Drinks and screwballs at the game
WHAT MY buddy Don likes to do is down a couple drinks and get truthful. As someone who avoids honesty at every turn, this makes me uncomfortable. I’m evasive yet polite.
“You should write more about your wife,” he says.
“Your wife,” he says.
If only I knew her better. I explain that, after all these years, my wife is still a mystery to me. A sexy puzzle. Plus, to delve too much into our marriage would be an invasion of her privacy. She might slay me while I sleep.
“She’s Sicilian, you know,” I say.
“And you should write more about ... “
Don and I are at a Dodger game, discussing my career -- which frankly could use a little honest help -- and our wives, our friends, our finances. Evidently, Don’s finances are in a little better shape than mine, for we are in his very expensive seats right behind home plate. Two rows from the field. When Albert Pujols belches, I say “bless you, sir.”
Rich people make me queasy, yet here I am. We are just four seats over from Larry King and his frightfully skinny wife. Six seats from Dodger owner Frank McCourt and his frightfully skinny wife. I guess the trade-off for marrying well is to give up all nourishment. In about the fourth inning, King’s wife has a hot dog, perhaps her first meal since the holidays.
“Better to be poor and fat,” I tell Don.
“Huh?” he says, mouth full of popcorn.
These are the seats we all covet, filled by people we either envy or hate. I’ve never hated anybody, but I know some people do. There is a moat that runs between these expensive seats and the serfs seated above. My first moat.
Things are different down here in the best seats. The view is so good, you never really look at the big screen. Beach balls don’t intrude. I am one of those frumpy purists who believe beach balls belong on the beach, not at a ballpark. What do I know? I was raised at Wrigley.
“Can I get you gentlemen anything?” a waitress asks.
“We’re fine,” says Don.
Yes, we’re fine. As you may have seen, waiters and waitresses come to these seats bearing food and drink. There is also a dining room below the stands where you can select from several buffets.
On the night we were there, they had hunks serving hunks of roast beef to twittering rich girls. And off to the side, dessert was being served on the tummies of virgins. I don’t know if it’s like that every night. Late in the season, they’ve got to run out of virgins. But the night we were there, it was pretty darned impressive.
“It’s all free,” Don says.
“Everything?” I ask.
“Food, peanuts, everything,” he says.
Everything except the booze, which is flowing pretty good on this Friday night. I have a couple of beers. Don has a couple of misty gin-and-tonics. Suburban truth serum.
“You should write more about your bosses,” he says.
“Other people bore me,” I explain.
“They do?” he says.
Now that I am in the rich seats, other people seem extraneous. I feel a little miffed when I have to wait in line at the can. See how quickly pampering can ruin you? See how quickly you become one of them?
In truth, everyone down here in the expensive seats is very nice. Don says he always has good experiences, except the night that Larry David sat next to him and wouldn’t leave him alone. Like George Costanza, he kept elbowing Don and asking the sort of stupid questions 6-year-olds ask: “Who’s he?” “Why’d they do that?” I guess that’s the price of sitting in the nice seats. You never know which wacko might plop down next to you.
And then there were the two guys from the talent agency. When Don said hello, they sort of blew him off, after which Don’s wife, in one of those really loud, wife voices, said, “Well THAT was a quick conversation!” -- amusing Don but not the agents. But that was another game. This game, everyone seems very nice.
“I’m increasingly hairy,” Don admits after his second drink.
“Me too,” I say.
We agree that, evolutionally, it’s hard to explain why middle-aged guys get hair in such weird places. We agree that, evolutionally, a lot in life makes no sense.
“You gentlemen all right?” the waitress asks.
Truthfully? Never better. The Dodgers are hitting. The summer breeze is blowing. And the drinks are wedding-night delicious.
In my head, Sinatra sings about the good life. Somebody call me a cab.
“You’re a cab!”
Chris Erskine can be reached at email@example.com.