Chapter 24: The Lonesome Crowded West, Part 3 – The Emmy Award Winner

We emerged from the shallow depths of the Madison River lobster skinned and fully consumed of energy, the grueling, 7-mile journey by tube certainly taking its toll on our bodies. So thankful we were to have experienced several minutes of relaxation, to become one with the river and to exist, if only for a few hours, amongst a series of hazards that would mold us into honorary Pony natives. How thankful we were to say that we had endured the elements of the mighty Madison, our scrapes, bruises, and burns worn as badges of pride on our trek up the recovery ramp.

But perhaps most of all, we were just thankful that the whole damn thing was over.

In the backseat of the Benz laid my backpack with a new set of clothes. I grabbed for it, and then hesitated, opting to peak outside of the car for a suspicious survey of my surroundings. Bill and Gretch stood near the trunk, their undivided attention focused on deflating their tubes, something I had been ever-so prudent about since our exodus from the river, a calculated move to avoid a squall of harassment for being the last one with an inflated tube. With my backpack in hand and the coast clear, I calmly shut the door and slipped into the public outhouse undetected for a change of clothes and a quick whiz, one that was much deserved.

After my episode of relief, I dipped into my backpack and pulled out the green Old Navy shirt I had bought right before the wedding. The material was light and soft, one of those shirts that aren’t exactly a solid color, consisting of short, dark-shaded fibers of the same color scheme, but make you look both buff and awesome whenever you put it on—my favorite type. Josh Ulrich would agree, being that his whole wardrobe consists of them along with a couple of Patagonias and North Faces. Ben Woodward has a bunch of those shirts as well, but none of them make him look buff, or awesome for that matter. Sadly, the kid just kind of looks like a dingus, no matter what he wears.

With the words “Green Bay Packers” printed in yellow varsity style XXL letters however, I couldn’t help but think that this shirt was far superior to anything that Josh Ulrich ever owned (and definitely better than everything in Ben Woodward’s collection). There was no doubt that this was a one of a kind. I put it on, and dad body or not, I looked buff, and I looked awesome. It was a wonder why it had taken me until now to wear it.

I strutted out of the bathroom, giving Bill the “what’s up” nod as he folded and packed the rest of the deflated tubes into the back of the Benz. He nodded back with an impressive smile. “You guys ready to head back?”

“I think we should stop and get some more beer before we go…“ Whoa, wait—what is this? It wasn’t so much the suggestion that bothered me, but when Gretch lifted herself out of the backseat, a jolt of repulsion shot through my body. There she stood, clad in a thin green shirt with the words “Green Bay Packers” on it, written in yellow varsity style XXL letters, trying to look “buff” and “awesome,” or something stupid like that. I threw my hands up and rolled my eyes in disbelief.

“You just could resist, could you? You had to copy me. You saw the shirt I got at Old Navy, and you bought the same exact one, just because I got it. That’s unbelievable—No. I wish I could say I can’t believe it, but you know Gretch, after everything that’s happened this trip, this doesn’t surprise me; not one bit—“

“Zack, you saw me in line at the Old Navy,” she snapped back. “You knew I bought it, and you watched me pack this shirt in my bag this morning. You’re the one who copied me!”

This time, I actually couldn’t believe the words that had just come out of her mouth. I copied her? What an accusation! How dare she accuse me of copying her, after everything I’ve done for her! Oh, she likes the Green Bay Packers because of that one hunk Clay Matthews? No, she likes the Green Bay Packer because I like the Green Bay Packers. And she’s the one claiming otherwise? It’s revolting. It’s a travesty! It will not stand!!!

I stared at her with a set of impassioned eyes, brewing up a brutal response that would set the record straight, to create an embarrassment so overwhelming that the thought of an assertion much like the one she had just made would make her tremble in her sleep. I was about to make sure she’d never say anything so abominable for the rest of her life! My fists clinched and shook as I opened my mouth, squeezing every ounce of energy from my body into the ultimate comeback, a definitive insult, utter assurance that this would never happen, ever again!

“Gretch, You—I… Get—“ My mind raced with thoughts, thousands of them swirling, converging into a cloud of obfuscation. There was so much to say, any one of them warranting destructive results, yet all of them wanting to be released all at once! I opened my mouth again. “Gret…” It was a complete jam, impossible for anything to escape from my mouth’s tiny orifice. C’mon! Just say something—anything!

“Get in the car…” I said, my voice low and haunting. It was all that came out.

Gretch did as she was told and Bill followed her lead. I climbed in and sped off towards Harrison, stopping in Norris for a quick fill up on gas beforehand. We needed beer, and a lot of it.

20 minutes of Third Eye Blind and little conversation eventually led us to a local convenient store just inside of Harrison city limits. “I’ll be back in a minute,” said Gretch the moment I parked the car. She was quick to exit the car, as was I to follow her. “Why are you coming in?” she asked, confronting me with a look of perplexity spread across her face, as if she was the only one allowed in the store.

“I don’t know, I just want to make sure there’s nothing else we need, that’s all, heheh.” The truth was, I wasn’t really quite sure why I wanted to go in. Maybe it was just for the heck of it. She rolled her eyes and continued on towards the entrance.

“Oh boy, Packer fans eh?” said the attendant manning the store. “We don’t see many of you guys around here.”

“Oh yea, we’ve been fans for a long time,” I started, eager to hold a positive conversation about the Packers. “My family’s from Wisconsin, and we just love watching our boys play every chance we get, right Gretch?” Gretch was already to the back of the store, her focus totally diverted to the search of Coors Light. “Well, you know what she has her mind on, heheh.” The lady joined me in a soft chuckle.

“Oh boy, you kids must be so exited for the season!”

“Oh you betcha! She’s a big Clay Matthews fan, but you know me, I just have to root for my boy Aaron Rodgers.”

“Oh, he’s such a handsome fellow.”

“You know, I don’t want to brag, but I’ve been mistaken for Aaron Rodgers in the past…”

“I bet you have! In fact, you do look a little bit like him, if I do say so myself.”

“Haha, I know, I get it all the time… Yea, I really hope we get a chance to make it out there for a game or two this year. We just absolutely love it, and it’s always such a wonderful experience—” The sound of a 100-pound dumbbell slamming on the counter stopped our conversation dead in its tracks. We turned our heads, shaken up by the sound. There sat an 18 pack of Coors Light, and next to it stood Gretch, shooting us a short and artificial half-smile.

“That’ll be 16 dollars hun.” I reached into my back pocket to hand her my credit card, but by the time I got my wallet out, there was already a 20 on the counter. I gave Gretch a concerned look. She just shrugged back and returned a wide-eyed look like I was a moron. “What?”

“Thank you so much. Gosh, you two look so cute in your Green Bay Packer shirts.”

“Oh thank you mam. You have a wonderful day!” I replied with a giant smile on my face. Gretch nodded her head and gave the lady another forced, half-smile, squinting her eyes in a stuck up manner in the process. By the time we exited the store, her smile had disappeared and her nod had turned into a solid shake.

“What the heck was that all about?” she snapped.

“I don’t know, where the heck did you get 20 bucks from?”

“None of your business, that’s where!”

“GRETCH!”

“I found it in the parking lot of the gas station we stopped at back in Norris!”

“Gretch, that was somebody’s money! You stole!”

“What? I asked around. And it’s not like nobody you’ll be complaining later.”

She’s a criminal, just like her brother… “Whatever, let’s just go back to the cabin. This whole thing just makes me rotten.” We crawled back into the car and began the drive back to Pony.

“Alright! More Coors Light!” exclaimed Bill.

“Yep, another 18 pack,” I replied after a long sigh. “I can’t wait for steaks tonight.”

“Me neither. I think the grill’s gonna cook em’ up real good! You guys get anything else?”

“Nah, just the beef sticks we got back in Norris. I figured I might as well go in there and check, just in case. You never know, right?”

“Right—” A sudden release of pressure was heard from the backseat. Both of us looked back. Gretch had not only opened the 18 pack, but also cracked open a fresh can of Coors Light.

“GRE—“ I almost blurted it out by natural instinct, and for good reason too! She had the audacity to have an open container? In my car? While I’m driving? But as the word began to leave my mouth, I remembered the golden rule Lea had taught us merely a moon ago: You’re allowed to have a beer on the drive from Harrison to Pony. I let it slide without further mention and continued up the road back to the cabin.

Bill was quick to fire up the grill and get a start on dinner soon after our arrival, and who could blame him! If he felt anything like me, he was starved! I did my part by helping Lea whip up a few servings of “Idahoan” instant mashed potatoes, and Gretch even helped by prepping some corn on the cob! Well, at least I think she did. Who knows, she could’ve just stood around drinking more beer, which was more likely the case, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she helped.

Each of us salivated at the sight of four thick New York Steaks, fully seasoned and sizzling over a wood tempered fire, and continued long after they were lifted from the hot, grated iron they were cooked on. Our bodies released a heavy dose of dopamine the moment the savory taste of red meat hit our taste buds, sending each of us into our own form of fantastical exultation, proof that the hours of construction put into Bill’s grill was beyond masterful, and his cooking beyond that. But it wasn’t enough. Within minutes, my entire plate of food had been devoured… and I still wanted more.

To my left was Gretch, still with a substantial amount of food left on her plate, but her position and attentive nature towards her meal meant that any attempt at her food was at best a foolish endeavor. Bill on the other hand had grown negligent over his plate. Although a hearty portion had already been eaten, there it lay unattended, resting on the coffee table and still very much edible. He busied himself, toying with a collection of beer sitting next to Gretch and ignoring his remaining slab of meat altogether. “It’s now or never,” I thought to myself. “He won’t even know, playing around with the beer and all. And the way he’s acting, he’s probably all done eating anyway! I mean, I could ask—no, can’t take the chance. What if he says no? What to do, what to do—look at him poke at Gretch, obviously trying to show her something—knock it off! Concentrate—think stupid! He’s not looking! Act. NOW!”

With a single, swift motion, I lifted my steak knife and stabbed down at the slab. My knife pierced the strip like a hot stick of butter—success. I lifted the knife once again; the steak wasn’t there. Another knife had been stuck in it. “Hiya!” Bill screamed and swatted his knife towards mine, clinking together the metal ends.

“Hiiiya!” I returned with a counter attack. It was quickly deflected by another knife swat.

“Get back!” screamed Bill with a mighty swing of his knife across my body, his eyes lifted and his face long and serious.

“It’s mine!” I shot back after leaning back and dodging his swing, Matrix style. I countered, going in with a swing of my own. Bill jumped out of his seat and positioned himself in an aggressive stance. It all happened so quickly, the series of events moving faster than our brains could function, and the next thing I knew we were both on our feet, aggressing over what was left of the steak. “On guard!” I lunged toward him with my knife, my arm extended in front and body positioned like a master fencer. He took a few scoots back and came back at me with a lunge of his own, going straight for the kill shot. I deflected and rang my knife around in a circular motion in an attempt to induce confusion upon my foe. He copied my maneuver, both of our knives swirling around in between our bodies.

“Huwaaaa!” screamed Bill, shaking his knife in random directions in front of his body. I swatted my arm in a fury of madness only to be matched by Bill’s as our knives swung about, hoping that one would eventually make contact with something—hoping that contact would be one of our opponent’s vital organs.

“Yaawwwww!” My arm moved around fast—lightning fast; swinging and swatting in an out of control manner in front of Bill’s face, neck and torso.

“Ahhhh!” he screamed back, mirroring my attack style and speed—so fast that our blades began to appear as a solid sheet of grey, hovering around in front of us, waiting for Murphy’s Law to take effect.

“WAAAAA!!!”

“HUUAAAAAA!!!”

“WHHHHOOOOOOOO!!!”

