Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

During Welcome Week of my freshmen year of college, I was invited to a party by a girl I had a crush on that I met during summer orientation.  She was a year older (she was paid to help with the orientation), so she and her roommates were having a party at their apartment.  I didn’t party in high school so this was pretty much my first time drinking, and after numerous jello shots, mixed drinks, and beers, I made a pretty big fool of myself as expected.  I didn’t do anything too inappropriate, I just gave her a hug, but that was enough for her to realize that I was pretty trashed.  I’m still amazed that I didn’t throw up at any point of the night and that a hug (and it wasn’t the most affectionate hug), is the only stupid thing I did.  I remember my typing skills were still pretty good (I got bored and jumped on a computer and chatted with people, yeah I’m a drunk nerd).  I also remember wearing a sweater to the party and coincidentally, the next few times I had ingested a “few too many”, I was wearing that same sweater.  My friend dubbed it my “drunk sweater” and I have since retired it.  Well, I just don’t really wear it anymore, period.

After I got out of college, I went the starving artist route and tried to fundraise so I could make a feature film.  After realizing that people didn’t want to give me hundreds of thousands of dollars, I tried to pitch a sitcom pilot.  I was working with a couple of people on getting a pitch meeting with a network, and one day I received a call from my associates telling me we needed to huddle up and get ready for our meeting that they were scheduling with a certain network.  So I drove up to Culver City on a weekday, and decided to hang out at a mall with a friend from college, while I waited for my sitcom business associates to get off work for our dinner meeting.  While hanging out at the mall, one of my associates called me and told me we were going to get Korean BBQ for dinner.  Since I knew I was going to have a meeting that night, I had come dressed in a nice buttoned down shirt (dressed for business).  But because the grill is at your table, Korean BBQ can and will make your clothes smell.  Upon hearing the dinner plans, I decided to buy a different shirt to wear since I was at the mall and I didn’t want to have to Febreze the heck out my nice dress shirt.  I ended up buying a t-shirt (t-shirts = cheaper than dress shirts) at the Puma store and wore that to my meeting.  Wearing this shirt didn’t cost me my sitcom or anything, things just fell through, which is typically the story when it comes to the entertainment industry.

When I bought the t-shirt, it was for the purpose of not stinking up my dress shirt, but it’s not a bad t-shirt, it’s pretty fashionable.  I wear it as part of my regular wardrobe ensemble and because it gets washed, nobody realizes that I bought it for the sole purpose of being a Korean BBQ shirt.  Of course whenever I do go to Korean BBQ or have a BBQ of any kind, I wear this shirt.  I’m not sure if I wear it for sentimental reasons or because I “trust” that it won’t smell bad.  I just know that I have a lot of love for my shirt.  Obviously, it would have more value to me if I ended up being able to pitch my pilot and I ended up living happily ever after, but this shirt doesn’t remind me of bad times or failure.  It reminds me of how I only stumbled upon it because of a change in the dinner plans and how I wouldn’t have found it on sale otherwise.  It was a slight detour and a pleasant surprise.  While my screenwriting days are definitely on some sort of definite hiatus right now, I don’t see myself as a failure.  The plans have slightly changed and I can say that I haven’t been disappointed by the results though I’m not exactly sure what they are at the moment.  The BBQ Shirt isn’t like the Drunk Sweater; it hasn’t brought me shame and embarrassment.  I don’t expect it to bring me luck but I do expect it to continue to remind me that my journey will be full of detours and pleasant surprises.

When I was a kid, I was a sucker for baseball game promotions.  Whenever they were giving away free stuff at a game, I wanted to be there.  I wanted the free baseball cards, the hats, and whatever other junk they were peddling.  Looking back, I probably drove my parents nuts.  We went to lots of Twins games back when we lived in Minneapolis, but I only remember one time where they relented and actually took me to one of these promotion games, and unfortunately we got there too late for me to actually collect my prize.  I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get my mini-bat (not to be confused with an actual useful full sized bat), but we stayed for the game and we definitely got our money’s worth.  The game went 14 or 15 innings and by the time the last inning hit, we had moved down from our nose bleed seats to seats right along the field level.  We ended up over by the visiting team’s bullpen and when they sent their closer in at the end, I yelled to him that he sucked.  He ended up blowing the game, and a couple of other games after that, so as a kid, I seriously thought I had jinxed him.

