Vegetable Dunking

Two years ago, I started writing a series of blogs telling stories from my childhood.  I never finished what I started and like I said in my last entry, I’m starting back off from where I left off.  The stories I am telling are ones that are important to me and give a far clearer picture of who I am.  Some of you know me, but very few of me know all of my stories (believe me, I try to tell them all).

Let me start out by saying that I was one of the most gullible little kids in the world.  When I was little, my parents could convince me of just about anything.  During my dad’s speech at my bar mitzvah, he alluded to all the fun tricks him and my mother used to play on me.  The tricks were fun and did a great job of hiding big surprises that were ahead and helped put steam behind some of the things I loved.

One of the most memorable tricks my parents played on me involves vegetable dunking and Continental Airlines Arena.  Shortly after moving into the house that we lived in while I was in elementary school in Millington, New Jersey, my dad bought a basketball hoop and had it installed on the driveway.

I was like any other little kid (I hope) and turned quickly to pretending to be my favorite players in the backyard.  I watched basketball on TV enough to know most of the players on the New Jersey Nets.  These were some pretty awful Nets teams, but they made the playoffs during the year this story alludes to.  I think one of the things that excited my dad the most was that two Syracuse players (Rony Seikaly and Sherman Douglas) who were both playing for the Nets.

Anyway, interrupted from whatever I was doing in the middle of the day on a weekend, my dad said we needed to do something and gathered my little sister and I into the car along with my mom.  We started driving and I was so confused as to where we were going.  The most sense I could make was maybe we were going to the airport.  I asked my dad, “Where are we going?”  His reply was simple, “We are going to a vegetable dunking contest.”  I stared at the floor of the car in confusion, because I couldn’t figure out what a vegetable dunking contest would be and simply replied, “They better have ranch dressing.”

The car kept speeding along and I saw the Continental Airlines Arena (it has some other name now, but is still at the Meadowlands Complex).  I didn’t quite know what the arena was, but got really excited.  I saw a sign for the New Jersey Devils who I knew played in the same complex and asked my dad, “Are we going to see a Nets game?” He replied, “No we are going to a vegetable dunking contest.”  We argued about this as he waited to get up to the cash register so he could pay for parking.

By this point I had figured out we were going to the Nets game and my dad let out a little laugh now that I had finally figured out what was going on.  Walking into the arena I can still remember how loud it was.  The Nets were playing in the last game of the season against the Detroit Pistons for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  The Nets were lead by Sherman Douglas and Kerry Kittles while the Pistons were lead by Joe Dumars and Grant Hill.

I don’t remember much about the actual game other than to say that the Nets won and went on to the playoffs only to be knocked off by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the first round.  If I’m not mistaken, it was a sweep too, but that’s besides the point.

Basketball was not the only time my parents tricked me with a surprise although he was able to succeed in using vegetable dunking on me once more while I was in elementary school.  For my 12th birthday, my mom was forced to resort to tricking us in Atlanta with Spongebob Squarepants the restaurant when we were actually headed to a Hawks-Knicks game at Philips Arena.  I don’t know that my little sister has ever forgiven my mother for that, so if you know where there is an actual Spongebob restaurant, I’d like to know so we can take care of that.  I’m sure if Anna reads this, she’ll be embarrassed since she’s 19 and a College sophomore.

One of the trips my parents took us on by surprise was down the shore.  My parents said they had to go to BJ’s (similar to Costco).  We went over and without telling us what they were buying ushered us by.  We apparently needed buckets and shovels they claimed to give to charity or something if I remember correctly.  This was a case of me being too stupid to look in the backseat and notice the beach chairs and towels.

Another year, my parents flew us into Tampa for a vacation.  When we checked into the hotel and I noticed all this information and pamphlets about Disney.  I asked my dad if he knew that Disney was in Florida too and he acted as though he had no idea.  I kept on trying to figure out if we were going to Disney or not.  One day we just sort of checked out of the hotel.  My parents told me we were headed to the beach or something like that.  I believed them until I started seeing all the random Disney stuff on the side of the road and we checked into a hotel in Orlando.

I’m not really sure what you gain out of this story other than that I was a really gullible little kid, or that my parents love me and probably really miss surprising me like they used to.  What I can say is that every time I think of a time my mom or dad tricked me, I smile a little bit.

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