“GUUUUUUUUYYYYYYSSSSS!!!” Both of us stopped in our tracks and turned our heads at the cry of the beast. Gretch sat back with her eyes wide and body trembling in horror. “What, in the hell, is wrong with you guys!?” Neither one of us uttered a sound, except for a couple of exhausted exhales. “You guy’s are acting like a bunch of animals…”

I took a long, hard look at Bill and he took a long, hard look at me. We remained silent, and nervous for another moment, before I finally spoke again. “…Are you kiddin’ me Gretch?” I blurted out, the words naturally flowing from my mouth.

Obviously we were just joking around,” answered Bill.

“Yea, you think I want this stupid piece of meat?”

“You think we’re stupid enough to fight like this?”

“Yea, the steak was good, but c’mon!”

“Geez, way to spoil the fun, Gretch.”

“No kidding. Freaking out like we’re gonna hurt each other, give me a break—you know what, I’m not even hungry anymore!”

“Me neither. Come Zack, let us leave this Gretch to simmer in her paranoia.”

“Let’s do. I got a bunch of beef sticks to snack on anyway.” We grabbed our plates and left the party pooper outside to finish the rest of her dinner by herself. “I’m gonna need a stiff old fashioned after that one…”

 

***

 

“Psst, Zack,” whispered Bill as we finished up the last of the dishes. He whipped his head over twice, motioning it towards the bedroom.

“What?” I blurted, watching him tiptoe away.

“Shhh.” He made another head nod, this time towards the bathroom where the shower was running. A smile slowly grew on his face, causing a smile to grow on my face. He waved me over and I obediently followed. Whatever Bill had up his sleeve, it was going to be good… real good.

“Ok, here’s the plan. You lay on her bed and I’ll lie on mine. She wants to go to the Pony Bar really bad, so we’re gonna pretend to have fallen sound asleep. She’ll try to wake us up, but she wont be able to, and then she’ll freak out, really bad. What do you think?”

“Bill, you gotta know that I’m not some guy off the street that’s gonna suck up…” There was a serious look in his eyes as I spoke, ready to except any sort of news with a stroke of dignity. “…But that’s probably the best idea I’ve heard this whole trip.”

He paused for a second, acting as if he needed to hold back the tears before speaking again. “Then let’s hurry and get into position before she gets out!”

“Oh God, the shower just turned off. Quick!” We hopped into the room and jumped into position, letting a couple giggles out of our system before go time.

“Ok ok, she’s coming, shhh!”

I could hear her shuffling around the cabin, taking her sweet time wandering about, looking everywhere except for the most obvious place. “Bill? Zack? Where are you guys?” I clenched my jaw shut, doing everything I could to keep from letting out a chuckle and blowing our cover. “Is this a joke?” she asked as she continued her search, heading towards the den and asking Lea for additional help. “Mom, have you seen Bill and Zack?” I heard from a distance. Again, it took an extra effort to lock my jaw in place and refrain from making any sort of noise.

10 minutes had passed and the constant sound of shuffling continued to make waves through the cabin. It grew faint, then loud, then faint again, each iteration causing an increased stress on the muscles holding our mouths shut. The shuffling noise grew once again, and this time it maintained its presence, growing louder and louder, piercing, earsplitting, drumming into my skull—ringing over me now! Pounding and pounding, ready to explode!

Then, there was silence, but for the biological release and intake of air. The shuffling had stopped, and my heart was throbbing. A loud flick of the light revealed two bodies, completely motionless in the absence of darkness. “You guys look pretty stupid right now,” said a girl’s voice. No response was given. “Actually, you look really stupid!” Wow. It was like we were dealing with an amateur. “Oh well. It looks like I’ll just have to go to the Pony Bar all by myself then…” Gretch? By herself? To the Pony Bar? The statement in itself almost blew our cover it was so hilarious.

Suddenly, I felt a close presence next to me. It must have been Gretch, and she was up in my face, foolishly thinking she could break me. “Get up Zack. You’re faking, I know you are!” It took every muscle in my body, tensed in unison to keep me from letting out a snort. The culmination of up close and personal Gretch remarks was almost too much to bear. She hovered over my position for another minutes before walking up and taking a stab at her next victim—Bill. She had given up on me… for now.

Out of a small crack in my eye, I watched Bill, whose performance was impeccable. He even had a slight buzz under his breath, a delicate snore that sounded completely natural… almost too natural. “Bill, wake up!” she commanded in a stern and frightening voice. Yet again, she was afforded no response except for another set of rhythmic breathing. Man, Bill is good! Gretch went unphased, stepping up in her attacks.

She went straight for the face, grabbing his cheeks and squeezing them together like a bloated puffer fish. “Listen Bill, get up. We’re going to the Pony Bar, or else,” she said, speaking in some mystic dialect of evil (Actually, the conversation had much more substance. But because so many curses were used, about 90% of it had to be omitted due to personal blog standards). Yet, she continued. “If you don’t @$#$@&g get up right #$#@&% now, I’m going to beat the #$@&! out of your $&#@$ $#@, you $#@# $#*&$ $@^@&$@ @$@!(!#&^ @$%!!!!!! !!@#*$@#@!&*$^@%!*^! !^@@!*^$%!# ^$!@#^(^!%#(!^!!!!!”

To my absolute horror, the conversation went on. And to my amazement, Bill miraculously managed to keep his mouth shut and his body perfectly still. Gretch began throwing his head around like a chew toy, then proceeded to pick it up by the cheeks, giving Bill the old, cold stare down. “How can one man endure so much?” I asked myself. Then it hit me. No wonder he’s is keeping such a good cover. I think he’s actually out cold!

Gretch slammed his head down on the bed, where it bounced off the mattress and joined the rest of his limp body. She whipped her head back around and stared me down. I had seen that face before, a face where someone’s all pissed off for no reason at all—the worst kind—Ronda Rousey—screw this!

“Ahhh, oh boy, what a nap,” I said, stretching my arms and legs out. “Oh hey Gretch, what’s going on, heheh?” She continued her pissed off stare; no way of clearing my name. I leaned over and took a peak at Bill. My hypothesis was correct; he wasn’t faking, not one bit. He truly was dead asleep. As it turns out, a full day of floating the Madison mixed with a belly full of beef and beer had induced a state of sleepiness, and at this point, the poor kid wouldn’t wake up for the end of the world. “Well, I’ll leave you guys alone to deal with whatever it is you got to do for a little bit. I’m gonna see what Lea’s up to.”

I slipped out of the room, careful and light on my feet not to make Gretch even more enraged. And honestly, I didn’t want to bear witness to what Gretch was about to do next. And what was the point if I was utterly powerless in stopping her? Bill had carved his own destiny; his life was no longer in my hands.

 

***

 

Lea and I were watching the evening news in comfort when Gretch walked into the den, her head down and arms crossed. She took a seat next to her mom on the couch and shoved her arms deeper into her chest for an extra pout. “What’s wrong honey?” asked Lea, somehow unaware of the troubling events that had just taken place. Gretch said nothing, her only response being a sharp turn of her body away from her mother. By her overtly obnoxious shift, we could correctly assume that she was trying to say, “I’m mad.” Yet, her actions still warranted the obvious question. “Are you mad?”

It was another sharp shift, deeper into the couch, her face barely visible at this point; no chance of possible eye contact. Why yes, by the looks of it, it seems as though Gretch is indeed a little upset. I lifted my hand and cupped it over my mouth in a direct path towards Lea as to call out into a deep canyon and create an echo. Yet, only a whisper was uttered, barely audible as to prevent anybody except for Lea from interpreting my message, both visually and orally. “She’s a little grouchy because Bill fell asleep.”

“That’s not even!” snapped Gretch, whipping around and confronting my accusation head on. Crap! How did she even hear?   “All I wanted to do was go to the Pony Bar tonight. Bill knew that, so he went to bed—on purpose. Just to make me mad!” Well, that worked out brilliantly if I do say so myself. “What are you smiling about Zack?”

“…Um, nothing, I eh just…” C’mon, think of something. Quick! “I was just thinking, since it’s my last night in Pony and all, that I wouldn’t mind going out to the Pony Bar with you for a drink or two, even without Bill.” Good save—wait!

“Oh Gretch, that sounds like a wonderful idea! How about you two just go for a couple drinks?” Like most good ideas that are given by a mother, Gretch wanted no part in accepting Lea’s. So she stood up with her head down and slowly walked out of the den. There had to be a kink in her neck and a strain in her arms or something, for her head remained stuck in the downward position and her arms looked to be permanently attached to each other in the crossed position as she walked away. And once again, Lea and I were left in the den to watch the local news by ourselves.

“I don’t know what happened? I really did want to go to the Pony Bar on my last night for a couple of drinks!”

“Oh don’t worry Zack. She’ll come around,” Lea assured. “Gretch never passes up a chance to go out to a bar, especially in Pony.” Her words ameliorated my concerns, but only slightly. There was still much uncertainty stirring in my mind, let alone the anxiety bustling about.

Sure enough, the Gretch came back five minutes later with her shoes on and covered in a sweatshirt, dressed like she was ready to brave the elements of nature. “Alright, I guess I’ll go,” she said in a melancholy voice, doing her best not to show positive emotion. “But all I want is one beer. That’s it!”

“Ah great!” I said, and with a mighty zip in my step, I jumped to my feet and headed straight for the door. “Lea, do you wanna come too?” I asked, leaning my head back into the den, nearly forgetting my manners.

“Oh, no thank you.” She wiggled her can of Coors Light in line with her head. “I’ve got enough here to last me through the night.

“Well then, what are we waiting for Gretch?” I zipped right up and out of there. Gretch followed behind, shuffling her way to the door as if she was unable to lift her feet off the ground, forced towards a place she wanted to go to all along.

 

***

 

It was a mild night at the Pony Bar, something you’d expect for a typical Thursday in the small, rancher’s town with most of the big-time cowboys waiting until Friday to come out and party. “What will it be,” asked the bartender as we took a seat at the bar, the same one that served us a day before.

“I’ll have a Coors Light,” said Gretch after taking some time to peruse the menu, a baffling maneuver since we all knew what she was going to order all along. Whatever.

“I’ll have a bud light, draft please.”

“That’ll be two dollars each.”

I reached in my pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. “Oh check it out!” Amongst the pile of crumpled bills laid a Wooden Nickel. I showed Gretch; it looked as though she had one as well. “Here you go mam.”

“Thank you guys. Enjoy!”

Gretch and I sipped on our beer and furthered our examination of the knick-knacks lining the bar’s walls from the day before, a small respite of time before I threw a deluge of questions her way. “Don’t you have a lot of friends around here?” I asked. “Where are they all at? Don’t they like to party?”

“I dunno? They’re probably working and stuff. It’s still Thursday after all.”

“Oh yea. Where do they work?”

“At the ranches.”

“What’s so good about the ranches?”

“A bunch of rich people own em’.”

“Do they all live there?”

“Ya.”

“Really?”

“Ya.”

“All of em’?”

“I think so…”

“Do they make good money?”

“The engineers do.”

“Whoa, maybe I should work there…”

“You need connections.”

“Good thing I know you guys then!”

“Yea, sure… good luck with that…” The last comment seemed to have killed off any further discussions of Gretch’s friends and their places of work. We took another sip of beer and revisited our examination of the bar’s unique decorations, each of us choosing to remain silent until we figured out the next thing to say.

“So what the heck are all those semi-trucks doing driving by your house and spreadin’ dust everywhere? What a drag on the Dutcher Estate!”

“Oh yea, they gotta clean up all of the old gold mines.”

“What happened?”

“Back in the day this use to be an old gold mining town. It thrived, and there were all sorts of things! Town stores, inns, bars, brothels, you know, the usual stuff you find in the old west.”

“I hear ya.”

“Well, the industry started dyin’ and people moved away. So later down the road, some rich and greedy dudes came over to try and find more gold, but just ended up pouring a bunch of chemicals into the mines instead. And as it turns out, those chemicals are bad for the environment, so now they gotta go out there and clean it all up!”

