Last year my birthday present from my husband was a trip to Tampa to see the New York Yankees, our favorite baseball team (and the only sports team we both like: I like the NY Giants and the NJ Devils; he likes the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres). Another part of the treat was lunch at Cheesecake Factory.
We drove over to Tampa and were sitting in the small dining room of the restaurant located at International Plaza. This smaller room had booths around the perimeter, and several tables in the center. We were seated at one of the center tables.
Within our eye line was a booth with a young boy and what appeared to be his mother, grandmother, and great-aunts or grandmother’s friends. They kept the child entertained, and he was well-behaved throughout the meal. When he was finished eating, one of the women gave him a frozen treat they had brought with them, a frozen ice.
It was neon blue, and about 5 or 6 inches long. The grandmother or great-aunt was trying to open it without freezing her fingers (I am guessing here), but it looked odd. I was thinking about how it looked, and hadn’t laughed, but as soon as Ray said, “Why is she playing with the blue penis?” we both just lost it.
We were trying to muffle our laughter, but the more we tried the harder we laughed. We were crying, tears running down our faces, and Ray had thrown a napkin over his head to cover his face. He pulled it down, and says, “Mo!”
Walking towards us, with a who-are-these-crazy-gringos look, was Mariano Rivera. Yes, that Mariano Rivera. He nodded at us, and then sat behind the booth with the young child. He appeared to be in a meeting with his agent or manager. We both had baseball hats in the car, but didn’t want to disturb him by asking for an autograph.
From Cheesecake Factory, we headed to the Salvador Dali Museum, and then to Tropicana Field for dinner and the baseball game. We had a great burger and fries at The Brewhouse inside the ballpark, and then headed to our seats for the game.
My birthday was complete with a Yankees win (including a save by Mo) over the Tampa Bay Rays. Tickets to the ball game: $100. Lunch at Cheesecake Factory: $60. Seeing the frozen blue icy and then Mariano Rivera: Priceless.