Latrell Sprewell played with the Golden State Warriors 1992-98, which is important to this story.
I'm entering our local Dollar Tree, wearing a Warriors hat. Outside, a glossy-eyed dude stood and asked me, almost as if reading off a piece of paper: "WARRIORS WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUH?"
So he's up to date with current events, right? Wrong.
DUDE: "SPREWELL DON'T PLAY FOR WARRIORS NO MORE HUH?"
He'll be real disappointed to learn Chris Webber got traded, too.
This takes place outside our local Social Security office. I've just finished my business and am walking to my car when a random African-sounding woman holding some stuff—which is important to the story—gets my attention. She wants a ride to the bus station and feels I'm the person to supply it.
I lie and say I'm heading out of town the other way, but I will let her use my phone to call a taxi. As she does so, an SUV pulls up from around the corner and stops. A much younger woman yells "Don't you let her use your phone!"
Before I can really respond, she's out of the vehicle, spouting anger at the first woman and knocking her stuff to the ground...almost hitting me with it. I didn't know their relationship and I didn't care to find out—I took my phone and split. How did I manage to get dragged into that?
It's late at night and I'm leaving the local Food Maxx. Outside, one bum sits on the ground right outside the doorway for seemingly no reason, saying nothing, staring off into yonder. His tag-team partner stands a few feet away, and soon seeks my opinion as I walk away...
BUM: "Do you think skinny people are overweight and overweight people are skinny?"
(Yes, you read that correctly.)
ME (still in stride): "That is a strange question to ask, dude."
BUM: "I'm just trying to stop worrying about myself."
I just kept going, though in hindsight I regret my lame reply—something like "I don't think people even exist" would've worked so much better.
I'm attempting my hoops routine in the 707, but I've made the mistake of trying to do so the day after a workout—my arms are sort of rubbery. If that weren't bad enough, wind is strong—needless to say, my shots aren't falling as they normally would.
My bricks grabbed the attention of a passerby. This guy looked like a 5'8" Terrell Owens, and he had plenty of (unsolicited) advice to give. I tried explaining why my shots weren't falling—sore arms and cross-directional wind can have that effect—but he wasn't hearing it.
At first, the advice from "T.O." wasn't bad. "Square up yo' shoulders, don't be movin' when you shoot, etc." Because I do have a habit of shooting while not square and/or not still, I respectfully listened.
But then things got weird. His coaching dissolved into one repeated instruction: "You got to talk to yo' ball like it's a woman!" Three different times. He kept waiting for me to try this tactic, but even if I was willing to speak to a basketball...what the hell was I supposed to say? "You look nice today, girl?"
To illustrate what he meant, T.O. took the ball from me and dribbled it in place for about 10 seconds. While doing so, he stared intensely at the ball, muttering something in an unnatural voice that I wasn't close enough to decipher. Good luck getting me to do that, buddy.
Upon realizing he'd lost me, T.O. went back to conventional coaching, but began leaving out significant chunks of instruction as he did so. "When you go up, you got to put yo' hand...(silence)...trust me on that." It was like the Nixon tapes meet the playground. T.O. finally left, and just to be safe, so did I soon after.
I'm in the 408 (specifically Washington Park in Sunnyvale). Just as I begin walking up the path to the courts, an older black guy driving by spots me with my ball and makes a U-turn to ask the following question:
"You know what you doin' with that ball?"
I assume this is an old-time player joking around with me, so I attempt to joke back with him: "Hope so! We'll find out soon enough! Hahaha..."
He does not so much as crack a smile. He looks at me as if I just spoke Klingon to him. Then, the guy U-turns back the way he was originally headed and is gone.
...uh, what just happened?
What was I supposed to have said? Anyone? "No, sir. I have no clue. Can you show me?"
I'm at our local Dollar Tree. This store—and the entire chain, based on my experiences—has a strange policy: if your total comes to, for example, $7.10, and you pay with a $10 but find a dime before getting your change back...they will NOT give you $3. They must return to you exactly what is typed into the register—literally ZERO other businesses I've ever dealt with operate this way.
I've trained myself to announce if I'm paying in cash AND change in advance, to avoid conflicting with their (asinine) policy, as I did on this day.
My total came to $4.35. "Gonna give you $5.10," I announced to the cashier, a young, slow-witted guy of around 20-22. He hears me and supposedly types in $5.10.
He then proceeds to give me back...a quarter. (Which should only happen if he punched in $4.60, obviously.)
"What about the other 50 cents? My change is 75 cents."
"The machine said 25 cents."
The machine said 25 cents.
What if the machine said to give me pubic hair instead of coins?
This is f----- third grade math, I want to say. But my kid is with me—gotta set a positive example.
"The machine is WRONG. You owe me 50 more cents."
Which, once a manager intervened, I quickly got.
The machine said...
If only there were some way for me to hack into the register. I'd have "the machine" telling this guy to strip down to his underwear, lather himself up and belly-slide down the aisles. After all, whatever "the machine" says goes, right??? Idiot.
