Livin' large with Todd MacCulloch and his Man Caves
Todd MacCulloch is very large and very nice.
So are his Man Caves.
The former Washington and NBA center invited me and several of my coworkers over to his house on Bainbridge Island this week to do a live chat. And as the door opened a big man with a big smile greeted us.
It was MacCulloch, all 7 feet of him. Everything is bigger than life about him.
"Thanks for coming over," he says as he ducks to avoid hitting his head in the doorway and we follow him into his house.
We walk past his kitchen, and we're there. His Man Cave. A dozen or so pinball machines are lined up against each wall. I can't take my eyes off them.
"Wow! This really is the ultimate Man Cave!" I hear myself saying.
Then he motions to another room, with another dozen or so pinball machines.
He turns on a couple of machines. And as my coworkers begin setting up their computers for the live chat, he sees me staring at his pinball machines. The lights blink hypnotically.
"You should play," I hear MacCulloch say.
My eyes are glassy. My knees are weak. Time stands still.
I am a recovering pinball-a-holic. I like to tell people that I spent more money on pinball and beer as an undergraduate at the University of Idaho than I did on tuition.
People always laugh. They don't realize I'm dead serious.
So I test the flippers, draw back the plunger and watch the silver ball begin to work its magic.
Forgive me, but I don't remember a lot of what happened for the next 90 minutes. I know I played a game of pinball, and MacCulloch, who is a world-ranked pinball player, gave me some pointers. We had a live chat. He talked. The pinball machines blinked and made funny noises. It's all a blur.
MacCulloch is as cool as he is large. He has two cute cocker spaniels, two cuter kids, a very nice wife and a very nice place on two acres on Bainbridge Island.
Did I mention his two Man Caves?
He's smart, funny and can quote lines from "Dumb and Dumber," one of my favorite movies ever. How cool is that? Oh, and he has a Slurpee machine. And a kegerator.
Todd (we're on a first-name basis now) pretty much has two of everything.
During the live chat, amid the blinking lights of Pinball Heaven, he mentions that we'll have to go to his addition to see his game room? "Game room?" I think to myself. "Where the heck are we sitting?"
Todd excuses himself to take a phone call during the chat and talks to a repairman parked outside. "That was the Slurpee Technician," pronounces the native of Winnipeg. "We can have our Slurpees now. Canadian Slurpees, not American Slurpees. No air in them. Just sugar and water."
This day has already been pretty much the best day at work I can remember. We hit the ferry line just as it was loading. We saw the greatest Man Caves on Earth, and I played pinball. Now we're going to his Game Room to have Slurpees? My head is spinning.
And so we stroll over to see Todd's Game Room. Actually, Todd's Game Addition. It probably has more square footage than my house. And it's filled with all kinds of cool games. Skee-Ball. Air Hockey. And some vintage games that I didn't know existed.
I play a baseball game manufactured between 1937 and 1941 that he says is the most valuable game he owns. It's polished wood in a glass case. I swing a metal bat at a silver ball. Just like in high school, I have trouble getting around on the fastball, but eventually I rack up singles, doubles, triples and even a home run. Todd cheers me on. The figure who's pitching is Dizzy Dean. The exquisitely painted fielders are a Hall of Fame who's who that includes Bill Terry and Ted Williams,
Then we're drinking lemon-lime and Dr. Pepper slurpees. I had a Dr Pepper in a red cup.
"This is great," I hear myself saying between sips, ignoring a brain freeze. "Can I live here? Can you adopt me?"
Todd is too cool to kick me out of his house. He laughs. It's a big laugh, of course.
"Sure," he says. "We'll adopt you."
As we're leaving I have this strange sensation that the day really isn't happening. It has to be a dream. That feeling stays with me as we hit the Bainbridge Ferry - only minutes before it loads, of course.
No, this is real. I suck on the last bit of Slurpee to make sure as we ride on the ferry and relive My Greatest Work Day Ever with Bob and Amy, our sports producers. Amy checks her phone and mentions that the Mariners have loaded the bases with Alex Liddi at the plate. I turn on my car radio. I turn the knob and the radio crackles on just as Rick Rizzs is screaming: "Grand Salami time!"
This can't be real. No way.
As we sail back to Seattle, I taste the last drop of Dr Pepper Slurpee.
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