Five minutes remain in the seventh game of the Lakers-Celtics matchup, and I do the only logical thing I can: I snap the leash on Blue's collar and leave the house. The Lakers are down by 4 points.
"Honey, don't you want to watch the rest of the game?" Carl asks, mostly out of politeness. He's so engrossed in the game he wouldn't know if Godzilla were sitting across from him.
I don't want to watch. I don't need to. I can know exactly what's going on and still walk the dog just by listening to the air. In our weird, scruffy neighborhood, some Middle Easterners, some Latinos, some Asians, some gay, some straight, at least one cancer survivor and another person who talks to himself about the shortcomings of the rest of the neighbrhood, everybody is glued to the TV. None of us makes enough to be at Staples Center, but what we lack in income, we make up for in decibels.
"Defense! Defense! DEEEEFENSE" a little boy's voice screams as we turn onto Green Street.
He's so intense I'm sure he's shredded his tonsils, which, I am equally certain, soon will be squirting out his nose.
There's a low rumble of discontent. "Oh COME ON!" a man yells in accented English. "What are you DO-ing?"
Screwing up, apparently.
By the time I turn on to Oak Ridge five minutes later, the timbre has changed. One house on the north side of the street--a modest ranch--is practically rocking off its foundation. Young women's high-pitched shrieks blend with masculine woo-hoos which sets off a round of basso profundo barking from what has to be a Shetland pony-sized dog down the street.
I can tell the Lakers are winning as I turn onto Reynolds. Lots of clapping and hooting.
A cop car is parked at the corner, but I don't see the cop. I wonder if it's pre-emptive; earlier in the day, a friend, an LAPD detective, is on his way to Staples Center to deal with the "knuckleheads" (his word) who will be celebrating later.
We are about a block from home when I hear the first two firecrackers. At least, that's what I am pretending they are. And then more popping. It reminds me of the first New Year's Eve I spent in California: I cowered under a bean bag chair as my neighbors fired their weapons in the air.
We scurry for home, knowing that what goes up will come down. I just hope it's not in my head.
As I open the door, my cell phone twangs with a news alert: The Lakers have won their 16th NBA title.
I knew that.