“Sounds terrible…”

“Yea, but who knows? Maybe it’s good for the economy?”

“Yea, maybe.” I took another swig of beer and stared at the wall of liquor in front of me. It wasn’t a lot, but impressively large for a small bar in rural Montana. “Man Gretch, I can’t believe this is my last night here. I really starting to like this place… I hope I can come back sometime—I really do.”

“I hope so too.” Gretch’s amiable response threw me off a bit given our recent history, but I gladly accepted it after taking another sip of beer. “And to tell you the truth, I’ve had a lot of fun this trip. I’m glad we all got to go to Beth’s wedding together.”

“You know, I did too. In the end, I’m glad you decided to come with us.

“Really?”

Did I really mean what just came out of my mouth? “…Sure.” Whatever, I just needed a little appeasement to get her off my back. And once again, a mug met my lips and its contents entered my body.

“Oh look, it’s Revin’ Evan!” said Gretch, her face glowing bright as if Nickelback had just walked into the bar. I turned my head toward the entrance; in came a scraggily looking dude with glasses and curly black hair, sort of a Ben Woodward type of look.

“Revin’ Evan?”

“Yea, Revin’ Evan! He’s one of the most popular guys in Pony! He comes to the bar all the time!”

“Huh. Revin’ Evan, I would have never guessed…” And neither would’ve anybody else for that matter. His oversized black T-shirt with a creepy picture of Marilyn Manson definitely did not fit the style of fashion the rest of the patrons at the Pony Bar were wearing. However, he was quite colloquial in his dealings, immediately joining in jovial conversation with a few of the other regulars at the end of the bar.

Out of nowhere, a hard rumble sent a gasp out of Gretch’s mouth. Stumbling footsteps crept up from behind us, their lack of rhythm striking a sense of fear, reason to abstain from looking back and to instead take in another giant gulp of beer in preparation to the possibility of an unwelcomed encounter. The footsteps stopped—the deity was near. We set down our beers to a loud clink and slowly turned our heads to the left. A bulging belly enclosed by a long sleeve plaid shirt that was mere moments from bursting apart and tucked into a tight pair of wranglers covered the view of the regulars at the end of the bar. Within a matter of seconds, Revin’ Evan’s notoriety had literally been overshadowed.

“The name’s Wade,” said the deep and raspy voice next to us. “Is this seat taken?” Each of us raised our heads slowly upward towards the man whose cowboy hat and thick mustache perfectly matched the rest of his outfit, our stereotypical idea of an old, drunken rancher living in small town Montana.

“Please. Be my guest,” I said after a short moment of silence. He accepted my offer and to my luck, took a seat next to Gretch.

“Ain’t never seen none of you folks before. Where abouts you from?” asked Wade, the smell of hard liquor reeking from his breath.

“Boise,” answered Gretch, her answer short and succinct.

“Seattle,” answered I, my answer short and succinct.

“All you damn city folk are always comin’ here and visitin’ now a days,” he said, prompting each of us to take another swig of beer. Wade’s response was surprisingly welcoming, even though his intention appeared to show disgust. Whether or not he liked to admit it, I think Wade enjoyed meeting the new folk who passed through Pony on their travels. “What in the hell brought you out to a place like this?”

“My family owns the Dutcher Estate,” replied Gretch.

“Oh yea, I heard that name before. The Dutchers… Well Dutchers, looks like you’re almost outa beer.” Wade signaled for the bartender. “Hey miss, get these two another round and get me a shot of bourbon.” Despite his heightened level of intoxication, his good deed sparked further conversation, as well as a strange and mutual respect for the man we had just become acquainted with—at least for the time being. A minute later, the bartender came back with a fresh set of beers for Gretch and I and a bottle of whiskey to be poured into a shot for Wade. “Cheers,” he said, lifting his glass in the air.

“Cheers,” we replied, mirroring his gesture by raising our mugs. Wade wasted no time in drinking, already having his shot downed by the time our beer touched our lips.

“Another one,” said Wade without hesitation. The bartender wasted no time in accepting his request, most likely having previous knowledge of Wade’s drinking capabilities. We however, did not, and watched with a bit of dread as he waited for his next drink, which apparently couldn’t come soon enough. “You know, I’m a writer,” he added.

“No kidding? I’m a writer too,” I added, excited for the opportunity to talk, writer to writer. How happy I always am to speak of the frustrations our kind goes through when writing the next great novel, hardships that nobody else can understand; the months and years of preparation that goes into writing the perfect story and the reward you get after it touches somebody’s heart upon reading your work for the first time; a single gesture that reminds you that all the time and effort put into your creation was well worth it, a creation that nobody but yourself could have come up with. And with at least 20 more years of writing experience over me, I was dying to pick the man’s brain. “I’m actually in the middle of writing my first book right now!”

“Oh, you’re one of those types of writers,” he said in a disparaging tone, prompting me to take another drink of beer. “You see, I’m a song writer; a poet!”

“Oh… that’s great. Poetry’s very hard to write. I have a lot of respect for people who can do that.”

“You see, what it takes for somebody to write in 4 chapters, I can do in 4 minutes—one song. Let’s see you do that!”

“Yea, you know, I wish I could do that…” And yet again, I was overcome with the urge to take another long drink of beer.

“I even have an Emmy Award!” Ok Wade, I finally get it. You’re way better at writing than I am. Please continue to berate me with your awesomeness. “I used to write country songs for daytime television, you know. I’m sort of a big deal.” Oh yea, I bet you are. “Say, look at these guys over there. I’ve never seen them before.”

Gretch and I looked forward to the other side of the bar where a new group of young patrons sat, picking at a large pizza they had brought in. “Maybe you should go over there and introduce yourself,” I politely suggested. I’m sure they’d be just as thrilled with your drunken ramblings as I am.

“Hell no, they can come over here and have a drink with me! Are you trying to get rid of me or something?”

“Of course not, Wade.” Damn it!

“Hey!” yelled Wade across the bar, sloppily pointing to a taller boy with thick-rimmed glasses and wavy, long hair. “Come over here!” The boy acknowledged Wade, but couldn’t understand him, or at least pretended not to understand him, and understandably so. “…I said come over here!” The boy mouthed ‘what’ again, and the exchange went on for several more minutes. In the meantime, Gretch and I sucked on our beers. It was required if this madness were to keep up.

The realization must have finally sunk into Wade’s head that the boy was not going to come over to him. Thus, he succumbed to another conversation with Gretch—better her than me, I hate to say. For the next five minutes, Gretch entertained Wade by listening to one of his ‘stories’ while I happily sat at the bar, entertained by my mug of beer.

“I’ll tell you wait,” said Wade. “You guys wanna drive up to the mountains and smoke a little pot?”

Uh, gee Wade, sounds fun,” replied Gretch. “But I don’t know if we can swing it tonight—“

Oh, you guys’ll be fine. I’ll drive ya. Don’t worry, I’m a good driver, even when I’ve had a little bit to drink.”

“I’m sure you are Wade.”

“We can all crash up there till the mornin’ too. My truck’s got plenty of room, and plenty of liquor too.”

“Sounds fun Wade. We’ll let you know if we’re interested.”

“I bet these guys like to party over here. Hey, you with the glasses—yea you!”

“I think we should get out of here soon,” whispered Gretch to me. It was an opportune moment, for the boy across the bar had caught Wade’s attention again. “Wade’s starting to weird me out a little bit.”

“Ok, but let’s just take this nice and easy. No sudden moves; that’ll arouse unwanted suspicion. Just finish your beer and we’ll make a nice and quiet Irish goodbye when the time is right.” Wade sat back on his stool, having been denied a drinking request for the second time that night. Strike two. Unfortunately, that meant his attention was redirected back to us.

“By the way, did you ever watch that show Gilligan’s Island?” I heard Wade ask Gretch. Gretch slowly nodded her head, not exactly showing interest in continuing the conversation. Wade however, conveniently didn’t get the hint and continued his slurring. “I always thought that one lady on there was the best looking girl I’d ever seen. Her name was Marian, and my God was she beautiful. But then she became a lesbian…” Wade took a nice gulp of beer before continuing his tirade about Marian and her sexual preference. Neither Gretch nor I was quite sure why he thought she was a lesbian, but arguing with the man at this point would’ve led to nowhere. “It broke my heart! I hate her!! We were supposed to be in love with each other!” It all makes sense. How else could she not be in love an Emmy Award winner like yourself?

“And I’ll tell you what. I used to go to bed and look at pictures of her, and watch her on the television screen. Yea, I’d sit there, and get nice and comfortable, and I’d undress. And then after awhile, when I was all alone, I would reach down and—“

Whoa whoa WHOA! The hairs on my neck rose and my senses ignited like that of a pup sensing an intruder trying to enter the house. That is sick! What is you major malfunction Wade?! He was oblivious, and continued on with the unnecessary details of his exotic fantasies involving the Gilligan’s Island character. Are you kidding me? Nobody talks to Gretch like that, and I mean NOBODY, drunk or not—Not while I’m around! This will not stand. If there was one thing I knew at that moment inside the Pony Bar where Gretch was being accosted right in front of my very eyes, it was that Wade had to go, and it was up to me—careful now. This Wade guy is drunk, heavy, and highly dangerous. His thought process is beyond rational. Play it smart, and whatever you do, do not piss him off… not on your account.

“Hey Wade, see that guy over there?”

“The hell you talkin’ bout, boy?”

“That guy across from us, with the curly hair and the glasses. See?” Wade looked out, meeting the boy eye to eye and starting a stare down. “He said he could out-drink you anytime, anywhere.”

“That son of a B—“ Wade rose from his chair, a mightily concerted effort that involved intense concentration and coordination and stumbled over to confront the boy across from us. Words were said, inaudible due to distance and incoherence, and shots were taken. For the moment, it looked as though Wade had forgotten about us and that we were in the clear… for now.

“Ok, can we go now?” asked Gretch.

I studied the scene, watching Wade interact with the others while adding excessive forms of poisonous liquid to his already bulging belly. “I have a feeling maybe we should hang out for a little bit, just in case Wade decides to get back in his truck…” I reached over to the spot where Wade left one of his beers, its contents low and far from refreshing, and picked up two thin, wooden discs. “Besides, we have two Wooden Nickels to use.” I called over the bartender. “Miss, can we get one more round?”

 

***

 

We waited around and watched as Wade made his rounds across the bar, attempting to convince everyone in his wake to share a drink with him. Most refused, including Revin’ Evan, but that didn’t stop him from insisting. Eventually his stumble of shame sent him through the door and out of the bar. And by the looks of it, he wasn’t coming back.

“You ready Gretch?”

“Yes… Yes I am ready. I’m very ready.”

I called over to the bartender. “Mam, we’re ready for the check please.”

“You guys are good. Your Wooden Nickels took care of everything.”

“Wow,” I thought to myself. “Three beers each and we didn’t have to pay a single dime.” A sense of guilt hung over me. I knew I had to compensate the Pony Bar in some sort of fashion, for never in my life had I been shown so much hospitality at any drinking establishment. It truly was a special place. I looked to my left passed Gretch and pulled out a couple of dollar bills. “You see those two babes next to Revin’ Evan? Give them each a Wooden Nickel, from me—no, from the Emmy Award Winner.”

She nodded back a most serious nod. “Will do.”

We turned towards the entrance and watched as Wade climbed into his truck and pull away. “Alright. Let’s do this.”

We kept our distance between Wade’s rig and ours on our way back to the Dutcher Estate. His truck swerved back and forth along the gravel road and we watched in terror before taking our turn off. Whether his destination was home, or to the mountains where he could smoke his pot, I just prayed that nobody else was around to meet him on that stretch of road, wherever it took him.

“Dear God,” blurted Gretch, the experience finally sinking in to its full extent. “Who in the hell was that?”

