Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

A couple of days after my 30th birthday, my best friend had a confession.  He hadn’t bought me a birthday gift yet.  I could’ve really piled on the guilt, especially since it was sort of a “landmark” birthday, but I was actually quite relieved.  The day after my birthday, something exciting had happened that actually made that Bruce’s procrastination a blessing in disguise.  The Minnesota Wild had agreed to terms with Zach Parise to play for their team, and as a hockey fan who grew up in Minnesota, it was a big deal, which I’ll explain in detail later.  When Bruce IM’ed me “Sorry, I didn’t buy you a present yet, is there anything you want?”, I immediately typed “ZACH PARISE JERSEYYYYY” in all caps.

Since Bruce is not much a sports fan, he needed to look up who Zach Parise was.  I expected that.  What I didn’t expect, was for him to ask me if I wanted the Zach Parise jersey from his old team, the New Jersey Devils.  At first, I thought he was being dense.   Zach Parise is a Minnesota born hockey player, I’m a Minnesota born hockey fan, and he just signed with Minnesota Wild, why would I want anything but his Minnesota jersey?. But then I realized that Zach Parise’s Minnesota Wild jersey wasn’t available online yet, and the availability was what was confusing Bruce, not the Minnesota affiliation.

Coincidentally, Bruce was actually in Minnesota at the time visiting his family, so the fact that he hadn’t heard about the signing is actually quite an accomplishment.  Not only was the Parise signing front page news of the sports section, but it was probably on the front page of the paper, the lead story on the nightly news, the biggest story in the state, period.  Minnesotans are rabid about their love of hockey, and even more rabid when it comes to local born players that have become stars in the pros.  While I’m not as extreme as some of the fans when it comes to this fascnation, I definitely relate to a certain degree.  Zach Parise is coming home, and I immediately needed to buy his jersey.

Being the generous friend that he is, Bruce bought me my Zach Parise jersey.  There was some difficulty in the ordering process, so it took a few weeks longer than we expected.  I was getting anxious.  I was worried that the jersey wasn’t going to show up before the start of the season.  LIttle did I know that the season wasn’t going to start on time because of a labor dispute, so the urgency of receiving the jersey ended up being moot.

The last time I bought a hockey jersey was back in 2004, the first time that I visited Minnesota since moving to California.  I visited Bruce’s family and on the last day I was there, I bought a Minnesota Wild jersey.  I had been contemplating getting a Minnesota sports jersey during my entire trip, but with a little bit of advice from Bruce, I ended up with a hockey jersey.  “What’s more Minnesotan than a hockey jersey?” he pointed out.  When it came to selecting the jersey of the player, I didn’t go with any of the stars or any up and coming prospects, I went with a role player named Richard Park.  He wasn’t a flashy player, but he was Korean, and while I’m not exactly Mr. Korean Pride, Bruce also pointed out that I could wear his jersey long after he leaves the team since Park and Pak are the same last name in Korean and that I could “rep Minnesota on the front [of the jersey] and Korea on the back.”

After I arrived back in California, a friend asked me why I would accept a custom jersey that had my name misspelled on the back.  After I explained to him that the Minnesota Wild actually had a Korean hockey player with the last name Park, he didn’t believe me.  Actually, very few people made the connection but I didn’t care.  I was repping my team and where I was from, but after 8 years and the introduction of an alternate jersey, it was time for a change.

So while I cross my fingers that the 2012-2013 season won’t be canceled, I wait to don my Zach Parise jersey to show my Minnesota pride and my support for my team.  Of course I could wear the jersey without there being a season, but I’d like to start wearing my jersey at a relevant time.  While the labor dispute has definitely left a bad taste in my mouth, I know that when hockey is finally here, I’ll be as excited as I was when my jersey arrived in the mail.  Bruce may not love sports, but he knows how big of a deal it is for me to get a new jersey, and now he definitely knows it’s a big deal, especially since he was part of the whole crazy process both times.

