By Kyle K. Mann
[Note: The following were FaceBook updates intended for Kyle’s FB friend base. Somehow, they have wound up here.]
I’m in Monty’s Steak and Seafood in Woodland Hills. That’s in the San Fernando Valley, deep in L.A. Dodger country, embedded in a crowd of Dodgers fans who are avidly watching Game Seven of the World Series.
I’m not a fan of the Dodgers. Actually, I despise them with every fiber of my being, having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and having been a Giants fan for nearly six decades. So it’s a bit odd to be here, watching the game with these creatures.
It is my strict policy to never drink alone, but I’m sipping a Bloody Mary. It’s pretty tasty, and strong. After all, it’s Game Seven! I feel about as alone as a Giants fan can feel, but I’m grinning, unlike the rest of the patrons here. Because the Astros lead the game 2-0 in the top of the second inning.
The Germans have a word for this.
The Dodgers’ fans are in a state of surly despair as the bottom of the second inning starts. Three more runs by the Astros have made the score 5 – zip, and threaten to make this game a laugher.
For those unacquainted with the sports term, it indicates a lopsided score of catastrophic proportions, a slice of horror for the losing team, especially in the deciding game of the World Series, that is not unlike a bad acid trip. Your team, who you root for all season, a 162 game stretch in the regular season, and then the playoffs and six grueling games of World Series play, then chokes in the last game of the season. A hideous fate, indeed.
But there it is. A double play wipes out the Dodger threat, and the crowd in Monty’s groans in extreme torment.
Bwaaa ha ha, I think. Take it and like it, you huskers. I have another quaff of my strong beverage. The vodka takes hold, and my mind drifts. To other, more important matters.
The Dodger fans here at Monty’s restaurant are outraged. Several Dodgers have been hit by pitches, and the extremely partisan diners are indignant.
I’m not emotionally invested in the spectacle, I must confess. As a Giants fan, I’d vastly prefer the Dodgers to lose. But as a resident of Los Angeles who has to work on a film set tomorrow, I’m in a win-win situation. Dodgers win, it’s a circus at work. They lose, and I chuckle to myself all day long.
But damn, I just ordered a second drink. You have to understand how unusual this is for Kyle K. Mann, a pen name I hide behind. My dear old momma died a ghastly death drinking this evil stuff. I’ll never get over it. At 66, I’m over 15 years older than she ever got to be. Unbelievable.
I’m jolted out my lugubrious brooding by the Monty’s crowd briefly chanting “Let’s go, Dodgers.” Bah, you scum. I laugh as I type, back to my normal self. The second drink arrives, and I eye it warily, aware of that daunting 5AM alarm. Ah yes, work on this Tim Robbins show for HBO. Argh. I hate HBO. But they pay me.
My glasses are off. I usually doff them while drinking, suddenly becoming aware that there is this Thing on my face. Without them, the wretched teevee commercials dissolve into a warm blurr. How do people even watch teevee, anyway? It’s truly horrid. Yet if they didn’t watch, I’d be a lot less prosperous. The irony.
I’m losing track of the game, so I put on my glasses and stare hard at the restaurant teevee screen. Still 5-0 Astros, bottom of the fifth.
I’m tempted to say this game is over. But after all the homers that have been hit in this series, and with some people saying the baseballs have been “juiced,” anything can happen.
For a number of reasons, I feel really weird.
The Dodgers are mounting another threat: Men on first and third, two out. But it’s that two out that makes the Monty’s crowd nervous, if cheerful that they have anything going at all.
As I say, I’m a Giants fan. We won three World Series Championships in this decade. Three. So yeah, I’m inoculated to a certain degree.
As a kid, seeing the Giants lose in Game Seven to the hated Yankees was deeply traumatic. 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Which was also deeply traumatic. It’s a wonder any of us boomers are sane.
I look up at the oblique slice of screen I monitor in time to see an Astro grab a line drive. Right, just like McCovey’s game ender in 1962. Ya hadda be there. Those three championships almost make up for that. Almost.
The crowd is better natured than I’d like. Many are good and drunk. I’m tempted to get outta here. I don’t wanna be on the twisting Topanga roads to home with a buncha damn drunks. Still. I’ll be pretty toasted myself, despite all the food. A giant salad and potatoes meal, the best I could cobble together in a place that boasts of steak and seafood in their name. The unrepentant old veggie.
It’s still 5-0. Sixth inning, seventh? I’ve lost track.
People are phoning me. I don’t answer. I couldn’t hear in this restaurant bedlam.
Bottom of the sixth, and the Dodgers are again mounting a threat: runners on first and second, no outs. But the batter pops weakly to second. Har, I think. But as if to get me Ethier (one of the few Dodgers I can name, because his name reminds me of ether) hits a single, driving in the first Dodger run. Ugh.
So it’s five to one, Astros. I order a chocolate dessert. Chocolate, my refuge. Makes up for a lot. I sent an email to a female today. Pretty much a last shot. I’m resigned to not hearing back, though (and I grin) I just saved a whole lotta money.
Wherzat chocolate? I’m going into full on stream-of-consciousness mode here. The inhibitory defense screen is at 20%, Captain. I look up and realize it’s the top of the seventh. Right, still 5-1, and I’m semi-cheery. Despite various traumas and gripes. Besides, the chocolate is here.
The drug in chocolate is Phenethylamine. It is why chocolate is effective as a mood altering drug. A few bites, and my weird mood diminishes. I use it at work a lot. It’s also why my dentist is rich.
I look at the bar. Cute girl there. Bah, too young though. I ain’t 50 any more. Nor even 60. Refocus on the Game Seven extravaganza. Bread and circuses, I think. Meanwhile our robot drones strafe and bomb. Kill kill kill. We are the Roman Empire again. More chocolate.
Make no mistake: the weirdness is there in all of us damned ‘Muricans. It’s just that some of us push it away better than others. Two drinks in, and I’m way too real. I push the 2/3 finished second Bloody Mary away and look up to see a Dodger ground weakly to second to end the seventh inning. Four runs down and six outs away from choking in their first World Series in 30 years, the Dodgers have their backs to the wall.
I can relate.
But at this moment, I am sorta content.
I’m numb, there’s no other word for it. This inane blather on FaceBook, for one thing: from the influence of Kerouac, Thompson, a pinch of Tolstoy and Poe, and the great Jack Vance, a sci-fi and fantasy author tragically under recognized.
I’ve demolished the chocolate cake, it’s the ninth inning, and I work in Pasadena tomorrow morning. That’s a nasty drive, baby. The drive is worse than the work.
Dodgers’ last three outs. The Monty’s restaurant crowd thins noticeably. I rub my bald head absently. 9 PM, eh? Not too bad. I can do this. That’s what I tell myself when the alarm goes off. It’s just Hollywood. Go in and make the damn money.
A Dodger strikes out. Two outs left. I laugh into my iPad. The Astros reliever Morton mows ‘em down. One Dodger left. Wahoo, it’s over! First championship in the Houston Astros’ history. The Astros jump and jump, and Monty’s Restaurant clears out fast. The looks: resignation, defiance, distaste. Check, please.
I slyly grin. Eat it, ya hosers.
So there you have it, a Giants fan stuck in L.A. reports from a disarmingly honest perspective. “It’s unbelievable,” says an Astro in a post game interview. Yes.
Well, that’s it. I’ma bring the curtain down on this brutal event, this mindless mania.
We now resume our regular programming.