Que Sarah, Sarah

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Countdown to Reunion, Part 2 - Ejections & Dejection

T-minus 10 days and counting...

I used this past long weekend to prepare myself both mentally and physically for my upcoming college reunion, an event which promises to be 4 full days spent hammered beyond all recognition. Yes, of course, the initial plan will be to spend quality (sober) time catching up with friends and acquaintances, but if this weekend is any indication I’ll barely remember my old roommates' names after my second drink. Here’s the thing...spending the past few days trying to prepare for the recapturing of my youth has taught me two important lessons:

1. It’s not nearly as hard to get kicked out of Dodger Stadium as one might think.
2. I'm old. And lame.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early at 9am, ready for a magical day of baseball, beer, hot dogs and men in tight pants. Cubs games at Wrigley—-win or lose—-are one of life’s greatest treasures. And Cubs games at Dodger Stadium are...still fun. A little while before gametime our group of 15-20 people met up at the park outside the stadium and eased our way into a long day of drinking with a nice batch of mimosas. I’ve found that orange juice cuts through champagne so well you can quickly drink 3, 4...12 mimosas without even realizing it.

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After an hour or so of pre-gaming we headed to the game and found our seats—-just outside the left foul pole, a couple rows from the field. Not only were we in prime homerun territory but we were also within earshot of the outfielders in left. We took advantage of this close proximity immediately. One of the guys in our group was a Dodgers fan and he and I quickly established a love-hate relationship by way of snarky attacks on the players. He clowned Soriano for his large paycheck and limited run production while I commended Soriano on his well-developed rear section. As you can see, I was right about that ass.

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Later, I offered Luis Gonzalez words of encouragement when the Cubs hit back-to-back base hits right in front of him in left. I commended him for his fine attempts to run at such an advanced age and reminded him that those balls were at least 10-12 feet away from him—-a distance much too great for an 82-year-old in his condition to cover in any reasonable amount of time. All the while, I continued to clap and thank Soriano whenever he bent over. Things were going swimmingly.

There was most surprisingly little animosity between Cubs and Dodgers supporters in the stands. Everyone was enjoying the game as playful jabs were sent back and forth between fans. I kindly informed a Derrek Lee heckler that Lee is leading the league in batting percentage, at which point his friend kindly informed him that I was right, and he should close his mouth. See? Enemies working together in the pursuit of truth! I left for a half inning or so to get beer and returned to the cheers of a section of young, male Dodgers fans who said they’d gotten bored while I was gone and wanted to talk some more shit. I happily obliged. Our group even made friends with the cutest little Dodger fan ever, Frank, and his parents.

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Sometime around the 6th inning the Dodger fan in our group was ejected from the game to everyone’s surprise but his own. You see he had announced, as the game commenced, that he would most likely be tossed. I still have no idea why he got the boot, as he hadn’t said much since the Cubs hit back-to-back bombs and took the lead. This incident was, in hindsight, a clear sign of what was to come. Midway through the 8th the game leveled off...the Cubs were up and it seemed they’d hang on for the win. With nothing much to cheer or boo about, I’d been quietly enjoying my beer and the gentle rays of the sun for about an inning and a half. Suddenly, early in the 9th, four or five security guards came down to our seats and said that I needed to come with them. I'll admit that I wasn’t sober at the time, but I was speaking, acting and walking perfectly fine. After a little back-and-forth like so...

–- “Why do I have to come with you?”
-- “We’ll talk up there.”
–- “I haven’t done anything, I’m not leaving my seat.”
-- “Just come with us, we’ll talk about it away from everyone else.”
-- “There's no reason for me to leave unless you tell me what I’ve done.”

...my friends said I should just go with them, talk to them, and come back. I told everyone to stay in their seats and let me handle it. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to send me off to the wolves alone, so 4 or 5 us trudged up to the concessions area with the fake baseball police. One of my friends wasn't as "cooperative" as they'd hoped, so he ended up handcuffed and taken to Dodger Stadium's secret, underground lair.

