Monster Jammed

Just got back from watching the Orlando Magic get spanked by the Indiana Pacers. I took Mayan with me so we could have a little one-on-one time. Shade gets so much of my time that Mayan usually doesn’t get the individual time he really needs. Aitza stayed at home with Shade for a pizza and movie night. (They didn’t have either, actually. They just hung out.) Mayan had a great time at the game despite our team’s lousy performance. He liked watching the Magic dancers shake their butts. He’s quite the ladies’ man.

This is the second day of big events. Yesterday, I took both boys to Monster Jam at the Citrus Bowl to watch rednecks hoot at large trucks. Really I only go for the tailgate with our Indian Guides. Beer, brats and buddies hanging out in a derelict parking lot for 6 hours before the actual show. I would be more than happy missing the truck show and just hanging in the lot. Funny how tastes change as you get older. The kids are all about the show inside.

I did somehow get the pleasure of escorting 9 kids to the pits (with my friend Santiago as co-chaperone) while the other dads stayed behind and pounded beverages. Jerks! The pits had all the trucks that would be in the later race. They were parked in the dirt and grass of Tinker Field, the baseball diamond outside the Citrus Bowl. I pushed Shade through all that thick dirt so the boys (who we had to count every 3 minutes to make sure we didn’t lose one) could get to see the 15-foot-tall metallic versions of professional wrestlers. It was Grave Diggers’ 30th anniversary, and there was a full retrospective on his life since he was a little rusty junkbucket that looked a bit like Mater from Cars. (And, yes, Grave Digger has his own personality and is thus a “he.”) Aitza had told Mayan earlier that day that she had heard an interview with the driver and Grave Digger was going to perform a never-before-accomplished stunt that would blow everyone away. Mayan got all excited and couldn’t wait for the show.

Gates opened at 7 p.m. I was in line behind Santiago who got searched by a cranky security guard and was forced to throw away the handful of unshelled peanuts he had in his pocket. Bad luck. I stepped over to the next security guard who waved in Shade, Mayan and myself … and my three smuggled beers. There’s no way I was paying $9 for a beer inside.

We were near the end zone. Unfortunately there were no elevators or ramps to get to our position. So I helped Shade walk up about 200 stadium steps while my friends carried up the wheelchair. I followed my buddy Dan to our row. That’s when he told me our seats were on the other side. I looked down the steep stairs and said, “There’s no @%*#ing way we’re walking back down.” So we just plopped down in the first empty seats. No problems. The Indian Guides had bought up about 200 seats so we were surrounded by friends.

The Monster Jam is a sad affair. It used to be really exciting with plenty of extra crash-em-up derbies, motorcycles doing stunts, and a grand finale of the big trucks busting through old trailers and catching on fire. There’s none of that now. Just a few timed races, a boring freestyle thing with the trucks jumping dirt mounds, and one lame junkyard car race. But there was still Grave Digger’s big finale, right?

Meanwhile, I’m on my last beer, a Guinness. Suddenly, my fingers slip on the beer’s neck and I drop it. Noooooooo! But I pull off an amazing stunt. I slap my feet together and catch the beer between my shoes. Yeah! I am the Beer Savior. I grab the neck and pull it up to take a victory swig. Nothing. The bottle had tapped concrete and busted out the bottom. Damn! Guinness ran down the steps … like my tears. And I was so proud of myself.

The Monster Jam was winding up (thank God) and Grave Digger was ready for his big stunt. He drove around, jumping dirt hills like every other truck. Nothing special. Then he did a spin, a puff of smoke burst underneath, and Grave Digger rolled to a stop. He had blown an axle. No trick. Oh well. I hadn’t been expecting much anyway. I turned around to see if Mayan was ready to go. He was bawling his eyes out. “Mami lied! She said Grave Digger was going to do a special stunt. He didn’t do anything.” It took him about 10 minutes to calm down, with me reassuring him that Mami had no idea this was going to happen. The hopes of a 9 year old shattered.

We waited until the stadium had nearly emptied before we attempted the climb down with Shade. Then when we got back to the parking lot, we fired up the grill. The last few years, we’ve jumped in the cars and gotten stuck in an hour and a half of Monster Traffic Jam for a 10 minute ride. Better to get a little more cholesterol in the system beforehand.

Next year, I’m hoping to convince my kids to just do the tailgate. I’ve had my fill of Monster Lame.

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