The Dragon Couldn’t Make It

Observations from Portland Vacation, Day 5:

This is Tucker:

Tucker belongs to the Swope’s. He’s a six-month old Lhasa Apso and he’s hilarious. His main job today was to occupy my nerves while I watched the porous Auburn defense try to stop Georgia. His main job all week has been to try to fill in for Lloyd. He’s performed admirably.

Anyway, I have trouble getting my mind around the sports times here on the west coast. See, I grew up in the central time zone…never lived outside of it. So you get accustomed to sports starting at certain times. Like, baseball games would start at 7:05pm. Or SEC football games are at 11:30am, 2:30pm, 6pm or 6:30pm. The NFL noon kickoff or 3:15pm. So, it’s strange for me to have gotten up, gone through the daily routine, grabbed some lunch, and my normal “2:30” kickoff happens at 12:30pm. Not only that, plenty of scores from the games in other parts of the country were final or close to it. The reverse is true, too. After the game, you might grab dinner. Here, after the game you have a couple of hours to kill before dinner time.

Well, Auburn pulled it out 49-31 in a game that was closer than 18 points and became the SEC West Division champs for this year. Did it under a swirl of controversy, much of which I believe to be media created. It’s amazing when a university and quarterback–who have not been accused of anything in the process–can have their names dragged through the mud by, at best, inference. Kinda takes the fun out of what should be a great story and a great season. Tucker didn’t seem to have an opinion on the matter.

The plan was to hang out with Michael Alpert last night. I really like moving from “teacher” to “friend” and I’ve known Michael for over a decade. The last 6 years we’ve been friends and it was great to have time to get caught up on anything and everything. College football, life stations, the spiritual life in cultural contexts, deep questions, movie quotes, our walks with Christ. It all came up.

Our goal was to hit some places the locals like…and move from greasy spoon to dive to bigger dive. We both are the kind of people that would rather see a good band in a crowded bar than in an arena, so this worked out.

We started at Paccini’s. Very good pizza even though the very nice waitress told us the oven broke and they were trying to fix it. I don’t know if it’s because the wait made us hungrier or what, but the pizza was very good. Michael’s job was to get me a good beer at each place. This one was called Dead Man.

Next we were off to Life of Riley. As far as dives go, this fit the bill pretty well. What’s cool is that this area of downtown was served by free public transportation. You could park in one spot, eat, and even though the next place was maybe 10 or 15 blocks away, no worries. Just wait 10 minutes, train comes by, hop on, arrive at the next place. Very cool, especially since Danny “The Dragon” was going to drive us but got called in to work at the last minute. Life of Riley had a very good wheat beer with a German name I can’t pronounce, much less type accurately.

As per usual, when we have moments like this, we taunt Jeff with a photo of us having fun. Quality is irrelevant. This was just enough to get our point across.

Finished up at the aptly named Low Brow Lounge. Again, a good beer, but I’ll have to ask Mike the name of this one again. We were pretty engrossed in conversation so it never really hit my radar. Cool thing about this place was that it had one of those old-school Pac-Man games that doubles as a table. The only way it could’ve been “divier” would be to have the old-school bowling game with a puck you slide down a wooden lane with sawdust on it.

Nice to have a night with a slow pace, free public transportation, talking about everything and nothing. And to have a good friend give insights that kind of confirm what you’re already thinking about.

Very good way to end a day, that’s for sure.