I like living in Lubbock year round and rooting for my alma mater Texas Tech Red Raiders in football and basketball but recently surrendered to my fifth wife, Melanie, who’s from Sacramento and during the seven months I’ve known her has been pestering me to buy a second home here so we can watch her beloved Kings at least a dozen times a year.
“How come you’re so interested in those guys?” I say. “They’ve never won anything.”
“Neither has Texas Tech. Besides, the NBA’s way better than college.”
“Don’t forget where the beef comes from.”
“I could say that, too.”
When you marry a doll younger than your daughters, you know she’s automatically right about a lot of things. That’s why we’re staying at a downtown hotel under some penthouses twenty stories up. The agent takes us up the residential elevator into a fancy place with lots of glass revealing Sacramento’s sort of got that hot and dry look like Lubbock.
“This amazing residence offers more than three thousand three hundred square feet as well as three bedrooms, three baths, and an incredible private terrace,” says the agent, who’s about my wife’ age.
“I love it, Jimmy. And it would be safe when we’re back home.”
“I feel kind of closed in up here. All my life I’ve lived on ranches.”
“This is a like a luxury hotel,” Melanie says.
“We could stay where we are.”
“Sacramento’s booming. We need our own place here.”
“How much is it?” I ask the agent.
“Four point nine million,” she says.
“I’ll give you four point two cash.”
“Let me make a call.” She steps out onto the balcony, pretends to talk to someone and probably is, and returns smiling. “You’ve got a deal.”
“Have the paperwork ready tomorrow morning and I’ll write the check,” I say. “Here’s my business card to get started.”
“Yes sir,” says the agent.
“Right now we’ve got a meeting with the Kings.”
We ride down to ground level and walk around to the VIP entrance where we show our tickets and are led into a private club at Golden 1 Center. A young man in a suit tells us to have some food and relax before the presentation in a few minutes. Melanie goes after chicken on a stick. I chew beef off the stick. Melanie drinks a glass of champagne. I’ve only been drinking water since my heart attack. We don’t really watch the video. When it’s over I motion for another young man.
“What kind of seats do you have?” I ask.
“Depends on the price range,” he says.
“We want some really good ones,” Melanie says.
“For two deluxe seats it’s sixty-three thousand a year.”
“That’s almost sixteen hundred a game,” I say.
“That includes VIP parking and access to all our clubs and other amenities.”
“We won’t be here for most of the games,” I say. “Don’t you have package deals?”
“Yes, we have a variety of special deals.”
“Listen, Melanie, just pick out the games you want and we’ll buy those tickets now.”
“Jimmy, I want us to be able to go to any game we want.”
“Fine,” I say, pointing to my wallet. “We’re buying the penthouse first thing in the morning. After that, we’ll stop by and fill out the paperwork. Please have it ready.”
“Yes sir,” says the young man.
I tell Melanie, “Let’s see what the product looks like.”
Two teams just finished the first game when we enter a big arena of seventeen thousand six hundred seats almost full, damn good for a summer league game. In fact, it reminds me of the annual spring football game at University of Alabama. These fans aren’t quite that crazy but they’re pretty loco yelling at the Lakers and cheering the Kings whose top pick Marvin Bagley hits a spinning jumper and a dunk and a three-pointer in the first quarter.
In the second quarter Melanie starts shouting, “Oh, I love De’Aaron Fox. I just adore him,” as her favorite player glides to the hoop for a few fancy layups.
After a while I say, “Fox really shouldn’t be playing with these guys.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s a second year guy and returning starter. He’s too good.”
Fox finishes with twenty-three points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Bagley totals eighteen points and three blocks, all the swats against a new Laker, Mo Wagner, the Kings fans already hate for playing rough and acting grumpy.
“Imagine, we’ll get to see LeBron James two times this season.”
“That’s what I was thinking, Melanie. I want to see him every damn game, not twice a year. We better set this up in L.A. instead of Sacramento.”
“You already committed to buy our penthouse here.”
I pull out my phone, push some numbers on the screen, and say, “That deal’s cancelled.”
“I’m keeping the tickets,” she says.
“No you aren’t,” I say, sending the Kings a message
“You may be going to games by yourself in L.A., Jimmy.”
“I’m pretty sure I could find a companion, Melanie.”