“…Wade… the one and only Emmy Award Winner of Pony. He’s famous… He’s infamous! He’s forever changing the culture. And as long as he’s in Pony, nobody should sleep safe… nobody…”

Chapter 19: I Miss My Friends When They Are Gone…

“There’s something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone.”

-Johnny Cash

There’s some truth behind Johnny’s words, evident by the somber mood looming in the Benz. Not much was said during the car ride to the Milwaukee Airport. Was it because the whole night before was spent dancing and sweating out half our body weight, thus lacking any extra energy to move our mouths? That was a good possibility. Could it be that there was still a little disdain felt amongst us, having dealt with a pair of sardonic siblings that stayed up too late raising hell? The probability was high—quite high in fact. Or maybe—not likely, but just maybe, the morbid feelings were simply based off sadness? After all, we were only a few minutes from having to say goodbye.

To be honest, I’ve never been that good at goodbyes. I never say anything until the end, and then it’s like I can’t shut up, blabbering on for 15 extra minutes sometimes, a deficiency in my personality that has annoyed the hell out of my friend Austin Moody for decades, going as far as to coin the term “World’s Longest Goodbye.” And judging by Bill and Gretch’s lack of dialogue, they weren’t very good at goodbyes either.

“So you’re going to see the farm girl tonight?” asked Bill, finally breaking the long period of silence.

“Yea, I think I will.”

“…That’s cool,” he replied, shaking his head while perusing the cityscape, followed by another minute of awkward silence. Although I never saw Bill as a liar, I wasn’t quite convinced that he thought me seeing the farm girl was “cool.”

“Oh man, they have a Cheesecake Factory here too! I wish we could’ve gone there,” I said as we passed the restaurant, an appendage of an upscale shopping center. There was no response, which is typical whenever I favorably mention the Cheesecake Factory in front of anybody for some reason. I don’t know why? They have a great selection of cheesecake, and I really do like their fried macaroni and cheese balls. “…So, how long are you going to be in Montana for?”

“I don’t know. A couple of days maybe. Possibly a week?”

“That sounds fun.” Honestly, there wasn’t really anything said that alluded to “fun,” but the reactionary phrase came out anyway. “What is there to do over there?”

“You know, just hang out and stuff. Go to the bar. Drink beer maybe; go to the river…”

“Oh, right on.” I nodded my head and did a little perusing myself, giving up on the whole talking thing altogether. It would be at least five more painful minutes that were scarcely filled with random comments about the weather, scenery, news, Seattle Seahawks, and a myriad of other topics that nobody cared about until we would reach the airport.

I pulled up to the curbside drop off area and immediately began unloading the luggage from the trunk, as if it were part of an important mission. Bill and I stood a body apart facing each other after all of the luggage had been placed along the side of the curb. “Well, I guess this is it,” I said. “For the most part, it’s been a pleasure.” I stuck out my hand and he extended his, initiating a shake.

“Glad I could be a part of it,” he said as our handshake seamlessly turned into a bro hug.

“Have a safe trip, and take care of yourself.” Gretch stood few steps back form him and to the side. “Gretch, look after him for me.” Gretch sent me a nod, assuring me that she would.

It was the stupidest thing. Right after I said goodbye to Gretch, I got this weird feeling, like somebody had punched me in the throat, making it swell up and all. There was this bump, or lump, or something. It’s not like it hurt, but it kind of made me sad, then kind of made me mad. And to be honest, it kind of pissed me off a little bit! “What’s going on? Why did that happen?”

They waved a final time before turning and walking through the sliding glass doors of the Milwaukee International Airport, disappearing into the wonderment of airline infrastructure, becoming one with the thousands of others taking part in public commerce, each with a story and destination of their own. “I guess this is it, just me, a Benz, and 2000 lonely miles. No more Gretch… no more Bill…” I stood at the edge of the curb, staring through the hectic congregation of travelers, jammed into one solid image of moving, human flesh, an image that Bill and Gretch easily became lost in, one that I feared would consume me in time. “Whatever, I got an organic farm to go to.” I slid back into the car, slammed the door shut, and stepped on the gas without saying another word to anybody.

“Let’s see, Maggie gave me Kassie’s number.” I rummaged through my phone, ignoring the dangers of performing such a maneuver while driving. “Voicemail?” I swiped my finger across the screen and let the message play through the speakers of my car.

“Hey Zack, it’s Cousin Brian. Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, I just got back from the lake for the 4th. Anyway, me and Cousin Erin are at the house hanging out. Give me a call back if you need a place to stay. We would love to see you.”

“Oh man, Cousin Brian and Cousin Erin, I remember telling them I’d be in town. I haven’t seen those guys in over a year! But I already had made plans… I’m going to the organic farm, and it’d be unorthodox of me to go back on that. I mean, I confirmed it in my head and everything! But then again, they’re family. What kind of cousin would I be if I didn’t go and see them? The more I think about it though, Cousin Brian and Cousin Erin have always been reasonable people for the most part. They’d understand my dilemma. They have to! It was all thrust upon me out of nowhere! Besides, it’s always been my dream to live on a farm—well, not a “dream” dream, but you know, it’d be fun to hang out on the farm and stuff, especially with a farm babe at the end of the night, watching the sunset on the swing over the cornstalks, thinking about life and the universe… And besides, there’s something about farm babes that I kind of dig. And one day at a farm—heck, that wouldn’t be half bad. They probably have a bunch of good food there too, since they grow it there and all, even if it is just vegetables and stuff. I mean, vegetables aren’t my favorite thing in the world, but I’m sure they’d be all right if I gave them the chance. All of those yuppies at Whole Foods seem to be fond of them. Then again, so do the hippies—oh geez, I bet ya there’ll be tons of hippies there… exactly like Whole Foods. That means no Rockstars for a day—whoa, I haven’t done that in, gosh, I don’t know how long… And man, what would Cousin Brian and Cousin Erin think about that, ditching them for a farm babe and a couple of hippies who don’t like Rockstars? Now that I think about it, I might be a little heartbroken if I was in their shoes. And the disappointment in Bill’s face… I don’t know if I could bear it—wait a minute, why do I even care about that guy? He ditched me for Montana! And if he was around, I’d have to deal with all the crap I’d get from Gretch, and… and—“

Then it hit me, a wave of sense smacking me like a 2×4 to the face. “Ah, who am I kiddin’? I don’t even like organic food! Never have, and probably never will! That stuff’s for freakin’ sissies! Not me though. I like my Slim Jim beef jerky, easy cheese straight from the can, Applebee’s 2 for 20 menu, my daily Rockstar Energy Drink, whether it’s the original 280 calorie—56 grams of sugar kind with a bunch of chemicals or the white cans with all the aspartame. I live off that stuff! I haven’t gone without one in almost five years, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it! I’m half man, half preservative! What can I say? I love my genetically modified foods! I’m not even ashamed to admit it! Always have, and always will…”

“Kassie, you’re the best farm girl I know, and you’ll always have a special place in my heart, but the organic life’s just not for me… Not to go all Bill O’Reilly on everybody, but I just can’t go against my principles—not this time. I sincerely hope that you find it in your heart to forgive me someday…”

I picked up the phone and clicked on the last missed call entry on my phone. “Cousin Brian, it’s Cousin Zack. I’m coming to Wasau. Let’s party!”

***

I walked into Cousin Brian’s house after a grueling three-hour drive from Milwaukee that required a nap at a rest stop, arriving right at the tail end of the US Women’s soccer team’s thrashing of Japan in the World Cup. I mean, I’m not a huge soccer guy, but I love America, and man (or woman in this case) did Japan get womped! Like 5 to 2 or something. Even I know that’s a ridiculous score for soccer! Good moods were flying all around.

“What’s up Cousin Zack?” said both Cousin Brian and Cousin Erin at different intervals. I proceeded forward and delivered a set of hugs before jumping into some customary small talk. “Have you had any dinner? We have a bunch of leftover burgers and brats we need to get rid of from the 4th.”

“Well… uh, what the hey, why not? Let’s have a couple burgers and brats!” My response was a bit hesitant, for it was almost my 3rd dinner in a row that consisted of burgers and brats since my arrival to the motherland, but hey, I’m not going to complain about food that’s offered to me, especially if it’s free! So each of us loaded up a plate with a pile of burgers and brats along with some of the fixin’s on the side and treated ourselves to another good ol’ fashioned Wisconsin feast.

“You should try some of these beers I have. Most of them are brewed locally in Wisconsin!” I grabbed one that said “IPA” on it, opened it with my keychain and took a swig, issuing a nod to show my approval.

“Man, I love how everybody’s getting into microbrews these days. They’re popping up all over the place! People are actually starting to appreciate the taste of good beer now!”

“Really Zack?” butted in Cousin Erin. “After the whole MGD incident?” Of course she had to bring up the time where everybody got mad at me cause I bought “Miller Genuine Draft,” acting as if I had performed a sacrilegious act. One time. I guess it wouldn’t be a Wisconsin trip without its honorary mention.

“That was like 2 years ago!” It didn’t matter, for they still found it necessary (and will for the rest of time) to pummel me with insults for the next few minutes. “But seriously, enough about the MGD talk, you guys should come back out to the Northwest sometime. They’ve got a bunch of great breweries all around. You’d love it!”

“Yea, I’d really like to,” said Cousin Brian. “Actually, the last time I was out there was I think for your Eagle Scout Ceremony, right when I turned 21. I remember hanging out in the hot tub and drinking a beer with your dad. That was pretty rad!”

“Didn’t we go out there when we were younger too?” asked Erin.

“We did!” replied Brian. “I got to ride my bike to another state! It was awesome!” What Brian always forgot to mention whenever he retold the tale (of which he has numerous times throughout his life) is that our house was only a 5-minute drive from another state.

“Yea, you also farted in my face in front of everybody, for no reason!” I had to rudely remind him of the incident. “All I was doing was sitting in the family room playing with Legos, and you came up to me and ripped a huge one!” They all laughed, for it was in fact a pretty silly memory before moving on to more contemporary topics of how I can perfectly push grandma’s buttons, recounting a couple of my more recent successes. Soon after, the sun began its slide beneath the Earth’s horizon, marking my last day spent in Wisconsin. We cleaned up the patio table and moved inside in order to prevent a swarm of mosquitoes from feasting on our flesh. “C’mon in Cousin Zack. You can make us a couple of Old Fashioneds.”

“It would be an honor.”

***

 

Cousin Brian’s liquor table was well equipped: Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon, Jero Old Fashioned Mix, Angostura Aromatic Bitters, Maraschino Cherries, 7-Up, and olives, an extra ingredient that Cousin Brian liked to add to his old fashioneds; his own unique, personal twist that he swore by. I conjured up two cocktails, heavy on the Jim Beam, and handed one to Cousin Brian (Cousin Erin opted out of having one, being that she had to go home soon). He took a sip and nodded his head in approval. “Not bad… not bad at all.” I sat down in relief, taking a sip of mine as well. I too was satisfied with my creation. “So tell me about your trip so far.”

I told of the tales from Idaho, our journey into the Gran Tetons, and the best and worst of what Wyoming had to offer. They got a little (but no too much) insight on the whole Denver escapade (or debacle, depending on whose opinion you receive) and our travels through flyover country. And of course he was briefed on my 30th birthday experience with honorable mentions of the boundary babes. As I began talking about Wisconsin though, something else suddenly interrupted my train of thought. “So tell me. What exactly is a Supper Club?”

“Oh man, we used to go to Supper Clubs all the time back in the day! There was one we’d go to in Appleton on Thursday’s that served this awesome prime rib. We’d get a couple drinks in us and stay for like 4 or 5 hours sometimes!” He went on about Supper Clubs for a while, seemingly forgetting the true nature of the question. Reminding him of its original intent however seemed inappropriate at the time, thus prolonging the mystery of the Supper Club. “They have a couple of good ones in Neenah by Lake Winnebago. If we have time during the family reunion, maybe we can convince everybody to go to one in a couple of weeks.”

