The way the rain was pouring down on the windshield and windows I could barely hear or see anything beyond the glass. The interior light struggled to stay lit inside my 1991 Honda Accord so I went through my checklist one last time.
Cell Phone: Check.
One admission ticket to tonight's Wizard's game: Check.
Spending money for Nachos and other candy, maybe some triple-dips: Check.
My car was struggling to provide heat and light for much longer so I figured there was no need for me to press my luck. I gave up the thought of listening to the end of that Eddie Money song that was just getting good, knowing that as a result it could be in my head all night, but off went the radio, the interior light, the engine, the headlights.
The rain felt even louder now without competing against the music and the light. I put on my Indiana Jones hat and opened the door into the pouring rain.
I was a few blocks away from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. where on most winter nights I could catch up to a group of fans making haste through the dark weather, a walk on which most nights I would have been thinking about the sports radio in my head that I was just listening to, or most likely, I'd be spinning my reaction to Gilbert Arenas' latest blog entry.
But Winter 09 was a different animal in many ways in Washington. Excitement was high in the Capital but Wizards attendance was low. Interest was down, and Gilbert had stopped blogging.
What happened to Gilbert the rehabbing writer? The assassin?
Alone in the street I ran across to my usual convenience store, it was empty except for Gen's buddy that was just always in the store. I don't think Gen was his real name but he owned the place and we got along well so, whatever.
I made my way right over to the Nacho's and started squeezing out as much "free" melted cheez as I could. There was a time I could yell NACHOOOOOOOOOOOO and the place would go nuts. I stopped for a moment and silently acted-out a "Nacho" yell toward Gen but he didn't even care. Neither did his buddy.
"You go to Wizards game?" This was Gen asking the question as he started to ring up the Nachos.
"G-man—you think I'm out in this weather for my health? Hey when's Arenas coming back?"
"Arenas? No blog! He gone!" Gen hated Arenas lately. He could have passed for an Arizona fan.
"Gen, its ok - I'll find him!" He knew not to believe me, but I was on a quest to find him.
He gave me my change, I took it, I smiled at Gen's buddy and left the store.
I put my head down and raced through the rain, crossed a block dodging cement borne trees along the sidewalk and I could see the lights of the Verizon Center up ahead. At the corner of the next block I paused to give a shout to my friend who wasn't really a basketball fan but lived close to the Verizon Center.
Our timing was perfect as usual and he saw me fighting off the winter night's weather from his warm apartment and opened his window so we exchange our traditional password.
Once upon a time we screamed this word. Tonight it was as perfunctory as his closing the window to the rain and the Wizards.
I tossed all this around in my mind and before long the rain let off its assault on my head neck and shoulders and I made it through the open air where a crowd used to be and gathered myself inside the Verizon Center.
My Wizards season ticket used to have a lot more value; there was a time that this weather wouldn't bother me - to see a Wizards game I'd sleep in the snow.
To see a Bullets game? Forget about it, I'd spend a week out there.
To see the Wizards, NOW? Maybe I'm older but I felt really cold and wet.
Before long I was over myself and back on the Quest for G:ilbert Arenas. My Partner in Crime, who I called the dipstack from the front-back Nick knack paddy-whack O'Neal usually met me above Section 110 which is across the floor from the Wizard's bench. He saw me and our journey was unspoken; down 11 rows, take a left, fight over the four dudes between us and the aisle and enjoy the game.
Those guys weren't there, neither was the Wizard's February atmosphere (even though last February was HORRIBLE), and there was no sign of Arenas coming back to push the Wizards into the playoffs, even if we had to face Cleveland or Boston.
I wondered about next year for a moment; we've almost got the least wins in the NBA, we'll get a lottery pick next year. Maybe the Wizards are giving up an unintentional intentional pass - like when a pitcher throws junk just to walk a guy but doesn't get in to the formalities of an intentional walk.
I wonder if the Wizards are just giving the season away with the future in mind? I wonder if that's why Gilbert has been so quiet?? Is he in on it? I asked Nick and he didn't seem to want to admit it even if it was true.
"Hibachi's probably been feeling a little upset with the knee thing, let the guy chill."
"But he was supposed to be back in mid-January! I drafted him on my fantasy basketball team. I'm gonna ask him."
"Agent Zero! Don't-"
At this time I guess my emotions and adrenaline of the quest got the better of me and I ran down to the second row of Section 111 and started shouting at Arenas over the players who were warming up. He might have been looking at me, he might have been watching basketballs rally for the rim, but for a moment I was sure he saw me.
I made it back to me seat embarrassed and proud; "He saw me."
Nick was not impressed but a little bit interested; "What did you say to him? Did he say anything back?"
"Oh you'll find out. He'll be blogging again now."
My quest for G:lbert Arenas was complete, and I started singing "Take me Home Tonight" in my head.
Read more from Greg Sheehan at www.turningtwo.com