Albuquerque Playday

I had the best day. Met up with an old friend and went on a “Let’s wing it” adventure. He picked me up in his truck around noon and we headed for the Sandia Peak mountains to ride the tramway above the pine-covered bear-filled forest. It sounded magical. The ‘Except Tuesdays’ rule came into play, just like it did in Memphis when I went to Graceland and the mansion was closed — but it made no difference. We were still gonna milk this visit for all we could squeeze. He said we should jokingly ask the guard if there was “A secret Tuesday ride special going on.” The old man chuckled and said nay. We turned around and parked on a hill overlooking the city, 90210 lookout point style, and he pulled out a fancy bottle of whiskey. I knew it was going to be a good day.

Kyle is a comedian. The kind that makes your cheeks and stomach hurt from laughing so hard. He doesn’t even have to try. It just spews out of his mouth, laced with charm and ease.

We were ready to chow down on tacos and chicken wings at the Santa Fe Brewing Company when I suggested he say Grace. The purple haired hippie bartender looked at us and smiled. We bowed our heads, grasped hands and let the improv take hold. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to give thanks to thine gracious selection that haveth been lain upon our heads. Bless this bountiful meal in all its splendor and glory. Let us feast on the array of plentiful meats from sea and land, that haveth been bestowed among us. We give thanks to the creatures who hath been sacrificed for thine pleasure. Now let us gorge on their holy bodies in sanctity and union.” He sounded like Jim Carrey in Cable Guy at Medieval Times. I loved it. I closed it off with a “Blessed art thou among women. And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Amen,” recalling prayers from my Catholic Church School days. I told him we’d be a hit at weddings and invited him to say Grace at my family’s next Thanksgiving. He agreed. I wondered if an uber religious person heard us, they’d condemn us for our mockery. It was Tuesday afternoon at a pub, and everybody was outside on the patio soaking up the sun. I think we were in the clear.

I bought some souvenirs, Green Chile Peanut Brittle and Moccasins as we made our way downtown where I ordered another La Onza beer and kicked his ass at Foosball and Shuffleboard. He wore his shame with pride and took a gentle sip from his beer, cracked his knuckles, and got ready for another beatdown. To console his losing streak, I told him about the time I tried playing Foosball alone, like a loser with no friends, at a bowling bar in Cleveland. The Corner Alley Downtown on East 4th Street. I asked two guys coming out of the restroom if they’d play with me. One sat down and the other joined me at the table. I may have looked lonesome and unassumming but I slaughtered him in minutes. I told the other to hop in to help his buddy out. I don’t know if they were rookies, or I was just that good, but the cliché “I can’t believe we’re losing to a girl” line… made me feel pretty damn good. They asked if I was like a Pool Shark who pretended to be a damsel in distress, but in actuality was a professional Foosball Player. I laughed and told them I used to play as a kid, but recently brushed up on my skills while working abroad in Germany. They call it Kicker over there and when a venue had it, that’s where I’d be. I loved playing games, and winning only fueled my eagerness to play.

Sushi, bar-hopping, and a mediocre movie later we were in my hotel room watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. We decided to mimic one of Jimmy’s guessing games. The Whisper Challenge. We grabbed a notepad and pen, and cranked the headphone tunes while he guessed “Winnebago” and “I wanna bang ya?!” for “jalapeño.” His glee for what he thought he heard was adorable and childlike. It felt like the movie Big. Two adults having a slumber party like children, PG-13 style.

The next day we headed for the tramway. I hoped it’d be the same guard but it was some young kid. He only added to our disappointment when he told us they were closed for the day because of high winds. We looked at the trees, they were barely rustling. Oh well… I guess it wasn’t meant to be. We watched the sunset and played darts at a local Brewery. He taught me the proper way to play Cricket and I told him if I had a house it’d be filled with games like Tom Hanks. It dawned on me. I was Tom Hanks. I was the kid. He let me play DJ the whole ride home and I put on America’s “A Horse with No Name” as we rode along the oh so suiting dark desert landscape. He dropped me off and I wondered when I’d see him again.

That’s the great thing about visiting a city you’ve never been to. There are no expectations had, so anything new is exciting. Every experience and place you see is unique and beautiful, because it’s for the first, and maybe last time.

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