(Update: I did indeed double-check and no, the total was not $4.85.)
This one came from nowhere...
After playing three full-court games of hoop earlier that morning, I'm taking my kid to the park around 1pm one Saturday. On the way I pass my neighbor and somebody preparing to lug two mattresses down to our parking lot.
I put Josie in the car, then realize I didn't so much as explain why I wasn't offering to help with the mattresses—under normal circumstances I wouldn't care, but this guy did me a huge favor a few weeks ago, so I owed him something.
When he reaches the lot, I apologize for being too worn down from basketball to assist. He basically says don't worry...but some random dude in the driveway not affiliated with either of us felt compelled to chime in:
"You wasn't playin' no BASKETBALL! YUK, YUK, YUK!!!"
He then moves in for the "I'm-just-playin" fist-bump.
This guy's eyes are well past bloodshot, he's wobbly...he's wasted. Again, it's 1pm.
He's not done. The 20 feet or so back to the car feel like 200. I can't recall his subsequent blather word-for-word, but it was slurred, incoherent, and punctuated with two more fist-bumps as I—for some reason—talked hoops with him. With any luck, this fella sobered up and staggered back into whatever moving vehicle he was tossed out of.
I'm doing my hoops/exercise routine at Ryland Park in San Jose.
Not sure how far along into today's session I'd gotten when a grizzled, but fit man of 45 asked to join me shooting around. We did so, even executing some fast-breaks, until I took him up on his one-on-one challenge. "Wes" claimed to have done time recently and because of this, hadn't shot hoops in a long time. It showed—his jumper had zero arc and a third of them clanged directly off the vast backboard.
There was no doubt I'd beat him, but because he was in good shape and athletic, he would at least make me work for it.
I don't remember exactly when he did so, but at some point prior to starting, he guessed me to be 42—seven years too high. That was all the motivation I needed to crush him 11-0 in back-to-back games.
As the second game progressed, Wes couldn't contain his anger, smacking himself at allowing one score, belittling himself on others. He became obviously fatigued—at 5'10", his only real shot at defense/rebounding was out-hustling me—but refused to take up my suggestion for a break. Few of his shots had any hope of falling. He'd beat me off the dribble and not realize it, twisting and contorting himself out of any advantage and allowing me to recover.
After the second game, I walked about 75 feet to the drinking fountain, passing back by the courts on the way to my car. By that time Wes had collapsed in the grass as if gunned down. Sorry to crush him like that, but he called me 42!
I'm walking home from the nearby grocery. I've got a bag in one hand and an unbagged box of cereal in the other. This sparks the curiosity of a man chillin' on his porch as I pass his house:
"Hey, bruh...where the milk at??"
With a big smile on his face, obviously the man was honestly just trying to get a laugh, so I was not rude to him. "Oh, man, I forgot!" came the reply, dumbing down my IQ for the sake of playing along. I now use the other side of the road on my grocery walks, so that when I do buy milk, he can't ask "Hey bruh...where the Nesquick at??"
My hoops session started inauspiciously when a three caromed off the rim onto the nearby playground. I chased after the rock, which rolled into the path of some blonde chick. Despite my shouts of "I got it!", she "helps" by kicking the ball toward me—too close to react, it shoots right through my legs and all the way back onto the court some 100 feet away...goddammit. I doubt it was deliberate, but she was more amused than apologetic. Activate foul mood.
About halfway through my session, another baller—early 40's, short—shows up at the half-court adjacent to my full court. Some of his misses carom onto my side, which happens, and I do not mind one bit tapping them back his way.
After about 10 of these, one of mine lands on his side. He taps it back, remarking something like "You been gettin' all mine, now its my turn!" I reply with something like "It's all good, I need all the exercise I can get."
Why, why did I engage him?
Next thing I know, "Hugo" is making me stop shooting so he can roll his pant leg up and show me some surgical scar—apparently he was injured the year before playing ball on this very court, and apparently he's still bitter about it. How do I know?
Because my next two trips downcourt, Hugo fired off profanity-laced mini-rants about that day, the ambulance, the hospital, the recovery time...zero of which I'd expressed even a speck of curiosity about. The whole time, Hugo is talking right through me.
Between the blonde and Hugo, I declare the day a loss and cut my session short at 65 made threes (rather than the usual 100-150) and high-tail it back to my car without so much as a "good luck" to Hugo. What the hell is it about me that makes dudes want to show me all their scars?
I have purchased dish soap at our local drug store, and walked over to the discount store next door for a few more items. My soap and receipt are in my hand unbagged when I reach the checkout girl. For obvious reasons, I let her know right away where the soap is from...
ME (holding up receipt as well): I bought the dish soap next door.
HER: Oh, is that a hint?...HINT HINT.
What the flying f---?
I'm only telling her this so I don't get accused of trying to lift it.
No "hint" involved. What the hell would I be hinting at, that their dish soap prices suck? Unlikely—everything there is a buck or less.
My response? Stony silence. Hopefully she got the "hint".