Last night my son and I, season ticket holders of our beloved hometown Orlando Magic, watched our boys surprise the sports world and win the NBA Eastern Conference Championship. It was a lot of fun, as you might expect (unless you were a Cavaliers fan) and when you try to remain in a state of acceptance and observation, you see things you never expect.
Presumably; grown people attend sporting events; yet I am reminded there is no IQ test administered when you plop down $200 for scalped tickets. The sheer symphony of buzzed, tipsy and hostile people that marched across our feet, coated us in spilled beer and screamed highly unoriginal and um… colorful phrases in our ears has been worth the price of admission, in addition to watching our team have an unforgettable run, we’ve gotten an education.
Being a season ticket holder is sort of like being in a really cool club, you see the same faces at most games, make friends and you all get used to how each other roots for the home team. In the playoffs, however, STRANGERS come and sit in our section. People who know they won’t have to face you again on Thursday night, people who may never go to a game again, people who, by God, are going to have fun.
You know fun; like the grumpy old couple who sat by us last week and got pissed that people stood up to cheer; they actually reached out and tapped the fans in front of them to sit down during an overtime, nail biting (REAL EXCITING CAN”T SIT DOWN KIND OF) game. Or the girl who had a spring loaded butt in front of me that night, I saw every shot get shot, but only the back of her head when the ball got to the basket.
Then there were the drunk girls, how could I not lead with the drunk girls? 4 Twentysomethings, obviously on Daddy’s dime, (Daddy may have been their plastic surgeon too) dressed like they were going clubbing for the night and drinking like it too. Talking the entire game in voices you save for the front row of a Motley Crue Concert, they ignored the basketball game entirely. At halftime, the liquor kicked in and the inevitable cat fight broke out, the second half was devoted to “That’s not the point of issue” and “Well you have always been a bitch” and I’m just leaving” … But, no such luck, these divas didn’t leave for long, something about getting to the end of our row, by way of their stilettos on top of our feet, helped them to remember one more vile name to call their former BFF’s and my section got to hear them all. I think we won that night, most of us wished we’d watched ESPN.
Don’t even get me started on the busload of 45 party animal Indian Doctors who filled in all the empty seats in our section one night, we were suddenly surrounded by self medicated anesthesiologists, wearing identical tee shirts, screaming in heavy accents, “We’re going to beat you, We’re going to beat you” over and over…
It takes a special combination of courage, hostility and beer to walk into an opponent’s arena and taunt the crowd, by yourself. I’m not talking about the true Celtic Fans who sat near us one evening, people who were thrilled to have the chance to root for their favorite team. I’m talking about the A Hole who starts insulting the home crowd the minute he sits down, as if HE is playing on the court that night. I met the king of them all last night.
I’ll call my neighbor Ray Ray, just cause I want to, he was 5’6′ and weighed a good 325. Shaved head, only not really shaved, kind of crappy shaved. Cavaliers headband, Labron jersey, jean shorts, sandles. I’m sure his belt, (a highly stressed piece of clothesline, I’m guessing) was the exact length as his height, Ray Ray was as wide as he was tall. The first thing Ray Ray said was about the Orlando Magic towel that was placed on his seat, like everyone else’s, “Oh, I’ll use this for my ____ Rag”. It was hard to top an opening like that, so rather than try, Ray Ray repeated it seven times.
Ray Ray’s language and insults to the crowd were not original, heck we have Laker and Knick fans come through each year, he couldn’t shock us, but Lord knows, he tried. Remember John Belushi in Animal House? Ray Ray got other people to give him food, he ordered beers two at a time, he screamed at our superstar, he took pictures of women’s butts; we’d seen it all before. (Ok, not the food thing, he had the terrified woman in front of us giving him popcorn, I actually saw him SALIVATE when she handed it over, afraid she wouldn’t get her hand back…)
The remarkable thing about Ray Ray wasn’t his size or his vulgarity, it was his, well, it was because… He danced.
Ray Ray could barely get out of his seat, he whined when he dropped his beer, which he did all the time, because he had to reach to pick them up, he complained that the seat was too tight around his girth… But when the first timeout arrived and the music started… He pounced.
Ray Ray pounced from his seat and jiggled, he be-bopped, he rocked out. It turns out, Ray Ray didn’t come to watch the ballgame; Ray Ray came to boogie. Ray got 300 pounds of stuff moving and it was a sight to see, Ray Ray’s face turned mischievous and angelic all at once, clearly, he was the devil in disguise. Women flirted with him, cameras loved him and we all realized that Ray Ray was a frustrated Chippendales Dancer. It would have been funny, if it wasn’t tragic. Although I have to say, in this instance, Tragic was funny…
Ray Ray had a camera and either took or had people take pictures of him for most of the game until the beer and the Magic were too much for him and the Cav’s. Finally, with out heroes ahead for good, the fans of our section all danced around Ray Ray, all he could manage was a defeated smile. About the time I felt sorry for Ray Ray and wanted to get to know him, he did something so bizarre that I realized he was, indeed, a demon.
Another character out of central casting came in half way through the first quarter and sat in front of us. Overweight also and clearly uncomfortable being out in public, this guy was obviously dealing with some emotional issues. New haircut, nice clothes and nervous as hell, afraid to look around and with a “date” who could only have been rented for the evening. We’ll call the new guy Kenny, he was probably 40 years old and living with his Mom still, harmless enough, I’d have never given him a second look.
Except, Ray Ray started to pick on Kenny, pick on him like these two middle age guys were in high school still. Ray Ray had antenna, radar, sixth sense; something, because from a row back he started to make gestures to poor Kenny like he was going to “break him in half” and other threatening signs. It was the weirdest thing I think I’ve ever seen, somehow Kenny attracted the one person on the planet that would give him what he was most afraid of and Ray Ray found the ONE guy who he could bully. What the heck?
I don’t have a moral to this or even an ironic ending. Poor Kenny literally fled from the arena, leaving his rented (and semi hot) date to flirt with the married guys. Ray Ray stumbled out of the game with 3 minutes to go, no more dancing. Lebron James and the Cav’s went home to Cleveland and the Magic are headed to L.A.
“Look at all the lonely people, where do they all come from?”