“Oh yea, the family reunion, I almost forgot!”

“Yea, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll bring the Wave Runner out and we’ll have a good old time.”


Me and Cousin Brian SurlyCousin Brian and I with our Surly’s – Family Reunion, Lake Winnebago

“Oh man, I do like Waver Runners! It’s crazy that I’ll be in Wisconsin twice in one month. And of course I’ll have to make myself out here for a Packer game before the end of the year. It’s just too bad we couldn’t have it all at the cabin. I would’ve loved to hang out there one last time.”

“I know, I’m going to miss that place. We had a lot of good memories there. Luckily I got to go and visit a few more times before they sold it.”

“Man, the last time I was there, I think around two years ago, Nick made me do the belly flop off the dock in front of a bunch of people, like 50 total—some of which were babes. That sucked, big time!”

“Haha, I remember that, quite well,” added Erin.

“Remember the first time we all went there?” I asked. “It was right before grandma and grandpa’s wedding, and you and soon-to-be Cousin Hans took an old Champaign bottle and filled it with a bunch of soda and started drinking out of it while Cousin Hannah played the piano?”

“Oh geez… yea I remem—“

“And then you went upstairs where all of the parents were at and started stumbling around acting like you guys were all sloshed! That was hilarious!”

“…Yea, yea, I know… we were all pretty crazy back then.”

“And then Grandma got all mad, and mom and dad—“

“Yes, Cousin Zack, I do remember. I remember it all too well…”

“And what about the time you walked through th—“

“C’mon, who doesn’t remember that story?”

I beleaguered Cousin Brian with a few more embarrassing stories, sending his head into a constant shake from side to side. “Haha, well, I better get going,” said Cousin Erin. “Unfortunately, I have work tomorrow. Not really looking forward to going in.”

“Understandable. It was awesome seeing you,” I told her as I stood up and gave her a hug.

“Tell everyone I say hi. See you all in a couple weeks.”

“I’m looking forward to it.” I settled back onto the couch with my old fashioned in hand and took another swig, readying myself to resume our conversation. “Man, I thought you guys were the coolest kids back then. Why, I remember how you and Cousin Kevin each got paid 5 bucks to walk Grandma down the aisle at the wedding! I only got a dollar for being one of the flower boys!”

“And then Cousin Kimmy started dancing up a storm on the dance floor.”

“Dude, she was losing her mind, and she was only like 8 years old, same age as me! She danced so hard she fell on the floor! I was right next to her when it happened!”

“Haha, she was definitely one of the craziest of the cousins back then.”

“Well, I think we all kind of had our moments growing up… like when we were all at the cabin and you couldn’t stop talking about American Pie and how it was the best movie in the world!”

“That was a good movie for the time! When was that, 1999?”

“Yea, the year we drove out there all the way from Washington. That actually became one of my favorite family vacations of all time!”

“Ok, yea, I think I remember now. Cousin Holly and Cousin Kimmy came over with Cousin Kevin, and they were playing Limp Bizkit and stuff. And Cousin Kimmy had a really big potty mouth.”

“Oh my gosh, I know it! She couldn’t stop swearing! It was awful! Speaking of potty mouths and crazy people, Alicia’s coming to the reunion. You’ll finally meet her husband Derek.”

“Oh yea! Do you like him?”

“Well, he’s a little brash, and kind of funny looking. You know, a little deformed around the edges here and there, like a hunchback. But overall, he’s a good guy. So yea, I think you’ll like him.”

“Well good! I bet grandma and grandpa will be happy about that.”

“I know it! It’ll be good to have the family all here again. I love it whenever we have an excuse to come out to Wisconsin.”

“The only thing after that is to just move out here! By the way, when are you moving out here?” His question was delivered in a facetious tone, however I felt the hint of a serious undertone in its framing.

“Man, wouldn’t that be the dream. I got friends trying to get me to move all over the place! Boise Idaho, Minneapolis Minnesota, Nick and Cousin Holly are even trying to get to come out to Milwaukee. Just so many decisions you know!”

“Well, at least you know you’re wanted. I’m sure you can find something anywhere you go. My company has me flying all over the place, and I’ll actually be going to Austin in a couple of months. I’ll have to get together with Emily while I’m down there.”

“Nice, she’d like that! What are you gonna be doing down there?”

“Well, it’s a new region for our company, so we’re trying to expand our client base. You know, doing the usual sales pitch presentation, going out to dinner and schmoozing with the potential customers, giving them the whole spill, that kind of stuff.”

“Do you like it?”

“You know, they treat me pretty well. Every time I let them know I’m think about finding another job, they seem to give me a raise and more responsibility, so I guess it’s good. What about you?”

“Hey, it pays the bills, and I can’t lie, I do get to work on some pretty cool stuff. But man, working for the government can be a pain in the ass sometimes. You gotta deal with inspectors looking over your shoulder for the most minute of details, all the way to the tiniest squeeze of a turd pebble out of your butt crack. It’s drives me crazy! And when you make a mistake, it’s like you just committed a deadly sin! And trying to get everybody together at the right place and right time to get a job done, it’s like it takes an act of God just to get a job certified or something! And man, don’t get me started on signatures on paperwork and material ordering.”

“Well, you probably get good benefits at least.”

“Yea… can’t complain about that. A decent amount of leave each year, good 401k matching… they even send me on travel every once in a while. Like last month, I was in Alabama doing some Quality Assurance and auditing stuff for a sub-contractor of ours. The work wasn’t all that fun, but I liked the traveling part.”

“Well, I guess that’s why they call it work isn’t it?

“You have a point there. Damn, they way we’re talking, it’s like we’re already ready to retire.”

“I mean, we’re pretty much almost there.

“Ha, yea! 7 years down, only about 20… 20 to go…”

A cold chill shot through my veins, shooting thousands of little bumps all over my skin. Something struck me, a ton of bricks slamming down on my chest, leaving me completely breathless. My God, it happened… I’m… we’re… we’re adults now…

“You all right Cousin Zack?”

I thought it’d never get me, but it was the shock of time, the ultimate killer. It finally snuck up on me, the most deadly of physical dimensions, and perhaps the most unforgiving. It doesn’t wait up. It doesn’t stop. And one day, it gets you and rolls over you, leaving you stunned and wondering how to catch up… catch up to a time that is so far ahead, with no sign of slowing; a time that slays you, leaving you with nothing but thoughts… thoughts of purpose, meaning, and the people that make them up…

“Yea, I’m good… I uh… I think… I just… I miss my friends when they are gone…”

There was silence, except for the sips and ice rattles coming from our old fashioneds. Maybe a similar thought had gone through Brian’s head too. “You’ll be alright,” he finally said to me. Remember, you still have family. And that’s above and beyond the most important thing of all.”

“Yea… God, family, and the Green Bay Packers…”

Both of us stared outward and pondered the phrase made famous by Vince Lombardi for a minute. Cousin Brian looked at his watch. “Man, it’s passed 11 now. Better get to bed. Got a full day of work tomorrow.” He took a final swig of his old fashioned, finishing the rest of it off then popping the leftover olive in his mouth. “By the way, if you’re serious, we really should go to a Packer game this year. We have a hook up for tickets. Front Row, near the 50 yard line.”

“Yea, let’s do it. Maybe for Packers and Shi—sorry, Seahawks.”

“Heheh, sounds good Cousin Zack. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yea, see you tomorrow. Thanks for everything Cousin Brian.”

“Anytime. We’re family.”

Green Bay Family

We in fact, made it to a Green Bay game.  Packers and Seahawks (PS, we won)

Me at Green Bay

And here’s an extra one of me, just because I look so freaking awesome!

I stayed up a while longer, finishing the last bits of my old fashioned. I took my time with the drink, time that was diminishing with every passing second, thrusting me back to a world I had escaped from what seemed like so long ago… It was time that I desperately needed, but could barely afford.

***

Having found the will to move again, I placed the old fashioned tumbler glasses in the sink and readied myself for bed, knowing it was wise to take advantage of a good nights sleep after such an eventful weekend. After brushing my teeth and slipping into my gym shorts, I slid into the makeshift bed that Brian had set up for me in the spare bedroom. Hoping to squeak a quick run in the next day if the weather permitted, I grabbed my phone to set an alarm for a decent time. “Wait, a missed text?” It was Bill.

“Hey, I was doing some thinking on the plane ride over. If you’re up for it, and/or if it’s on your way, you should meet us in Montana and hang out in Pony for a couple of days. I think you’re going to like it over here…” 

Pony Montana… Sounds like such a peaceful, wonderful place… I laid in bed, imagining a quaint little mountain town tucked away in the rugged landscapes of Montana. I wonder what it would be like, living in the Wild West? I bet they have a lot of cowboy types, being that it’s most likely a small rancher’s town. It probably hasn’t even changed in years either… like a place where time stands still… yea, I think I’d like that. I’d like that a lot… Pony Montana, maybe I still have time… I kept my eyes closed and thought of such a magical place filled with cowboys, friends and family. I thought, and then thought some more, until my mind joined the state of my tiresome body, sending me into a deep slumber.

Chapter 16: Come Away With Me… To a Packers Game… A Wisco Wedding Part 3

Stephen Jenkin’s angelic voice faded as the cycling of a V6 engine came to a stop.  We climbed out of the Benz at the edge of the mansion’s estate, receiving more sets of impressive looks from arriving guests doing the same. Bill and I gave our suits a few straightening tugs and Gretch did the same with her dress, and with our heads up, posture straight, and each stride hit with perfect poise, we made our way up to the mansion.

A drink accompanied the hands of each of our friends, prompting a visit to the wet bar as to be in conformance with the rest of the party guests. “If you want, I can make you guys an old fashioned to go with your Keystone Light—Oh… hey, Billy…” He stood behind the counter fixing a drink of his own, his presence a surprise to us all.

“Hey what’s up guys?” he said to us. “Man, last night got a little wild. I wasn’t mean to you guys or say anything stupid did I?”

“Well, we kind of got into it over Kanye West…” I reluctantly replied. The reminder was likely to bring up contention, something I was hoping to avoid before the wedding’s festivities began, but nothing less than an honest answer was what he deserved, even if we were fighting the day before. He was a groomsmen after all.

“Oh man, I’m sorry. You know what I say: to each his own. That’s my motto. I’m not a big Kanye fan by any stretch, but if you are, I have nothing against that. You know me, I would never say a mean thing to anybody.” His apology was sincere, and in my book, fully acceptable.

“You know, there was a little drinking going on, and people say things they don’t mean, and it just got a little out of hand I think, that’s all. I tell you what, after the ceremony is over, I’ll make you an old fashioned.” We shook hands and added a smile to console our differences.

“Alright you guys, we’re going to start any minute now,” said Maggie having just ran down the basement stairs. That was our cue, for nobody was allowed to see the bride in her wedding dress before the start of the ceremony, and for good reason too. With drinks in hand and sunglasses over our head, we joined the rest of the guests on the lawn and took our seats for the ceremony.

***

Blake stood at the alter waiting for Billy and Coti to make their way past the rows seated guests and accompany him. The unforgiving humidity set by the red summer sun resulted in large patches of sweat left under the armpits of the wedding party’s dress shirts, a common theme that was to be shared by the rest of the male party guests, including yours truly.

Next came Maggie, the Maid of Honor, escorted by Jordan, Blake’s son. At 9 years old, he performed the important, yet demanding role of best man, and an appropriate title it was, for his manners and maturity were far above and beyond that of the rest of us, and only he was capable and deserving enough to walk a babe like Maggie down the aisle. Thus, he truly was, the best man.

Jordan took his spot next to his father and Maggie stood opposite of him while a classical tune continue to play and spill out over the glistening lake, a most perfect backdrop for a wedding, minus the few passing pontoon boats unaware that such a special occasion was taking place. With Blake standing amongst the company of friends, family, and the most important people in his life, the stage was set. All the required members were present, all except for one, whose grand entrance was only a few, long seconds away.

