Day Five: Friday, March 25, 2011 — The Grassy Knoll — Lake Murray State Park – Oklahoma City (T’Wolves @ Thunder)
Before I passed out, I somehow to turned my blackberry into Arabic typing mode instead of setting the alarm, so we woke up at 10:45 to the housekeeper banging on our door, telling us we needed to be out by 11. Roof packed up his stuff while singing new words to the DJ Mehdi version of Burial by Miike Snow. ”Don’t forget…to pack… your laptop charger… Otherwise your life…will suck…”
I joined in, “Until you spend…seventy bucks…”
“Seventy nine…ninety nine.”
“I’m not… trying to… add to the… cost of… the trip… So I… will pack… my laptop charger… where is it… I don’t know…”
“It’s…under…the bed… so you should get it… and you should pack it… so you have it…”
“If I didn’t have it… I would be… really bored.”
Neither of us could come up with another line, I threw all my shit into my bags except for a change of clothes, and we left after I took a shower. Here Comes the Hot Stepper by Ini Kimoze played as we drove to downtown Dallas. “It’s awesome that a Dallas station is playing this.” I said, changing my phone back to English.
“Isn’t it the iPod?” Roof said.
“Oh. You’re right.” I said. “I’m not totally awake yet.”
We drove down Elm Street to Dealey Plaza, took a left, and circled back around to a parking lot. After we parked and were walking towards Dealey Plaza, Roof said, “Oh now you’re not totally awake?” Roof said.
“You’re not taking your camera to where JFK was shot?”
“Oh. Shit.” I jogged back to the car and got my camera while Roof started snapping pictures. We walked around the Old Red Museum of Dallas County, which looked like a big red medieval fort, and crossed the street to the memorial fountain. We looked at all the buildings around Dealey Plaza, “I wonder which building is the building.” I said.
“You’d think there’d be a little more signage.”
“It’s not like there are multiple grassy knolls. It has to be one of these buildings.”
“No thanks.” Roof said. “I mean, thanks,” Roof pointed at the building. “But we can take it from here.”
We walked across the street to the grassy knoll. “That was a stealthy tour guide.”
“Like a tour guide Beetlejuice… grassy knoll grassy knoll grassy knoll.”
Standing where I was, it was easy to imagine a shooter with a perfect view down Elm Street taking a shot and disappearing into the chaos of the aftermath. We walked through the pergola on the grassy knoll and into the JFK Assassination Center. A crowd of people were listening to a guy with a microphone and a big board of important—and graphic—Zapruder frames talk about JFK conspiracy theories and sell books. “The Conspiracy needs to be out there! For the public to see! And it needs to be out in the open now!” He preached, “By executive order, the files won’t be released until 2039. I’ll be dead, you’ll be dead,” he said, pointing at an old guy, “People in their mid 20s,” He said, pointing at us, “will have just passed 60! By then it won’t matter. We need the truth now!”
“I want to wear that shirt for Halloween.” I told Roof.
“I hate dressing up for Halloween.”
Back in the car, Roof refused to admit defeat with Pandora and we skipped through the MSTRKRFT remix of Monster Hospital by Metric.
“Okay, two things,” I said, frustrated by the skipping, “If the signal isn’t good enough in metro Dallas it won’t be good enough anywhere, and this song is on the iPod.”
“Oh now this song is on the iPod?”
“It was always on the iPod.” I switched it back to the iPod and played Poster of a Girl by Metric followed by Go Crazy by Young Jeezy and Jay-Z. We drove massive five-lane highways with other highways crisscrossing around in wide arcs and on the way out of Dallas we passed a member of the Southern Jokers, the worst billboard, and signage for the President George Bush turnpike. Roof clocked in with a warm beer he found in the back seat.
“Oh now you want to get pulled over?” I said.
“Drinking while driving is way different than drunk driving. It’ll be fine.”
I went through my Camera’s SD card while we drove north on I-35 and deleted pictures to free up memory. Everything was backed up on my computer, but I liked to have double copies of the important ones. Pictures with the ex were the first to go then indiscriminate party nights in New York, the Hamptons, and Montauk, then duplicate photos from my brother’s wedding, then this photo that I had no recollection of taking of people I didn’t know, then pictures from the film I worked on in Catskill, NY in February. I looked at pictures of Roof and Homer, then watched video of Homer when he was very young. The only videos I didn’t delete were the ones from India. I wanted to be doubly check they were backed up. We stopped at a Gas Station and I walked over a concrete barrier to a Starbucks. The inside looked just like the one on Lafayette Street. The iced coffee tasted just as burnt. I took a picture of a sign advertising that Saturday’s football game.
“We could go to Little Rock.” Roof said once I got back in the car. Everything Based by Lil B ended as we merged north onto the I-235.
“What’s in Little Rock?”
“We could see the Birthplace of Bill Clinton?”
“So we’re going to Little Rock to drive by a Hospital that might not be there?”
“We could go to the Headquarters of the American Tae Kwon Do association.” I said, looking at Wikipedia on my phone. “That’s there.” We passed a field of cows while 808 PM at the Beach by Fred Falke played.
“Oh. I’m just thinking, we’re going to have two days in Memphis—if there was somewhere else we could go in one of those days.”