As an adult now, I realize that for the most part, a lot of this stuff that they give away is junk.  I would never tell a kid that this stuff is junk, but outside of bobble head dolls, most of the stuff that I get at these games ends up in the trash or it’ll go to my friend’s kids when I move.  It’s not that I think I’m above this stuff, I just don’t want to put up a picture of the 2007 Angels team with some company’s corporate logo plastered all over the poster.  As an adult, I find all this sponsorship stuff kind of tacky.  I mean, I understand it works and that it has value.  I would just rather not have posters or clothes that tell people to eat at Dairy Queen.  It’s a personal preference.

I wouldn’t say that I’m adverse to receiving anything at the ballpark for free.  I’ll take any sort of free food or beer no matter how gross or bad it is, because at the ballpark I like to lower the bar when it comes to my foodie and beer-snob ways.  I don’t care how greasy or fattening my food is, and I don’t mind if I have to drink Bud Light as long as it comes in that cup that has glowing lights on the bottom of it.  It’s all part of the experience and I need at least one place in my life where it’s okay to enjoy liquid processed cheese.

Of course, I still go to games because I enjoy the sport.  I haven’t outgrown my love of baseball.  I don’t like watching it on TV as much as I did when I was a kid when I had all the time in the world, but I still love watching it in person.  I love watching the ball jump off the bat.  It’s just so much more impressive live than on TV, especially when the ball is headed towards your section via a home run or a foul ball.   I’ve been fortunate enough to get one.  I didn’t catch it, it rolled into the (company) suite that we were in and my co-worker gave it to me since it was a Twins v Angels game.  The next day I showed up to the park early and headed over to the seats by the Twins dugout to get the ball signed. Justin Morneau (2006 American League MVP) was doing an interview with Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry (I believe it was around the time that the Ducks and Canucks were playing each other in the playoffs, and Mourneau is a big Canucks fan).  I waited for the interview to be over and I yelled “Hey MVP” and Mourneau turned his attention towards me.  I tossed him my foul ball from the night before, and my sharpie and he signed the ball and tossed the ball and marker back to me.  It was a surreal moment for me as I basically played toss and catch with one of my favorite baseball players.  I was no longer an adult, I was back to being that little kid who wanted to go to all those games to get the free souvenirs.

I was at an Anaheim Ducks game a few weeks ago.  I went with Jessica, who I hadn’t seen in a while.  We were both exhausted from trying (and succeeding) to snag Thom Yorke tickets from earlier that morning.  The Ducks had blown the lead but we were probably too tired to really care, and then a puck flew into the stands about a row in front of us.  The people in front of us were feverishly looking for the puck but after a minute they threw their hands up in the air, confused.  I was so out of it that Jessica had to motion to me that the puck was directly in front of me, right behind the row, so I just instinctively lunged down and grabbed it.  I was told by the usher to stand up and hold the puck up high so everyone could see that I grabbed it.  People cheered for me except for the people in the row in front, they just kind of grumbled.  It dawned on me then that I was in sports fan heaven.  I had received a foul ball and an out of play puck in the same lifetime.  Most people would be lucky to have gotten one of these and here in my room, I have both.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t get the puck signed, of maybe it’s because I was taught to share as a child, but I think I’m going to give the puck to Jessica since she paid for the tickets.  I’m definitely not giving it to her because I don’t want it.  It’s something that I actually considered buying a display case for (my autographed baseball is already in one).  Souvenirs like these have helped me see past the corporate sponsorships that plague sports today and perhaps since I already have one thing to remind me of my pure love of these sports (and will be a great story for my future kids), I’m okay to part with the other.