Six Days On The Road...
A concerned listener wrote me Saturday morning, saying that if one can afford to take two weeks off, maybe his employer doesn't need him so much any more.
For the record, I was gone for six business days, doing my annual baseball trip with my son. I trust my key card will work when I press it against the Radio City back door Monday morning, but then again in this business, who knows?
The kid and I toured the LA area this time around--baseball games every day, with lots of sightseeing and a little business mixed in. My son has an interest in show business--not as an actor but just to have a job, any job--and I know a few people who know a few people. We were able to sit at the feet of folks who made a mark, and they were able to share how they did it. We saw the sights, spotted some stars, ate poorly, laughed heartily and bonded the way this dad never thought he'd be able to with a soon-to-be 20 year old son. The little boy who I could tickle until he almost wet himself on a hotel bed is still in there, but he is now a young man with an acerbic wit, a sharp take on pop culture, and a sense of what he has to do to accomplish his goals.
A week in LA gave me new perspective on our little corner of the world:
--For all of our freeway construction this summer, it's still far easier getting around Milwaukee than it is in SoCal. I was gone six days, and three of them were spent stuck on the I-10 or at red lights.
--Gas at $2.70 a gallon is no bargain until you pull up to a pump in Hollywood and shell out $3.30.
--Short of being at the Olympics, I've never heard so many different languages/accents. Los Angeles is truly a Crossroads of the World.
--That said, the World Cup is a big deal there. TV's were tuned to it it most every restaurant/bar/gathering spot we visited, and folks were watching. It wasn't just background noise. I'm anxious to see how far the fever spread around here, if at all.
--It's hard to believe Dodger Stadium is almost 50 years old. It remains a gem, even though it is now one of the oldest venues in the majors. Angels Stadium in Anaheim is incredibly well-preserved for it's age, too, and the fans there didn't blow me any grief when I showed up for games against Milwaukee in Brewers regalia.
--I've been through an earthquake, and I can honestly say I prefer our own local plagues. You can shovel your way out of a blizzard, and you can always wear another layer of clothes to fend off the cold. There's nothing you can do when you're sitting in the third deck of a ballpark as it gently sways amid a 5.0 rattler except enjoy the ride and hope you won't soon be wearing a suit of rubble.
Los Angeles is a strange, large, bizarre and wonderful place. I saw stars, and met some wannabes including my hotel bartender who told me that he really wants to be an actor and who also, true to stereotype, has a script he's working on. My son and I caught the sights, did the tours, cheered wildly during a Jay Leno taping and put our hands Robert Downey's prints at Grauman's Chinese. We cruised the strip, ate In 'N Out burgers til my Lipitor cried, "Uncle!". We laughed, and more importantly, talked. The chat I had with him in the stands while watching A-ball in Rancho Cucamonga will never be forgotten. It won't be told to others, either.
As I write this on Father's Day morning from the comfort of the home computer, I'm already in the back-to-the-grind routine. I've already had to cut the grass twice since Friday. Other household duties await. The next alarm I hear will come at 1:30 Monday morning, a shrill call-to-order and a reminder that there's a job to be done if the bills are to be paid.
And, my boy is now a rumor--gone almost constantly, either working or reconnecting with buddies and college friends. As a dad, you can't fight the fact that growing up means separation as children become adults. You can only hope that you get a bit of their time, a moment of their attention.
I was lucky enough to get almost an entire week. Father's Day times six, if you will. And that's more than any Dad could ever hope for.