When KGB had its Sky Show at Qualcomm a few weeks ago, I heard about a party at a house nearby that had a perfect view — a nice way to avoid all the stadium traffic and still get to see the fireworks.
My girlfriend had a friend in town, and we brought her along.
As we drove up, a bunch of fireworks were going off. We couldn’t figure out what was going on, as it was only 7 p.m., hours before the Sky Show was to start.
When we walked up, two senior citizens were at the foot of the driveway. They greeted us. We asked about the fireworks starting early. They thought it was just a test. They then told us to go in and have some cake.
We walked by a bunch of 12-year-olds playing basketball on the driveway. A teenager was on his way out but stopped to talk hoops with the kids. I remembered I had a bunch of clothes in the back of my car that I was going to donate to Goodwill. One item was a leather jacket I bought in Tijuana 20 years ago. It had patches of every NBA team. (When I sobered up the next day, I realized how ugly it was.) It might have looked cool on Will Smith during his Fresh Prince of Bel Air days. I got it out of my car and asked the teen if he wanted it. He looked at it as if he too thought it was ugly. His mom said, “You might as well take it; he’s giving it to you.” He thanked me as he reluctantly grabbed it.
The 12-year-olds were playing a game of horse, and I wanted in. I first checked in on my girlfriend and her friend. They were devouring Costco pizza, so I got in the game. I noticed the basket was low. An African-American kid said to me, “You’re tall. There’s no dunking.” I replied, “I hate to admit this, but even with the hoop that low, I probably still can’t dunk it.”
An older kid playing with us was making all his outside shots. I said, “I think you have home-court advantage.” The kid and I eliminated everyone and were now going head-to-head.
Every time I made a shot, he matched it. The only trick shot I got that he couldn’t follow was when I bounced the ball off the ground and into the basket.
For one shot, I got about 40 feet away, stood on this brick ledge that had flowers and plants around it, and made a shot. But he made the shot, too.
He eliminated me when he made a layup with this insane 360˚ spin in the air. I almost broke my neck trying to attempt it. The kid laughed, but he was polite. He kept addressing me as “sir,” which is something I’ve never experienced on a court before. I told him he was a really good player, and he said, “Well, something to keep in mind is that I’ve been playing since I was four.” I said, “I’ve been playing since I was eight.” He replied, “Well, I’ve got four more years on you then.” I laughed and said, “Well, I’m probably 25 years older than you.... I’m not sure that’s how you’d look at that.”
We played a second game, and again we eliminated everyone. And again, he beat me. As I went to the backyard I said, “After I eat some cake, I want a rematch.” He smiled and said, “Anytime.”
But 30 minutes later he was gone. He went to another party that was a few houses down.
The backyard had a great view of the stadium. I asked if this was considered Serra Mesa, and someone said, “No, it’s Mission Village.”
There were lots of balloons in the living room and a stack of presents. Earlier in the day, they’d had a birthday party for a child turning one. The older kids were jumping around in a Moon Bounce. There was also a swing set that kept them busy.
There were bowls of candy set out, so it surprised me when a four-year-old asked my girlfriend if she had any candy. She said, “No, but there’s some on that table.” The child’s mom said, “I’ve told you not to ask strangers for candy.” My girlfriend said, “I think that kid’s smart. His parents probably told him never to take candy from strangers. So, he probably thinks that all strangers have candy, and so he asks them for some.”
There were a few kegs, coolers filled with drinks, and lots of snacks. I ended up eating junk: a bag of Fritos and a few miniature bags of peanut M&M’s.
A couple was talking about the stadium and someone said, “I bought a used car there at one of those tent sales. The water pump blew, and it did some damage. The car was under warranty, and they said they’d replace the water pump but not the other damage that was done to the car. They said I did more damage to it by driving it, and I told them I pulled right over. We went back and forth. I wasn’t getting anywhere and finally said, ‘Okay. I’ll get a lawyer.’ Before I could walk out, they said they’d pay the whole amount.”
Someone else mentioned buying a car there that had problems. I said, “Well, buying used cars doesn’t just mean people are scamming you. If you buy a car that’s used, a few months later, something can go wrong. Heck, a few days later. It doesn’t mean they knew that problem would happen.”
When the guy mentioned his threat of getting a lawyer, I said, “I didn’t think that even worked. It’s a bluff so many people use.”
A guy with a Chargers shirt on started talking about how bad they’ve been playing. One person said that it was because of Norv Turner’s coaching. Since I like him better than Marty Schottenheimer, I tried sticking up for him. I mentioned all the injuries the Chargers have, and we debated it for a little while.
When I was getting ready to head out to go to another party, my girlfriend and her friend decided to stay. A big guy came out of the bathroom, saying to my girlfriend, “I wouldn’t go in there. There was a little girl in here before me, and she stunk it up really bad.” I said, “Well, I guess I won’t go before hitting the road.”
As I was getting on the I-15 at 9:20 p.m., before the fireworks started and ahead of traffic, my girlfriend called and said, “It’s good you didn’t use the bathroom. It smelled horrible. I almost couldn’t stand it. And when I walked out, a woman said it was from the big guy before me. I told her it was a kid before him. She didn’t buy it. Then a guy went in there to use it, and he ran out and started dry-heaving in the kitchen sink. He said it was the worst thing he’d ever smelled.”
I was laughing at the thought of this guy assuming it was my girlfriend. And I was happy that it wasn’t just the traffic that I missed.