I've met many members of this great community, from wumbug to Northwest, from steelgolf to Alan Falcon and could mention dozens and dozens more of you all... and perhaps it was all a purposeful structured plan from the great Panther in the Sky to prepare for meeting the one poster who can rile all sensibilities with two or fewer keystrokes. The nuclear option in any thread is this one man. All of it was a warmup for the ordeal that would be my meeting with Dad of Vlad.
The call from cupie came while I was on the Metrolink to the game... Dad of Vlad would be there with as few children as humanly possible in tow. Was this some twisted joke? Was there a ruse by other SBN blogs to isolate me at the stadium with a fake mission in order to send Halos Heaven to hell? Dad of Vlad in Southern California? The exile himself on Main Street? I instructed cupie to text me in the bottom of the second inning. I would improvise a plan from there.
The team was hot in the early innings and Missus Halofan did not want to leave her seat when I got up to check the cellphone. Angel Stadium gives you five bars and no luck when you are in your seat. The bar behind centerfield was crammed with people watching the Heat-Thunder match up. It was loud. cupie texted the location. It was a worst case scenario: The Club Level. There is a whole section of Angel Stadium that you cannot enter without a ticket to a seat there - the Club Level. It is a pretend elitism as the level is a dump. The toilets are tiny. The concessions are understaffed and undersupplied and the food is cold at the Knothole club except the desserts, which are melted. But you get to be segregated so the Newport crowd will always eat it up. And the luxury suites are there so the illusion of elitism sells overpriced tickets and even more egregiously overpriced bad Aramark food.
I have many friends among the ushers and I had to find one who would let me slide in without a 300-level ticket. I walked up a ramp. "Is Roxanne
(not her real name. her real name was colonel kurtz) here tonight?" I asked when she was not standing in her usual spot. "She's on her break" answered the team leader. I know where the ushers break and there she was, smoking and talking to a Giants fan. I explained to her that I needed access to the club level. She pulled a handkerchef out of her pocket and unwrapped it, presenting me with a crinkled ticket. I picked it up. Part of it was wet. "I found this on the floor in the ladies room," she said as I wiped three damp fingers on my jeans, "there is a wild bunch of marshmallow salesgirls in one of the suites, take this ticket but don't be jigglin' any door handles." Roxanne didn't want me crashing any suite parties. I would never conceive of such a low activity and the seventy or so times I have tried it have usually ended up with nobody being arrested. As I thanked Roxanne I turned to the fan from Frisco, all decked out in a Jerry Garcia Giants tank top. "Spiezio" I shouted as I turned and headed toward the club level. All I heard behind me was coughing reminiscent of some epic choking.
The guard at the ramp behind the club level velvet rope greeted me kindly. Always an over the top VIP treatment for the fake VIP that is a club level patron. Sure enough, the darkened stench of the Club Level beckoned. It is still the same as if time had stood still in 1998. Jackie Autry having a fling with Rod Serling couldn't bring a Twilight Zone unreality quite like stepping back into the wormhole that is the lowlit walkway of the club level. I expect mulletted OC stepdads to be staggering out of the johns, zipping up the fly of their stonewashed jeans with one hand while they swig the last sip of Zima out of their winged team logo drink cooler held tight in the other claw. Instead the lines of girls waiting to get into the toilets dominated the scene, the winding hallway mesmerizing me until the vibration of my cellphone in my pocket brought me back to 2012 just as I was pondering whether Shigetoshi Hasegawa was available in the pen tonight should Jason Dickson falter. Cupie texted me the section number and row. The hour was upon us.
DOV greeted me with a handshake. We sat and watched the game. The mission had taken so long to complete. I already had to consider what might become of Missus Halofan sitting in our seats, her pondering of C.J. Wilson's form, when DOV introduced me to his daughter. The cycle was complete! The next generation would be greater than our own. She wore a Halos Heaven tank top with the Panther. And DOV wore an 02/03 gray Anaheim Road jersey. As did I. Words were unnecessary, trivial even. Linguistics itself were a mere substitute for the bond of having been in that darkened club level when Mike Magnante's name was being called, when Terry Collins was more important than Bootsy Collins or Tom Collins. The past was now further and the present was bursting with accomplishment. I handed his daughter my camera. (L-R: DOV, RevHF, Cupie. Photo by Daughter of DOV). Mission Accomplished. It was back to my seats, back to seeing the Angels beat the Giants.
It had all been worth it, but I am not one to rest. These missions give my life a sense of purpose. No way can I slow down. Not when I haven't even road-tripped to Tijuana with Rextookmystash yet.