March Madness in Los Angeles

One thing I’ve noticed about living in a huge city is that there are so many people and so many events happening on any one day that few things bring everyone together the way that, say, football does in the South.

Or St. Patrick’s Day does for drunks.

Instead of the Irish or Irish-for-a-day going to one central place to celebrate, there are lots of individual celebrations. And, because few people in this town seem to work 9-to-5 jobs, St. Patrick’s Day was marked on its official midweek day; no need to wait until Saturday.

So to make Kenley O’Higgins Young feel more at home, I cooked an Irish meal of corned beef, tater tots (they count as potatoes) and Irish crème brownies. I was surprised that it actually turned out OK, with the help of recipes from John and Katie O’Connor, as well as an Irish cookbook Mrs. Young gave us for our anniversary and a crock pot.

And, because I’m among those folks who don’t have a 9-to-5 job, I was at the local Irish sports bar, Joxer Daly’s, at 10 a.m. PST, in time to watch my Clemson Tigers lose in the first round of March Madness.

I was one of the first two patrons at the bar (a cross between Group Therapy and Delaney’s) as well as the first female to arrive, for which I got a congratulatory handshake from the owner, Mehaul O’Leary.

I returned to Joxer at 4 p.m. to pull for my alma mater, the Wofford Terriers, who also played well but failed to get past the first round of the dance. Good thing I didn’t turn in my bracket with Clemson playing Wofford for the championship.

I picked up Kenley from work at 7 p.m. and made sure we were able to get into the then-very-crowded bar so he could at least have one Irish Car Bomb (a shot of Bailey’s mixed with Jameson, dunked into a half-pint of Guinness and consumed in one gulp).

Kenley is drooling as he reads this.

We both had to work Saturday and were wishing we could teleport to Columbia, as we used Twitter to follow all our friends around Five Points for the annual St. Pat’s celebration there.

On Sunday, Kenley and I braved yet another rain storm to go to our first NBA game together, watching the Los Angeles Clippers play the Arizona Suns.

The Clippers, not the Lakers, will be our team out here, Kenley informs me. He says it’s because moving to a new town and automatically pulling for the best team in the area is bad form.

I assume it’s because he’s simply used to cheering for bad teams.

(I also happen to think that the Lakers come closest to bringing this town together.)

Being a good Southern girl, I could care less about professional basketball (please see my devotion to college sports in previous paragraphs), but it was fun to go to the Staples Center, which I’m sure is a really exciting place to watch the Lakers.

The Lakers games–for which Leo DiCaprio, Kim Kardashian and other stars from the A- to D-lists decorate the courtside seats–are hard to come by for less starry people, even those who work for a sports website.

The most exciting part of the Clippers game came with about five minutes left when the Clippers’ star player (and really only good player) Blake Griffin hit a bad-ass dunk, got called for a foul, was tossed out of the game and then got hit with a technical.

On Monday, Kenley and I again were envious of our friends in Columbia when they all checked in via their mobile apps to the Colonial Life Arena for the Prince show. Should his tour come to L.A., we’ll be there.

In the meantime, Kenley and I continue exploring our new city. We tried Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles (a less-gourmet version than The Whig offered); Overland Café (bottomless mimosas on the weekends at an eatery within walking distance of our apartment); Chego (the restaurant owned by the same chef who operates one of L.A.’s best food trucks); and Mandrake (a bar with no sign out front, where the bartender had on a 1984 Irmo soccer T-shirt).

I discovered a bigger and newer Target not far away and two Whole Foods stores within five miles from our apartment. Kenley was excited that I found an Arby’s relatively close by, and was even more excited to see a “Five Guys coming soon” sign at the mall that’s near his office.

We’re still in search of a go-to (non-gourmet) Mexican restaurant, where the food is good and the prices are low. We’ve learned to expect to pay at least $50 when we go to a sit-down restaurant and don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu.

Oh, don’t let me forget that we celebrated The Associated Press changing the spelling of “e-mail” to “email.” I hope you did, too!

We’re looking forward to April, when we’re going to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding. Kenley assures me he will double our 401(k) nest egg in one night.

April is also the month we get our first visitors–my brother, Patrick, and his girlfriend, Laura. We’ve already got tickets to two of the Braves-vs.-Dodgers games in the series. I’m trying to decide whether I should root for the home team or my former home team.

Finally, Kenley and I would like to wish very happy birthdays to Mrs. Young, Logan and Kaith, who celebrate their birthdays next week. We’re sorry we can’t be there with you.


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