Monday, December 28, 2009

Orlando Magic Now Know that I Am Because We Are

When I booked our family trip to Orlando this December, I promised myself that part of the itinerary would include the Christmas Boston Celtics game with the boys against the Orlando Magic.  I love watching sports live to soak in the atmosphere and the sounds.  It was Santa's present to me - a reward for a grueling week of theme parks in and around Disney World.  Okay, I had just as much fun as the children on the rides, including It's a Small World, but it was still grueling.  I also wanted to bring the boys to their first NBA game for some male bonding.  Anyway, despite being awake since 4am because Santa foolishly bought all three of my children electronics for Christmas, we headed to downtown Orlando for what promised to be an exciting Christmas afternoon.  Maybe, just maybe, we could experience our own Ubuntu, just like the Celtics, and start chanting it at little league games.

Orlando, FL.  1pm.  Alright, I have just listed to "Just Dance" and "Fire Burning" ten times each.  Not the standard radio versions.  No.  My 5 year old's version of these songs, singing along at the top of his lungs with his Ipod.  I have to admit that he knew 75% of the lyrics, and the words he made up for the other 25% were amusing the first couple of times around.  But, the garage attendant knew I wasn't kidding when I told him that I would like to go around the cones instead of going around the block for another 15 minutes and gave me the "look around and hesitant nod" to go ahead.  By this point you might be asking why Santa got a five year old an Ipod.  Frankly, Santa is shaking his head in regret as I'm writing this.  In Santa's defense, his 7 year old brother also got one, and Santa figured that they wouldn't fight if they both got one.  Santa's stupid.

Thank God that I decided to take the electronics away as we parked because we were so early for the game that we had to wait for the doors to open.  I guess I've grown accustomed to the hassle of getting to professional sports games in Boston.   The wait was worth it though as we get to our seats and score three Dwight Howard Superman T-Shirts (great to wipe your popcorn mouth on), three sets of candy cane thunderstix and three programs.  Not to mention the 3 dollar hot dogs and 5 dollar beers.  This is great.  I love cheap food and drinks and swag.

As warm-ups began, I was debating trying to get closer to the Celtics bench since we had good seats, but on the other side of the arena from the benches.  As people began to file in and the boys were knee deep in popcorn and hot dogs, I felt that my decision was made for me.  Stay in the seats.  That turned out to be a mistake, though as two "fans" sat down in their seats right in front of us with their thunderstix already blown up and paddles that the guy next to me calls "Rally Racquets."  They were determined to enjoy their experience.  "Do you need those rally things because Orlando is always losing?" my seven year old asks.  Ha, that was a good one.  And people in Florida are too nice to be smart back so it was win-win.  Sadly, those words would be the last ones we all would utter without having to scream over the din of thunderstix and the Rally Racquets.  These racquets looked like the paddles that all the people in the climatic scene of Karate Kid II were beating when Daniel was about to put the beat down on Chozen. 

"Are they going to do that the entire game?" my seven year old asks.

"I hope not."  I look at my five year old for his reaction, but he's asleep at this point.

After a couple of more tidbits about the new Amway Arena being built down the street, and a couple of more laughs over Rasheed Wallace and the paddle people, the game starts.  Ugh.  Two minutes into the game we say goodbye to Kendrick Perkins until the second quarter as he draws his second foul of the game less than two minutes in.  This is just the beginning of some hurt feelings on both ends.  I'd be pissed too if I had to work on Christmas afternoon away from home, I suppose.  The game is also marked by poor passing and shooting, as well as rough physicality.  The Magic end the quarter leading by a point.  On the bright side, my 5 year old did wake up.  Good morning!

The Second Quarter looks eerily similar to the First Quarter, except that the Magic are not making any of their shots now.  The Celtics begin to pull away with four consecutive lay-ups by Tony Allen, Rajon Rondo (a personal favorite) and the aforementioned Kendrick Perkins.  The Celtics roll into halftime with an 11 point lead.  38-27.

"Will that person stop beating that drum, Dad?  Can you ask her to stop?"  My seven year old now has his hands over his ears.  I tried to explain the Golden Rule of sports etiquette.  I figured he was in CCD now so he might understand.  It goes like this.  Unless someone is using foul language or being destructive, let him or her do and say what they want, so they will treat you likewise when you do and say what you want.  If they ask you to stop, then you can legitimately give them a sideways look and say "Make me."  Just kidding about that last part. 

While I was explaining the "Golden Rule" to him, the lights dimmed for the entertainment we are about to experience at halftime.  Unfortunately, the halftime show was disappoining to say the least.  The game before, the show included Christmas themed slam dunk guys.  These guys led the local 11pm news!  And we were supposed to be entertained by six people trying to figure out a credit card puzzle faster than six people were to make 10 free throws?  I think my 5 year old would have fallen back asleep if the Magic's mascot hadn't swished a behind his back, three quarters court shot.  Now that's a highlight!    

Back to the game.  The phyicality that was bubbling in the first half started getting out of hand.  A hard foul on Rondo was followed by a right forearm to a beleaguered Kevin Garnett.  Even my kids were screaming that he was fouled.  The best part of this ugly game?  "Superman," midway through the third quarter has two points and four fouls (and a technical foul).  This must have been the Superman who gave up his powers to be with Lois Lane in Superman II.  Orlando cuts into the lead at the end of the third quarter, though, 61-53.

The paddles are now starting to drive me crazy too, so I furiously try to blow up the thunderstix we were given so I can slam them together everytime something good happens with the Celtics.  Points, rebounds, fouls, steals.  It doesn't matter to me.  My seven year old however is now fading into sleep; he must be since he's not the least bit embarrassed by Dad at this point.  They couldn't fall asleep on the car ride to the game?  So with 10 minutes left in the game, reluctantly, the male part of the clan begin the slow travel home. 

As we thank our parking lot attendant, get back onto the highway, and prepare for the torrential monsoon about to hit us, my seven year old pulls off his headphones and thanks me for taking him to the game.  We then talk about what his favorite part of the game.  "Well there were a lot of cool things, but it definitely wasn't that person banging the drums!"  My five year old realizing that we are having a conversation then pulls off his headphones and smiles his toothy grin.  "Thank you Daddy for taking me to the game!"   We all then keep looking for the scores on my phone, since I couldn't figure out how to get a local station to listen to the game on the Sirius Radio in our rental car.  Satisfied that the Celtics pulled out the win, we set our sights on Christmas dinner with their grandmother, thinking about the just-concluded adventure.

Oh yeah.  The title of this story - "I Am Because We Are?"


Check back on Wednesday as we go "Three Sheets to Epcot Center."

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