There are days I will always remember for their historical and cultural significance. And then there’s Saturday.
When I actually try and piece together every weird and ridiculous thing that occurred that day and evening, it becomes an event I will always remember. And yes, most of the ridiculous has to do with Diana.
We arrived at the casino around 3. I had to drive separate from my sister because I was working at Dad’s restaurant on Sunday and would need the car to get home. I quickly realized this would be a popular event when I rode the garage elevator with two USA committee members and three fans all decked out in Sun gear. I met up with Jenna, we dropped our bags off at Mom and Dad’s room (and I stole almost everything out of their gift boxes) and headed to the arena.
Now, I’ve been to several Sun games, but Mohegan Sun Arena was packed in a way I haven’t seen it since I saw Taylor Swift last August. It was unbelievable! I was so impressed and so thrilled with the turnout. Due to some ticket snafus, Jenna and I were seated a few sections away from Mom with two of my brother’s friends; Mike and another friend scored courtside seats. We were pretty excited for them until we realized the seats were on the WNBA side, about thirty yards away from Dad’s bench. We texted him constantly during the game; I believe one of Jenna’s best comments was “You know Diana’s going to run by and rub your head for luck,” the way she used to do when she played for us. Also, we managed to get our seats right near Kaili, Mel, and Tahirah! I haven’t seen Tahirah since we went to the White House last year and it was a total thrill to see her (and she looked amazing). I had run into Kaili about a week ago at Whole Foods (of course) but it was still great to see her as well. And of course it’s always a blast to see Mel. I’m so proud of her for getting the job at Florida Gulf Coast! I see a trip to Fort Myers in my future…
The game itself was almost a no-brainer. When you have the kind of caliber players that USA did, it’s almost impossible to beat (although apparently Australia did). I haven’t seen Diana play live in years, and she’s just as magical now as she was when I first watched her back in 2000. The Maya/Diana comparisons need to stop. Maya is just growing into her game; Diana is perfecting it. There is zero comparison. Besides, their styles are completely different.
After the game, we all met up outside the arena, hightailed it out when some people started to follow us, talking loudly about “Geno’s pregnant kid!”, and we reconvened at Geno’s Pub for drinks and dinner. Jenna and I spent the bulk of the night with Maria Rinaldi (nee Conlon) and her husband, Carmine. Fun fact: Carmine and Maria met due to Jenna and Todd! Carmine is one of Todd’s best friends from school, and it took years before they hooked Carmine and Maria up. About a year and a half later they got engaged, and now they’ve been married for about two years!
Dinner was great aside from a small hiccup-Jenna, in all her pregnant glory, got up and ordered a woman to stop taking pictures of us eating our dinner. It wasn’t a problem when she originally came up to us and raved about Dad. And it was a little weird when she stood right in front of us and snapped a pic of us just talking. But when she began to take pictures of my brother and his friends while they ate, then began to do the same to us, Jenna had had enough. She stomped over to the woman and ordered her to stop while Maria raved, “I love Jenna’s hormones! She regulates!”
That’s one kind of person that was at the pub. The other kind were what we deem ‘lurkers’: those who walk around us, stare at us, sniff us out like they’re police dogs and we we’re hiding cocaine in our lapels, but never actually speak to us. That’s almost worse! Just say hello, Dad will kindly talk to you. Just don’t stare, or be too aggressive. At one point we were joking around, comparing Dad to Justin Bieber in a Forever 21.
When Dad showed up, he told me he was planning on making an appearance at the official WNBA reception that was happening in one of the ballrooms. At this point I kind of wanted dessert and I knew the other reception would probably have a doozy of a setup, so after a moment of dillydallying I ran out of the pub and past Soltoro to catch up with him. Once I went there, I snapped up some chocolates, gave Diana a huge hug, and ran back to the pub, only to find out from my Mom that they would soon be making their way to the reception room. So back we went! Sue made fun of the fact that I was directing the group. “I hear you’re not too great with directions,” she said. Jerk.
Once we all gathered in the reception hall, we sat around for about two hours drinking coffee and wine and eating dessert and engaging in some of the most bizarre conversations I have ever been apart of. It was me, Jenna, Maria, Sue, D, D’s agent Lindsay (who was wearing the most killer blazer I have ever seen in my life, and I coveted it fiercely), Morgan Valley, Morgan’s Director of Basketball Operations at UMass whose name I forget, and Penny Taylor. I hadn’t met Penny until that evening, and she’s an absolutely lovely girl. I adored her Australian accent!
A few things that were discussed at the table were D’s newly acquired rules for her European basketball team; whoever translated the form into English clearly did not understand the implications of the word “retard” when addressing punctuality amongst team members. Another highlight? D forgetting that the month of August exists when talking about Jenna’s due date, and my mom attempting to learn Hebrew words from Nancy Bird (Sue’s mother).
My personal fave moment of the evening occurred when we were leaving. An older man had been snooping around the banquet room, and managed to snag Dad as he walked out. As I kept walking with Jenna and Mom, I suddenly heard a very strong New York accent yell after me, “WHICH ONE IS ASHLEY?!”
Dad looked at him and said “Who?” And the old man yelled, “ASHLEY! THE DAUGHTER THAT WRITES!”
The next day, everyone called me Ashley. I still haven’t heard the end of it. But in all honesty I was flattered and grateful that someone recognized me. The internet is a strange and fantastic thing.
My three (!!!) jobs are going well. Helping kids is truly the highlight of my day, and I honestly do love working down at the casino, and not just because my father got me the gig. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get a job up at UCONN.
However, today was incredibly stressful. I made the horrendous mistake of not checking the appointment ticket for a court date until yesterday. As it would have collided with my job at the yoga studio, I immediately emailed everyone at work and got the night off (although I did come in and clean to help out the woman taking over my shift). Unfortunately, I found out later on in the day that the time was written down wrong and I was supposed to go into Norwich this morning. After a terrified moment of thinking I would be jailed, I managed to reschedule until August. I’m pretty sure I will never hear the end of it from my friends, considering I spent all day yesterday and today going nuts trying to get tonight free. Mom said it was meant to be that I didn’t go in tonight. I’m not sure why, because I ended up spending my night watching her run around like a crazy person, sticking flowers into vases…