A jazzy brush drum roll sounded followed by a few strokes of a piano, a rhythm and melody that was instantly recognized, as it was the introduction to one of the most beautiful songs ever written (second only to Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Me, and possibly a couple of Kanye West beats), a song I had listened to every day for months while delving into the literature of Ayn Rand (quite an excellent pairing)—a song of which you can’t help but think about holding close the most lovely of babes among babes. Norah Jones led in with her signature soft and graceful voice, “Come away with me, in the night…” and a procession of guests rose to their feet. “Come away with me, and I will write… you… a song…”

All eyes turned to the bride clad in a stunning white dress, her elegance on full display. Walking side by side with her father, Beth made her way down the aisle and joined Blake. Standing together, hand in hand at the alter, they looked into each others eyes, millions of thoughts rummaging through their heads, a million thoughts that by some miracle of life, may just happen be congruent within the short distance between them, a lifetime of knowledge, memories, and love shared between two individuals. Thoughts of which neither me, Bill, Gretch or anybody else in attendance could possibly know or would ever know… all we could do is sit back and wonder with thoughts of our own…

***

The Palouse was in its typical Fall transitioning period, unsure of whether it was suppose to be warm or cool that early October Tuesday in 2006, much like the young emo kids struggling to find their identity. The day’s events were exceptionally vivid, for The Killers had just released their new album “Sam’s Town,” the much-anticipated follow-up to their debut album “Hot Fuss.” After my purchase from Hastings in Moscow, ID, I immediately rushed over to Connie and Bill’s apartment, for my house in Pullman was far too long of a drive for me to listen to a CD I had been waiting months to get my hands on.

Emily Dokken answered the door and informed me of three important issues. 1: Bill and Connie were still in class. 2: she had to take a massive dump. And 3: I could hang out with her friend Beth until Connie and Bill came back. Little did I know at the time that Emily’s half-hour outing with the toilet would mark the beginning of a friendship, sort of a blessing in disguise if you ask me.

From that forced encounter on that early Autumn day in Idaho, and with the help of a few Chach Chugs, multiple Moscow outings, and a road trip or two, our friendship grew and blossomed, to the point where we eventually discovered a coveted admiration evolving from our family upbringing—The Green Bay Packers.

Fast forward to 2010; a time where Lady Gaga ruled the airwaves, half the country was going nuts over a terrible film called Avatar, the Shi— uh, I mean Seahawks’ (for some reason I mess that up, every time…) fan base was still limited in size, and I was about to take a temporary position working for the Navy in Washington, DC. Before I was to embark across the country however, there was one last important matter to tend to: the Packers were scheduled to come to Seattle to play the Shi—er, Seahawks (there I go again), and being that game tickets were still decently priced at that point in history, Beth and I made it a point to go to the game, even if it was only preseason.

“By the way Beth, I’m going to bring my friend Cambray. I hope you’re not mad, she’s kind of a boundary babe,” I told her through text.

“That’s fine. I’m going to bring my friend Blake.”

“What the… Who the heck is Blake?!?! He better be a cool guy or else!” I threatened. And soon enough, I would meet this Blake fellow and find out just how much of a cool guy he actually was…

Readers note: in an effort to remain factual, upon my writing of this, I just remembered that the Packer game was actually the second time I had met Blake, but the first time I met him involved him running out of the shower in nothing but a towel, and that story’s not as good. Besides, the Packer game is where we actually got to know each other, so if it’s no difference to you, I’d like to talk about that time instead.

Beth brought Blake to the rendezvous point to meet Cambray and I before the game. In my Belltown apartment across the street from the Space Needle, we made our preparations for the evening’s festivities, for it was dangerous territory we were walking into, making it rather imperative that we gather the appropriate supplies for the mission ahead. I made everybody take a few rounds of shots before leaving, but it was Blake who stepped up the game up by convincing Beth to hide a Ziploc bag full of rum in her shirt, a move that encouraged Cambray to follow suit. Although a bit jealous over the fact that he came up with the idea, it was still a strategy I was most impressed with, and from that point on, I had a feeling that Blake and I were going to get along just fine.

The walk to Qwest Field (now Century Link) was filled with dirty looks and heckles. Apparently, not only was having a giant wedge of cheese on my head considered terrible camouflage, but it also wasn’t much of a popular look on that particular day. Lucky for us we were equipped with a sufficient amount of booze and good conversation to keep the two-mile trek fresh.

“Beth tells me you went to Asotin High School. Did you know Danny P?” asked Blake.

“Yea I know Danny P! Me and him go way back!”

“Nice! We went to the Gorge together for Sasquatch a few years back.”

“What?! I love the Gorge, and I go to Sasquatch every year! It’s probably my favorite place to go actually. You probably know Moody too if you know Danny.”

“Oh yea, I know Moody. That guy shreds on guitar.”

“Dude, Moody’s been my best friend since the third grade! That’s awesome!”

Our conversation got a little carried away, for we seemingly forgot about Beth and Cambray who were several strides behind us. For what it was worth though, it looked as though our acquaintance was quickly turning into a friendship. That friendship however, and the respect it garnered came under jeopardy when we heard the singing of the national anthem beyond the stadium walls, a signal that our arrival had been a late one. To add to the dire circumstance, I had to go to the bathroom… really bad.

“Hey, why can’t I relieve myself and show my patriotic support all at the same time?” I asked myself. The question was a valid one, and I couldn’t find any objection within me that told me not to, even though I only took a few seconds to think about it. So in total support of America and all of the blessings she has given me, I entered the porta-potty and belted out the lyrics to the Star Spangle Banner, a song that has always filled me with pride and jubilance every time it’s been played, while all at the same time taking a whiz, a move that further rendered our presence as suspect.

Unfortunately for Beth, Blake and Cambray, that was only the beginning of my obnoxious behavior, as I couldn’t help but notice every passing Packer fan through the halls of the stadium and acknowledging their presence with at least a high-five and a favorable comment. And I do have to say, the Packers had a rather plentiful showing, even though they were in foreign territory. The excitement held deep inside all of us to see Aaron Rodgers and company play in person was evident. With me though, it was just too great to keep bound, and I let it show in the most impudent of ways.

“You know, the University of Washington did a study and showed that those cheeseheads cause brain damage,” the man next to me said as we took our seat. It was the first of many jabs we were to receive from Shi—Sea… Seahawk fans (c’mon man, get a grip on yourself) in the form of curses, raised middle fingers, and a pointed finger slowly sliding perpendicularly across a tensed net, all by gnarly looking dudes who could easily play convincing roles as homicidal maniacs in one of those crime dramas on TV.

“Well, that’s because UW did the study. You have to go to WSU if you want it done right,” I replied, a surprisingly quick and witty response.

“Wait, you went to WSU too?” asked a woman in front of me. She was 38 years old (probably around 43 or 45 now), a Seahawks fan, and she had already fallen in love with me. So naturally I talked to her. I can’t help it! I kind of get a kick out of older babes hitting on me (although she looked babe enough to me, Cambray insisted that she wasn’t, but for all intents and purposes, and for the fact she was flirting with me, we’ll refer to her as a babe anyway). “…I dare ya to stand up, point your arm and yell ‘First Down,’ the next time the Packers get a first down.” Easy. 

“FIRST DOWN!” I yelled, pointing my hand in the direction the Packers were marching after the next play was over, a notion that made my new 38-year-old love laugh hysterically. The move wasn’t exactly well received with the other fans, as two black girls (only calling them black to provide an accurate description that will help differentiate them between the other characters in the story, and that’s it. I know some of you out there get all worked up about that crap, so I figure I’ll add this disclaimer. Gosh, the things you have to do to cover your buns against the PC police these days…) whipped around and shot me dirty looks. “What?” I said, shrugging my shoulders and sending a sheepish look back their direction. “I love my team, what can I say?”

As what happens with every outing where alcohol is consumed, the trips to the bathroom became very frequent, and each trip back included a bunch of high-fives to Packer fans and a beverage in hand that would cause me to repeat the vicious cycle. “I’m getting a beer, what do you want Cambray?”

“I’ll do a Roman Coke.”

“Uh… I don’t think they have those. Are you ok with a regular one? I can’t imagine that they’d be that much better imported.”

“No, you see, you get a Coke, and I’ll make it a Roman Coke when you come back.”

“I don’t get it? You’re not even Italian, let alone Roman. How can you make a Roman Coke?”

“Just… get me a regular coke please.”

“That’s all you had to say! Coming right up!”

A few minutes passed and I returned with a beer for me and a Coke for Cambray. “Here you go,” I said to her while handing her the bottle. Immediately she began taking sips then adding her secret stash of alcohol to it. “Oh, you’re mixing Rum and Coke, why didn’t you say so? Wait, it’s Rodgers, and he’s rolling out. He’s passing and… TOUCHDOWN!” We ripped and roared, but the celebration was short lived. The two black girls whipped around once more to deliver another set of dirty looks. Oh great.

“Zack, those girls really like you,” said Blake. “They’re just acting tough, that’s all.”

“I don’t know man, they look like they’re pretty mad every time they turn around.”

“But that’s the key. They keep on turning around, just for you! Trust me…”

A few series later, the Seahawks scored a touchdown. My 38-year-old lover made me give her a high five and the rest of the Seahawk fans cheered on… all except for two. In an unprecedented move, the two black girls whipped around once again, and with them came the same pair of dirty looks that had disturbed us several times over.

“What? You guys did a good job and I’m clapping for you! I like you guys, and I want to like you! We can be friends, I know we can!” My radiant smile and exuberant personality was just too powerful for them to repel, and a smile began creeping up on their face, growing larger until it turned into a couple of laughs. “See, I knew we would be friends!”

A few seats down Blake nodded his head in approval with a big smile on his face to give me a message. “Told Ya!”

The 4th quarter was nearing an end with the Packers ahead and in total command of the game, drawing an exodus of fans from the stadium in order to beat the traffic rush. The two black girls gave me one more set of dirty looks that quickly turned friendly, each of us sharing a hug before parting ways. And sadly, it was time for my 38-year-old lover and I to say our goodbyes. We were never to see each other again, for the future tension between our two teams would never allow it, but she forever sealed our fate that day with a kiss on the cheek, a kiss I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life. I guess not all Seahawks fans are bad after all…

When it was all said and done, it was just Beth, Blake, Cambray and I left to watch our team march onto victory. They stuck with me through my vociferous outbursts, unruly behavior, and took the brunt of dirty language, inappropriate gestures, and heckles delivered on my behalf, all with a smiles on their faces the whole time. Eventually we made an exodus of our own up to Capitol Hill to celebrate with friends, not all of who were Packer fans, but who would certainly recognize and rejoice in the accomplishment nonetheless.

During that walk up the hill, I couldn’t help but look at Beth and Blake and reflect on the day’s events, having just learned a great number of things that night. 1: The Packers were going to win the Super Bowl that year (which they did, beating Pittsburgh 31-25). 2: I had made a new friend, one who had easily earned my respect. And 3: Beth and Blake were the real deal, and I had a feeling that this was going to be one that lasted a long, long time.

Packers Game 2010

My 38-Year-Old Lover even took a picture of us at the game!

***

A great man (but not a particularly wise man) by the name of Forrest Gump once said, “I may not be a smart man, but I do know what love is…”

Love is a funny thing. We see it all around us, written in books, shown to us in movies and TV shows, and sung through beautiful renditions created by the likes of Norah Jones and Jewel. The word itself gets thrown around freely between friends and family all the time!