“Let’s just get to Memphis.”
Country Shit by Big KRIT played before Hate It Or Love It by 50 Cent, which came on as we passed exit 476. We drove through field after field of rolling hills listening to the ten minute cut of So Much Love to Give by Thomas Bangalther and DJ Falcon followed by What’s My Name by Rihanna and Drake.
“Nerdy rap over steel drums is hot. But not as hot as Rihanna.”
“I wonder how long it took to get from Dallas to O.K.C. on Horseback.” Roof said.
“I don’t know. Two weeks?” I guessed.
“Don’t you think that seems like a lot?”
“Maybe. It’s not like a car with gas… the horse needs to rest. How many Horsepower does this car have? 200? 400? Now imagine you have one horsepower. It probably took a while.”
“Yeah.” I googled it. “This forum post says a cowboy could go between 20 and 30 a miles a day, so it would take a week to ten days.”
We passed exit 468. Outta Control and How We Do by 50 Cent played back to back. Daniel Merriweather’s cover of Stop Me came on and Roof sang over it, “Stop me oh oh oh stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Stop me if you’ve heard of Morrissey… if you haven’t then this is a new song.” When we crossed into Oklahoma Roof said, “Oklahoma State Motto: Yeah, we’re Texas’ little bro.” About a mile into Oklahoma, we passed a casino that looked like a mash-up of Vegas’ rejected ideas. There was a Big Ben section next to an Arc De Triumph section and a slice of the Coliseum next to the Alamo and a medieval castle.
We drove through Oklahoma while Ride Wit Me by Nelly played. “We should get some Ham Sandwiches.” Roof said when we passed a sign that said that there were Ham Sandwiches, as well as Beef Jerky, in four miles. Roof took another obligatory road trip photo and we turned at the Robertson’s Ham and Jerky sign. We pulled into the parking lot of Robertson’s Ham and Beef Jerky Store, found out we’d driven 90 Miles from Dallas, and went inside.
We ordered two ham sandwiches at the deli counter and the woman behind the counter noticed that we both had Canon G11’s around our necks. “You two have the same camera.” She said while I looked through different sized beef jerky containers.
“Yeah, we do.” I said.
“Oh. Don’t you think that’s a little weird?”
Roof and I exchanged a glance, “Not really, it’s a good Camera. He’s a photographer and recommended it to me.” I said.
I grabbed the second biggest thing of Beef Jerky when our sandwiches were finished and we paid. “Well, see ya.”
Once we got outside I said, “That was weird.”
“I feel like we just got really close to ending up in there.” Roof gestured at my three quarter pound jar of Jerky. “Why’d you get so much tourist Jerky?”
“It was cheaper. I almost bought dog jerky. The dog jerky was cheaper and I was wondering why and then I realized. But the two ounce bag was six dollars, so why not get the twelve ounce jug for 20?”
“Don’t let them hear you say that.”
Roof did an impression of the woman behind the counter. “He’s usin’ Math! Get ‘em!”
We ate our sandwiches back on the interstate. Roof got Robertson’s in-house cured ham with American cheese, then put spicy mustard and mayo on the sandwich. I got the house-cured ham and didn’t put anything on it except for BBQ sauce. Both sandwiches were on whole wheat. Mine was a lot better.
“Were you disappointed it was like an elementary school lunch sandwich?” Roof asked me, “I feel like that offends you.”
“Not at all. Screw you. That’s what I thought it would be. You make a sandwich like that with some incredible ham and it’s an incredible sandwich as long as you don’t drown it … like you did.”
“I never drown sandwiches.”
After a few more exits, we saw a sign for Lake Murray State Park, “We should go there.”
“Let’s do it,” I said, gnawing on some jerky.
“Let me get one.” Roof said. I handed one to him and he bit a chunk off, “It’s super dry but the flavor’s great.”
“I know. I’m going to be done with this jerky way too quickly.” We turned onto a two-lane fifty-five mile an hour road that went on, completely straight, for nearly ten minutes. Delorean’s Ayrton Senna played. When we got to the park we pulled past an unattended entrance kiosk.
“There’s no lock box… so I don’t think we’ll be paying.” Roof said. We drove past a few families camping and parked facing the lake. We walked past picnic tables and zig-zagged through the trees taking pictures on our way to the water, about 100 yards from the car. I sat down on the bank and dipped my feet into the water while Roof took his jeans off and waded in in his boxers before sitting down on this log. The water was bracing and the only sounds were the breeze through the leaves and the birds singing. The air smelled of charcoal and pine and silt.
“This is a pretty good thing to do on a road trip.” I said.
“I don’t think I’ll be putting these pants back on.” Roof said, walking back to the car in his boxers. Roof used the OchoCinco jersey to dry off and then put on basketball shorts. We drove out of Lake Murray State Park with our windows down listening to Might Just Blow by Young Jeezy.
On the way out we passed over some of the do-not-back-up-or-we-will-destroy-your-tires spikes, and just as I was reading the sign that told us how badly the spikes would destroy our tires, Roof stopped the car short and said, “Oh no, I forgot something!” My entire body clenched, my heart jumped, and I yelled “NO!” Roof started laughing.
