The Blue Trooper saw her first major action of the new year, in two separate engagements. In the sixteen previous days of 2009, I'd driven 106 miles; I covered 263 today. The first trip was planned and expected, but the second totally blindsided me.
I took a ride up to Springfield, Massachusetts, to visit the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It's my third HoF visit; I logged the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in 1996, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown in 2005. Unlike that latter visit, I had to pay to get in today. It was well worth the fee, as the exhibits were informative and chronicled the history of basketball well. I was also impressed with the design of the building, which opened in late 2002. It's compact, with nearly everything in the giant sphere, on three separate floors. This makes it possible to easily skip from one part of the Hall to another, a benefit over the linear tour you get at Cooperstown. I was a bit surprised that Michael Jordan hasn't been inducted yet (he should be a shoo-in this year). It seems that Springfield is stringent on the five-year waiting period, unlike the Hockey Hall. Without doubt, the coolest part of the Basketball Hall of Fame is Center Court on the bottom floor. It's a full-size court, and you can shoot around at either end. There are also lower hoops along the sides, including a peach basket (the original hoop). I took around twenty shots, and made exactly one. I don't recall being able to take batting practice or anything like that four years ago. The Hoop Hall's restroom also has a thematically appropriate hand dryer, which is also likely the most powerful such device I've ever encountered.
So I got home, ate dinner, threw in laundry, and Facebooked it up a little. As is sometimes the case, my news feed contained a name I hadn't seen in many a moon. Request goes out, quickly confirmed, I check out the profile. Hmm, she has a blog. And....SHE'S A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? Holy Toyota Mitsubishi, Batman-san! So what's Bar Flower about? Alcohol, millions (billions?) of yen, hot women, and sex (kind of sort of)? Now we're into seven-alarm, private stock awesome sauce. No, Amazon.com will not do. This needs to be in my hands tonight, and all necessary means shall be employed. Well, maybe not deadly force, because this doesn't fall into the categories that allow for such measures. Borders, what have you got for me? Not in Waterford - argh. Meriden...likely in store! Garmin, lay in a course. Yes, I know it's fifty miles, but I said all necessary means. I got there, and didn't find it on the shelf. Next stop: Manchester, northeast of Hartford. No dice there either. I decide to violate protocol1 and try the Barnes & Noble in Glastonbury. That was altered by the Garmin, which told me there was a B&N right around the corner. Not on the shelf, and the desk guy says it isn't anywhere nearby. So it was back to New London with no new choice reading material. Of course I bought it on Amazon, and I eagerly anticipate its arrival. If the first six pages (available at Amazon) are any indication, I won't be disappointed. And I expect to learn a lot of new things - not only about Japan and hostessing, but about our younger days back in the en-pee-tee.
Even without book in hand, learning of its existence has triggered plenty of looking back and looking forward. First off, give it up to Lea for two-plus years of sobriety. Seeing her make that happen reminds me that it's high time I throttled back in that area. I was sober until I arrived at Cornell, and I don't intend on returning to that state; I think that alcohol has produced an overall positive effect on my life. But right now, I'm in a place where I no longer have a tolerance for the first four beers of the night - it's more like an immunity. Once the cap comes off the first dose of Vitamin Y, it's nearly certain that I'll get to five or six. I can function just fine without that, so why piss the beer (i.e. the money) away? Don't get me wrong, there will still be nights where I'll throw caution to the wind, or drop it on the ground and poop on it. But over the course of 2009, the consumption level needs to follow the projected stress level - that is to say, down, down, down. (And for the record, no ethanol was employed in the writing of this post.)
I am also very glad this book's existence was made known to me now, vice at the reunion in November. I was convinced that my story - dropping out of Cornell, enlisting in the Navy, learning to operate a nuclear reactor, and three and a half years on a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine - would have me walking to victory in the category of "least expected life course." Cue up Lee Corso ("not so fast, my friend!"). I'm sitting with a full house, and Lea takes the pot with a straight flush, ace high. Of course, this presumes she comes to the reunion; she went north of the border for school, and has lived in Japan since graduating from McGill.
Readers, rest assured that once Bar Flower arrives and is read, a totally biased review will appear here. Until then, I'll rejoice with my glass of water - filtered, not spiked - and be glad for the temporary escapes from the Armpit of New England.
1 I am a Borders loyalist, not only because it's the closest bookstore to my residence, but they don't charge for their Rewards program, unlike B&N.