Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

My friend Paul once informed me that his dad told him to go see Harold and Kumar go to White Castle and even paid for his ticket.  When I asked Paul if his dad even knew what Harold and Kumar was about, he told me that his dad “just wanted [him] to support John Cho”, the Korean-American actor who plays Harold Lee.  Paul’s dad wasn’t particularly worried about the details: what the movie was about, or that it’s full raunchy stoner humor. Paul’s dad just wanted his son to support “one of us”, which in this case, was a Korean American who was starring in an American film.

While it was only a $12 gesture, it’s pretty funny to think of a father demanding his son to go watch a raunchy R-rated movie to the point where he’d pay for the ticket.  This is an extreme case of this “one of us” sort of mentality, and while it can seem a little silly, It’s a mentality that I actually identify with (it’s also a Minnesota thing), and that’s probably why I ended up in a little story that I like to call Ryan and Cameron go to Bakersfield.

I met Cameron at work when we were both working retail.  He worked in the stock room and I worked on the sales floor.  He had just moved to the mainland (California) from Hawaii and he didn’t have many friends or any family out here, so I quickly became one of his good friends.  Cameron found out that my friend Jessica and I were really into hockey, so he started to check it out and quickly became a fan.

He started going to games, buying jerseys, and soaking up any information about the game and its players.  Since he was Japanese-American, and since Hawaii has no hockey team, he started gravitating towards players of Japanese descent like Paul Kariya and Devon Setoguchi.  He became particularly enamored with Yutaka Fukufuji, the first Japanese born goalie be drafted into the NHL, and when Cameron found out about him, he found out that Fukufuji was playing on a minor league hockey team in Bakersfield, just a few hours north of where we lived.

He wanted to see Fukufuji in action so I agreed to go to Bakersfield with him so he could catch a game.  He had never been to Bakersfield before, but he was so excited that Yutaka Fukufuji was getting his own bobble head night, that he insisted we go, even though I gave the city of Bakersfield an unfavorable review.  We met up at my apartment the morning of the game, piled into my car, and made our way north towards Bakersfield.  We stopped for lunch in Torrance so I could meet up with a friend, and at lunch, Cameron took advantage of the fact that I was driving by indulging in a 2nd drink.

We made it up to Bakersfield a few hours later, but we arrived so early that they weren’t ready for us to enter the arena.  It was quite windy that day so when we decided to walk the streets of Bakersfield to pass the time, we were met with flying specks of sand.  This was unpleasant to say the least, and completely horrifying to Cameron.  This was a far cry from the serene and beautiful conditions of his native Hawaii, or at least it was in his mind’s eye.  For him, the trip started to go downhill at this point, and it went downhill pretty quickly.

Once we entered the arena, we received our bobble heads and Cameron bought a jersey.  I asked him if he wanted to grab a beer but he declined because he started to get a headache, most likely from the drinks that he had at lunch.  We sat in our seats and soon after, the game started.  The Bakersfield Condors came out on the ice and for a brief time, Cameron was able to enjoy himself despite his headache and his poor opinion of Bakersfield.  He cheered for Fukufuji whenever he made a save, but there was very little to cheer for in this game.  The Condors fell behind early, and it was clear that they weren’t going to make any sort of a comeback.  By the time the 2nd period hit, Cameron’s headache had come back with a vengeance, and we ended up having to leave the game early.

As we headed back to Orange County, it started to rain, and when you couple rain with high winds that are picking up sand, it might appear to the untrained eye that it is raining mud.  Cameron started to freak out that the apocalypse had arrived and I had to calm him down, while driving us both in the pouring rain.  We got back safely to Orange County and when he returned to work over the weekend, he was spinning tales of surviving the hell that is Bakersfield, California, where it rains mud, just so he could get a Yutaka Fukufuji bobble head and a Bakersfield Condors jersey, and that he would do it again, because Fukufuji is “one of us”.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.