“Oh my god, that was a really good bug. You should’ve seen your face.”
“I bet.” I said tightly.
When we turned onto the long straight road back to the I-35, Roof pointed and said, “Shout out to the middle aged Oklahoman couple with 26s on their Challenger.” We listened to Hidden Cat’s cover of Shooting Stars by the Bag Raiders when we turned back onto the I-35. We were the only car heading North. Home by Bone Thugs in Harmony played as we passed a sign telling us we were 93 miles away from Oklahoma City. It would have been muggy if there wasn’t a great breeze.
We drove by oil fields, a lake, through sloping hills, under a triangular bridge, past the Lazy Ranch, and by blown out rock faces. Party All the Time by Eddie Murphy was playing when we passed this sign for Liquor and against Meth.
“Weren’t they playing this at East Side Ladies the other night?”
We drove by an ostrich farm, a trailer park, and a river that looked like it was slowly drying due to climate change. Roof put the windows up because his hair was blowing in his eyes. ”Not much going on in Oklahoma.” Roof said as we drove through a stretch of fields. We hit 1,000 miles for the trip while I Want Your Soul by Armen Van Helden played. We drove by an exit for Wayne Payne, some electrical transistors, and were forced into one lane due to roadwork.
“Oh now we’re behind schedule?” Roof said.
“We might have to leave the Tacos on the table till tomorrow.” I said. We wanted to eat the country’s best tacos (according to the Food Network) before the game, but it was already 3:30 and we needed to go to our hotel and get tickets.
“It depends how close the tacos are to the hotel.”
“Yeah. I’m going to book that now.” I googled ‘Motel 6 Oklahoma City’, found one, and made a reservation. After that I googled “good restaurants after Thunder games,” and saw a forum post on how Thunder players go to Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse about 45 minutes after home games.
“So we’re getting dinner at Mickey Mantle’s steakhouse?” I said.
“A steakhouse Thunder players go to after home games.”
“Yeah, we’re doing that.”
As an Italo disco song called Take a Chance ended, Roof said, “Let’s take in a little local color.”
“What do you mean?”
After messing with the dials for a minute we settled on Oklahoma Sports talk radio and came into a conversation in which the two hosts were brainstorming ways to make Oklahoma University wrestling more interesting with the goal of drawing in new fans. One of them kept hammering the talking point that, “We need a coach that will bring some flamboyancy!”
“Flamboyancy.” Roof repeated. “To collegiate wrestling.”
“Who are they going to get to bring flamboyancy, Razor Ramon?”
“If I lived in Oklahoma and Mick Foley as Dude Love coached OU I’d watch every match.” We passed a sign for Whole Lotta Scrapbooking and another trailer park. When the wrestling debate ended without a solution, we switched back to the iPod, which played Punching in a Dream and then Young Blood by The Naked and Famous.
“This is Levi Commercial music.” I said.
“Yeah. I like it.”
“Good looking skinny hipster girls are going to start skipping around in that field with the Cows then disappear once the song ends.”
“Probably.” I said. It Pays To Belong by The Embassy played while we passed Moore, Oklahoma, the home of Toby Keith. There was a pickup truck in front of us that had a Railhead Diner sticker taking up the entire back window. “I wonder why he has that sticker.” Roof said.
“Maybe he works there.”
“Maybe he’s just a frequent diner.”
“He’s sacrificing a lot of visibility to advertise his dining.”
Invincible by CNN played and made me think to check CNN.com.
“All the headlines on CNN are so depressing.”
“What are they?”
“What are they?”
“That’s so Europe.”
Sports, Drugs, Entertainment by Cam’Ron played when Oklahoma City’s skyline came into view. “Man,” Roof said sarcastically, “This skyline sure is cooler than Seattle’s.” We drove onto the Zach Taylor Memorial Bridge over the Oklahoma River. “Who is Zach Taylor?” He asked.
“12th President of the U.S. Served from 1849 to 1850.” I googled.
“So he was a lackluster president?” Roof asked, “Could we say that OKC has the Zach Taylor of skylines? I kind of want to get suites again. I have definitely developed a ‘suite tooth.’”
“Ugh. We need to see the different parts of the stadiums.”
We passed this Congress-looking building and got off the Highway at the exit for Northwest 44th street. Rumours and Revelations by Zomby played followed by Voyage Voyage by Desireless. ”This is the blandest city I’ve ever been in.” Roof said, “but I give ‘em credit for having a numbers grid. We could be in Atlanta, looking for Peach Tree Alley, then realizing we’re actually looking for Peach Tree Basket Valley or something.”
After driving the length of Northwest 44th street, I realized the motel was at Southwest 44th Street, which was all the way across the city. “Putting two streets named the same thing at the opposite of the city lessens my respect for their grid system.” I said.
“Still.” Roof says, “You were the one who navigated badly.”
“Southwest 44 and Northwest 44 should intersect at some point, otherwise they’re different streets.”
“Oh, now they’re different streets?”
We passed an Urban BBQ and an egg shaped church that looked like an upturned clay pot on the way back to the highway, hitting traffic once we got there. Fred Falke’s Golden Cage remix played again. “Is it rush hour or is everyone procrastinating because it sucks so much?” Roof wondered. Sinden’s remix of Crimewave by Crystal Castles followed Golden Cage. “I went to a Crystal Castles concert at Club Moon in Vegas.” Roof added. Untrust Us played next.
