Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Days of My (former) Lives

Enough with my commentary on blogging. Fully formed thoughts are what I am going for, not disconnected, unorganized musings.

I've got nothing at the moment, but in the interest and exercise of practicing writing, I shall tell a random story. I truly need to learn to self-edit, so here's hoping this one isn't too long.

1995, the Final Four was in Seattle. For whatever reason, I have never been into college basketball, even though I used to follow pro-basketball (alas, not since we lost George Karl, who, incidentally, is a story for another day). Oddly, I love college football but not pro-football, but whatever your head.

Doing this from memory, but I know UCLA (with the O'Bannon brothers and Tyus Edney) were the ultimate victors. God help me, I can't remember the other team. B wasn't much into college basketball, but days before the final games, he decided we needed to go to the game. Tickets were obviously scarce and expensive, and, as this was a year into our marriage, we weren't rolling in disposable income. I didn't give a shit about going, but B suddenly became determined. Back then, B was a much different guy and pretty imaginative and innovative when it came to getting what he wanted.

On the Wednesday night before the final games, he went down to the Kingdome, where the finals were being played. He somehow managed to bribe a security guard and got a poster that featured all of all access passes issued to the media. He brought that thing home (to our boat, at the time) and studied it intently. The next day, he enlisted the help of our friend Larry and, for the next 24 hours, they spent all of their time and efforts making all access passes from the models in the posters. They were of the "no guts, no glory" frame of mind, so they made 25 of them.

Come Friday night (semi-finals), we all arrived at the Kingdome. B and Larry sold five of the passes for $100 each (no warranties as to authenticity) to cover their sunk production costs, but none of us knew if we would actually be admitted. Mine proclaimed me "Karin Bunselmeyer, MTV Sports." As we approached the Kingdome, I distinctly remember thinking that if we got arrested for trespass, it might hinder my dreams of becoming an attorney. I was a "play by the rules" kind of gal and was sure this would end badly.

As it turned out, we all dispersed to different exits and we all got in without so much as a second glance. As B and I got in, we smiled wicked grins at each other and, hand in hand, made our way up to the VIP section. This was the year of the baseball strike, if I recall correctly, so we saw quite a few Mariners (and, oddly, Danny Ainge, whose name I surely just misspelled). Although we hadn't thought our cunning plan on the way out, the 20 of us eventually made it to a VIP lounge, where we marveled at the free drinks and private televisions. We. Were. In. We watched the semifinals, toasting our sneaky accomplishment and had a blast.

The next day was the final game and we were all supremely confident. We waltzed past security, had our token free drinks with the high rollers at the VIP lounge, but we were not satisfied. How far could we go? At half-time, emboldened by a few drinks and a sense of fearlessness, I declared that I was "going down." I was going to the hardwoods. B looked at me with something approximating pride and horror, then said "go, K. I'll meet you down there." I sashayed out of the VIP lounge - I worked for MTV Sports, after all -- and headed down to the promised land.

I'll save the suspense - I made it. I walked right past Barbara Hedges, then the athletic director for the U and a customer of our (then) deli. I ended up sitting cross-legged on the hardwoods, a few feet from the UCLA cheerleaders. I am a very animated sports fan (former cheerleader myself) and was leaping and yelling and having a blast. B saw me on the television in the VIP room and found his own inspiration to test the boundaries, as did most in our group. By the time the game ended, we were all on the hardwoods, sneaking glances at each other and reveling in our achievements.

The next day's Seattle Times? Yeah, the front page had a picture of the O'Bannon brothers were cutting down the net. I was holding the ladder steady. Good times.

You would think that after this whole heady experience, we would go off into the good night and further celebrate our scam. Oh no. We had to go further. We went into the press room (nearly getting busted by some more observant security guards) and eventually, I was sitting next to Tyus Edney (I know I am misspelling that) as he was interviewed by ESPN. I was visible on camera and a friend called me (yes, have had the same cell phone since 1995) and said "WTF are you doing?" I ended up making nice with Tyus and he told me where the after party (with dinner) was.

Yes. Yes, we were that daring. We showed up at the Westin, sporting our fake passes, thinking we could get into the private party. No dice. Except.....the security guard knew B from classes at the U. He told B he could get maybe B and myself in, but not our group of 20. He gave B a couple of tickets and B smiled devilishly. There was a Kinkos two blocks away. B took the two offered tickes, spirited off, made copies of the tickets, and the 20 of us dined and drank with the 1995 Final Four Champions.

It was, quite frankly, a perfect evening.

Years later, B successfully attempted a repeat performance when the Sonics were in the playoffs. I begged off. "We cannot repeat the experience of 1995 and I don't want to try." I wanted to preserve the perfection of the Final Four adventure. B and his buddies gained entry and had, what I have to believe, was a decent but not comparable experience. I got phone calls throughout the night, chronicling their successful infiltration, but I was content with the memory I had.

When he got home that night, B presented me with two things: (1) signed basketball from George Karl and (2) Shawn Kemp's shoes. He said it wasn't as fun because I wasn't there, but truthfully, you can never repeat an experience and shouldn't try. I still have the shoes, which have gathered dust for nearly a decade, and have no sentimental value to me whatsoever. I'm trashing them tonight.

Many, many years later, we were invited to the VIP thing for the MLB All Star Game festivities, at which we were completely legit. It was a blast, but not nearly as much fun as our two days as trespassers at the Final Four. Part of it was probably the thrill of the scam, sure, and being partners in crime. The other part was that it felt stale to be part of the establishment, so to speak, and there was none of that pure expression of love of the game from the players. We got to see a bunch of sports stars hang out with a bunch of rich white guys, with nary a spark of what makes these guys play their game. It was just a show, and this was just something they had to do to keep the fans happy.

Yeah, I still need an editor. And need to actually hit "publish" on the nights I write this tripe. Still, one of my more favored memories from a life long gone.

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