The Time a Basketball Player Hit on My Mom
My family and I were sitting at the gate waiting for our flight to start boarding at Kennedy Airport. We were going to the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island for my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary for five days. Eventually, they opened the doors and people began to file into a line, it was a flight directly to the Bahamas, so I guess people wanted to get to a beach there as soon as possible. We got all our carry-on’s together and made our way to the back of the line. From some distance away I could see an unusually tall figure approaching the back of the line that we were on. I didn’t have my glasses so I couldn’t recognize him, not that I knew a lot of people who were an above average height, but because I thought it could have been an athlete of some kind. It turned out to be just that, it was Dahntay Jones, who wasn’t an extremely popular or well known player, but for someone who watched the most recent NBA Finals they knew who he was.
He, his young son, who was about two or three years old, and a woman who I assume was either his wife or girlfriend, were now directly behind us on the line. I was a little perplexed that no one else noticed him, albeit he wasn’t LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but his team did just win the NBA Championship in extremely dramatic fashion. I whispered to my dad that Jones was behind us, and he said “Wait are you sure that’s him?” as he motioned towards Jones who was only six feet away. My father’s lack of inconspicuousness made me cringe.
My 18 year-old brother overheard the conversation we were having, and knowing that my dad would want to talk Jones’s ear off, he said “Dad, just let him be. Don’t bother him.”
I understood why he would say that. My dad is the type to carry on conversations forever, and I guess he didn’t want my dad to start an avalanche of attention that would be headed in Jones’s direction if he began to make a scene. Regardless of what my brother said, my dad walked over to Jones, who was watching him and his family’s luggage while his girlfriend went to the bathroom with their son. Jones was known for having an attitude and being a bit of a dick when he played, but to my surprise he was extremely respectful towards my father and I, he even laughed when my dad said that he would let Jones dunk on him. Yeah, I know, I cringed too.
After a while we made our way to our seats on the plane and got settled in. If meeting a professional athlete wasn’t already enough of a surprise for one day, I was surprised even more when I saw him sit in the seat directly behind my mom. My mom and I were parallel to each other on the plane. There was six rows across separated by the aisle, my dad had the window, my brother had the middle and I had the aisle seat. My mom had the aisle seat on the opposite row of seats, with Jones sitting in the aisle seat directly behind her. Jones’s son and girlfriend were two rows in front of him, my mom being the person in between them.
The plane eventually shot off the runway and through the clouds to cruising altitude. Jones’s son was having a hard time, either that or he was in a crying duel with a child a few rows behind me who sounded like he was trying to shatter the windows with his screaming. We encountered some turbulence so the sign that signaled everyone to get back to their seats lit up and everyone had to sit down. Jones, who was stood up next to his son’s seat attempting to comfort him sat back down. As I shuffled through the extremely limited movie channels on the TV in front of my seat, I heard the words “Thanks babe” and then I thought I heard my mom say “No problem.” I wasn’t 100 percent sure, so after that I muted the TV, but left my headphones in to give the illusion that I wasn’t listening. A couple minutes went by, and in my peripheral vision I saw Jones going though his carry-on bag and pull out an iPad. He tapped my mom on the shoulder and said, “I’m sorry my son is having a tough time, would you please pass this to him.”
My mom smiled and did just that, he replied with “Thanks babe.” That motherfucker. I knew I heard it right the first time. I wasn’t sure what to think or feel. Should I be flattered? I can assure you that my mom was, since she boasted about it from time to time while we were at the resort. Should I feel insulted? This was my mom for fuck’s sake, I would get pretty mad if anyone said it to my girlfriend, does that mean it should be exponentially more mad since someone said it to the woman who gave birth to me?
Some time went by, I tried to get my mind off of the thoughts I was having, they consisted of “Am I in the twilight zone” and “Why is this happening to me”. I flipped through the channels and all that they had on was the Olympics. I got up to go to the bathroom, as I walked past Jones’ seat, I saw that he had his headphones in and it looked like he was watching “The Godfather”. I also noticed that he had taken his sneakers off, I guess he was trying to get comfortable, which looked like no easy task for a six foot six inch human being in the coach section of an airplane. At this point he was almost doubled over, he wasn’t sick or anything, it may have been the only sitting position that left him with any room for his legs.
As I walked back from the bathroom I saw that Jones was in a more upright position where his legs were straight out in from of him. Upon further inspection, I saw that his feet were actually next to my mom’s feet. What’s with this guy? Can’t he just sit there and hate every minute of the flight like everyone else in coach? The worst part of this was that my mom was completely oblivious to it, she was too busy reading whatever murder-sex-mystery book that she brought with her. Even worse than that, my dad was in another world. He was too busy enjoying the free XM Radio and bobbing his head to The Beatles to care what was going on around him. I think it’s also important to note that my brother was asleep for this whole ordeal so I couldn’t ask him to relay a message to my dad, and I didn’t want to speak to loudly since Jones was only feet away.
I didn’t know what the fuck was going on anymore, but I knew it wasn’t a dream since I can’t sleep on planes. I began to feel a headache coming on, the loud noise of air begin thrust into the cabin coupled with the crying competition between two babies in front of me, as well as the fact that I was so anxious the night before that I got no sleep were all contributing factors. I peered over once again and so that my mom’s feet were apart now, and Jones’ feet were crossed between my mom’s. My mom told me after the flight that he actually put his feet between them in such a way that she described it was “footsies”, which she said with a smile of superiority, as though that happens to her on a regular basis. Hearing that was pretty high up on the scale of things you would probably never want to hear from your parents, it was one notch under the time my mom asked me if I needed my dad to buy me condoms.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I watched this guy warm the bench for LeBron James and now he and my mom were playing footsies. At the time this was definitely a “What the fuck” moment, looking back at this months later, and it still is. The internal conflict I experienced on this flight was all over the place. I didn’t want to ask for a picture because I thought it would attract too much attention to the guy which he would resent me for, even though we would certainly never meet again. I didn’t want to ask my mom what was going on during the flight because Jones was directly behind her and he’d see me asking her. I didn’t want to alert my dad of what was going on because he would surely shout back to me because it was too loud for him to hear what I was saying in such a low tone.
Above all I wasn’t sure how I should feel about the whole tribulation. Should I not even call it a tribulation? Should I be flattered that someone like Jones kind of hit on and flirted with my mom? Or should I feel the opposite? Should I have defended my mother’s honor and gone toe to toe with someone who could probably beat the shit out of me? Should I have interjected in anything that went on? I don’t have the answer to any of the questions I just mentioned. The only question I can answer with absolute definition is: “Was this a polarizing, mentally exhausting, traumatic experience that is also cool to tell people at parties?” without a fucking doubt.