“What’s Club Moon?”
“It’s a club where the roof opens up and you can see the sky. It was mad real.”
“Yeah, that sounds awesome.”
“There were tons of open air parties in Goa.”
“Nice.” Roof asked.
“Yeah, one party we rode mopeds twenty minutes into the jungle where there was this club built out in a strange stone structure celebrating Old Russian New Years.”
“Wow. That’s tight.” We stopped at an intersection with our Motel 6 in sight. There were four hobos holding signs, one on each corner of the intersection. “So Oklahoma City is the white hobo capital of the world?” Roof asked.
We pulled into the Gas Station across from our Motel 6 and Roof pointed at a fifth hobo riding a bike down the highway’s sidewalk wearing a mint condition Seattle Supersonics starter jacket. “If he wasn’t on a bike I’d buy that jacket off of him. A hobo in Oklahoma City wearing Supersonics gear is a pretty perfect analogy for something.” Roof said.
“I’m sure he’d prefer the 20 bucks you’d pay him.”
“I’d pay him whatever.” Roof said before going into the Gas Station. When I finished pumping gas I followed him in and grabbed an 18 pack. When we got back to the car, we realized we both bought 18 packs independent of each other. We threw them both in the trunk and waited to get across the highway to our Motel 6 until a Ford Explorer flashed its lights and let us in. “That was nice,” I said as we pulled into our hotel and saw that the Explorer’s rear windshield had a giant Redneck Attitude sticker in it.
“So Redneck Attitude means being courteous and having good driving etiquette?” Roof asked.
“I guess so.”
“Everyone makes fun of rednecks till they need to get towed out of something.” Roof added.
“That’s what a redneck told me after he towed me out of a snow bank 100 miles north of Atlanta.”
The Motel 6 clerk’s office door had a back in five minutes sign and was locked, so we checked out the pool off to the left of the parking lot. From far away it looked filthy, but up close we saw it’d been filled in and a layer of sunburnt grass covered the dirt. There was a rusted grill and a set of lawn chairs at one corner of the pool. “Just in case you want to lounge by the crab grass.” Roof said.
“So Big Truck Tacos is like four blocks from where I got us lost?” I said.
“Oh now it’s four blocks away?”
“So our room smells like the Marlboro man and Joe Camel were involved in a murder suicide?”
“Yeah it does.” Roof agreed. I did the medicine ball workout while Roof drank a beer and updated his fantasy team. I showered after my workout and when I got out of the shower it was time to go to the game. ”So you’re a bad navigator,” Roof said as we pulled back onto the highway. “I’m on the road, in the middle of the country, in a state I’ve never been to before…. with a bad navigator.”
“I’m not a bad navigator. Google Maps is a bad navigator.”
“Oh now Google Maps is a bad navigator?”
“It was a bad navigator in Dallas.”
“You always--” Roof missed the exit to the stadium. “Oh, man! Shit!”
“Oh now who’s a bad navigator?” I said.
As we drove through Oklahoma City, I thought about my dog Shorty, who was rescued here. In my first conversation with the woman at Friends With Four Paws, she said she found Shorty with her mother under a hedge, with so many fleas and brambles stuck in her coat that they needed to shave her. I started looking at different shrubbery on the side of the road, wondering if each was the one.
“Oh now we’re going to a stadium void of natural light?” Roof said when the Chesapeake Energy Arena came into view, “When was it built?”
“When was it built?” I looked on Wikipedia. “It was built in 2001.”
“Before the luxury stadium revolution, during the ‘build them so they look like a giant terra cotta pot revolution.’” Roof said, “How is this better than Key Arena?”
“Key Arena was built in the 60s.”
“How can you not use Seattle as a benchmark?”
“I’ve never been to Seattle.”
“Neither have I. But is it an unfair comparison?”
“Comparing somewhere you’ve never been to somewhere you’ve been for an hour?”
“I guess. Look at all those horse drawn carriages just getting in the way.” Roof said as we drove into Bricktown. We circled around Bricktown for non-event parking near Mickey Mantle’s so we wouldn’t have to move the car after the game or walk far after dinner. We got the last spot of the last lot near Mickey Mantle’s and made reservations for 10:30, about an hour after the game ended.
“Did we leave all the beer at the hotel?” Roof asked, dismayed.
“We left all the beer at the hotel.”
Roof got his Mutombo jersey out of the trunk and put it on over his button down and we followed the crowd toward the stadium, finding the Scalper stroll on the way. We got two 100 levels tickets for thirty each from a cotton-mouthed scalper who told us to come earlier next time. “Why?” Roof said back to him, not missing a beat, “So you can charge us more?” The cotton-mouthed scalper didn’t have a response.
“So we’re outside a Public High School right now?” I said.
“Pretty much.” Roof agreed.
“What are Irish Nachos?”
“Nachos with French Fries instead of tortilla chips.”
“Oh Man. And draft beer for 6.50? That’s nuts.”
“You could get a boozed up slushy.”
