September 25, 2004 – After a good party at New Brentwood, filled with old friends and new friends, I am sitting outside disappointed, smoking a cigarette. It’s late, after midnight certainly, but not college late. The girl I spent all night talking to and hitting on, I could not convince to stay. She instead departed to take care of her new kitten.
While outside, Tron is going on and on about God knows what. I don’t care what he’s talking about, as I can’t get my mind off this girl. So when he leaves to investigate whatever the hell he’s fixated on, I take it as an opportunity to get up and call her. And I walk. I’m walking toward her apartment. She answers. I tell her I’m on my way over. She tells me she’ll see me soon. I have no idea how it will turn out, but I hope…
While talking on one of the many nights I begin to spend together with this new girl I can’t seem to stop thinking about, she drops this tidbit in conversation about growing up playing baseball:
“I was always a catcher. It’s the best position – the most action. I played up an age division with my sister, and I was the first girl who could throw to second from her knees.”
That’s it, I’m done. I’m marrying this girl. I fell in love right that very second, and never looked back. Any woman who can even memorize something that baseball-rific is worth keeping around. And this was true! I should have married her on the spot.
I don’t frequently share ESPN: The Magazine articles I’ve read with women I date, but for whatever reason I feel compelled to show my new girlfriend this article about Jake Peavy, a young stud pitcher for the San Diego Padres, who had won the ERA title the previous season.
Kristin loves the article, and now Jake Peavy, because the two of them share the same favorite song. They both share what, at first glance, appears to be a strange affinity for the song “Pancho & Lefty” by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. For Jake Peavy, the song was his Paw Paw’s favorite song. For Kristin, it was her dad’s favorite song. I couldn’t tell you at the time why I shared this article with her.
In August of 2005, my steady girlfriend Kristin, my best friend Jason, and our good buddy Brian go to Las Vegas together. Before the trip I teach everyone how to play craps, just as my dad taught me. I teach them the pass line, how to put odds on your pass bet, the come line, and how to put odds on your come bet. It’s a great system, and I’m the only one who loses money on it because I get too cute by half and start throwing down a bunch of dumb prop bets to show off how much I know about the various bets on the table. I’m an idiot.
Kristin does the best by far. And it’s a good thing too because she is broke as shit going into this trip. She takes my strategy, presses her bets aggressively (but not stupidly), and stacks the chips higher and higher. She’s got her entire trip covered from gambling wins, and even buys cab rides and rounds of drinks.
When she calls her mom and tells her about the trip, she tells her, “I think craps is my game. I just get it. And it’s really fun.” Her mom can only laugh. This exchange ensues:
“Well of course craps is your game.”
“Why do you say that?”
“It was your dad’s game too.”
In August of 2008, Coors announces its craft brewing arm, AC Golden, will attempt a re-launch of Herman Joseph’s Private Reserve. I’m excited because growing up in Golden already makes me a Coors homer, and my burgeoning taste for craft beer will now be served by my hometown brewery.
Kristin is excited because that’s what her dad and her dad’s best friend used to drink when she was growing up. Kristin tells her mom the news of the re-launch. Her mom is wary. But why?
“Because when those two guys would drink Herman Joseph’s all night, it was a different kind of drunk. They’d be totally different people.”
Three months later I waited anxiously for my to-go order from Elway’s to be finished, so I could take it home. I desperately wanted to beat Kristin home and have it waiting for her. I didn’t. As I waited anxiously, I sipped a Herman Joseph’s Private Reserve, at the time only available in about a dozen high end restaurants in the Denver area. I finished it just as my food arrived in the back. I picked it up and left.
A few minutes later I proposed to Kristin and she said yes. I was a totally different person.
In March of 2009, Kristin and I (now engaged) travel to Tucson to take in some Rockies’ Spring Training. While there, we reunite with Kristin’s closest family friends and have a big family dinner at their house. The patriarch of this family was best friends with Kristin’s father, and every year the two families would travel to Lake Powell together on vacation. Since Kristin’s father died when Kristin was much younger, I obviously never met him, so I asked these close family friends of Kristin’s – more like cousins, when you get right down to it – what her dad was like.
My favorite anecdote from this trip took place when Kristin was about 10 or so. The oldest of her cousins was probably 14 or 15, and gangsta rap has just found its way into the schools. Straight Outta Compton is huge, and like a typical pain in the ass adolescent, he wants to listen to the newest music designed solely to incite youth and annoy old people.
So he’s got his boombox blasting N.W.A. as the boat is pulling away from the docks. Kristin’s dad grabs it, tosses it on to the beach turning it into the boombox equivalent of Tom Hanks in Cast Away, and announces, “We’re not gonna be listening to any of that goddamn witch doctor music on this trip.”
Ha! That sounds like something my dad might say. When I used to buy Hot Tamales candies out of the little 25¢ dispenser at our favorite Mexican restaurant, my dad used to ask me, “Are those those red things that taste like hell?” I was 7 years old when he asked me this. And I’m sure he disapproved of the goddamn witch doctor music I would grow to love only a couple years later.
Near the end of our rehearsal dinner hosted at my parents’ country club, we dispatched someone to get two Herman Joseph’s from the bar. Kristin and her dad’s best friend shared a couple of beers.
During our wedding, the DJ played “Pancho & Lefty” by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Kristin and her dad’s best friend shared a dance.
September 25, 2013 – Todd Helton’s last game at Coors Field. Kristin and I are watching the game from a new hangout. We’re eating $2 tacos and drinking beer. Todd steps up to bat in the bottom of the 2nd inning to a raucous ovation. The 1-1 pitch is delivered and Todd grooves it deep to right field for a long homerun that caps off an amazing career in Denver. Everyone goes apeshit, and rightfully so.
I turn to her and I say, “That one was a gift from your boy up there.”
“What do you mean?” she says.
“Look who’s pitching.”
Kristin looks up and Jake Peavy’s in the frame by himself. Kristin starts to choke up and we have to change the subject lest we both start crying in the middle of this hipster bar on Colfax.
Nine years ago on this date, I hooked up with my wife for the very first time.
19 years ago on this date, Kristin lost her father unexpectedly to a heart attack when she was only 14 years-old.
I’ll never know Bobby, but I like knowing that he drops in on us from time to time.