When I was a kid, my father had season tickets to the Dodgers every summer. Four tickets to twelve games that usually fell on weekend afternoons where the temperature would climb into the 90s. Our seats on the field level got progressively better as the years passed, inching from the foul pole over toward the first base line, but in my eyes, we paid dearly for our excellent view since the seats were never, ever in the shade. Mandy got my father's bronzed skin in the gene pool lottery, while I would be slathered in SPF 50 and buried under hats and long sleeves so I wouldn't be carted back to West L.A. the color of a lobster. Most of the time, the sun would beat on me so badly that by the fourth inning, my mother would need to walk me upstairs to the shady area behind the seats and put wet towels on my head. By the sixth inning I'd be ready to pass out and thus began the terse negotiations with my father as to when to leave the ballpark. We rarely made it to the seventh inning stretch.
Further complicating matters was the fact that my mother, an east coast transplant, was a die-hard Yankee fan and my father, a native Angeleno, was through and through Dodger Blue. Each managed to get one daughter to root for their team. I was brainwashed early, during the 1981 World Series when my mom bought me a Yankee doll. My father came home from work one evening and saw me carrying it around the house, saying "Go Yankees! Booo Dodgers!" He was naturally horrified and tried, in vain as the years went on, to get me to root for my hometown team. But it never stuck. So he worked on Mandy in earnest, and she's been a Dodger fan ever since.
Needless to say, my sensitive alabaster skin and I still prefer night games and Pauly took me to my first one in years on Friday night. The Dodgers played the Cubs and we had awesome seats on the loge level right above third base. Dodger games were and still are for me, primarily about food, and I got to enjoy a tasty Super Dodger Dog and down a few brewskis while peppering Pauly with stupid questions about baseball. Like why they watered the dirt on the field and how did they know where exactly to put the bases (little holes in the ground... who knew?) Unfortunately, the Dodgers eeked out a win in the ninth inning. Booooooo.
Sunday night, Pauly took me to the Palm for an early 30th birthday dinner. Yes, dear readers, I turn 30 on June 26th, smack in the middle of the WSOP. Since we'll more than likely be unable to celebrate on the actual day he thought ahead (sweet, thoughtful man that he is) and got us reservations. I ate a heavenly 14 oz. filet with a little bearnaise sauce on the side and had a glass of Shiraz. Pauly had the same, and (shock!) ordered a Caesar salad as an appetizer and even manager to finish half of it. Dessert was a sublime slice of key lime pie.
On Monday, my final day in SoCal for the next two months, we headed over to my parents' house for a BBQ. Mandy was going off to a location shoot in Mexico and would be out of town at the same time as me, so it would be the last time we could all get together before maybe August. Pauly had requested my father's signature burgers, and with good reason. They're thick, spicy, juicy, and never overcooked. As he took his first bite, a whole lot of that juice squirted out, all over his shirt, his jeans, and the tablecloth. Funny shit. I so wish I had it on camera.
A couple of weeks back, Pauly had sent me some photos of him from back in the day-- back in the frat day, back in the Phish-touring day, back in the long-hair day. It was my turn to compensate with some of my own humiliating photos. I took him on the photo tour of my parents' living room including a couple of baby pictures, my first communion photo, my high school graduation photo, and various shots of Mandy and I as little kids.
Finally it was time to pack. Make careful wardrobe selections for the summer and stuff it all into three small bags. Make sure all computer equipment was in working order and that all cords and chargers and drives and accessories were accounted for. Make sure I paid all my bills and left rent checks for Showcase and did the dishes in the sink. Because once we got on the 10 East the next morning, there was no turning back, at least until a new WSOP Champion had been crowned.