A sidebar. Often, with my adventures, I write stories of what takes place in my life. For years I’ve written these stories at times, and I’ve always shared them with all my friends via email. I decided I’d share this story with you here, kind of like when I shared my Reno story, as something to break up the monotony of always talking about the same things. I hope you enjoy it; as always, it’s the truth:
Sunday was one of those days where I experienced some highs and some lows, but the highs were pretty high and the lows really weren’t as low as one would expect.
Of course, I was going to the Syracuse University basketball game with my friend Josh Shear, who had an extra ticket and had invited me to go. He’s the same guy who invited me to go to the football game back in September. Heck, it pays knowing people who get extra tickets to games. I was excited, as I hadn’t been to a Syracuse basketball game in years.
My wife suggested that I leave early to find a decent parking space where I wouldn’t have to pay for it, plus I could be much closer than I usually am, as where I was planning on parking would have been quite the hike. For those unfamiliar with Syracuse University, it’s up on a high hill, and all the streets leading to the university, if you’re coming from the north or west, are upwards. She keeps telling me, I’m not the age, nor in the shape, I used to be in; wives can be so mean.
I left early and got a great parking spot near where my wife parks when she goes to work every day. I was about two hours early, and decided I would go and get a piece of pizza and read at my favorite university pizzeria, The Varsity, a famous Syracuse landmark at this point in time. I walked in and realized I wasn’t the only person who’d thought about arriving early. The place was packed, and there wasn’t a seat to be had.
I walked out and decided I was going to go to Marshall Square Mall to wait for Josh. I texted him while walking, telling him where I was heading, and he texted me back saying he was in a place called Chuck’s. I stopped and said out loud, but low, “Where the heck is Chuck’s?” Then I looked up; I was standing right in front of it. It used to be called Hungry Charlie’s many years ago, so that’s why I was thrown off.
I went inside and didn’t recognize the place. It had gone from a restaurant when I knew it to, well, basically a big bar. Rather, it had a big bar inside, but it also had lots of empty space. I looked around for Josh, who’s not necessarily the biggest guy in the world, and I couldn’t find him initially, then I found him tucked in between a bunch of bigger guys at the bar, eating a hamburger.
He was just finishing up, so we went to sit at one of the tables. The walls were full of graffiti, and much of it was quite crude. Not my style, so I ignored it. We talked for a little while until I realized that I was having trouble hearing him. I mentioned it and he said to turn around; once again, I was in a place that was packed with people, and most of them were getting themselves “beered up” before they made it to the game.
Josh suggested we go to another place, and we walked outside and down these steps, which looked familiar, but what was there wasn’t familiar. It was another little restaurant called Funk & Waffles; yup, you read correctly. I could smell that sweet scent as soon as I walked in, and I was instantly hungry, which was a shame because I’d eaten less than two hours earlier, a big meal at that. For once I also knew better than to eat a waffle, as they tend to put me to sleep (though it could also be the syrup; can’t eat waffles without syrup, now can I?), and I had a basketball game to attend to.
While we were sitting there talking, my phone started vibrating. I went to answer it, said hello, and heard nothing. Then I realized that I’d had my Bluetooth earpiece connected to the phone when I first got in the university area, talking to my wife, and started hunting for the blasted thing in my pockets. I eventually got it, talked briefly to another friend, and that was that.
We then decided to head for Carrier Dome for the game. Before we did, I talked to the owner of the place and asked him what used to reside in his space, because I knew I’d been there in the past. He said it was a part of Hungry Charlie’s, about 1/3rd of it, and that two restaurants earlier had purchased it and had tried to make a go of it, and now he owned it and not only had a thriving restaurant, but five nights a week has music. Very pleasant guy, I must say.
Man, what a walk that was! It felt longer than it had back in September, and I knew it was because it was so cold that I was wearing my heavy jacket. At one point I felt that tightness in my chest of someone who’s probably exerted themselves more than they should have, and the pain was palpable. But this was the Syracuse Orange, playing an important game, and I was getting there, by hook or by crook (whatever that means).
We finally got to The Dome, and I told Josh it was too cold to be walking around looking for a specific gate, so we were going in to the first one we got to. We did that, showed our tickets, then went about the business of finding our seats. Turns out we were in Section 104, which is close to the floor, and we ended up right next to the student section.
For those who’ve never been to a Syracuse basketball game, it’s something to behold. It’s the largest on campus arena in the country, averaging 25,000 fans per game, and earlier this year they topped 33,000 when hated Georgetown came to town. Back in the 80’s, I was part of the largest on campus crowd in history, when we hit 35,000 for either the St. John’s or Georgetown game; I’m not sure which one was the record breaker, as I went to both games, and the other one topped 34,000. Carrier Dome is also the 6th largest domed stadium in the United States now; pretty good stuff.
