Since my small buttercup of a son got grounded last Monday, oh, he has been so sad! He has also been trick-or-treating on Tuesday, gone to the Orange County Press Club mixer at Original Mike's on Thursday (where he went into the main room to watch the Neil Diamond stylings of the inimitable Phil Shane and sat with Phil's wife, Michlene, who is sweet as sugar kisses and who bought my boy an equally sweet dessert that seemed to be from the chocolate lava cake genre), and spent the weekend at our dad's watching football. This Monday, he went to a soiree for Project Access at Aire.
It's not that I'm a candyass in the discipline department; it's just that we have a very complicated system of carrots and sticks. The day after he earned himself a month's grounding, he came home with the unprecedented news that he's earning an A in math, earning himself a night's reprieve for Halloween. It was, I explained, like a furlough for good behavior. Then I explained what a furlough is, and also about parole. If he comes home with a note from his computer teacher, for instance, saying that he has turned in every one of the missing assignments he unfortunately lied about, he will be paroled after two weeks instead of four.
I think it's terribly important to ready our children for their futures in America's fastest-growing industry: prison.
So he was furloughed for his math grade, but what about the rest of the high life he's been living ever since stumbling into Mama's House of Pain for Wayward Children? Well, nobody could have foreseen that the press club mixer would be fun—that Phil Shane was rocking the next room was as unexpected as our reception in Iraq.
And Dad's House of Big Screens? Dad apparently wasn't paying attention for the past 39 years when my brothers and sisters and I were constantly getting caught drinking, or smoking, or sneaking out of the house to go to sit at Denny's all night (or have sex); he simply had no idea being grounded means no TV. It has now been explained to him. It has also been explained to him—since it apparently was necessary—that one isn't given a pony when one is grounded, or even a Medal of Freedom.
As for Aire, well, I really wanted to go to Aire, and I didn't have a babysitter.
* * *
The one place my small buttercup of a son hasn't been since he was grounded is the Servite/Mater Dei game Friday night. The invitation was specifically for the two of us, he was promised Servite seniors to sit with and probably some schwag, and there was simply no way I could pretend the Servite/Mater Dei game—held at Angel Stadium!—wouldn't be a blast. Little boys who are grounded don't get to watch football with their moms; they have to go to dad's for that, where I believe they throw them a party.
Dave "Chairman" Mau and I were guests of our mutual friend Kieran Scott, a teacher at Servite, and we sat at the front row and 50, getting up a good head of gossip while Mau also taunted me with the fact he had Shiner Bock (the national beer of Austin, Texas) in his truck; it turns out they turn off the beer taps at Angel Stadium when they're hosting a high school football game, though they don't turn off the Metallica blaring over the sound system. Who watches football—or listens to "EnterSandman"—minus beer? It got to the point where even Servite's mascot, a kid in a friar's costume, made Mau think of beer.
"Even the kid in the friar costume is making me think of beer," said Mau.
"Oooh, yes, like a Belgian ale," I concurred dreamily.
"Like a fine Chimay," said we both together.
Mau left at the half. He had Shiners in his truck.
Kieran had asked whether I wanted to sit in the VIP suites on the club level, or with the kids; I'd said with the kids, because I'm very, very stupid. At the half, though, Kieran explained the suites had booze, and that was about all it took.
The suites didn't just have booze, though; they had the bishop too. He'd tried to give a game-opening prayer for the two mighty Catholic high schools, but the kids hadn't shut up long enough to let him.
It was a great game, underdog Servite slightly ahead for most of it, but with both sides constantly evening up the score. The play was excellent too, with the QBs throwing what looked like 60-yard bombs. Then—in overtime—Servite lost to Mater Dei . . . for the 18th year in a row. In overtime.
Word on the field was that the Mater Dei players lined up at the end to "good game" their opponents but instead threw forth a volley of "fuck you"s. Well, that's the last time I golf-clap for them when they throw a particularly good pass, though apparently, this is nothing new for the Catholic powerhouse. Weekly editor Will Swaim went to Mater Dei in the 1970s, back when I was just a red-diaper baby, and he remembers warming up before another classic match up: the entire Mater Dei freshman team jogging around the field in Santa Fe Springs "like the Hezbollah militia doing something between the goose step and a jog in Beirut," all the while chanting "Go to hell, St. Paul, go to hell." Apparently "sportsmanship" isn't necessary when you've got God on your side.
* * *
And that brings us, as it should, to the election.
Perhaps you've heard a little something about it?
Due to the vagaries of weekly newspaper publishing and the space/time continuum, the election is happening as I type this, and Commie Mom is terribly worried about the voting machines. "Don't worry about the voting machines!" I told her. "Of course they'll try to steal it, but they just won't be able to due to the lopsidedness of the Democratic vote!"
Of course, I said the same thing about Ohio in 2004. Sure, they might try to stuff a thousand votes for Bush into a precinct of only 300 people, but it's not like anyone will let them get away with it!
Still, I remain optimistic! Irrationally exuberant, even! In fact, I don't think the Democrats will pick up the six seats they need to control the Senate; I think the Democrats will pick up 33! Are there even 33 Senate seats up for election this year? I don't think so, and I don't care! And the House? Mama calls a 50-seat gain. Sure, it's a lot more than the 20 to 35 that the pundits say are in contention, but think of it this way: it's only 17 more than the pickup in the Senate!
This evening I shall be with my people at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Orange; I shall be toasting to George Allen biting it, and Rick Santorum, and Mike DeWine (uncle of our good buddy Skeith; did you know?), and apparently 30 others yet to be determined.
The kid will be at home, with a (really fun) babysitter. He would probably have traded the weekend of football for an election night party, but our carrots and sticks extend only so far when Mama's got celebrating to do.
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