I'm not usually the kind of guy who blames others or finds excuses when I make mistakes. I mean, one of my favorite words is "accountability."
But this time, it is excuse-city. Everyone else's fault. I'm not taking the hit on this one.
Now, it is true that I'm the one who left the car running in the driveway, polluting the air throughout the Western suburbs of Philadelphia and wasting three hours of engine-idling gas, actions contrary to my avowed commitment to "being green."
And, yes, it's true that it has happened a couple of times previously. And I never blamed anyone else then, accepting my wife Kathi's explanation that at those inopportune moments I had been residing in my own little, distraction-laden location she calls "StevieLand." "StevieLand," she says, is a place where my excitement about going to or arriving at one of my son Mike's basketball games leaves me disinclined to be paying attention to details like turning off the engine in the car.
This time, though, there was plenty of blame to go around, me EXcluded. Let's itemize:
- Mike carries his basketball career into high school, earning the freshman team starting point guard position, making it critical for me to go to every game and be seated right behind the bench in time for the opening tip.
- His high school schedules all games for 3:30 on weekday afternoons, challenging hard-working me to unceremoniously make the pressure-filled, guilt-charged choice between work and family.
- Kathi wants to take one car to the game (something about that "green" thing), meaning that I have to pick her up on my way to the gym.
- Inconsiderate residents of greater Philadelphia, who rudely congested the roads, holding me up, oblivious to the pre-emptive importance of me getting to Mike's game on time.
- Demanding clients and colleagues, who had me scrambling to get so much done during early afternoon that I couldn't leave the office before 3 p.m.
So, when I pulled into our driveway to switch cars, yeah, I left the Chrysler running. Excuse me for living. I put it into Park, didn't I?
I mean, Kathi was in the driver's seat of the other car, ready to go and we were late, so I jumped out quickly and didn't turn the engine off. Hey, I probably saved 1.5 seconds, right?
Remember, I need to see every minute of every game. I mean, how else will I be able to share with Mike all of my wisdom and expertise in our post-game analysis if I don't see every single sequence. And, if we don't do the post-game analysis, how will Mike ever know what to do in the next game. Also, Mike and I absolutely need to make eye contact before the game starts. You know how that is. And if I'm not there, who will inspire him to perform at his best. His Mom? Sister? Teammates? Coaches? Personal pride? C'mon.........not like ol' Dad. We all know that, right?
So, now we're well into the 16-minute drive to school and it becomes apparent that we are not going to make it by 3:30, but 3:35 was not out of the question.
Anxiety barely under control, I frantically started calling other parents I knew would be at the game and the first two had the audacity to have their phones going straight to voicemail. Are you kidding me? How dare they not be standing by? I mean, it's not that unusual for me to be calling them around game time. They know that. Their sons have been Mike's teammates for years. And they're always talking to (and, for some reason, laughing with) Kathi about my doing that.
When I finally got through on the cell to the third person, I was hoping to hear that the game, like many, would be starting just a few minutes late.
Instead, I'm told that the contest, in fact, started five minutes EARLY and was well underway with Mike on the floor and me in a car 2.5 miles and three red lights away. Unbelievable. "Poor Mike," I thought. "Hopefully, he'll be okay."
Turns out Mike played pretty well even though we never did make eye contact until the start of the second half.
And Mike and I never did get to do the post-game analysis because, well, you know how busy things are around Christmastime.
My cellphone friend told me that Mike's play wasn't necessarily any more inspired after I arrived than before.
And, he played well in the next game, so apparently, somehow, he did know what to do.
And, you know that 1.5 seconds that I saved?
When we finally arrived, it was during a timeout.
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