I think back about what I liked most or remember most about Christmas as a kid and one of those things that stands out in my mind is the waiting for it to come. This anticipation included finding ways to make the clock tick faster so the big day would arrive. I guess parents who are older and wiser know that you can't make time go any faster than one tick at a time. So they devised ways to make hours and sometimes days go by as we moved at molasses speed towards the big day.
Picking out the tree, getting down the decorations could take up a day. Shopping and trying to decide what to ask Santa for burned up a Saturday.
Lest you think I have ventured into the dark corners of senility and somehow think Christmas is just days away, let me hasten to say that I started thinking about anticipation because I am trying to make days speed along until I head out for five days in Los Angeles.
I have read, I have boxed up books that I want to store and cleaned up my apartment, I have done everything to make the time in August come quicker.
Life is funny because you can be a big fan of something and never have been there. I am a big country music fan but have never gone to Nashville.
I was a Brooklyn Dodger fan as a kid, bringing the little radio to school and the silly little earplug and trying to listen to the Dodgers play in the World Series. I celebrated Jackie Robinson. It's funny why people fall in love with certain teams but they do. And when the Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958 I moved with them, at least in spirit.
Added to my love of L.A. were the old detective movies in which Sam Spade would drive down the palm-lined roads in his convertible. I always wanted to work for the L.A. Times and I would snag one every chance I got, read it and think about how much fun it must be in a busy big newsroom like that with so much going on in the metropolis.
I come from a tradition in which a state has very distinct cities and some open country between the cities. You travel along vacant pasture land or tree-lined roads and see little green signs saying how far you are from the next town. And then when you arrive you know you are in a new city. When I moved to Florida to work after college, I had a hard time getting used to one city blended to another to make up one giant blop of South Florida. You couldn hardly tell when one city ended and another began. My suspicion is L.A. is going to look like that, but we will see.
So now, through the luck of making a new friend I am going out to visit L.A. I have cashed in my Delta miles, made a pledge to try not to lug along too much clothing and put my anticipation on hold since I can't make it come any faster than it will.
And yes, we are going to a Dodger game and I can't even tell you what else we are going to do. What we are going to do is not anywhere as important as the fun of being there. Good company makes everything better whether it is a packed schedule of events or a quiet picnic in the park.
I have a list of things I would like to see like Marilyn Monroe's grave, the place where O.J. lived when he killed his wife (even though I am told they bulldozed down his house), the restaurant near where Robert Blake killed his wife and a variety of other sites that have made themselves known through big news stories.
When I go to New York City or some other big city, if I get lost and just end up walking down streets and seeing people going about their lives, it is a fun time for me. I feel so much better when I soak up the atmosphere, the pace, the sound and feel of a city.
I like the French idea of sitting in an outdoor cafe and just people watching.
Am I going to be disappointed in L.A. if it doesn't rise to the level of my long love affair with it? Probably not. I enjoyed my trip last December to Dublin even though it was nothing like I had in my mind. I thought the Clancy Brothers would be singing in the bars. I thought all the bar people would break into songs around a piano. I thought something akin to Charles Dickens would permeate the city. But I have a good time even though it was nothing like I imagined.
So I have killed another half hour in writing this column and I am that much closer to going to the city of dreams. Wish me luck in killing enough time.
Bob Paslay is the assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org