A missive from Mrs. Orel:
Once a year, for his birthday in April, I buy my husband Dodger tickets for us to attend a game together.
I like baseball. I don't breathe baseball, but I like the in-person experience of our All-American pastime. I like the crowd, the seventh-inning stretch, the peanuts, the Dodger Dogs. I like peppering my husband with questions he can't answer.
"Is Loney married?"
"But you're supposed to be some kind of Dodger know-it-all."
"Why does it matter if he's married?"
"I like him and I want him to have a happy home life. You should find that out."
I notice paramedics wheeling a gurney with a young woman utterly wilted in the steamy heat.
In 2004 we were away from Los Angeles for a few months. We were in Hong Kong and occasionally managed to see a Dodger game on television. I was never homesick until I saw the silhouettes of those palm trees surrounding the stadium. "Oh," I sighed to my husband, "look, it's a sunset game...perfect...let's go home."
I especially like night games, but this year our date was for a Sunday afternoon game. It is my ritual to go to the park in March and buy the tickets in person. I picked good seats. Loge, on the aisle, and in the shade.
It all started so well. We had cold water and Coke, we had peanuts and in keeping with ballpark tradition, we threw caution to the wind and indulged in those grilled Dodger Dogs. I make a confession to my husband:
"Later I'm going to have a soft-serve ice-cream or maybe a soft yogurt cone."
"Yes, I am. Fat and carbs be damned, we're in Dodger Stadium and it's your birthday!"
By the fifth inning the game was tied.
"Extra innings?" I ask. "What d'ya think?"
"Nope," he says.
"Yeah, there will be," I argue. "I'm sure of it."
I'm sure of it because I've planned that frozen treat with care. I know when I'm going to get it. Bottom of the seventh.
And it's the day for it. It's hot. The temperature is in the low nineties, San Bernadino is burning up in a wildfire that shouldn't be happening until October, my skin glows, it's sticky and a low-grade headache is coming on. I make my move.
"I'm going for that cone," I say and leap up the stairs.
I'm as parched as Lawrence when he came upon Aqaba.
There is exactly one frozen yogurt stand on the Loge level. I notice they don’t serve cones, only cups, which is a disappointment, but more alarming is the mile-long lineup of overheated baseball fans salivating for the dessert.
I'll come back, I think, and return to my seat. Bottom of the eighth and back I go. Fantastic, no lineup. I get my cash ready and a man inside the booth runs an index finger across his neck.
"Sold out!" he mouths to me.
Okay, seriously, forget the fat and sugar. I'll get one of those frozen malts.
I dash from one food stand to the next, desperate for what I cannot have. Alongside me, I notice paramedics wheeling a gurney with a young woman utterly wilted in the steamy heat.
An ice cream! I want to scream. Give the girl a double scoop of Rocky Road, she'll be up in a flash.
Come on, these are the Los Angeles Dodgers, not the Anchorage Dodgers. For crying out loud, we're not ready. This is Southern California. It's hot. We're not ready. How can we be sold out of frozen treats when the stadium isn’t even nearly full? How can that be?
In the tenth inning we win the game. "Told you," I grouse because I'm as parched as Lawrence when he came upon Aqaba.
As the crowd thins, we watch Frank McCourt meet-and-greet below us in the VIP section. Mothers rush to him with their babies. He holds the infants like a politician and pictures are taken.
Heads up, Mr. McCourt...here's a tip...you know what those babies would like far more than a snapshot of the two of you? A sweet, icy, drippy cone filled with an All-American treat.
I know because I'm one of those babies.
Happy Birthday, Orel.