“I’ll pass.” Roof said, “Good cans and bottles, though.”
We got into the shortest beer line, which was for a vendor that only sold Bud, Bud Light, and Bud Light with Lime tallboys. Seven out of nine people in front of us ordered two Bud Light with Limes, surprising me as the stadium’s most popular beer.
“So, is calling Bud Light with Lime ‘Blexican’ racist?”
Roof thought about it for a moment, “Yes. I think it is.”
“The B-L comes from Bud Light, and aside from Negro Modelo, what Mexican beer don’t you put lime in? It’s not derogatory in any way, just a reference to the style of beer. I love Blexicans.”
“Yeah, but just because you say you love wiggers…”
“Is wiggers offensive?”
I ordered two Bud Light With Lime tallboys while the Wikipedia entry on wiggers loaded. We walked to our section and I carried both beers in one hand, middle and ring finger each inside one of the beer holes, the lips of the bottles pinching them. My blackberry was in my other hand, “Some, however, use the term wigger neutrally, or as a light joke, without any racism intended.” There was a Sno Cone, corn dog, and funnel cake stand right outside the tunnel to our seats.
“What is that?” Roof asked, “the last sentence of a paragraph about how it’s racist?”
I clicked on one of the examples of wiggerism in popular culture and found myself on the page of Herbert Kornfeld’s archive on The Onion, which I read while we waited for the pre-game intros to start.
“What?” Roof asked when I laughed.
“Onion articles written by a fake wage slave accounting guy named Herbert Kornfeld who talks like he’s from the Wu Tang Clan.”
The starters got ready for the tip and said what up to each other while Rumble the Bison, the Thunder Mascot, banged a big drum at mid court to get everyone even louder and keep the crowd on their feet until the first made basket. The fans obliged, sitting down after a driving Serge Ibaka dunk. Oklahoma City felt more like the NCAA tournament games I watched in the skybox than the Mavericks game itself. The crowd felt like a 15,000 member student section.
“So if I could make one bet tonight, it’s that Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour are hanging out after the game.” Roof said during the next T-Wolves possession.
“Why? Because they’re white? That’s racist.”
“No. You think they’re not friends from the Seattle days? ”
“That’s racist for saying it was racist. Again with that.”
We were sitting between a grievously obese man in his 50s and a teenager shoving pinched fingerfuls of dipping tobacco between his lip and gum. “Oklahoma City…” Roof said to me, “It’s a weird place.” Rumble and the Oklahoma energy squad—a team of teenagers in warm-ups whose job was to get as hyped as possible on the court during timeouts—stormed the floor during the first quarter and threw Thunder branded orange frisbees. “Frisbees make so much more sense than T-Shirts. You can actually get a Frisbee up to the second level without a gun.”
“Yeah. And Frisbees are one size fits all.”
At 18-18, Perk was at the line again. He barely hit the front of the rim on the first shot and he air balled the second. The arena let out a collective groan and I heard a bunch of people in my section say, “Aw, Perk…”
“Wouldn’t you think that things involving people up on the rafters at sporting events would have gone the way of the dodo after Owen Hart?” Roof asked me.
Rumble the Bison spotted a group of T-Wolves fans—one wearing a fur pelt hat—at about the same time we did and fulfilled his mascot duties of giving obvious fans of the other team a hard time, entertaining kids, and high fiving Thunder fans all around. When the T-Wolves fans got up, we saw that the one in the wolf pelt had a Ricky Rubio Jersey on backwards. I wondered how he got that pelt and if he was really showing support for the Timberwolves by clothing himself in a dead wolf. He certainly wasn’t supporting the Timber Wolf population.
The Thunder pushed the pace throughout the second quarter and took a 56-43 lead into the half . We walked up the aisle, past this kid, and back out to the concourse for half time. A late twenties early thirties bald guy in a Thunder sweatshirt came up to us. “Hey man, I got a crazy question for you,” He said to Roof.
“I swear I know you from somewhere.”
“I really don’t think you do.” Roof says.
“What’s your name?”
“Oh… are you John’s brother?”
“Do you sing in a band?”
“No… this is literally the first day I’ve ever been in Oklahoma.”
“Oh. I could’ve sworn I recognized you from somewhere.”
“Nope. Have a good night.”
“If someone says, ‘I have a crazy question for you,’ run in the other direction.” Roof said once the guy walked away.
We saw an Arcade Basketball set up next to two TVs, one with Guitar Hero on it, the other with NBA 2K11 with the teams set to tonight’s game. If you scored 90+ points in the Arcade Basketball game you won a free T-Shirt. Roof and I got in line. Roof faced off against a little kid, scored 43, and beat him 43-16. I went against a little kid, scored 28, and lost 36-28. We got back in line so we could face each other. After the buzzer sounded I was up 39-31, but the attendant behind us told me that Roof’s machine was broken, and he actually beat me 61-39.
“I like the games and all the different stands.” I said, “It brings a small town vibe to the stadium.”
“Yeah, it does.”
We passed this guy and Roof took this reflection picture on the way back to our seats. Kevin Durant missed a jumper to open the third quarter and Roof went to the bathroom. No one sat down until the first Thunder basket, a Serge Ibaka jumper.