Yet, I don’t think we truly understand it, or even how to spot it, even if it’s staring us right in the face. Ask a thousand people what love is and you’d get a thousand different answers. But somehow, in that moment where you’re standing next to somebody, that one person out of a million that somehow can read your exact mood as if they have access to your mind, the one who can erase every pernicious thought built inside your head with a simple gesture of a smile, that one person who you would unequivocally travel to the darkest reaches of the Earth for, your body musters up a single feeling that blots out all other possible feelings; a feeling that grinds the brain into a pile of mush, leaving the heart to do the talking, an organ void of rational thought. You’re stuck with a feeling of complete submission, the equivalent to a giant black hole that within a moment’s notice sucks you in and doesn’t allow you to escape, an unconditional emotion that will never falter, no matter what hardship or tragedy arises. It’s an emotion stronger than the rest, one that conquers and endures till the end and whose simple essence by itself nearly proves the existence of God.

You’re left with the feeling of love, a love that’s impossible to understand, but perfectly known. You know, because the person standing next to you is feeling the same exact thing.

It was love that was on display in the heart of the motherland, and it was their love that was shared with us that afternoon through a set of heartfelt vows delivered emotionally. A love expressed not only between them, but also towards Jordan. His presence strengthened their love for one another, created an inseparable bond that would not be broken, a special type of bond called family. And on that day, they would officially become one.

And though that love was shared and celebrated amongst us, it was only a glimpse of what was actually between them. And how could it be anything more with such a complex subject? It’s no wonder that love is the one feeling that’s celebrated with such a grandiloquent occasion like a wedding. But even the most spectacular, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian types of weddings can even come close to providing the justice love deserves. It’s just simply not possible! So as humans, we do the best we can, and celebrate and rejoice at the phenomenon, that for a moment, we are part of something bigger and more powerful than any material object or selfish desire; something bigger than our good looks, Mercedes-Benz, the Gran Tetons, Steel Reserve, punch cards, Bar Tender Babes, Seahawks Babes, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, Packer Babes, Farm Babes, Boundary—uh, I won’t go that far, but the list goes on! And in the end, we get to be a part of love, something well worth traveling 2500 miles for, something we can either look back and remember a time years ago where we were up with the same exact feeling, or something that we can someday look forward to with a wedding of our own.

We watched in delight as Beth and Blake were pronounced husband and wife. Their love was sealed with a kiss, and Bill, Gretch and I joined the rest of the guests with a set of raucous cheers. Each one of us in attendance had a reason for being there, had the honor of being a part of their lives in some special way, to help guide them to this moment. Some were friends who had gained trust and respect from years of sticking together through the best and worst of what life has to offer, never turning their back when terrible decisions have been made, and having the ability to say the difficult things that nobody is willing to say or make the tough decisions that nobody else is willing to make. Others were family, integral people in their lives that spent years helping to mold them into the people they have become, no matter how hard it could be at times.

For me, I was just glad to be that person who could put a smile on their face and consistently make their lives better simply by being the person I was meant to be. That maybe, through the help of a Packer game 5 years prior, I played a part in making love come to life, whether it was love at first sight, or love that was always there, waiting to be discovered.

And who knew that 5 years later, what started with the Green Bay Packers would come full circle and end in Wisconsin, the motherland and rightful home to the greatest football team ever to grace the Earth. That alone was enough to celebrate.

And celebrate we would, for it wasn’t the end, but merely the beginning. It was the beginning of a life of full of adventure, wonderful people, and everlasting memories for each of them. And what better way to start such a celebration than with a reception filled with best friends and family indulging in an overabundance of boisterous dancing, fireworks and alcohol? I don’t know about Bill and Gretch, but that was a plan that I couldn’t wait for; a plan that I was definitely onboard with…

Broventures in Tulum

Saturday, February 21st, 2014, 1:15 PM

Man, I can’t believe it’s here! I’ve been waiting for this moment, ever since we got the news over Christmas! And after hitting up the gym 5 times a week for the last 2 months, I’m ready. I’m finally doing it, baby, Spring Break! And get this, I’ve already had two Rum and Cokes, and we haven’t even taken off yet! Man, First Class is awesome, mom and dad really hooked it up, and so are my washboard abs! Sorry, I know I shouldn’t brag, but I can’t help it. All those protein shakes were totally worth it!

Oh, they’re doing that safety presentation thing. Damn, the flight attendant looks hot right now… That’s right girl, show me how you inflate that life vest—hold up, she’s coming over, looking right at me. I think she’s checkin’ me out… Let me give her the nod, ok, here we go, “What’s up? How you do— oh, my com—until when? Yea, I can—geez, sorry—uh, yes mam.” Ok, I guess they’re making me put my computer away for a little bit. No worries, I’ll be back. Spring Break Cancun, here I come!

 

Saturday, February 21st, 3:00 PM

Dude, First Class seriously hooks you up fat! A full meal, movies and everything! And the funny thing is, my poor little sister is stuck sitting in coach. Sucks to be her! I can’t wait to brag about how many free drinks I’m getting! Oh, speaking of drinks, hold up… “Oh miss, can I get a… yea, what was that one you gave me earlier, a shardinay or something? Yea perfect!” This old broad keeps coming around and filling my glass with wine whenever it’s empty. I’m not really a fan of the stuff, it doesn’t quite go down smooth like a nice, cold Keystone Light, so I’m just kind of shooting them down as fast as I can. Hey, as long it gets me drunk and it’s free! That’s my motto.

I think we’re staying at this resort, called the Tulum I think. My sister sent me some pictures and the place looks hella rad! Beachside, like 5 or 6 rooms all together, cabana style villa. I can’t imagine the babes I’m gonna be able to bring back and party with. I’ll let mom and dad take the upstairs. They’re old timers anyway, they’ll be in bed by 9. Not me though. I’m gonna party all night and sleep all day.  That’s my motto.

“Oh yea, can I try the rose kind? Yea, the pink stuff, thanks.” Let me down this real quick… whoa, there we go. This wine stuff gets you a little loopy… Where was I? Oh yea, first thing’s first, I’m hitting up the beach and the pool. They’ll be crawling with bikini babes, and babes who like to party. And then shots. Yagerbombs, cherry bombs, vodka Redbull, Tequilla Shots, Jello Shots, Body Shots, Vod— “Oh yea, get me a shot of that red stuff… Cool, thanks.”   I’m going hard, 24/7. YOLO! That’s my motto.

I bet MTV’s gonna be down there too! They always come down for Spring Break, and they have the best rappers, always. I’m talkin’ Pitbull, Mac Miller, Macklemore… those guys get me really pumped! I’ll find out where they’re partying too, it’ll just be like that one movie, Spring Breakers, where those chicks go out to all of those ragers and meet that one du

 

Saturday February 21st, 9:30 PM

Man, I don’t know what happened. I was kicking it with all of these old farts in First Class, pounding wine shots and what not, and the next thing I know, we’re here! Oh well, heheh.

Anyways, we’re taking a shuttle to our first hotel right now, the Courtyard Marriott. The driver looks like a pretty cool guy, like he knows what’s up. “So where’s the best clubs around here? You know, the biggest place to party and stuff? Hello…” Well, apparently the driver isn’t much for conversation. It’s like he can’t hear me or knows what I’m saying. Oh well, at least he’s letting me drink a beer on the way. Man, this is the life, just like those “Find Your Beach” commercials. I can finally relate.

“Hey, what do they take around here? Dollars? Yes, no, anybody?” Whatever, I’ll just give him a dollar or something for driving. They like that kind of stuff.

Well, this is it! Tomorrow’s the start of a full week of partying at the Tulum!

 

Sunday February 22nd, 9:00 AM

Down in the hotel lobby, waiting for my sister and her husband, Derek. I guess they’re gonna drive us to this Tulum place. Man, I’m pumped and ready to go! I can’t wait to get on the beach and— oh, here she comes right now. Does she see me, ok cool, she’s walking towards us, and she’s got a smile on her face… must be glad to see me. Ok, she’s got a really big smile on her face… That’s weird. I know I haven’t seen her in like a year, but it keeps on getting bigger. What the heck?

“What’s up Meathead Rob Lowe,” is the first thing that comes out of her mouth.  I actually don’t know what to say, I… I’m beyond words. I think that’s the nicest thing she’s ever said to me…

 

Sunday February 22nd, 10:30 AM

For some reason, we’re going to Costco right now, who the hell knows why? I didn’t even know they had them down here, but regardless, it seems really unnecessary, for I’m just ready to go down to the pool to start drinkin’. It’s actually starting to kind of piss me off a little bit, but whatever. We’ll do what THEY want to do. While I’m here, I might as well stock up on some supplies.

 

Sunday February 22nd, 10:35 AM

I grab beer, tequila, Red Bull, and Doritos… the basics. All ready to go. Where did my sister’s go?

 

Sunday, February 22nd, 11:15 AM

“Yea, what about it? Because I want it, that’s why—What’s it to you!?” Great, now both my sisters are having a fit over this stuff, I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s not like I’m giving them crap about their wine and cheese and olives and more wine and other crap, let alone the fact that it took them an hour to get like 5 things. God, they won’t stop arguing and telling me to listen, saying there’s not enough room in the car or whatever. It’s not like we needed any of this stuff in the first place? Come on!

And out of all the things, what they’re most pissed off about are the Doritos! Something about not eating authentic Mexican food… I forget exactly what all they were saying, I wasn’t really paying attention, but they keep screaming at me to put them back. We’ve literally been going back and forth for the last 5 minute about the damn Doritos now, and it’s starting to cause a scene. All these people are looking at us like we’re crazy and—Whatever, it’s not even worth it anymore. I’m over it. They win.

 

Sunday, February 22nd, 11:18 AM

I can’t do it. Don’t care. I want it, I like it, screw it, I’m getting the Doritos.

 

Sunday February 22nd, 1:00 PM

Um, why are we driving away from Cancun? The hotel shouldn’t be way the hell out here. I’m trying to ask, but sister keeps on going off about how this rental car place screwed her our of a Jeep Wrangler. I mean, what’s the deal with this Jeep Wrangler anyway, and why does she have to have it?

 

Sunday, February 22nd, 1:10 PM

Seriously, she won’t shut up about the damn Jeep! It’s like her life is completely ruined over the fact that she can’t drive around and look cool. News flash: Who Freaking Cares! You have a car, get over it! My God, if I have to hear about that stupid car one more time, my head’s going to explode! Meanwhile, we’re still going in the wrong direction and the way she keeps on blabbering, we aren’t turning around anytime soon.

 

Sunday February 22nd, 2:00 PM

Well this just sucks. All to my glorious surprise, Tulum isn’t a hotel, it’s a town, nowhere near Cancun. It’s so nice of them to tell me this now. And worst off, the fact that I didn’t know is apparently hilarious to everybody. What a bunch of BS, and frankly, this really pisses me off. So yea, I got her to stop talking about the damn Jeep, but who cares? I just gave them a new thing to talk about. That and that stupid show about Girls.

 

Sunday February 22nd, 3:00 PM

We’re driving through this Tulum place, which isn’t even a town, but a village made out of sticks and straw in the middle of a jungle. And would it kill them to make the roads just a little wider? It’s not like they don’t have the real estate. The last thing we need to do is get in a crash with a smuggled bag of Doritos in the back.

There ain’t much for partying either, and every babe I’ve seen so far has some boner walking along side. I guess it’s better than nothing, but still, I ain’t digging it. Wait, now what’s goin… Ok, so we’ve just passed the town, and we’re starting to drive on this sketchy dirt road. What are we doing?

 

Sunday February 22nd, 3:15 PM

So we’ve been on this long dirt road towards the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of tropical trees on each side. How long do we have to drive till we get to this place? And what’s with all these “topes” anyway, Spanish for either “Bump” or “Pain in the Ass.” They’re everywhere! That’s like 4 in a row now that we’ve bottomed out on. Maybe if my sister wasn’t driving like a madman, then—Uh oh, here we go again… Ok, that’s good, let’s just take this nice and slow. We’ll get over and… Ohhhhh… Well, there goes the bottom of the car, she’s gonna have a good time explaining that one to the rental car place… and there she goes again about the stupid Jeep Wrangler… Great. Just great…

 

Sunday February 22nd, 3:30 PM

Ok we finally make it to our house, and good thing too, because I gotta take a dump. It’s a cool looking place, I’ll admit. Too bad it’s in the middle of Bum F*** Egypt. How am I supposed to pick up any chicks all the way out here?

