We invited Rich and Lissette over for a celebration.

“We’re gonna get rip-roaring drunk,” I told him.  I remember specifically saying “rip-roaring;” it was probably the only time in my life I’ve ever used such a stupid phrase.

“Nah,” Rich said.  “I don’t think I want to get drunk anymore.  I think I want to just sit and talk and enjoy.”

He was relieved as well.

I did, however, get rip-roaring drunk.

Sandy had come up with the idea of inviting Rich and Lissette to join us on our annual Cape Cod vacation that summer, to celebrate together.  They didn’t talk much about finances, but we definitely got the feeling that they had incurred some serious debt while getting Rich healthy.  They had gone out and splurged on a pair of mountain bikes, since Rich had gained so much weight during his treatments – he wanted to start exercising (something he never wanted to do), and they decided that a pair of good mountain bikes would be a smart way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors at the same time.

So they jumped at the chance to join us at the Cape.  Rich had been there with us a few times and he loved it there; the peace and privacy of Sandy’s family cabin had gotten to be one of his favorite things.  So we began making plans to spend a week together at the end of the summer.

And then we set about enjoying the summer of 2001.

Life was good, the summer happened.  Baseball, which had replaced music as our main source of entertainment, was huge for us – the Yankees, after getting knocked out of the playoffs in 1997, continued to rebuild each season, and came back and had a record-breaking year in 1998, winning the World Series in dominant fashion.  In 1999 they came back and did it again, beating the Atlanta Braves just as they had in 1996.  And in 2000, they faced off against their cross-town rival New York Mets, and walloped them.

In 2001, Sandy and I made the decision not to let another season go by without making more pilgrimages to Yankee Stadium.  So I partnered up with a co-worker and we purchased a partial season ticket package – 26 games, of which I would take 13.  We agreed to purchase all the playoff tickets we could, when they became available, and split those as well.

So that spring and summer, we attended 13 Yankee games.  13 wonderful trips to Yankee Stadium to see our favorite team, and we were able to pick out 13 really strong games, serious opponents.  We caught Old Timer’s Day.  We caught a game against the Red Sox where Pedro Martinez – the only member of the Red Sox I actually liked – pitched one of the most incredible games I’d ever seen, shutting the Yankees down on one hit, an improbable home run by Chili Davis.  And we saw a few other great games as well.

Musically, I’d begun to take the easy way out, falling into some miserable habits and listening to whatever commercial alt-rock was spoon fed to me.  Pop-punk, nu-metal, whatever.  It was Rich that was introducing me to new music in 2001, but most of what I was hearing was so bad that I wound up regressing to music from the 1970s, and eventually to jazz.  I had a coworker who was a jazz buff, and I began rediscovering some of the tremendous bebop musicians that I still love today – Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie.  I even tried to develop a taste for Miles Davis (something I’ve only managed to do in small doses).

And at the end of August, we packed up our stuff and drove up to Cape Cod with Rich and Lissette following us in Rich’s Dodge Neon.

~ by Al on December 8, 2009.

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