Tuesday, February 06, 2007

We Got All the Good There Was to Get, Pat Says

It was raining in Miami during the Super Bowl on Sunday, but there was snow on the TV screen at the Sportman's Club (which is a bar) in Pt. Molate there on the edge of the San Francisco Bay where the sirens at the Chevron refinery provide easy listening when something blows and the heavy poisons come rolling down the hill, low to the ground, as you try to run away on tiptoe.

But that's stinkin' thinkin'. Back to the snows of Yesterbowl.

At first there was nothing but the shimmer of electronic snow, but then Comrade Peter, who was standing behind the TV shifting the antenna this way and that, moved a little deeper behind the TV and you could see there behind the snow:


However, Comrade Peter -- to each according to his need; from each according to his ability: Don't you remember, Comrade? -- wanted to *see* the Super Bowl, which was vulgar but understandable given its weight in contemporary culture. So after the deft placement of the antenna actually on the bar next to the TV, well, good enough.

After all, it turned out to be an ugly football game, and that was how we saw it:


We were lucky to see the game at all. We had gone up the steep hill on the pitted road and down the hill on the even more pitted road on the far side, having passed through the deserted military base and by the abandoned fort -- which could be military in origin or perhaps some relic of the Knights of Malta -- under the general impression that so sweet and hidden a treasure as the Sportman's Club (which really *is* a bar and actually also, in fact, a private club; more of that later) must be the object of many an adventurer, not to mention the presence of the private clubbers themselves, and therefore we figured we were headed toward something pretty crowded and raucous, it being the nature of Super Bowl Sunday to throw off crowds the way a battered nucleus throws off neutrons.

But what we found was the Commodore and the Vice Admiral -- these are, in fact, the titles of the elected officers of the entity that runs the Sportsman's Club -- standing on the porch of the bar overlooking a somewhat dilapidated corrugated floating shed and on to the marina beyond, just about ready to close up the desolate and empty bar and go watch the game on one of their boats, which were tethered out there somewhere (they pointed; at a certain point it's rude not to intuit where people are pointing, no matter the imprecision).

So we were not exactly welcome. We were not exactly unwelcome either, but we were not anticipated, if you know what I mean. We worked fast. Big Pat knows how to work fast, having worked for a living (worked hard, with his hands) and written for a living (written well, also with his hands) and therefore knows about all there is to know. We bought our two-dollar Heineken's and we *drained* those Dutchmen and quickly ordered more, which convinced the Commodore and the Vice Admiral that we were -- I don't know? -- sincere.

That by the way is why there are no pictures of the day. I thought of taking the camera, but when Big Pat first took me to Pt. Molate not that long ago, when we were leaving, one of the members of the Sportsman's Club -- there aren't many members; there aren't enough, which produces financial pressures; those internecine marina rivalries, you know; why can't the boat owners and the houseboat owners all just get along? -- anyway, when we were leaving one of the sportsmen said, "Slumming, huh?"

Which we were not. Slumming? I don't own a horse that high.

Still, on Sunday, I felt that pointing a camera every which way might well have appeared somewhat anthropological. And it is true that the Commodore and the Vice Admiral were true Bohemians -- pony tails, earrings, brown of skin, dressed somewhat eclectically, each with three or four wives (and other company, as a man in the course of things has company) in their pasts back there somewhere ....

Hey, wait. I've just described nine out of ten Hollywood screenwriters! Okay. The difference is the sportsmen were a weathered brown, not the creamy troweled-on brown of the tanning salon. Also, the Commodore and the Vice Admiral seemed a good deal perceptive and simpatico than your 9/10 Hollywood screenwriter.

So we weren't slumming. Give me somewhere vaguely shabby and an adult beverage whose price is not extortionate. At that point this country boy makes his homecoming.

We now return to the narrative flow. The game had not yet begun. The day teetered in the balance. The three comrades sucked up their beers with the speed that marks a promising, possibly even a driven, customer -- Comrade Richard, the designated driver communed morosely with his Pepsi -- and beers drained we grabbed more from the cooler.

Oh yes. Big Pat had slapped a twenty on the bar, suggesting that the Commodore should tell us when it was all used up, the implication being there were more to come. Big Pat had taken possession. He had staked his claim. And thus the afternoon opened like a flower. We were allowed to turn on the TV, and our praise of the quality of the blizzardish nature of the picture was accepted. And finally -- the conversation that we brought was judged to be good; the camaraderie was manly -- about halfway through the first quarter the Commodore threw some wood in the stove -- it was brisk inside the Sportsman; a true man must speak true -- and it was clear, as Pat said later, that we were in, that we had made it.

For a long time this went on. We watched the game about as much as it deserved watching. At some point we ran out of Heineken, but a third sportsman drove into Richmond and brought some more Heineken's back. Even this interruption had its uses. It was halftime, and we were able to talk at length about what swill Bud Lite is.

The Heineken's arrived. At some point we ordered pizza, also from the Richmond, and when the young fellow found us we tipped him 25 percent.

At some point I was delivered back home. Bless you, Comrade Richard.

I think perhaps it was the best Super Bowl ever because it was pretty much the anti-Super Bowl, at least as that beast has devolved. What an excellent garnish the snow was. You know, I am not as thrilled at the advent of HDTV as I might be. How much clearer will it then be that there is nothing out there to see, certainly nothing better than a wood fire, good friends who are new, better friends who are old and a twisty pitted road that made it a journey rather than a ride to the mall, that place of clear complexions and glassy stares.

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