Sunday, July 09, 2006

His Mysterious Ways

Over a month ago I decided to spend the 8th at Dodger stadium with four friends.
I bought the four tickets online with my own money.

From then on, things began to go wrong. I couldn't get the 8th off--I was going to have to drive to the Ravine after work, then come back to the hotel and work a full shift. Fine, I booked a room at the hotel. The two cars had to go into the shop. We got a rental. One of my four friends bailed on me at the very last minute. I couldn't get more than four hours sleep on Friday.

It became clear to me that instead of being a great opportunity for fun, this was going to be a real ordeal, a test of my ability to function without real sleep over a period of days. At this point, I felt like backing out of the whole thing--and would have, but I misunderstood the E-tickets to be a sort of claim check for the real tickets, requiring my presence at the stadium. (As it happened, because they were printed on an obsolete form of Adobe Acrobat, I did have to convert them personally.)

Saturday morning I hit a snag when my relief just never showed up. I could not leave the front desk until after nine in the morning. I took a 90 minute nap and then showered and set forth from Fontana for Dodger Stadium, some 15 minutes before my friends were due to leave Riverside.

I was going to take things in stages. I was going to drive to the Stadium, and I was going to drive back. How much time I spent actually at the Stadium would depend on how I felt. I would measure myself constantly and bail before I became unable to drive back to Fontana.

Actually, my friends left Riverside an hour after I headed out. I got to Dodger stadium a hour before they did, and it was a good half-hour after that before we met and distributed the tickets.

In that ninety minutes, I nearly died.

I was wearing jeans and a knit dark-blue short-sleeve and the Dodger hat. I stood in front of Dodger Stadium in the noonday sun for a half-hour, and then I figured I'd get out of the sun and sit in the car with the windows down and the fan on. Ten minutes of that made me so hot that when I stood up outside the car I felt cool and refreshed in the triple-digit sunshine as if I'd walked through a shower.

I've been that hot before, quite often ten years ago as I biked from UCR to Jurupa, 100 miles a week, and six years ago tooling around Minneapolis by bike in August. I used to enjoy feeling the onset of heatstroke, knowing that the very air was going to kill me unless my own muscles and animal cunning got me to my destination. Part of that machismo meant carrying everything from tire patches to a quart canteen, so I always made it.

I had no canteen at the Ravine, only a $5.50 1-liter ice cube of a frozen waterbottle I sucked at as it slowly melted. I was melting with it.

Finally my friends arrived, took the tickets, declined the orange bedsheet with the 5-foot black asterisk we planned to fly for Barry Bonds (you wimps!) and I rolled out to Fontana. The a/c had failed in my room, but 84F was nothing to me then. I got a good six hours of sleep, rising only to quaff a liter of cold water and take a cold shower.

The point of my little homily: Had it all worked as planned, I'd have spent that ninety minutes in the same sunshine, clad in the same layers of denim and polyester, and I'd have taken it. I wouldn't have seriously considered leaving before the last at-bat. I probably wouldn't even have felt the need to buy the bottle-sicle. I'd have sat with my friends, watching the Dodgers get buried by the Giants, and I'd have slowly succumbed to the heat. My faltering speech and response time would have been ascribed to the fatigues of the graveyard shift, especially since Da Laird works the same hours and had as little sleep before the game as I had.

Somebody up there likes me.

No comments: