Wednesday, June 27, 2007

One More Time

There is this kid I know that is not a kid anymore. I met him when he was zero seconds old. They pulled him out of the oddest place, took him to a sink, hosed him off, weighed him, measured him, stuck a yellow sock hat on his head, wrapped him in a blanket tight enough to make a mummy scream and handed him off to me.

Because this was my son. My first son. The first of two of my best male friends in the world. Scott and (Chris)Topher.

Now this kid is 24 years old and in just 10 days he will commit himself to his lovely fiancé and then my words will turn him into her husband. Yes, the kid who used to scream and fight to get on the bus or in the van with me as I left on yet another youth ministry trip is now a youth minister in his own right and is about to become a married man.

I don't have to ask where the time went. I know very well where it went. We spent it getting stitches installed in his head, watching him barf his guts up while enduring yet another migraine headache, observing from the stands as he "swung for the fences" in little league and later in high school. We sat in Wrigley Field more times that I ever dreamed we would. We actually became "bleacher bums" and I do believe that back in his hey day Sammy Sosa blew us a kiss. We've been to "old Comiskey Park" to see the White Sox in their last year there and we've been to "The Cell" to watch them play in their new park. We basked in the outfield sun at Tiger Stadium before they tore it down too. We invaded Milwaukee's County Stadium to watch the Brewers take out the A's in the ninth inning. Scott focused on the game but I was more enthralled with the glass encased "shower thongs" (the foot kind not the ... nevermind) worn by Hank Aaron. Of course there have been frequent trips to old and new Busch Stadium over the years but only because it's so close and never once did we wear the home teams colors. I remember once when he was in high school we had some pretty good seats that a friend had given me. You know, in the polite area down low near the field. No matter. I still had to get him up and move him in the 7th inning before he got us killed by the home crowd. I love me some Cubbies too but they didn't die for my sins and I don't plan on dying for theirs.

So now it comes down to this. One more "Great Baseball Extravaganza" before the old knot gets tied. Yes, I'm certain that we'll keep going to ball games after he brings his lovely "Mrs. Woods" home to live with him. (And he is marrying VERY well. His bride to be is one of the sweetest, smartest, and wonderful young women that I know.)

Here's the deal ...

On Thursday I drive up to Chicago. At 4AM on Friday one of his friends is picking us up and taking us to Midway airport where we have a 6:15AM flight into Baltimore. We catch a train across town and then a hotel shuttle takes us to our temporary home where we have a rented car awaiting us. We'll check in and spend the day "doing Baltimore." On Friday evening we'll be at the Orioles/Angels game. I plan on eating something cooked by Boog Powell himself out on his deck in the right field stands. After a good nights sleep we hit the road. The direction is north where we will pass through Philly, down a couple of cheese steak sandwiches, give the liberty bell a ring, and move on toward Wehawkeen, New Jersey. We'll check into a hotel on the Hudson River directly across from lower Manhattan. The rental will get turned in to a location in Jersey City and we'll cab it or something back to the hotel. After a partaking of local cuisine and another nights rest we catch "The Yankee Clipper" at 11AM. This is a "shuttle boat" that we've reserved spots on. For our $18 each we get all of the food and drinks we want and a scenic cruise that will drop us blocks from baseball's greatest shrine ... The House That Ruth Built ... Yankee Stadium. It's a 1:05PM start. The Yankees against Oakland. I'm betting we will spend as much time walking the park and taking in the history, as we will watching the game. After the last out we have 30 minutes to high tail it back to the Yankee Clipper, which sails back to our hotel. After that we have about 24 hours to sleep, eat, and take in as much of Manhattan as we can. Before we catch our jet back to Chicago on Monday evening we hope to knock around Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, Ground Zero, Wall Street, and whatever else jumps out at us. Don't worry. We are going to put the hurt on Nathan's hot dogs and whatever the local's eat. Tuesday will see us driving back home where he will finish the day with his bachelor's party and tune up whatever needs tuning before taking his vows on Friday night.

What a way to go out, huh? The night before my wedding I spent with my brother at an indoor amusement park in Chicago. Then we went to Dunkin Donuts and ate a dozen with cold milk. At 2AM I still couldn't sleep so I went out and washed my car. In the rain. If I had known what the next 30 years held I would not have been one bit nervous. It would have been pure joy and anticipation. And yes, I would write that even if my wife didn't read my blog. I’d write it because it is true.

It's going to be a whirlwind trip kicking off a whirlwind week. We have limited ourselves to one backpack each for the "Great Baseball Extravaganza." If we are going to be hiking New York we don't want to be pulling luggage behind us. So somehow 3 days worth of clothes (can you say "t-shirts?") a laptop, a gps, all of the plane tickets, ball game tickets, rental car reservations, Yankee Clipper tickets, an i-pod, and hopefully a toothbrush have to fit into one solitary back pack. We travel light.

We don't care who wins the ball games. We don't care what kind of gas mileage the rental gets. We are not concerned with heat, humidity, sunshine or clouds. We just want to hangout one more time and enjoy the experience. No, no. Not the "national pastime" experience. The father and son experience. I wish Topher was home from 'Fuge and could go with us. That's the only thing that could make it better. But I have a hunch that maybe he is planning his own trip for the not-to-distant future. That's not good news.

I think he wants to go to Wimbledon.


Zookeeper said...

That sounds awesome! Enjoy every minute of it!!