Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sparks Fly?

Hubby and I, scout and sporksforall attended the WNBA Western Conference Championship game last night in the OC, courtesy of sporksforall who had proposed such an outing as an innovation in our usual social routine as a foursome. She sweetened the deal by suggesting that a trip to the Duck Pond should include a pre- or post-game meal at Rutabegorz, which despite its oddly spelled name, serves FANTASTIC apple pie, as scout has opined many times. Scout's estimation being important because she likes her the apple pie.

I have never been to a WNBA game before. The one time I attended a professional women's sporting event was the FIFA Women's World Cup '99, the year it went all the way to penalty kicks determining USA's 5-4 victory over China. I remember the swell of inspiration and pride I felt along with the World Cup-level tension when I looked around the Rose Bowl and saw all the girls and women in the stands, faces painted with slogans, hope and excitement. (I also remember getting violently ill with heat exhaustion and dehydration, and Jennifer Lopez's shameful performance at half-time--she was lip-synching! To the wrong track! At an INTERNATIONAL SPORTS EVENT! J-Low.)

Anyhow, the opportunity to attend another pro women's sporting event was welcomed roundly by hubby (who loves sports and pie) and me (looking forward to my second pro women's sporting event).

After a bout with traffic so horrific that we were forced to scrap our plans for an early dinner, we arrived at the Pond. As we walked across the parking lot I noticed the sad disparity in available parking spaces between this arena and the Angels stadium--hosting major league baseball--on the other side of the 57 freeway. Over there, hundreds upon hundreds of cars glinted mockingly in the late-afternoon sun. Scout piped up to congratulate me on my first visit to a lesbian bar. I asked if Rutebegorz was a lesbian bar. Scout laughed and said, no, the Pond was going to be a lesbian bar today, what with the women's b-ball. Audiences for these events generally break down into three groups: little girls and their moms, lesbians, and those basketball fans who can't afford Lakers tickets.

Well, the Sparks played some suck-a$$ ball, let me tell you. They had no defense, Lisa Leslie's basket-shooting ability was on hiatus, and none of them could catch a rebound to save their souls. Our "Littlest Spark, " Temeka Johnson, was the only one capable of a fast break and some energy, im[VERY]ho. But one 5'-3" dynamo doth not an entire team carry. Especially when the Monarchs were playing as tight a defense as they were, and racking up 3-point hoops like it wasn't no big thing.

The disappointment of our homegirls not bringing it on allowed me free reign in one of my favorite activities at sporting events, people-watching. The audience at the Sparks game most definitely did not disappoint. Indeed, girls, lesbians and less-fortunate basketball fans comprised our cohort. Sporksforall and scout pointed out the Monarchs fan to our southwest in the stands, who had brought along her silver-painted face, her Monarchs t-shirt, and a sealed Wheaties box honoring the 2005 champions. Which she held up like a banner to cheer on her team at every opportunity (and there were lots of those opportunities). There was also someone shrilling "C'mon LADIES!!!" about two rows behind my right eardrum. (The ladies did not c'mon. We all wished heartily, and clapped gamely for the points our girls did manage to score. But it was a round defeat from start to finish, ending in a 72-58 final score, which cinched the Monarchs' 2-game victory and their Western Conference championship.)

Hubby noted the lack of Oregon Ducks in the provenance of the team's lineup. With disappointment, since Ducks origins always raise his spirits and his rooting powers. Confused by his statement, as we were at the Pond, where the Anaheim Ducks (hockey) play in season, he had to clarify that most college ball teams name the women's version as the "Lady" whatevers. (As in "Lady Ducks.") Yikes. I find that offensive. Even my own alma mater--a university and college town so liberal-minded that they birthed the free-speech movement, and officially renamed Columbus Day "Indigenous People's Day"--couldn't muster the respect or imagination to come up with anything better than "Lady Bears?" ? !

I had taken up in my people-watching with the most convenient groups, folks sitting in our row and in front of us. We had an older couple and their grandson(?) to our left. "Nana" had presciently brought along a Danielle Steele paperback, and mostly read that. She did look up for the Sparks Troop performance and the "dance for a pizza" contest. (But, oddly?, she didn't dance.) The five women in front of us were more interesting, and far easier to observe unobtrusively. I spent some time trying to analyze the relationships between them. Conferring with scout determined that we probably had two couples: one obvious duo who matched down to the impressive amount of hair product they were sporting, another couple not very matched, and their fifth-wheel friend, who was eventually invited out of her aisle seat and into a seat in the middle of not-matched couple, so she wouldn't feel left out.

The matchy-matchiness or not of the two couples got me thinking. Being straight, I found the most boyish-looking woman in the five most physically attractive (that's good, because if hubby were a woman, he'd be about as butch a women as I can imagine). But the matched couple had similar hairstyles, and obviously shared hair product. They had similar clothing styles, too, and looked about the same size. Here was a whole new angle: If you are attracted to women whose styles and sizes are similar to yours, why, you might double your wardrobe (and your shoe collection!). Along with finding your soul-mate and life's companion, of course.

By the time we were down to the fourth quarter with 4 minutes to go and no comeback in sight, it was time to head out for dinner (and pie). On that count, we were not disappointed. My Vegetarian Cobb Salad was served in a large deep bowl, which allowed for easy tossing. The $1 Fiesta Dip was scrumptious, and the apple pie was indeed FANTASTIC. And served in portions to overwhelm the dessert plate it came on. As hubby says, "Yummo!"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Someone else's shoes

I'm reading a book right now about this custom among the Amish: adolescents spend a few years of their teendom living like "English" teens. If you caught the reality show "Amish in the City" on UPN a couple of years ago, you have an idea what this is all about. Although the Amish youth cast on the show to live in a house with non-Amish youth led relatively conservative experimental lives (at least on camera). Apparently, many of the kids spend a lot of time trying on drugs, drink, sex and the like for size. While not all Amish teens go that far outside the bounds of ordnung, this time spent living an Amish-alternative life is basically encouraged, since Amish believe folks aren't ready to make the final decision for baptism and "joining church" until they are adults, and know enough about life outside the faith to make a fully informed decision. It's fascinating to me that people whose lives are intentionally lived wholly separately from the everyday world most of us know can encourage their young to go out and spend a few years courting the devil himself. Some in rumspringa return to their Amish lives and families. Some don't. They find new lives and ways.

I've always been intrigued by the thought of living other lives. Growing up in SoCal in the 70s and early 80s, my friends were as likely to have been born in Pusan or Guatemala City as they were to have come from more local environs. Which always gave me a burning desire to know what it's like to think and speak in some other language, eat duk for an after-school snack, and have early childhood memories of exotic (to me) landscapes. It sparked an intense interest in language(s) and travel that I may never fulfill. Even learning other languages and going to other places couldn't give me what I really wanted, which was to know what it means to be "other" than myself.

I spent my college years in Berkeley, which was definitely the fire to my SoCal fryng pan. An explosion of experiences and opportunities, none of which (I regret to say) focused much on the actual academic stuff. Nonetheless, that's where my eyes were opened to my political self, and where I indulged my social appetites far beyond the boundaries most would have set for me.

Now that I'm pushing forty (I'll get there in December!), the potential other lives still beckon, but they are tempered by much more quotidien desires. Growing old with hubby, having my family and good friends nearby, and wanting (somewhat desperately) to have a child figure highest now on my list. I can look back and see lots of forks in lots of roads that would have determined completely different futures. And I still wonder.