from the entry of January 29, 2010
My Dad had season seats for all the local LA teams and my buddies liked going to all the games. When the timing seemed to be just right, I asked Irina to go to the Forum to see a Lakers game. I half expected her to say “no” but she said “yes” and I thought that all was not lost. Maybe she did feel half for me what I felt for her. I remember my 1986 candy-apple-red Subaru 4WD Turbo XT needed some work and did my best to get it ready in time for the game. The dealership did not have it ready in time and I was without a car for this date. I didn’t have much money for a rental and when I mentioned this to my Dad he said he would get one of the guys at his office to lend me their car. I knew these cars well, many of them had been my Dad’s when they were new. All of them were the “big ass” Cadillacs from the seventies. It was better than nothing, obviously, but I was looking forward to racing around LA in the Subaru as I did too often and the old Cadillac with its little eccentricities would not fit that role at all. Even when these cars were new I hated driving them. To me they feel like I’m steering a cloud down the road. I prefer a bit more feedback from the steering and suspension. I navigate the big boat to the place on Kings Rd. to pick her up.
When she opens the door she has on what I would call an artist’s cute little outfit on. Skirt, blouse, button down sweater, colorful stockings, thick heels, and a bit of makeup. She looks cute, comfortable, and completely mismatched. Funky. I escort her to the floating coupe and let her in. As I get in the driver side I was about to apologize for the “old man’s car” but she speaks first. “Oooh, this is nice!” she says and once again I’m caught a bit off guard. “You like it?” I ask and she tells me she does emphatically. I cast off from the curb and discard the apology. If she likes it then that’s fine with me.
She teases me on the way to the Forum about not going to the WOMAD shows. “How can you call yourself a Peter Gabriel fan if you didn’t go to WOMAD?” This makes me chuckle because it’s just so cute of her to tease me about something so many other girls I had dated had absolutely no interest in at all.
We get to our seats and everything seems perfect. I had remembered a funny story for her, something about how the two most recognizable people in the People’s Republic of China were the Premier and “Michael Jordan of the Chicago Red Oxen” and she laughs. A wonderful little laugh and slaps my arm. The Lakers cruised to a sizable lead and the relaxed LA fans watched in their mostly detached quiet. No reason to make much noise with the game so easily in hand. At one point in the second half Irina excuses herself to go to the ladies room.
As soon as she gets out of earshot everyone around our seat starts talking to me at once. I had been going to games with the same people in front, behind, and on both sides for years. I didn’t know half their names. Just a bit of chit-chat over the years, like “terrible defense,” “shoulda called timeout a long time ago,” “why is Riley waiting to put Cooper in the game?” and things like that. But at this moment the folks all around are giving me the thumbs up and asking me where I found her and commenting on how gorgeous she is. I start to laugh, roll my eyes, and then cover my face with my hands. All these years and apparently I barely existed to these people, I was just my Dad’s kid, but now with this lovely escort I was “somebody.” I was really embarrassed and between comments I ask them to try to be “cool” again when she gets back.
After Irina gets to her seat it’s like nothing happened and the season seat neighbors act like they said nothing and just sorta stare at her through sidewards glances. The Lakers win and we drive back. She rebuffs my attempt to extend this date to some other location and says goodnight, gives me the first kiss on the lips and tells me she would like to do that again. “Yeah, me too” I nod and turn away, my stomach doing flip-flops all they way back to the Cadillac that I borrowed and had to return by the next morning.