Daily Archives: June 3, 2011

The day I broke into Roland Garros. And a movie version of Candy Land?

So with the French Open winding up this week (and Friday’s men’s semis were quite compelling; check out my blog here), I thought it was a good time to tell my Roland Garros story. Because I think the statute of limitations on my “crime” have expired.

It was March, 2007, and my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Paris (quick tip: it’s cold in France in March. But it was the only time we could go. So we froze most of the trip. But still had fun. Don’t go in March).

As a huge tennis fan, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do in Paris was go to Roland Garros, famous site of the French Open. I figured that I probably wouldn’t be allowed onto the grounds, but I at least wanted to look around, see the outside, take pictures, etc.

So the day comes when we go to Roland Garros. We take the subway or the metro or whatever the hell they call it over there, and when we get to the famous grounds, there is no one around.
Literally, no one was there. We walked right in through the gates, and I’m thinking “this is awesome.”
Then we started walking toward the No. 2 show court, Court Suzanne Lenglen. And as I got closer and closer, I saw the gates were open.  So of course I went into the stadium.

“You know,” my wife said. “There’s nobody here. You could probably go onto the court.”
You didn’t have to tell me twice. With Julie as lookout, I hopped the 3-foot fence separating the stands from the court.

And suddenly, I was running around pantomiming forehands and backhands on one of the most famous courts in the world. I felt like a 7-year-old who’d snuck down to good seats at a baseball game, and kept looking around for someone to throw out these two crazy Americans who were on the court.

But no one came. Then we went over the No.1  court at Roland Garros, Court Phillippe Chartrier. Surely, even though it was 2 months before the French Open, someone would be there.
Nope. So I snuck down again, and ran around pretending I was Rafael Nadal (above) and it was one of the best five minute stretches of my life.
Then, with only a maintenance guy working high atop the stadium, we walked off a court where Grand Slam champions are crowned.

Before we left, I reached down and scooped up some clay from the court. I know it’s not the same clay they use during the tournament, but still, it was Roland Garros clay.
That clay is now in a jar on my dresser. It’s one of my favorite possessions.
And every time I watch the French Open, I think “I was there.”
One of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

**I’d love to be in some of these movie pitch meetings where projects get greenlighted.
Because I really want to hear who thought this was a good idea.
They’re making a movie about the game Candy Land.  Because, you know, there is so much plot and action in the game.
Not only that, they’re making this movie dark. Like, “Lord of the Rings” dark.
Really? This is what we need, a movie about a silly board game?
Somehow I think I’ll be skipping this one.

An unbelievable win for Dallas. The Spelling Bee is awesome, again. And when a foul ball is more important than your daughter

This is why I watch live, competitive sports.
To see the unexpected. To have your jaw drop, your eyes blink rapidly, and your cell phone light up with friends calling and saying “Did you just see that???”

All that happened last night. Because of the Spelling Bee.
OK, no, NOT because of the Spelling Bee. Though the Bee awesome. And I’ll get to that in a second.
No, of course what I’m referring to is the Dallas Mavericks, all set to go down 0-2 to the Miami Heat, and head home to Texas with their collective tail between their legs, staged an epic comeback.
The Mavs were down 88-73 with about seven minutes left. Then went up 93-90 with 30 seconds left.
Yes, they went on an insane 20-2 run, and won the game 95-93.
It was … breathtaking. Beautiful. Watching the obnoxious Heat fans go silent, and seeing LeBron and Wade and Co. slink off the court after they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory was exhilarating.

What a comeback. Now it’s 1-1 and we’ve got a series. This is an all-time crushing loss for the Heat; they might not be able to recover in this series.
This is why we watch. Because the impossible sometimes happens.

**OK, now for the REAL best sporting event Thursday. Man, the National Spelling Bee brought the goods this year. After last year’s disappointing Bee, this year’s was terrific. It lasted much longer than the 2010 Bee, and the quality of the spellers went way up.
At one point when we had five spellers left, they went like five consecutive rounds without missing a word! After a few of my early favorites went out early, I was rooting for Dakota Jones, an awkward-looking excitable kid from Nevada. (And by the way, note to ESPN: God bless you for giving us these little “skits” that try to make the spellers seem cool. But come on, who are we kidding here? These kids are not cool! And that’s what’s cool about them. Did you see last night how awkwardly they high-fived each other?)

After Dakota went out, I thought Joanna would win. But nope,  Sukanya Roy, an Indian girl from Pennsylvania, outlasted Laura Newcombe from Canada. It was tense, it was exciting, and it featured kids who are way smarter than I’ll ever be.

The Bee was awesome. Can’t wait till it’s on again next year.

**And finally, if you’re a parent, and you’re feeling a little bit bad today about your parenting skills, this will cheer you up. No matter how inept you may think you are, you are NOT worse than this dude. Who drops his daughter while in pursuit of a foul ball at a baseball game.