When Oklahoma City was up 72-58, Perk airballed another free throw and got another round of groans from the crowd. Durant sank a jumper the next time down the floor and the Timberwolves called time out. During the timeout the Jumbotron turned into the Kiss Cam while Rumble and a dance crew dunked off a launching pad. Roof got back just after the timeout ended and had to wait for a dead ball to walk back down to our seats. The bald guy in the Thunder sweatshirt was two rows behind us. I got his attention and said, “I think I know where you recognize him from.” He saw Roof next to me and laughed.
“Anthony Randolph wanted to bring that ball up so badly…” Roof said as Ridnour brought the ball, “Now look at him, he’s standing still behind the three point line with his arms up. And now he’s sulking he didn’t get the pass. No wonder he doesn’t succeed anywhere.” Two plays later, he didn’t get back on defense and ended up with a cherry-picked dunk for his laziness.
Rumble the Bison’s swag was phenomenal. Every time the game stopped, he flexed, posed, stood in between rows high fiving all the kids around him, and bounced around the court.
Michael Beasley hit a 29-footer as the shot clock expired, then traveled on a rip-through the next play. “Is a more ‘Michael Beasley’ sequence of events even possible?” Roof asked before leading the way down to a row of seats that didn’t fill up after half-time, about ten rows behind the Thunder basket. The T-Wolves closed the lead to two, and we got to our new seats just in time to see Kevin Durant hit back to back threes to end the third quarter and put the Thunder back up by six.
Between quarters there was a MidFirst Bank “Show Me The Money” competition that these two girls won.
Once the fourth quarter started, everyone remained on their feet until Nazr Mohammed scored. With less than eight minutes left, Oklahoma pushed the lead back to ten and Minnesota called a timeout. During the timeout, there was a dance off contest for a gift certificate for free dinner at Applebee’s. The competition was between an overweight guy in his 30s and a twelve-or-thirteen year old girl decked out in a Kevin Durant jersey, a tutu, and an orange wig. “Oh now he needs more food?” Roof said. The girl won.
The Thunder energy squad came out after the contest ended and Rumble wheeled out a six-barreled T-shirt cannon. “They have a T-shirt Mini-gun!?!”
“Actually,” Roof corrected me, “It’s a T-shirt revolver. The barrel rotates on a mini gun, the chamber rotates on a revolver.”
“Thanks for that.” I said. The t-shirt cannon fired six t-shirts before Rumble wheeled it around to another corner of the court and fired another barrage. Rumble hit all four corners and both sides while the dance team danced and the energy squad jumped around firing a t-shirt slingshot.
“Did you know it’s illegal to shoot the t-shirt guns into the lower level?”
“Yeah… imagine if a balled up t-shirt hit a little kid in the face at 80MPH.”
With six minutes left Michael Beasley lost the ball, Russell Westbrook recovered it and pushed it up the floor, finding Nazr Mohammed as a trailer to extend the lead to 13. We got to see Darko live, Russell Westbrook got to the line, and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant both took flight before another timeout.
During the timeout Roof said, “I’m going to get down there and see if I can get the T-Wolves while they’re leaving.” He made his way down to the front left corner of our section. He got pictures of the T-Wolves bench, Serge Ibaka shooting a jumper, another timeout, some security, a despondent Michael Beasley, Kendrick Perkins looking at the rim like it was bad friend who doesn’t call him anymore (and again), a dejected Michael Beasley, Michael Beasley glaring at him, a little kid seeing the game off, and one last one of SuperCool Beas walking to the locker room. The Thunder kept it in double digits and at some point in the last few minutes I took a picture of Rumble the Bison in a Hawaiian shirt carrying a surfboard.
The stadium was still eighty percent full at the final buzzer. The Thunder got a standing ovation that drowned out the looped guitar chords of I Got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas song while orange, blue, and white confetti fell. As we filed out, a rap song sampling I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz and featuring 50 Cent filled the stadium. I googled “rap song nu shooz 50 cent” and found it was a song called Buzzin. On the way out, Roof found a torn VIP bracelet on the ground and tied it around his wrist. “Meet me at the front. I’m going on a photo mission.”
I walked outside and the night was chilly enough that I wished I brought a sweatshirt. A few minutes later, Roof appeared next to me. “Get anything good?” I asked.
It was 9:45 and our reservation was for 10:30. We walked through Bricktown, past Thunder sports bars and a lounge advertising a G.I. Joes & Hoes party with an appearance from the Crooklyn Clan the next night. “If only we were here tomorrow night.” I said.
Mickey Mantle’s was on the corner of an outdoor mall up a flight of stairs from where we were. We went down a flight of stairs instead, to the edge of a canal that wound its way through the mall, and sat down on a bench overlooking the water. There was a couple making out two benches away.
“That game was a lot of fun.” I said.
“It wasn’t sky boxing.”
“It didn’t need to be. I like the 100 levels just as much. It felt like a college game.”
“Yeah… but… I don’t know, I guess I can’t get past them being responsible for ripping out Seattle’s still-beating heart.”
