I don’t know why I remember watching basketball with my father. We’d just moved from Texas to follow his job. The move was abrupt, as they usually were. Still, it was good to finally be home…
Saturday afternoon, after he finished his honey-do chores, my father and I left my brother to watch the game. Brennan didn’t mind – he preferred to control his video games than to sit and watch men run around on a hardwood floor. Father and I left the house in his ‘89 P.O.S. Dodge Ram; it was red as it was rusted, but faithful to get us where we needed.
We didn’t go to the game. We couldn’t afford the tickets. We didn’t go to the bars either, perhaps because I was too young, but mostly because my dad wouldn’t waste money on anything but the prodigious “champagne of beers.” As we drove from our rental house, my father sped the engine to a quick 20mph and then slammed on the breaks. The empty bed of the truck listed right as our vertical downhill approach lateralized, my father pushing the wheel to correct course. “It’s pretty slick,” he grinned, shifting the muscles beneath his graying beard; he loved having both scared the shit out of me and taught me an early driving lesson.
After just over a mile, we pulled into the lot across from the Union. It was an eyesore, pocked with mechanical divots, littered with layers of parking paint. This day, though, it was a stark-white snowfield. My father turned the truck in, soiling the even layer of white beneath us. “Ready?” he asked, placing his gloved hand on the door handle. Of course I was.
We sat next to each other in one of the hundred empty chairs. The students had fled home over winter break, giving us our town back for a few cold weeks. The game was already on when we got there. A few chattery men with pungeant personalities spread around the television. I loved hearing them talk about the game, about our team. My father would joke with them from time to time, but most of his talk was towards the television. “Haston!” our scattered ensemble shouted, sometimes in catharsis and other times in anger at the teenager’s missed shots.
We won; we usually did. As the announcers began their sign off, my father looked to me. “Well, you ready.” Of course. I was always ready, dad.