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There, they decided he was officially kicked out of the park for the rest of the year, although I’m not sure how they'll do that. Will it be like the Wild West? Will they post his picture at the Dodger Stadium saloon entrances and challenge him to a duel if he dares enter? I imagine from now on he'll have to show up wearing a false mustache and sunglasses, using an alias like Lloyd Littlebutter to purchase tickets. How very exciting.

I managed to keep the baseball police talking and continued to stand my ground until the game ended. They made excellent points such as “you can’t say cuss words” and “you aren’t allowed to say penis.” I countered with logic, pointing out that the worst word I used was “ass” and that there were people all over our section saying the exact same things, if not worse. In fact, I distinctly remember several fans commenting on my..."bags." I can only assume they were talking about the bases. I was later told by a friend that I actually had said "penis." I believe I was commenting on another fan's need to overcompensate...who can recall such minor details? Regardless, last I checked “penis” is a scientific term that one should be able to use freely when discussing male genitalia. I just wish those baseball police were more mature. In the end, I left of my own free will, without the security guards.

Several Dodgers fans we didn’t know offered my friends their business cards and said they’d be willing to vouch that I hadn’t done anything to warrant being kicked out. I never got a warning, never got any complaints, never even had any good old-fashioned yelling matches with any other fans. (This game paled in comparison to the great "frosted tips" throwdown with the White Sox fans at Wrigley). Getting tossed was truly shocking and, pardon the pun, came completely out of left field. A few people mentioned this old hag whose chin was hanging on by a thread...

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...as the possible snitch. She was at the game all by herself and appears just old and lonely enough to want to ruin the good times of the more youthful, attractive game-goers surrounding her. On the other hand, she may not have been the snitch, in which case it’s cute that she loves baseball so much she goes to the games all by herself. Also, sorry if that’s your grandma. In the end, not much happened in the 9th so I didn't miss much. I still think Dodger Stadium might wanna work on their security policy. If it's as easy as one complaint, next time I'm there I'm gonna tell the baseball police that the LA fan next to me told a small child to do something naughty to his Dodger Dog.

And as for me being old and lame...I spent the rest of Saturday night at the bars in Hermosa double fisting a rum & diet and...a tall glass of water. Yes, ONE half day of boozing and I was drinking like a high schooler for the rest of the night. If the bar had served wine coolers I probably would have ordered 'em. Then, I followed up that solid performance by not even going out after work Sunday night. Yes, yes, I know...my bender preparation isn't looking good at this point. I could tell you that my Memorial Day involved funneling, heavy drug use and doing blow off stripper's asses, but I'd be lying. I slowly sipped on some weak vodka and punch drinks, played a little cornhole on the beach and essentially proved to myself and all others that I am, officially, old. Something tells me I'm gonna end up in the back of the bus on the reunion wine tour shoving bagels into my mouth and trying to recover from my first half-glass of pinot all day. Ah, youth. So fleeting.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Countdown to Reunion, Part 1 - Self-Loathing

In a few weeks I'll pack a suitcase, hop on a plane and revisit the site of some of my most alcohol-infused years. The time has come (and quickly!)...My 5 Year College Reunion. Ah, college: never in your life will you pack so much knowledge into your brain while at the same time slowly destroying it. Oh sure, Cornell isn't known for its party school mentality, but thousands of overworked, high strung, sleep-deprived, overprivileged kids can get shitfaced just as easily as a bunch of bikini-clad U of A students...they'll just be paler, pudgier and feel more entitled while they do it. Plus, unlike their State School peers, when they wake up hungover, shirt stained with their own vomit (but collar still up!), the overwhelming pressure of years of expectations will force them to get up, go to class and actually try to make use of their $36 thousand a year tuition. Maybe.