“Who was responsible?” I said, “I’m cheering for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and James Harden and Serge Ibaka, not the owners. All owners in all sports have enough skeletons in their closets to make you not want to root for them. This one just played out mad publicly. I’m not debating Clay Bennett’s not terrible for the Seattle Screwjob. It sucks for Seattle, of course it does, but I’m not from Seattle. But again, what am I, the fan of KD and Russ, supposed to do?”
“The Sonics were an ill historical team. If you’re trying to brush it off as ‘sucks for Seattle’, your terrible person meter is filling up fast.”
“If Clay Bennett wasn’t a NeoCon you wouldn’t be hating nearly as hard. If you want to blame someone, blame David Stern for letting it happen. Just don’t blame the players.”
“Just because something happens doesn’t mean it’s OK. I blame all parties. And, keep in mind, they moved right after they got the player of a generation. That’s something that will never be replaced. Put yourself in their shoes. It’s such a terrible thing to do to a human being basketball fan.”
“True, but I still love the team and I had fun at the game. And if the fans can bring out that kind of experience, it’s something. So much bad stuff happens in the world that excuse me if I continue cheering for players I really like despite some shady back room dealings. If they still played in Seattle I’d be a Sonics fan.”
“I’ve definitely turned on teams for the ownership and management. So have you. The Knicks? Liverpool?” Roof said, “And how team androgynous were the Thunder jerseys? Couldn’t they also be Wiz, Mavs, T-Wolves, or Jazz jerseys pretty easily?” Roof said.
“So… there’s boats in the water. Do you think this water goes somewhere? Or do the boats navigate the sculptures and you look at the restaurants from a boat in a pool.”
“No idea. It says water taxi, so… maybe it’s a point A to point B type of thing.”
“Oh now we’re going to take a boat tour of this birdbath?”
We killed time by switching cameras and checking out each other’s photos, then followed two cheerleaders and two guys into Mickey Mantle’s after I got a picture of the Mickey Mantle memorial across the street. Roof took off his Mutombo jersey before we went in.
The bar inside Mickey Mantle’s was packed and when I asked the Hostess about our reservations, she led us into a white tablecloth dining room and seated us one table over from Cole Aldrich and his girlfriend. He was housing a steak and had a giant stack of onion rings on a plate next to it. I stopped looking at the menu and Mantle’s records on the back of the menu to watch some rich guy go over to Cole’s table, say hello, comp his dinner, and continue talking to Cole until his girlfriend began to look bored. When our waiter came I ordered a Mustang Wheat Beer and Roof got a Heineken. Thabo Sefolosha and his wife walked in after we got our drinks.
“Wow.” Roof said.
“Thabo’s wife is gorgeous. Look.” Thabo’s wife was tall, with curly hair, mocha skin, and incredible curves, wearing a blue velvet top, black pants, and red bottom heels.
“Wow. She’s by far the most beautiful woman we’ve seen on the trip.”
“Seen ever.” Roof corrected. “She’s a room stopper.” He was right.
Thabo and his wife said a quick hello to Cole and his girlfriend, then sat down at the rich guy’s table. There was a couple in a booth with the same plan as us—people watch the Thunder—and Roof called the guy Earl Boykins because he was so short his feet barely touched the floor. We split the Snow Crab Claw cocktail with pepper cocktail sauce to start. The Snow Crab Claws were excellent but there were only five of them.
“Rock paper scissors for the last one?” Roof asked.
“Sure.” I said.
“Once twice threes shoot or once twice threes and shoot?”
“The first one.”
“Two out of three.”
“Who plays sudden death?”
“Sudden death to determine whether we go sudden death.”
“Once, twice, threes, shoot.”
I threw paper. He threw scissors. “Who throws scissors?”
“I knew you were going to go paper.”
“It’s the contrarian way to go. Sudden death for the crab claw.”
“Once, twice, threes, shoot.”
I threw rock. He threw paper.
“God damnit!” I said a little too loudly. Earl Boykins looked over.
“The smart play for me was to go paper there because after I dissed paper you weren’t expecting it.” Roof explained smugly, then said, “You thought I was going to throw scissors twice in a row? Really?” He grabbed the final crab claw covetously.
A player’s entourage—five urban casually dressed black guys and an aspiring basketball wife in six-inch heels and a really short turquoise dress—came in and dapped out Cole. His girlfriend got the same bored look on her face while Cole and one of the guys got into an NCAA tournament argument about the Kansas game that was underway. We both heard Cole say, “It’s a KU Championship. Yup. Yup. Rock Chalk.”
“I wonder whose entourage that is.” Roof said.
“I’m trying to hear who they think is going to win the title. As a way to guess whose entourage it is, I mean.”
“They do have Nationals hats.”
“How great would it be if Kevin Durant walked through the door.”
“Somewhere between pretty great and bucket list.”
“So Cole Aldrich’s button up is from the 40/40 club in 2003?” Roof said after he finished the last crab claw. “His Moccasins,” which were grey suede, “are killing it.”
Kendrick Perkins walked in with his wife and an entourage of six. He held the hand of his five-ish year old son, Kendrick II. He was wearing a red polo shirt, black jeans, and red and black Nike Air Force Ones. Little Perk dressed to match his dad. In the same room as Perk, I remembered some journalist wrote that he would look at home in an Arthurian suit of armor with a Braveheart sword. I agreed.
