Lyle's Blog

A late Christmas present

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Actually, I knew it was coming and did receive the tickets under the tree. Sunday morning, I awoke as usual and went off to work early but left when Judy arrived and jumped into the car with Trinity and headed off to the airport. Our destination was Portland and the afternoon game between the Blazers and the Knicks.

As we arrived at the airport, I noticed a vet friend of mine in security. He came over and said Hi asking me why I wasn't at work. I told him what was happening and with a handshake he told me that he didn't know anyone more deserving of a day off and wished us well on our adventure.

The flight up was enjoyable as I played peek a boo with a youngster who was sitting with his mother in the seat in front of me. The view flying over the top of Mt Jefferson was spectacular and the ride was fairly smooth.

Upon arrival, we stopped and said Hi to Trin's close friend, Sandy who was working one of the Horizon Airline counters. As we left, she said, "See you at the game.". As we walked outside, Trin let me know that Sandy was going to the game with her boyfriend, Scott whose parents had season tickets.

We got to Trin's car and drove down to a small restaurant that I had received a gift certificate for back in May when I was on air in a regional radio show in the Rose city. Dove pizza sounded pretty good for lunch but when we arrived, we found that the business did not open until four PM so we went downtown looking for a more local place to eat.

One of my thoughts was to try the Saturday market. We parked up on the bridge above and walked down the steps to the market only to find an illuminated sign that read "open March through October". The sign was above the covering of what would be in a few weeks the main part of the market. Today, however, it was still loaded but with shopping carts and other rolling devices filled with peoples belongings. Groups of men and women were huddled close to the bridge above's braces trying to use them as wind blocks and helps to avoid the cold. My heart immediately went out to them wondering how many had ended up there due to our present hard times. I remember thinking that they need a warm place to go and a good warm meal. As I walked back up the steps to the bridge and car, I looked across the road and saw just what they needed, the Portland outreach shelter. On the side of the building, were signs saying come on in, get warm, and have a hot meal. As we drove away, I openly discussed my thoughts with Trin and wondered out loud just how many of those peoples who were under the bridge but not going into the shelter were doing so because they wanted to or whether the shelter was just so full that they couldn't hold more. As I type, I am still wondering about how those same people are staying warm and how blessed I am that I only need this small blanket on my lap to stay warm while outside the cold is biting. It also gives me a tinge of guilt.

Anyway, Trin and I ended up in the Lloyd center food court for lunch at a old time rock and roll restaurant. I looked around and the restaurant had about ten to twelve tables full of people and five waitstaff. After getting our menus and choosing our food, I watched as our waitress cashed in her tips and talked with another waitress in an area where only a few of the diners could see but I could. I ended up flipping my menu a few times which got someones attention who in turn notified my waitress. As she came over with ticket book open, she said, "Sorry it took so long, I am very busy this morning." Now, knowing the game, I had already done the math and watched to see which waitress was going where and we were only her second open table with the first already eating before we arrived in her section of only a maximum of four tables. Trin, watching me watch, had already asked me to be good and not say anything. The manager in me wanted to but kept silent.

Trin ordered the blue plate special while I ordered a burger. We both ordered shakes to kind of fit in the theme of the diner type area. The prices seemed fair and right in line with my own but when the small burger arrived with the equally small shake, I wondered if we had made the right choice for a meal. I hate going into a restaurant and walking out still hungry. But although the burger left me lacking, the shake was just enough to top off my tummy and we left to find the sports store in the mall as Trin wanted to buy a Fernandez jersey or shirt for the game.

We didn't find what we were looking for in the first sports store but as we walked out, we saw another store just like it across the mall. After coming out of the store, we spied another, then another, and yet another. Five small sports apparal stores all in one small area of the huge shopping mall. And all seemingly having quite a few shoppers in them. As we walked to the car, we discussed what a shame it is that Bend cannot sustain an indoor mall such as this. Trin felt that it was because they cannot seem to draw the right stores. She felt that if they could get the stores like they have in the Old Mill district under one roof, that it would be a great hit in Bend.

We arrived at the game about a half hour before tip off and walked around just taking in all of the aura of the event. The stores filled with people trying to find a game souvenir, the food booths and small bars hawking burgers, hotdogs, and beer to the masses waiting for the beginning of the game, and the brightly decorated fans. One inspired man had painted his bald head with the Blazer logo surrounded by flames.

Trin got a call from her friend, Sandy, who wanted me to meet her boyfriend, Scott. We met them just before tip off and I shook Scott's hand while the two girls talked in hushed tones. We left for our seats promising to meet them at half time, I supposed for a drink or something. We arrived at our seats which were pretty nice in the second section above one of the end baskets. I could make out and identify most of the players from our loft. We watched the area where Scott and Sandy were to sit, watching them sit down, and waving back at them as they saw us. It looked like their seats were pretty nice.

The first half was quite good with the Blazers easily handling the much outclassed Knicks. With the exception of one small glitch in the second quarter, the Blazers had the game pretty much in hand. At the half, we met up with Sandy whose smile showed me that she was enjoying herself. Then Trin asked me for my ticket. As I handed it to her, she combined it with her own and swapped tickets with Scott and Sandy. "This is our part of your Christmas present.", she explained. I was floored. I shook Scott's hand and gave Sandy a hug and off we went to our new seats, Eight rows behind the center court bench where the timer sits. Off to our left was the Knicks bench and off to our right was the Blazers. We were so close that we could see the expressions on their faces and the sweat on their brows.

The third quarter was not kind to the Blazers and the Knicks quickly caught up to them and before we knew it, their was only four minutes left in the game with the Knicks up by twelve. Then, the Blazers came back to life. With only four seconds left and down by one point, the Blazers took their final time out. From our new vantage point, I could see the calm look on Brandon Roy's face as he drove the key and flipped the winning basket in at the buzzer while being screamed at by twenty thousand coaches from all angles. An unbelievable finish to a fantastic Christmas present.

The trip was capped off with a three hour trip back home with Trin in her car bringing it back to Bend so she would have transportation while on her leave of absence from her job at the airlines. Thanks Trin, I really enjoyed my present. I love you, sweetheart.

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