Y’all are an impatient bunch sometimes.
Yes, I figured I would write a blog on Saturday. But I wasn’t going to rearrange my schedule for it — especially on what is the closest I come to a day off during the season, a home-game Saturday. It was a good day to watch some football … to do some Christmas shopping … to fix a meal by myself for a change instead of going out or relying upon the home-cooking kindness of my girlfriend … to put down the computer and back away for a few hours.
Oh, and for whoever asked … it was Broomfield 7, Fountain-Fort Carson 6. If you’d like to watch the highlights and also find out what else happened in the state playoffs, I strongly encourage you to follow this link and watch Football Colorado later today when they get the week’s show up.
It’s still strange to me to be in a press box on Sunday afternoons, fixated on just one game. In the back of my mind, I feel as though I belong someplace where I can flip among numerous games, where I don’t have to fixate on any one particular game and can simply drown in the weekly flood of televised football.
I’ve managed to flood the previous two opportunities this season by returning from a family reunion and taking my girlfriend to an Avalanche game, but with her spending the week with her family in the Virgin Islands, I’m soaring solo. This day is being spent like so many others in my singleton years, with heavy doses of work, home-bound projects like cleaning up for my parents’ arrival from Tampa in time for Monday Night Football and televised sports by the barrel.
That means going out to watch the early games. First stop — Indigo Joe’s, a gleaming, suburban sports pub with a dining room emblazoned in high-definition televisions. All I asked was for one game — Bucs-Falcons, knowing I would surely be the only person in the joint who cared about this contest, and also knowing that it wouldn’t be hard for me to keep my eyes on Chiefs-Colts and Chargers-Jaguars, which would surely be highlighted on screens throughout the restaurant.
I expected a gathering crowd, but the parking lot was so empty, I wondered if the restaurant hadn’t suddenly closed down, a fate that befell a one-time favorite lunch spot in the Denver Tech Center called Tin Star. It was open. Perfect. I asked to be seated at a table near the wall of TVs.
“Sorry, we can’t do that,” said the restaurant’s proprietor. “It gets crowded, so we can’t have tables with only one chair filled.”
A quick scan of the room revealed about 120 chairs, 119 of them unoccupied. I am as befuddled as former Oilers coach Bill Peterson, whose impressive offensive acumen was overshadowed by his balky attempts at communication. To wit:
“We can beat this team, if we just capitalize on our mistakes.”
“Put the sideline under your arm and stand very still on your helmets.”
“I’m the coach around here, and don’t you remember it.”
“You know, I kind of mess with you sport writers. I used to have this slight speech implement before I took that Sam Carnegie course.”
“Pair off in groups of threes, then line up in a circle.”
Meanwhile, as my countenance remains confused, a fellow in a LaDainian Tomlinson jersey sits at one of the tables — alone — keying in his fantasy football roster. So this chap is good enough to get a table, and I’m not?
“He’s waiting for people.”
Ah. So conceivably, I could have simply concocted some game-time guests from my imaginiation — maybe Homer Simpson’s purported pal Ray Magini. It doesn’t matter if they actually show up. By the time the ruse is up, it’s mid-third quarter, easy. (LATER NOTE: It’d be more like mid-second quarter, since the Bucs-Falcons game moved at a serene pace more suited to a days-long cricket test match than the NFL.)
But I think better of it. I pause, then say, “Thanks,” as I turn and leave. The joint’s steward had been cordial as he tried to explain why I could only sit at the adjacent bar — with no high-definition TVs — but I know when I’m being insulted, even tacitly.
I shouldn’t have gone there in the first place, anyhow … not when my usual haunt, Grand Slam, was a mile’s drive up and down the hills of Arapahoe Road.
“Slammer’s,” as my pal Charlie Felix of FSN Rocky Mountain and I affectionately refer to it, is where he and I typically meet for a weekly dissemination of sports, sociology, our respective romantic relationships and the arcana of team uniforms. It is your classic old-school sports bar, festooned with bacchanalia, dimly lit, illuminated only by the neon beer advertisements scattered throughout the dining area. It is as warmly familiar as my own home.
I hadn’t planned to come here today, since I was going to take my folks here Tuesday night — as my mom says, “I like to be able visualize the places you talk about” — but what’s wrong with two trips in 58 hours to a place where they know my beverage and appetizzer order before I place it? (Diet cola with a slice of lime and 10 hot wings with ranch dressing, for the record.)
There’s something to be said for sticking with the same thing, time after time. Perhaps objects and establishments become so dear to us, they’re almost as real and important as friends themselves. Or perhaps its because these objects are the symbols of friendship and the mile markers of memories along the highway of life. Even when I don’t turn into this restaurant as I scoot down Arapahoe running any number of errands, I think of hearty laughter, overexcitement at Monday Night Football, meals with friends and memories galore.
We all seek to belong to something. In a strange way, sitting at a table with eight football games on TVs that surround me, I think I belong here, sharing space with the guy in the bar yelling “Go Big Blue!” at his Giants, with the guy in a Donovan McNabb jersey cursing under his breath, with the Raiders fan in the corner pleading with his team to stop Chester Taylor, with the middle-aged family yelling to their hard-of-hearing matriarch that the restaurant is called “Grand Slam!” It’s a collection of strangers, but it’s still home to me.
So if anyone needs me, I’ll be at Slammer’s.