I ended up seeing Fiona Apple at The Greek Theatre because Jessica just happened to have an extra ticket.  It’s not that I don’t like Fiona or going to shows at The Greek, it’s that the ticket price had scared me off.  She let me go for free and little did either of us know that I would end up paying it forward just a few weeks later with a free Wilco ticket for the Hollywood Bowl.  The whole chain of events was so serendipitous that we managed to not hit any major traffic on our commute from Orange to Los Angeles, AND we managed to find a free parking spot not too far from the venue.  We had to walk up a hill, but it was a small price to pay for not having to pay for inconvenient stacked parking and we had the companionship of some scotch that we had poured into some red Solo cups.

I decided to buy a carafe of wine at the show, and by a carafe, I mean a bottle that’s poured into a plastic carafe so you won’t have a glass bottle for a weapon later in the evening.  I wasn’t hungry, but I was basically drinking on an empty stomach, so by the time the opening act had finished, I realized that I needed something to eat, and in my poor judgment, I thought getting some popcorn would be enough sustenance to tide me over until we could grab a bite after the show.  So I left my seat, stumbled into a line and proceeded to buy a tub of popcorn, but not before I stared at some video screens that told me that I could buy tickets with no service charges at the box office and that the box office would still be open for another half an hour.  I hatched a plan to not only buy some popcorn, but to also buy some Grizzly Bear tickets without having to pay Ticketmaster service charges.  I was a genius.

Even though I was definitely not in the most sober state, I was cognizant enough of my situation to ask a security guard if I would be allowed back into the venue if I were to go to the box office.  He told me that he wasn’t sure, so I asked him: “Why would they tell me that I can buy tickets without service charges and that the box office is still open until 9?  I’m trying to give you guys more money!” This prompted him to find his supervisor so he could ask for permission to go to the box office on my behalf, and quickly thereafter, I was stumbling towards a box office window, popcorn still in tow, on the prowl for some Grizzly Bear tickets.

When I returned to my seat, Jessica asked me what took me so long to get the popcorn.  I told her “I think I just bought some tickets for the Grizzly Bear show.”  She shook her head both amused and slightly embarrassed.  “Who are you going to take to the show?”  She wasn’t passive aggressively hinting to me that she wanted to go, in fact, Jessica kind of hates Grizzly Bear.  She was asking because she was anticipating a certain answer out of me.

“Chris, probably.”

“Of course.”

Chris isn’t my “goto” person when it comes to shows.  In fact, that would be Jessica, which is kind of strange since Chris had hook ups to get us in to a lot of shows for free since he used to work at various box offices.  He’s used those connections more than a few times for us and I’m forever grateful for that, but we definitely didn’t go to as many shows as you would expect from two guys who love live music and have access to concerts all over Southern California.  Chris does carry a certain distinction with concerts that no one in my life can also stake claim to, not even Jessica.  Chris has seen the “Holy Trifecta” of music with me: Pavement, Radiohead, and Wilco.  This has been no easy feat, since Pavement have been broken up for all but one year since Chris and I have known each other and Radiohead tickets are never easy to get.  There are a couple of people that have seen two of the holy trinity with me, but Chris stands alone as the sole person who’s seen the trifecta.

So while Chris may not be the default person in my mind for just any show, Jessica knew he would be the default person for the Grizzly Bear show for a variety of reasons.  We both knew that she wouldn’t want to go, Chris has seen Grizzly Bear with me before, and probably most importantly, Grizzly Bear may be my favorite band to come out that didn’t exist until after 90s, so if Pavement is now defunct forever, then Grizzly Bear might be the heir to their place trifecta, so who better to be there for that coronation than Chris?  Of course, for those who don’t love the music we do or as much as we do, this is all but a foreign language, a folk tale spun out of control.  It can be simply explained as me needing one of my best friends to bail me out by going to a show I drunkenly bought some tickets for when I was only supposed to be getting popcorn, and that it oddly means a lot to me.