The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Plan B / The Last Hurrah, pt. 1

with 2 comments

Monday, August 9, 2010

11:10am – New Buffalo, MI (approximately)

            I’m sitting in the passenger seat of my silver 2002 Saturn SL.  Joel Hutson is driving.  We just switched places, and he’ll drive until we get to Detroit.  Signage indicates we are 240 miles away and closing.

            When Joel drives, he sits closer to the wheel than anybody I ever met.  I’m not sure why.  He sits straight up, too, but I do know why:  He’s had back problems the last few years, and sitting like that helps his back.  He looks rather intense as he’s driving, even though he’s pretty laid back right now.


I drove out of Libertyville this morning starting at 9am, until we hit Michigan and stopped to refuel.  We’re heading to Detroit for the ballgame tonight, and we’ll head back to Chicago afterwards.  It’s a ways to go to see a sub-.500 team (almost 700 miles round trip), but this is what you do when summer is packing in its tents in a mere two weeks and you’re heading back to school (in my case), or when your wife and daughter head to Minnesota to visit family for the week and you’re left with nothing to do but hit the gym and study for the GRE (in Joel’s case).

Joel is from Michigan and has never been to Comerica Park, even though he’s a lifelong Tigers fan.  I’ve sold him on the idea that it is the best park in baseball, and we need to make the trip to see it.  This will be my fourth time.

12:12pm – Comstock Township

            Joel wants salsa with the chips we’ve opened and put on the dash.  I can’t find a good place for the jar, so I tell him to put it between his legs.  He hesitates, “Is the jar cold?”

            “Why does it matter?  Are you planning on having kids and you gotta keep your nuts within range of some mean temperature?”

            He holds the jar in one hand and dips his chips with the other.  As he drives.  In the rain.

            We’re listening to Feelin’ Alright:  The Very Best of Traffic on the stereo.  I’m lost in taking some notes on what we’re doing.  A few songs play, and then Joel comments, “It’s always good to reach climax.”  I look up from my journal and see him smirking.  He points to a road sign, and I see that we’re passing the exit for Climax, MI.  He’s amused with himself.  I don’t feel anything.


            It’s raining hard.  I’m worried that the game might get rained out.  I’ve been to over 75 baseball games and never had a rainout.  I wonder if luck is catching up to me.

Joel and I used to work together.  He used to teach Science at ZBTHS, where I’m still a Reading Specialist.  We’ve been friends since 2004, at least.  My first memory of our friendship is him showing up at the pub crawl I host.  My second memory is the first time we went to a ballgame.  The Brewers were hosting the Mariners.  Ichiro went on to break George Sisler’s single-season hits record that year.  It was easy to see how he did it:  He laid down a bunt in the 7th inning, and was half way to first before the ball hit the ground.

I can’t remember how or why Joel and I became friends.  My best guess is that when he started teaching, we got into a conversation about something; saw each other around school a bunch of times.  Maybe we were with a bunch of other teachers for drinks after work and started palling around.  Most of my work friendships start that way.

12:45pm – east of Battle Creek

             We make a pit stop at a Love’s gas station / convenience store.  I see a Lindt Black Currant chocolate bar, which I’ve never seen before.  I buy it.  It’s pretty damn good.

We’ll arrive in Detroit far ahead of the 7pm game time, which means we can walk around the stadium and Joel can take it all in.  I keep telling him that he’s going to be stunned when he witnesses the awesomeness of Comerica.  I guarantee it.  We can also watch batting practice, which I haven’t done for I don’t know how long.

Each summer, Plan A is always to take in a good deal of ballgames in Milwaukee and Chicago.  I usually manage 8-10, but those numbers have fallen since I’ve been saddled with a  mortgage the last four years.  Plan A is still in effect, but I’m feeling stale.  I haven’t made it to Wrigley yet this year, and I may well not given how god-awful the Cubs are playing.  I refuse to patronize the park, though if tickets happen my way, I’ll probably take them.  As for Milwaukee, I’ve just burned out.  They still have a hearbeat this season, but I’ve been to Miller Park five times already and need a change of pace.  So why not coax one of my buds into making a roadtrip to Detroit?  I call it Plan B.

Since we’ll get to Detroit so early, I think it will be a good idea to hit the casino.  Some winnings might pay for our tickets and more.  Otherwise, we’ll scalp some tickets.  If the game is cancelled because of rain, we hope that tomorrow is a double-header.  We’ll get a hotel room for tonight and go to both games tomorrow.

4:30pm – MGM Grand Casino, downtown Detroit

            It takes me a half hour to lose $60 playing penny slots.

6:30pm – between Hockeytown Cafe and Comerica Park

            I’ve done little more than aggravate most of the scalpers around the ballpark for the past ninety minutes.  They’re looking for more tickets, and we’re looking for any tickets.  We try to stay ahead of them as we walk around and see who has anything they want to get rid of.  They keep soliciting me; I keep waving them off.  One scalper offers us some super-cheap seats, “just so you’ll get outta my way,” he grumbles, but I refuse his deal when he changes his price as I reach for some cash.  Eventually, we settle for a pair of cheap seats in the 300s.

7:30pm – section 337, row 12, seats 3 and 4, Comerica Park

            Joel just finished an entire 14” cheese pizza, minus one piece I ate.  I am never short of amazed at how dude can pack away the food.  I had to tempt him to even try the chocolate—“I don’t eat sweets”—but he inhales an entire pizza?

It’s not the first time I’ve witnessed Joel’s power-eating skills.  If you ever make it to my Casmir Pulaski Memorial Poker Game, be sure you eat some chili first thing, because once Joel starts on it, it will be disappear like water down a drain.  A few years ago, Joel busted early in one round and went for some food.  When I walked into the kitchen a little later, he was licking chili off the insides of the crock pot.  He looked up when he heard me enter.  His eyes were glazed.  Bits of tomato and onion were stuck to his face.  Beef juice ran down his neck.  I told him I had a snorkel he could use if he thought it would help him.

Since then, he has never stopped obsessing about that chili.  His wife says he brings it up at least every week.  His other obsessions include Mars Cheese Castle and digging up dinosaur bones.  You might say he’s a bit unusual, but that doesn’t get in the way of him being a good friend.

What continues to amaze me about Joel is that he is the most physically fit person I know– he’s 5’9”, 150 lbs, and has a chiseled six pack; even the most hulking muscle heads at the gym eye him with envy.  He still wears clothes he bought when he was in high school.  Yet he inhales food in a way that most of us would regret if we tried it.


Written by seeker70

August 13, 2010 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Leave no cup unturned, no plate unlicked, I always say. Ha ha!

    Joel David Hutson

    August 13, 2010 at 5:35 pm

  2. […] chimes in with comments.  You might remember him from the road trip to Detroit two summers ago as described in these pages.  Since then, he’s been busy writing science stuff.  He is soon to have his first […]

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