Pan Am Adventure pt1: This Episode – Put Your Shoes On Dude!

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With empty water bottles and sunscreen packed I walk to the rusty old mini-van realizing I have forgotten a couple things…um… ah… oops. With empty water bottles, sunscreen, kids and tickets we jump into our family transport with every intention of pissing off hundreds by passing them in the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle – 3 people or more needed) lanes. Of course, it is noon and there isn’t enough traffic for anyone to even notice the need for such things so I failed to catch so much as a dirty glance – damn.

Arriving at AJX/President’s Choice Pan Am Ballpark, I accidently drive into the field/parking lot for handicap spaces and get directed to the adjoining field/parking lot for other rusty mini-vans. Fortunately, the orange shirt volunteers stuck on parking duty are a good natured bunch who direct me to the appropriate place with patience and only snicker once I look in the rear-view mirror.

Sunscreen is applied and a short walk on temporary rubber sidewalks later brings us to the box-office. By this point, my second born Evan (7) is crying because, well, I must have accidently applied lotion to his eye. My first born Rowan (11) strikes up a conversation with a volunteer even as she offers me water to fix “the worst hurt ever.”

Disaster averted, I offer my extra ticket to a person walking alone toward the box office. After a minute of convincing him that I am neither a scalper or a crazed lunatic offering him an exploding piece of paper, he tentatively accepts, taking the ticket into his hand like a contagion. Yet another orange shirt having watched the conversation starts to laugh while telling me how awesome both I and the exchange were. I notice the lucky recipient of the free collectible bar code finally relax when he is allowed entrance into the park.

Gaining entry ourselves my kids are offered various freebies from even more smiling volunteers who take time to talk to both my kids in turn. Rowan tells each new orange shirt that they are “the nicest person I’ve met today.” Evan in an effort not to be left out explains that we’re going to see “Mexico play Argentina, and I want Mexico to win. It’s softball – not baseball.” Now wearing his new “VIVA PAN AM AJAX!” pin, Evan is all smiles as we take our general admission seats behind the Mexico dugout.

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The crowd is sparse as the teams take the field, but the Mexican fans make up for low attendance with vocal enthusiasm and tambourines. Rowan starts to yell encouragement to Argentina and Evan starts an argument. “He’s bugging me by wanting Art-ina to win…” I ask them to stand by the first row for a picture as a distraction. After a couple clicks, I ask them to try again: “Act like you actually love each other.” A group of spectators start laughing as the ‘little brother’ attempts to push his ‘big brother’ further away.

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Mexico gets on the board first in the third inning eventually scoring five runs by the bottom of the sixth. However, they lose two players to injury in the process. In both cases the players just kind of dropped while action was elsewhere. First the pitcher crumbled with a leg injury suffered as the ball left his hand, and later the short stop fell from what looked like heat-exhaustion. As we were waiting for play to resume on the second occasion, Evan asks me “what is that smell?” No sooner do the words escape than the odour of a dead animal left in a hockey bag comes wafting with the wind.

“I don’t know” I reply honestly.

“I’m standing down there” he informs me and walks away.

It is then that I turn around and notice that a gentleman three rows up has taken off his dock shoes to air out his tootsies. How do you politely say “put your shoes on Dude!”

At this point Argentina attempts a last inning rally. Our breath held I move down a couple rows… you know, um, to get closer to my escaping seven year old. Fortunately/unfortunately, depending on which child you ask, Mexico beat Argentina 5-3.

As we leave, Rowan personally thanks every volunteer he sees and ends each pat on the back with “hope I see you at the swimming events on Friday.”

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