of ballgame experiences: “Good” and “Spectacular.”  When attending a major league ball game… I mean, hey, you’re attending a major league ballgame!

The experience is better than “Good” but less than “Spectacular”, as their seats – amazingly close to the field – are located on the stadium’s sun-drenched First Base side; plus, the guy behind them keeps scaring his apparent girlfriend by pretending that screaming foul balls are streaking continuously in her direction.  (It occurs to him, later, as they are climbing the stairs after the game, to lean in and whisper into her ear, “You can do better.”  But he doesn’t.  The boyfriend is drunk and has muscles.)

Another disappointment in the experience.  Since they had lunched relatively late, they were too full to want “baseball food.”  (Although they ultimately succumb to temptation and share a hotdog during the ninth inning.  It occurs to him that that hotdog, purchased just before the stadium emptied, was almost certainly destined for the trash bin, meaning they were, in effect, consuming a “pre-trash” hotdog.)

Also, having not purchased peanuts, he would miss out on the sublime ballpark decadence of tossing empty peanut shells onto the floor.  He tore off the adhesive sticker he received at the Huntington and threw that on the floor, but it wasn’t the same.  There just wasn’t as much mess.

Heading out after the 5-0 Dodger victory – making one of them happy – they find their car relatively easily, but then experience a one-hour traffic jam leaving the parking lot.  You know it’s a bad traffic jam when, up ahead of you, people have climbed out of their car and are tossing a ball around next to their unmoving vehicle.

They arrive home nine hours after their departure, satisfying one person’s intention of “getting out of the house.”  The other person had an admittedly good time.  Still, it was a good time under duress. 

It takes a special kind of person to adhere to such a distinction. 

But the evidence demonstrates

Those people actually exist.

1 comment:

JED said...

"... but then experience a one-hour traffic jam leaving the parking lot. You know it’s a bad traffic jam when, up ahead of you, people have climbed out of their car and are tossing a ball around next to their unmoving vehicle."

You mean people in La La Land don't really put on elaborate dance numbers while waiting for the jam to clear?