Weekend With Liam

With Liam’s phone under lock and key (don’t ask), we spent the evening old school. Things started with dinner and an episode of Dude Perfect. Then Liam wanted to take a skateboard out where I was reminded that my balance and fearlessness has been diminished by age and lack of fitness.

Then it was a little ride around the neighborhood on bikes which was more comfortable for me. When Liam did the “no hands” bit, however, I couldn’t let that pass without following suit. It wasn’t a competition or a gauntlet being thrown, but it also was to me in a sense anyway.

So I went “no hands” as well. It is what I remembered and not that big of a deal once I decided to do it. Except I was looking at the cracks in the pavement and thinking things like, “if I hit this crumbled upcoming bit of concrete wrong will my front wheel turn and throw me off this bike?” I think my mind knows that my body is a little more fragile these days even if I refuse to admit it and throws out more warning signals.

A month or so ago Liam and I decided to bike around Grosse Ille. It was a fun trip, but at one point I decided to do a bunny hop over a water hose on the sidewalk and when I landed my left wrist did not feel right. A month or so later it still didn’t. I shared that experience with him on our ride tonight and did a bunny hop as an example. Then when I landed said…no, that was a mistake.

We both laughed.

After the bike ride Liam and I headed to the basement to find something to do. Firing the Nerf guns at targets quickly turned into shooting at each other. After Liam landed a solid shot on my eyebrow we both remembered that we should be wearing safety glasses.

After popping 60 rounds at each other then cleaning them up it was on to a best-of-three match of cornhole. Then a round of darts. Rounding out the evening was a best-of-three match of ping-pong.

The basement is a big, open play area with an ever-expanding repertoire of amusements. It started as a place to store toys and games. Then it grew into a place to build large structures or do jigsaw puzzles. Then with the addition of some old furniture and a gift of a ping-pong table it grew into a teenager hangout area. And it just keeps evolving.

Day 2

Liam had a morning baseball practice, so after dropping him off I went to a local nursery and picked up some plants for the yard. Even though it wasn’t much effort to dig little holes and place the new foliage, the sun was burning and I

[Editor’s note: when writing journal entries I will sometimes make brief notes with the expectation that I will fill in the details later. Unfortunately, it has been too long for me to remember the details of this weekend, but here are the notes I made about day 2.]

  • Plants
  • Weather
  • Lunch
  • Tennis (wrapping handle)
  • Rain
  • Darts
  • Golf (weather passing)
  • Dinner outside (everyone out)
  • Pitching (mud)
  • Whiffle ball (running into street—bad!)
  • “Let’s go inside and lie down”
  • “This was a fun day”

Day 3

After church and lunch, it was off for a bike ride. Except as we were getting ready Liam tells me, “it’s raining.”

“Do you have a raincoat?” I ask him. (This was just my way of saying, “so?”; I knew he had a raincoat.)

With the bikes loaded onto the car we headed out. Liam wanted to ride on a paved trail due to the muddy conditions that we would probably encounter otherwise. So we headed out to Parker Mills which is a favorite spot for launching nearby bike rides as it gives you various options where to end up.

This time we ended up at the State Theater. Well, at a bike rack near it where we decided to hitch our rides and walk from there. As we were figuring out how to lock up the bikes I looked at Laim and told him that there were spots of mud on his face. “Yeah,” he said, “I rode through a mud puddle.” Then he showed me the mud spots on his clothes.

“OK, Peppa Pig,” I told him.

Now, there were no big puddles on the ride and the few around were easy to avoid. I did see Liam intentionally steer toward a puddle at one point. So much for his desire to ride a paved trail to avoid mud!

(To be fair, I think he was just saying that he didn’t want to go to a place and have things flooded so much we were caked in mud at the end of it. It’s happened before and sometimes we’re fine with that, but he was meeting up with his small group at church later that night and we weren’t planning to stop at home to clean up first.)

The next goal was to play some billiards. So we headed to Pinball Pete’s. Except as we entered the doors there was a huge wave of heat that hit us. I said maybe it was just because we were upstairs and heat rises, (the actual establishment is down a big flight of stairs). But as we descended the heat stayed oppressively hot. I was thinking to myself that hanging out in these conditions playing pool would not be comfortable. But that was our goal, so we proceeded to the pool tables.

Luckily they were packed with groups of what looked like middle school kids and we decided to head back up to make a Plan B. As we ascended we passed another group of people on the way down and I heard one exclaim, “it’s hot in here!”

After we escaped the building and relaxed against an outside wall enjoying the cool air Liam told me that he didn’t think he could have stayed in there. I agreed with him and said we should yell down the stairs, “It’s gettin’ hot in here!”

(That’s a reference to the song “Hot in Herre” be Nellie. Liam got it and didn’t label it a “dad joke”.)

We walked a little along South University before sitting on some wet benches to look around for other places to play pool. The other Pinball Pete’s that I knew from my High School years seemed to no longer be around, but I did find a pub under the Blind Pig that I remembered from long ago that had tables, so we headed that way.

As we walked by the Blind Pig, Liam commented that it seemed to be out of business. I agreed, but said that the pub entrance was around the side and down a hill. Sure enough there was a dingy, downward sloping alley after the building. And a little way down there was a nondescript steel door. Liam looked at me and I shrugged.

(That was me saying, “sure, try it, why not?”)

The door opened and we went down some stairs into the pub area. A tattooed man was taking upturned stools from the bar and placing them right-side-up on the floor. “May I help you?” he asked. I told him that we were looking to play billiards to which he replied that they did have pool tables, but did not open until 4:30.

It was 4:10.

I said thanks and we headed back out to the alley. As we exited and decided what to do next Liam said that it was a good sign that the tattooed man didn’t say anything about an age restriction. I agreed and said that maybe they have different rules before certain times. (The age thing is something I brought up as a possible issue earlier.)

So how to kill 20 minutes? Well, we retrieved our bikes from State Street and rode them down to 2nd street and found another place to secure them. While it was only 4:35 at this time and I was worried that “4:30” was just a suggestion about when things would be open, we headed back to the pub. As we entered the main floor there was already a group of four playing darts and someone at the bar. I took a seat by the guy at the bar and ordered a couple Shirly Temples and some quarters. The bartender asked if we wanted the quarters for the pool tables and the guy at the bar chimed in saying that pool was free on Sundays and maybe Mondays.

The place was dingy, dark, and a lot of fun. Liam and I played a couple games of billiards (for free) while “The Mask (1961)” played on various screens around the place. As we left the guy at the bar was now flanked by two women while the people playing darts were still there filling various glasses with beer from pitchers. We stopped by the restroom on the way out and Liam was amazed that it was mostly a couple bathtub-like things on the wall.

(Note that the Blind Pig is not out of business. As we headed up there were people taking equipment into the venue.)

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