So in three weeks, these former valedictorians, honor rollers, scholarship and fellowship-honorees, inventors, scientists, concert pianists, math whizzes and athletes who slipped through the admissions process (Cornell University Track & Field rules!) will gather together in Upstate New York to try to reclaim their youth. Most of the crowd will be your typical 26 year-old Cornell graduate: The New Yorker. The girls, clad in all black, carrying the requisite Louis Vuitton bag-of-the-moment and donning Chanel shades with huge "C"s on either side. The men, 30 pounds heavier, hoping the untucking of their Polo shirts will hide 5 years of happy hours, weekend binges and a disdain for exercise of any kind. They'll hug, kiss each other on both cheeks (European-style!) and compare careers. They'll start by bemoaning their 70-hour work weeks but smile and chuckle when they list the benefits of their staggering paychecks. They'll discuss their Roth IRAs and say things like "I'm considering diversifying my portfolio." One will flash her glittering engagement ring while another announces plans to remodel the kitchen in his newly purchased home in Hoboken. Gathered at their old haunts, Ithaca Pale Ales and Stella Artois' in hand, all will curse their now inadequate livers and embarrassingly low tolerances, then goad each other on, yelling "drink through it!"

Of course, not everyone will be a wealthy, investment-banking, newly engaged success story. No, there are always those few sad, lost souls who chose the road less taken. Those poor, mindless fools who didn't use influential alumni to land a good job, didn't major in something that teaches marketable skills, didn't pursue a career that actually values a 3.8 GPA and a wide range of extracurriculars, didn't even consider going to Business School to camouflage their professional confusion and fear of the future. Fiscally retarded, professionally stunted ass-hats who dream of a career filled with passion and creativity, limitless in its scope and its vacation days.

I, being one of these ass-hats, will be giving myself a pre-reunion pep-talk, Jack Handey style. I imagine it will go a little something like this...

"Sarah: you're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggonit, people like you. Your LA lifestyle is fun! Exciting! Everchanging and evolving! You don't have set vacation days or even set workdays! Sure, your salary is laughable and the chances of succeeding in your chosen "career" are one in three million, but life is all about fun, fun, fun! Right? Yeah, you can barely afford the flight back to Ithaca to attend your reunion, but once you get there think of the stories you'll have to tell everyone! Parties with movie stars! Lazy weekday afternoons spent drinking poolside at a hip hotel! Spur-of-the-moment trips to far away concerts and sporting events taken without leaving an "out-of-office" message! You don't even have your own office to be "out of"! Haha! Youth! Life! Passion! Sure, each and every workday is another 8 hours on auto-pilot, with any given task requiring less than 1% of your brain. Fine, your heart is deflated each time you see someone on TV, in a magazine, at an audition, doing what you should be--could be--doing, but aren't. But hey, you've met David Hasselhoff! You can wear jeans and a Cubs visor to work! Haha...you scoff at the thought of business professional attire and 7am alarm clock settings. You're wild and free and livin' the dream! Okay, so no one thought you'd be this poor and unaccomplished by your mid-twenties. Yeah, maybe you're a huge disappointment to your parents, who imagined they'd be done helping you pay your bills by 26. But look at the great big wide world laid out in front of you, waiting to be shaken and moved and changed! You can do it! It's not too late! Just because most people in LA your age have already hosted a few shows, signed with an agent, written a touching memoir, dated a soap star, made a sex tape, shot a bikini calendar and consistently spend more money per week on blow than you do on rent, doesn't mean you're a failure. Hey, get back here. C'mon...don't cry. Listen, you haven't even slept with anyone influential yet. I'm not saying you should, just reminding you that you haven't really put your whole self into this thing. Give that moral compass of yours a little directional nudge. Go out to dinner with the creepy producer, roofie yourself, wake up in the morning remembering nothing and watch your career begin to soar! Hooray! Vacations in Aspen and red carpet arrivals. Interviews with the QB in the locker room and nationwide book tours. That second home in the South of France! There, feel better now? Good. Now take a couple of those diet pills and get to the gym so you can make it to LA Tan before they close. No one's gonna care how funny you are if you're fat and pale, Sarah. Especially the rich, successful, well-adjusted people at the reunion."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why I Love...CS Lewis, EE Cummings & Other Men of Letters...

Sometimes these old dudes really knew what they were talking about...


CS LEWIS...

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world"

"The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal."

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one...Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."

"Those of us who have been true readers all our life fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors"


EE CUMMINGS...

"i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)"

"To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight."

"The earth laughs in flowers."

"Be of love (a little) more careful than of anything."


WH AUDEN...

"A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language."

"A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us."


TE LAWRENCE...

"All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out otheir dreams with open eyes, to make it possible."