We went through the preliminaries of player introductions, the national anthem, then the game. Suffice it to say, the opponent, Cincinnati, didn’t bring their C game, let alone their A game. It was 40-17 at halftime, and Syracuse, at one point up by 33 points, won easily, with the bench players getting in for the final 100 seconds of the game.
The game itself, though a rout, was punctuated by a former star player from the 1940’s having his number retired, which is a great honor; one boisterous guy who could be heard over everyone else (there’s always one, isn’t there?); the cheerleaders showing off absolutely amazing abs; and a player from the other team getting tossed for a flagrant foul (it looked uglier than it turned out to be, as he hit the most muscular player on the Syracuse team). I was good throughout the entire game, as I didn’t get any food or drinks; I behaved, and I also didn’t lose my voice, which was a common experience when I used to go all the time.
We stayed until the final seconds ticked off, then we grabbed our coats and left. We got outside and were hit by the cold air once again, and bundled up. It was much easier walking down the hill this time around, and we were bolstered by the overwhelming Syracuse win. It was as we got close to where Josh had his car parked that I suddenly realized I didn’t have my keys anymore.
I had no idea where they could be, and I went into a panic of sorts. I have lots of keys on the “chain” which isn’t actually a chain at all, but my most immediate thoughts were the key fob for my car, the fob for my home alarm, and of course how I was going to get home. I already had the image of my wife giving me “the speech“; no husband wants to hear the speech, and of course this would be following up “the speech” got a few years ago when I’d suddenly developed the habit of leaving my credit cards at stores and restaurants.
We decided to first head to Funk & Waffles to see if they might be there. We got there and it was closed, which was stunning since the owner, whom I’d complimented before we’d left earlier as to how beautiful his place smelled and promised I was coming back soon, had mentioned they didn’t close the doors until 5PM. No matter, because in my mind, I thought I’d lost my keys when I had pulled my gloves out of my coat pocket when we walked out of The Dome. We trekked back to The Dome, going the same way we’d come, looking at the ground once we’d gotten halfway for my keys.
Just before we got all the way back to The Dome, with my calves burning but, oddly enough, no pain in my chest this time around, I told Josh that I fully expected to find my keys, because I usually end up lucky like that. We got to the Dome, looking around outside, and we saw nothing. We then tried to find a way back into the building, hoping that maybe I had dropped my keys where we were sitting. We got in, went to the spot we’d sat in… nothing.
I then asked one of the workers there where people would go if something was turned in to lost and found, and she told me. Josh and I went back out, but couldn’t find it, but did find someone who guided us down to that office. Nothing there either; more panic time. We went back to the bleachers, looked all around again, in case someone might have kicked them… nothing.
As we were deciding to leave The Dome, I knew it was time to call my wife. I was expecting a certain reaction, and I got it, along with the two questions I knew were coming because, after all, we humans are creatures of habit. The first was “How did you lose your keys”, followed immediately by “where did you lose your keys”? Of course, if I’d known the answers to each of these questions I wouldn’t have lost them in the first place! Still, she said she’d pull herself together and come get me, but I knew she wasn’t happy. I told her to have her cell phone on, just in case, because I still expected that I was going to find them.
Josh and I started walking back down the hill, slower this time because there really wasn’t any reason to rush, plus we took longer to look around. I was already resigned to the fact that I had lost my keys, but at least I’d be able to drive back home once my wife showed up. Then Josh said “Tomorrow you should call Funk & Waffles to make sure you didn’t leave your keys in there, because that’s the last time I saw them, when you pulled them out to look for your Bluetooth.”
Then it hit me, and I said “Heck, why not call them now”, and I pulled out the cell and dialed Information. They put me through to the restaurant, and I mentioned how I’d been there earlier in the day and I had lost my keys, and wondered if they had them. The guy said “I have this large set of keys”, which sounded like mine. I asked him if it had a black key fob on it, and he said yes, and it also had Snoopy attached to it. I said those were mine, and asked if I could come get them, as I was at The Dome.
He said yes, come on down, and I was elated as I hung up. I told Josh they were at the restaurant, and he said “You mean you have a Snoopy on the key chain and you asked the guy if it had a black fob, which many key chains have?” I said I was thinking about my car and had forgotten about Snoopy, which made me want to slap myself silly, but there you go. I called my wife and told her all was fine, and I’d be home in a little while.
We got to the restaurant, which was still locked up, and I saw a guy inside cleaning up. I knocked on the glass door; nothing. I then started banging on the glass door and glass panel, and this guy just couldn’t hear me. All he had to do was look up, but for whatever reason he wouldn’t even look up.
I groaned, then decided to call again. When the call went through, the manager came to the door, said he recognized my number, and handed me my keys. All was right with the world, and Josh and I parted to head to our respective vehicles. When I got into my car, I tried calling the friend who had called me while I was in the restaurant, and had to leave a message, to which I said “I’m just leaving from the Syracuse game, and I’m heading home to listen to ‘the speech’, and it’s all your fault.”
And yes, though it was short, I got “the speech”. But I also had my keys; whew!