Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In memory of..?

...the Seattle dead of World War 2, apparently.
This past Saturday I finally did something I've wanted to do for a long time.

No! I didn't convince my wife to make love in a hammock. C'mon! That's nuts; you could hurt your back that way!

Nope. I rode the Portland Thorns fan bus up to Seattle for the women's professional soccer match between the Thorns and the home Seattle Reign.

The bus ride was...well, about what you'd expect from a bus ride between Portland and Seattle (though the delays in Tacoma were surprisingly few, and shorter than I would have expected...)...though the pickup soccer at the Scatter Creek rest stop was fun. First time I'd kicked a ball around since my new hip, and I was pleased with my agility.

But it was just a long, dull bus ride enlivened by the fact that we had a pony keg of Lompoc Brewing's fine Kick Axe ale broached in the left rear seat. I don't usually start drinking at nine a.m., but needs must. Mmmm. It is a damn fine breakfast drink.

We made excellent time - overcalculated those delays in Tacoma, no doubt - and arrived outside the Home of the Reign more than hour before gate time, so several of us wandered away to find another place to kickabout. Some admired the bizarre organic metal shell of the EMP music building, museum, whatever; it looks like an aluminum tumor. That and the ginormous steel stalks next to the parking lot. As art they're kind of shit. As toys, on the other hand, they're a lot of fun. It's pretty amazing how far you can get them to flex...
Finally we all regrouped outside the gate of Memorial Stadium, where upon entry we discovered that one of the local car dealers was sponsoring a scarf giveaway.

It's a sad comment on what a scarf whore I am that I instinctively scooped up one of these things before realizing that it was a Seattle scarf. Well, okay, a Seattle/Subaru scarf, but...still. A Portland fan wearing a Seattle scarf'd be like pinning a Nazi swastika on a yarmulke. Just. Wrong.

So I scarfed the first vendor I saw and trooped in to find our seats.
The Seattle organization had given us pretty good seats; down front, near midfield - way better than the far top corner we in Portland pen our visitors into on matchdays, sadly. The odd part was that there was no real attempt to segregate us from the Seattle fans. Most of the Portland supporters did stand together in a block, but the outside edges were pretty ragged, and there was a sort of admixture at the fringes where individuals and small groups of Portland fans mingled with supporters of the local club.

One oddity was an apparent drinking restriction to a "beer garden" at the outer wall; I didn't see any beer served anywhere else in the joint and, while I didn't test the boundaries I didn't see anyone with a brew outside the designated grownup space. Maybe this had something to do with the owner, Seattle Public Schools. Certainly the sign on the South Stand pier suggested that Adults and Students were not to mingle,let alone share the Temptations of Demon Drink
Perhaps the other reason was concern for the health of anyone who had drunk enough beer to need internal relief, because the Memorial Stadium bogs were truly appalling. I've used some pretty primitive facilities - I was a GI and posted overseas, remember - but this was perhaps the most noisome toilet I've ever seen in a major city. I'd be shocked if these things had been renovated since the old pile was built back in 1947.
The day was cool and cloudy, the crowd large and enthusiastic, and the match a solid grudge fight between two teams that seem to genuinely like to whip one another. Unfortunately for a Portland fan, we were on the wrong end of the whipping that day.

Thorns FC lost one of our best defensive midfielders to injury early in the first half, making it difficult to defend against Seattle's excellent midfield or fight forward through it. Just before the half hour the Reign scored a goal on some terrific buildup play. Much as we chanted and sang we didn't help; our team was frustrated and penned up in its own end most of the half.
Halftime we were down 1-nil, and by midway through the second half Seattle scored again, this time an an awful error by one of usually-most-reliable defenders and a member of the US women's team. The last half hour and stoppage time was desperate; Portland scored, finally, in added time but then fell apart trying for the equalizer and gave up a quietus to Seattle's Rapinoe to go down 3-1.

The Thorns had not played well and their body language showed it; after the traditional salute-song to the team the fans remained staring uncomfortably at the team's cool-down stretches before slowly trickling away up the steps and back to the bus.

The drive back to Portland was, not surprisingly, quiet, disturbed only by the brake problems on the bus I'd chosen (the "cider bus", named for the hard cider it was stocked with in place of beer, drove on without incident). Perhaps coincidentally it was just as we finished the last of the brew suddenly a chorus of shouts and shrieks broke out from the left rear;

"Ohmigod, the tire's smoking!" "We're on fire!" "Stop the bus! There's something wrong!"

The driver did, indeed, pull to the side of the anonymous stretch of I-5 bordered by empty fields several miles from the next exit. He opened the door and stumped out to see what was the matter. Inside considerable hilarity tinged with nervous laughter considered the possibilities of a tire-fire while the tire was still on the bus.

I texted my Bride: "FYI - brake problems with bus. May be late. On the other hand, may burst into flames. Will advise."

I love my Desdemona. She replied quickly: "In case of fiery death, assure send pictures."

But today the bus was not half in love with easeful Death. After a moment of backing and starting forward the brakes broke loose at least long enough to get us back on the road. We arrived in Portland as the sun was setting, and I walked through the windy cool of the evening back across the Broadway Bridge to my office lot and home.


mike said...

To rub it in a little I have to remind you that Rapinoe used to play for the University of Portland Pilots. What idiot in the Thorns front office blew the chance to hire her?

On the other hand, I'll apologize for rubbing it in if you send me the Seattle scarf that you scored.

FDChief said...

We didn't get a chance; she was "allocated" to Seattle back in '13. We thought we got a pretty good deal getting Morgan, Heath, and (then) Rachel Beuhler instead... And I gave the Subaru scarf away; scarfed one of the guys tending the meat pie stand and never looked back. I'm a scarf whore, yes, but even a scarf whore has to have SOME standards...