“Yo Perk,” Cole Aldrich said with his mouth full.
They dapped and talked for a minute, then Perk went over to the table with Thabo and the rich guy, then to the other Entourage’s table, pollying with the various crews for about 10 minutes before sitting down with his family. Cole Aldrich finished his steak and was doing the ‘itis lean.
Roof and I watched Thabo’s wife walk over to the unaffiliated, but potentially Durant-tourage and sit down. They chatted and shared a hummus plate.
“I kind of want to go over and say something to somebody.” Roof said while we waited for our steaks.
“But what are you gonna say? Thabo, your wife is really hot? Yo Cole, how was your steak? Nice Moccasins. Hey Perk, don’t worry about those free throws, you’ll get ‘em next time? Hey guys, what entourage are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Wait… look.” Roof nodded at Cole’s table, “Is Cole Aldrich going Dutch with his girlfriend?”
“No… the rich guy comped it. I think they’re debating whether to take the onion rings home.”
“They’ll get soggy in the fridge,” Roof said. A waiter came over and took their plates.
Our steaks arrived. I got the New York Strip with Crab Oscar, Roof got the Cold Smoked Filet Mignon with Lobster Oscar. The steaks were as great as you’d expect in a place frequented by a professional sports team in cattle rancher country.
“This is incredible.” Roof said, “Yours?”
“How do you think they cold smoke something?”
“I don’t know.” I googled, “Cold smoking is done under 90 degrees, so it’s curing the meat, like Bresaola, not actually cooking it, like, I don’t know, beef jerky or whatever.”
“I love Bresaola,” Roof said.
Roof went to the bathroom and about thirty seconds later, Perk got up with his son to go to the bathroom. Perk’s son had a diamond earring in each ear and had to reach his hand up over his head to hold his dad’s. “Oh Man.” I said to myself.
When Roof got back he said, “Just saw Perk in the bathroom.”
“I saw that as it was happening.”
“Wasn’t about to try and get a photo or an autograph while he’s taking his son to the bathroom.”
Cole Aldrich—doggy back in hand—and his girlfriend got up to leave as Perk walked back to his seat.
“Love that NBA diet.” Roof said, “Midnight snack a giant thing of soggy onion rings.”
“See ya Perk,” Cole said.
“Later.” Perk said.
Thabo waved. Thabo’s wife waved. The entourage with the fitted Nationals hats waved. Kendrick Perkins II waved to everyone in the restaurant while holding Kendrick Perkins I’s hand. Both Roof and I waved at Cole and called out, “See ya Cole.” He looked at us, put it together after a second, laughed, and then left. We finished our steaks.
“So tonight was basically a hundred forty dollar ticket package that came with steak, beer, and spying on Cole Aldridge and Perk included.” Roof said.
“Should we wait for KD?”
“Do we know he’s coming?”
“His entourage is here.”
“Do we even know that for sure? Does that mean he’s coming?”
“I don’t know.”
“They could just be eating at his table.”
“How likely is that?”
“I don’t know.”
“They haven’t ordered. Aside from the Hummus.”
“That’s true. But what are we going to do?”
“I don’t know.” Roof said. “I guess go?” The check came without either of us asking, answering the question of should we stay or should we go, and since Roof bought the last gas and our tickets to the Thunder game, I paid for the dinner.
“So you’ve got gas next, too. Since this is in effect my turn for gas.”
“Yup.” Roof said, “But I think I have to steal your Mickey Mantle Steakhouse mug.”
“Yeah. Low and I collect them.”
“Alright, but we have to time it so the moment I sign the credit card receipt, we’re out.”
We got the receipt and I signed it while Roof wrapped the mug in his Mutumbo Jersey. We speed-walked out of the restaurant, around the corner, and back to our parking lot laughing our asses off. We were way more self-amused than we should have been.
“Seeing an NBA player have a dumb argument with his girl about a doggy bag of onion rings is pretty funny.” I said to Roof when we were in the car on the way back to the Hotel.
“You weren’t in the bathroom with Perk and little Perk. That was just weird.”
“They put their socks on one foot at a time like just like we do,” I said, imitating Christopher Walken in the More Cowbell Skit, “but their socks have the NBA Logo on them, and are the best socks in the world.”
“Is that true?”
“Cool. I have to get some.”
“You can’t. That’s the thing. The game socks are exclusive.” I went to the NBA store on my phone. “Never mind, they’re 13 dollars a pair.”
“Oh now they’re 13 dollars a pair…”
It took us about ten minutes to get back to the Motel. On the way home, Roof brought up the Avon Barksdale :: Stringer Bell to Kevin Durant :: Russell Westbrook meme-analogy Bill Simmons among others were pushing. I didn’t buy it, didn’t really care, had just seen my favorite team in the League get a win before eating adjacent to them, and was too tired to argue.
“Brandon Jennings had 36 on the Knicks tonight.” Roof said, back in the room, on his laptop.
“Reggie Evans did what?” I misheard Roof.
“No, Brandon Jennings. I don’t know if Reggie Evans scored 36 points his whole career.”
“He should’ve played these Knicks.”
I brushed my teeth, put on 23 by Blonde Redhead to fall asleep to, and by the second song I was out.