A Day at the Races

I had thought to stay at Amy’s last night. I was sitting quietly while she was a work (B.B. King and Dr. John at Humphrey’s), just kicking back and writing. The phone rang. It was Amy. New Boyfriend was in town early and she waned to know if she could have the house to herself. Well, duh. It’s her house, and there are several places in town that I can stay. I hit the road with confidence.

The one catch: it was already pretty late. I headed out, but actually the idea of a hotel room appealed to me. The thing about being a guest is that you put a burden on your host. The morning before, Amy had missed her morning TV because she didn’t want to bother me. Not that she minded terribly much (I think), but people have routines, and I don’t like to disrupt them. Some days I like to live free of the burden I place on others. So a hotel seemed like the right idea.

Note to investors: owning a hotel in San Diego in the summer is a friggin slam-dunk sellout. It’s crazy. There were a couple of places with rooms in Mira Mesa, but they were $150 and up. Mira Mesa. Rather than range north, this time I headed south to Hotel Circle. Amazingly, there are lots of hotels there. Not on Hotel Circle, but not too far away, is the Padre Trail Inn. It’s a dump. Until last night I assumed that the only way it stayed in business was because of the military inductees, who sleep their last night as civillians there before they are swept away to basic training. We used to go to the PTI’s lounge after playing softball across the street. The lounge is awesome only because of Melissa. She is an institution there, an icon in tight jeans and low-cut top, a figure that makes it work, and pure Jersey attitude.

I did not see Melissa last night. By the time I got there the lounge was closed. Also, the hotel was full. Padre friggin’ trail was full, and by the look of the parking lot it wasn’t all MEPS. Out of curiosity I asked, “How much would it have been if you had a room?” The answer: $130 plus all the taxes imposed on hotel rooms in San Diego. (This seems to be the one tax the locals are willing to accept.) Wow. A year ago, this was a place the truckers stayed. Sure, it’s near old town, but still.

PTI aside, I had to find a place to sleep. It was getting very late. I tried a couple of places on Hotel Circle, and at the second one the desk lady suggested I try driving out to Chula Vista. That was a long way away. At that point I was considering calling Amy and telling her that I had nowhere else to go. There was no one else I could call by then. I drove east to get on the freeway. Toward Chula Vista.

I passed the King’s Inn and almost didn’t stop. I kind of liked the look of the place, though, and I thought since it wasn’t a big chain perhaps it would have a room. Bingo. The room seemed cheap compared to the other places I had checked, and it was more than adequate. Any idea I had about using the privacy for writing was lost in the bliss of sweet, sweet, sleep. I slept from the moment I hit the pillow, and I nursed it as long as I could in the morning, and then a little longer. I emerged from the room in a magnificent mood.

It was race day. And Cake day. Cake is a band, and they were playing after the races were over. I like Cake.

I was late to Mikie’s place because I stopped at Waffle King forf breakfast, even though I could see that they were busy. I’m glad I did. There was nothing worth reporting here, but there were archetypes at work. Something I saw there will show up somewhere.

While I was sitting there, it occurred to me that the Tabasco boys should make an extra-hot version. Hot hot hot sauces are all the rage these days, but there is no brand with the power of Tabasco. Just a thought. As I ate, Amy called. Her boyfriend hadn’t come over after all. It didn’t matter. I was feeling cheery. Amy had bought a new hat and was drinking a margarita.

Breakfast chowed, running late, I headed to Mikie’s folk’s place, where my car would rest while Mikie, Mike, Kendra and I made our erratic (Mikie was driving) way up the concrete to the place where, as Bing put it, the surf meets the turf. We pulled into the parking log to be greeted my a big flashing sighn reading “No alcohol in any parking lot.” So much for tailgating. Mikie and Kendra had done a masterful job disguising the alcohol anyway, so we loaded up chairs and cooler and headed inside. Not long after that Kim, Ben and Michelle joined us.

It was a great day to be at the racetrack. The sun was shining, the sunscreen was abundant, there was a good crowd that steadily grew as the day wore on, and for the first half of the day the right horses were winning. Mike Sr. and I paid a lot more attention to the numbers, and I had fun sitting by him comparing notes. After a while, though, as the alcohol started to take effect (Nothing close to the effect it was having on Kendra, however), my diligence waned and so did my fortunes. No matter—I was having a good time. Over the day I lost more on overpriced beer than on horses.

The Cake concert was short (what do you want for nothin’?) but excellent. Maybe it wasn’t that short after all, we spent the first part of it in the beer line. It gave me plenty of time to see that the beertenders were not very efficient, but I didn’t make any recommendations when I got to the front of the line. Since the only limit to their business was the rate they could serve customers, I expect they could have made thousands of dollars more if they could have kept their customers adequately beered. No matter—I was having a good time.

Cake played, and played well. The crowd was large but not pushy, and there was plenty of quality people-watching. I ended up dancing to the music, something I don’t do spontaneously at concerts very often. After the show we made our way back to the truck. I went back to the homestead with Mike Sr. while the others, not content to let the party stop, took off to Michelle’s house, teetotaller Ben behind the wheel. The couch was already made up for me when I got back to the homestead, and I crashed with the TV on, just in time to see the last out in the bottom of the ninth inning of the Padre’s latest loss. I’ve got to leave town so they can start winning again. No matter—I’m having a good time.

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