When Mr. Right-Click asked me what I’d like to do for Date Night last Saturday, I was fresh out of ideas. So I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said, “Well, I was thinking we could go to the ESPN Zone and watch the Laker game and eat steak salads.” He delivered this proposal in the kind of hopeful-against-all-reason tone that a teenager might use when trying to sneak something past a watchful parent. But no subterfuge was actually necessary: I wanted to go to the ESPN Zone, and only in part because of the giant leather armchairs from which you were rumored to be able to eat dinner at that establishment.
See — Allah help me — I love basketball, and I love the Lakers. And when they’re playing on date night it always presents a quandary for us: if we stay home, we won’t be able to watch because Mini will want to watch Blue’s Clues, and if we go out, we won’t be able to watch because, well, we’ll be out. The ESPN Zone, with its absurdly large viewing wall, solves all of these problems for us: there are so many screens, and they were so big, that I would have needed a wide-angle lens to capture them all in one photograph. So basically, you’ll just have to imagine what it was like.
What’s more: I did not realize at the time that Stanford was playing Notre Dame in football, and that UCLA was playing USC (also in football). Naturally, I despise football, but sometimes the irresistible draw of an epic fight of good versus evil is such that I am forced to watch even those sports I cannot stand. Not only were their alumni loyalties here — the two most evil forces in NCAA sports were pitted against those alumni schools — it was like a perfect storm! As luck would have it, the ESPN Zone was just the place to be in this kind of a situation.
Plus, while I was there, I had some spinach and artichoke dip that is definitely not on my diet.
And after Stanford mightily defeated the sinister Notre Dame, I flashed the LA gang sign, just for good measure.
And I knew that Mr. Right-Click had counted on this all along — that the Laker game was just one of many attractions for him — that this plan, the ESPN Zone, had been the only way! That had we stayed home, even with two DVRs, the mission would have been doomed from the start, what with the relentless switching back and forth from channel to channel, sporting event to sporting event — the football to basketball and back again would only have driven me crazy right up until that moment where I would have fled into the all-to-willing embrace of the desktop computer. No! He was not sure that leather armchairs and artichoke dip was enough to lure me into a public mancave on a Saturday night, how could he have counted on that?! But he was man enough to try, and that’s why, even if not all of our teams prevailed that night, we left the ESPN Zone arm-in-arm, smiling, winners of that most special sort.