 

Sunday, February 22nd, 3:35 PM

“So, you’re telling me I don’t put the toilet paper in the toilet, but in the trash? What’s the point? That’s completely disgusting…”

 

Sunday, February 22nd, 3:36 PM

So, their toilets can’t handle TP, and neither can anyplace else around here, at least that’s what the husband and wife who are the caretakers of the place supposedly said, according to my sister. So it looks like we put our used TP in the trash from here on. This is freaking ridiculous.

 

Sunday, February 22nd, 6:00 PM

Mom and dad pull in. They’re all in a good mood, happy to be here. Good for them. My mom asks me if I’m excited. I respond accordingly.

“Yes, I am so excited to be all the away out here, away from everything, with no TV, nobody else around, and nothing to do but spend an entire week with my family. This is going to be SUCH a great vacation…” She smiles gives me a giant hug, and tells me she’s excited too. My dad looks back in pride. From what I gather, neither of them understand the concept of sarcasm. I need a drink. Or two…

 

Monday, February 23rd, 10:00 AM

Time to check out the beach, I mean, as long as it’s right there, and its private, then why not? It looks pretty nice, at least so far, except for these piles of seaweed that are everywhere. Doesn’t bother me though, I’ll just walk through it and—UGGHHAA, God, I think a squid just grabbed my foot or Octopus or… Oh, just the seaweed. No big deal, it’s just so slimy and everything. It threw me off, freaked me out a little bit. I’m good. Really, I am.

 

Monday, February 23rd, 10:02 AM

Ok, lets try again. Everything’s good, and I ain’t a wus. Just start with the ankles… good. And down to the knees… that’s right, now—AHHH forget it. I’m out.

 

Monday, February 23rd, 9:00 PM

Spent the afternoon in town shopping with my mom and sisters, while my dad and Derek went to the grocery store. So, I pretty much did absolutely nothing until dinner. Really, the only awesome thing that happened was there was this topless babe walking on the beach near town, but I was standing there with my mom, so I had to pretend I didn’t see her. In fact, except for a quick glance, I didn’t see her! Just my luck.

I did grab some more Tequila though, we’re just about out back at the house. I needed it, too, especially now. That Costco stuff went quick

I know I shouldn’t, but it’s been a long day, and that waiter took his sweet time with the bill too. I’m just gonna take a quick little swig—DAMNIT! Freaking Topes! Tequila everywhere! I swear to God, Topes piss me off!

 

Monday, February 23rd, 9:07 PM

Ughz. You know, this dirt road is kind of creepy at night, with all the jungle trees and all. It feels like some guerillas are all hanging out on the sides, watching us drive by. And any second now, some cartel guy is going to pop out of nowhere and take us all out. How much you want to bet that after we get around this corner there’s going to—

JESUS CHRIST! Holy Mary… My God. Sweet Jesus. Holy Crap. What in God’s name!…

 

Monday, February23rd, 9:08 PM

Yea, so we almost died. Head on collision. Barely missed it. That bastard was out of control. I’ve never heard so many dirty words come out of my family’s mouth at once. Good thing I got all that… Never mind, tequila’s all over the floor.

This sucks.

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 9:00 AM

Since there’s no gym here, I might as well run on the beach to keep my tone, just in case. Also, I need to clear my mind. Mom and dad were all worked up about me spilling liquor all over the car. Something about drinking and driving in Mexico can get you in trouble. It was an accident for Christ sakes, big deal? I wasn’t even driving, and they probably do that stuff all the time around here!

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 9:15 AM

Dude, running in the sand sucks. I just keep sinking, unless I run on the buttloads of dried seaweed all over the place. What’s with all this seaweed anyways? Out of all the places, all the world’s seaweed just happens to show up right here, on the exact day we decide to come.

Oh, there’s another house on the beach. I wonder if there’s any other babes around? Ah, doesn’t look like it, at least not right now. I’ll check it out later.

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 9:30 AM

So as it turns out, right after I passed that house, this rabid dog started chasing after me. The little turd wouldn’t stop either, followed me for like a half mile, I nearly passed the hell out I ran so hard in the sand. Pissin’ me off. I can’t get back now, unless I run passed that thing, which I don’t really want to deal with right now. It probably has rabies or something dumb like that. The road can’t be too far away, maybe I’ll just cut through a little jungle here.

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 9:40 AM

It’s just been one giant mistake after another now hasn’t it? The road’s way farther out than it should be, leaving me stuck in the middle of the jungle. I swear some critter is going to jump out and attack me. Every time I step on a dry leaf it’s like they’re rustlin’ around, plottin’ and schemin’ on the low. Or it’ll be something stupid, like stepping on a big old snake or having a spider bite me. Or what if I happen to stumble upon a drug ring camp out in the forest here? How the hell do I explain myself out of that one?

That stupid ass dog. I’m about ready to turn back and whoop it’s ass.

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 7:00 PM

Good news, I made it out of the jungle alive, and I didn’t have to beat up any dogs. Bad news, my mom insists we stay in tonight and play this stupid game called “The Settlers of Catan,” and I’m almost all out of booze. I’ve played it before with them, and I know exactly what’s going to happen. I’m going to win, and everybody’s going to get all butthurt about the whole thing and start crying. It literally happens every time we play.

The thing is, it wouldn’t be such a bad game if everybody didn’t have to spend 5 minutes on their turn figuring out what they were going to do. It’s like “Gee, maybe you could’ve thought about that when the person before you was taking 5 minutes?”

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 7:05 PM

Just found out that this is Derek’s first time ever playing. Awesome. He’s gonna take his sweet time because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and then he’s going to do something stupid and screw me out of winning, I just know it.

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 8:15 PM

Guess what. Derek just built a road that leads to nowhere right in front of me, and pretty much just screwed me out of winning. I’m honestly on the verge of losing my crap right now.

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 8:45 PM

Oh, my God. This game is taking FOR-E-VER!!!

 

Tuesday, February 24th, 9:00 PM

Game’s over, and now I have to deal with my little sister parading around like she’s the Queen of Catan. Yea, congratulations, you won your first game. You had a newbie screw everybody except you, and then you happen to have all your settlements on 4’s, which got rolled like 5 times in a row. Yea, you should be really proud of that, and the way you’re acting too. What a waste of two hours, and a giant load of BS. This game pisses me off. And I barely got anything for dinner tonight too. At least I still have my… what the. Ah Hell no— “WHO THE HELL ATE ALL MY DORITIOS?!?!”

 

Wednesday, February 25th, 11:00 PM

Nobody ever ponied up to eating my Doritos, surprise surprise. Anyway, today was kind of boring. We went to these ancient ruins, which was just a cluster of tourists running around aimlessly. The place wasn’t even that cool, but they managed to squeeze 5 bucks out of me, and everybody else who went there. And then there was this girl who was trying to do handstands and get her picture taken by the ruins, except she didn’t know how to do a handstand, so she just kept trying over and over again, right in front of everybody. It was freaking ridiculous! She was like 20 years old too, which I didn’t know people still did handstands at that age, unless they’re kind of kinky, which I don’t think she was, because she didn’t know how to do a handstand. But yea, everybody’s trying to be all nice and polite not to get in her way, and its taking like 10 minutes, so finally they—wait, what the hell is that over—

“OH F*** THAT!!!”

 

Wednesday, February 25th, 11:02 PM

A giant ass rat just walked into my room. I swear to God if there’s one thing I hate, it’s rats. Looks like I just woke everybody up too. My sister’s are running in freaking out, and now my parent’s, and, hold up… “No, it’s ok mom. Yes, it’s gone now… a rat. I said a rat. No, not a cat, a rat. A big ol’ rat… Yes mom, I’m fine… Yes, I’m sure it was a rat… It was really big… Don’t worry—ok I’ll shut all the doors before I go to bed…”

 

Wednesday, February 25th, 11:04 PM

I can’t believe I dropped the F bomb in front of my mom… I’m a horrible person…

 

Thursday, February 26th, 2:00 AM

So as it turns out, it wasn’t a rat, it was this thing called a lemur according to my little sister, who probably ate half of my Doritos, and still won’t confess, but that’s beside the point. That bastard was huge! And now everybody’s all freaked out, so they shut and locked all the doors, which sucks, because I gotta take a whiz now, and I can’t get to the bathroom without knocking on the door and waking everybody up. “Well, why is the bathroom door locked, and why can’t you get in?” you ask. Well, it’s because the villa we’re staying at is weird, and I don’t want to explain it cause it’ll take too long, so it is what it is, ok! Long story short, I’m taking a whiz on the beach.

 

Thursday, February 26th, 2:03 AM

Wow, I never noticed how well you can see the stars from out here. It’s actually quite spectacular. There are so many of them, 10’s of 1000’s. Maybe even millions! I can pretty much see any constellation out here. Look, there’s the big dipper right there! Oh, and over there, that has to be… Well, um…

 

Thursday February 26th, 2:05 AM

Gee, as it turns out, that’s the only constellation I know, heheh. Whatever, the stars aren’t even that cool. I’m done peeing anyways.

 

Thursday, February 26th, 5:00 PM

So, today we’re supposed to have this giant fish dinner that the caretakers made for us, and we’re all going to eat it together and it’s supposed to be really good. Heck, I even got a glimpse of the fish, and even I approve. This thing’s a pretty big deal to them. They even brought their daughter over too, and while she might be a nice girl, well, um… let’s just say, she’s not really my type to put it nicely.

 

Thursday, February 26th, 7:00 PM

I’m chowin’ down on this fish. Man, this thing is good. It’s got onions, and peppers, and hot sauce… I’m really going to town!

My older sister’s talking to these people in Spanish, and my mom’s talking to them in English like they understand everything single word she’s saying. They’re all laughing and stuff, and all I’m doing is eating. These are some big old fish!

 

Thursday, February 26th, 7:10 PM

Now they’re all pointing at me, and keep saying my name. My sister keeps on saying “ci.” It means yes, I know that, I’m not an idiot for God sakes. And they keep using this word, “matrimonio.” I don’t know what that means, matrimonio. But anyway, my sister just keeps on saying “ci” and the dad keeps laughing and has this big old smile on his face. They’re looking at me now like they’re questioning me. What did I do? All I’m doing is eating some freaking fish and now suddenly I’m the “Bell of the Ball!” And why does this girl keep staring at me? She won’t stop, and she keeps smiling. This is freaking me out man. “Yea, whatever, ci ci.” I just want to eat the fish.

 

Thursday, February 26th, 7:11 PM

Now what? They’re all screaming, hooting and hollering, getting all happy. The dad, the wife, they’re all just ecstatic all of a sudden. Was it something I said? Oh great, this girl’s staring even harder at me. And smiling…

I don’t like this at all.

 

Thursday, February 26th, 8:00 PM

I ate a whole entire fish. I’m done. I’m never eating… ever, again.

 

Thursday, February 26th, 8:10 PM

The caretakers are leaving for the night, but the dad gives me this big hug and says something like “Mi familia.” Yea, familiar with what? I never found out, he just hugged me again and then left. And their daughter waved one of those creepy finger rolling waves on her way out too. I’m just glad that’s all over. What a weird night. Man, I’m stuffed.

 

Friday, February 27th, 1:30 AM

Oh my God. I can’t believe it happen. This is awful.  It was inevitable. Montezuma’s Revenge has finally struck. Ugh, I feel like Hell.  It was the damn fish. It had to be. Oh God. Just a… Ahhh help me Jesus, it hurts so bad. I can’t stop.  It just keeps… UGHZ.  I woke my sister’s up too. I had to. No. Other. Choice. Door was locked. I had to go. Why is this happening?  Oh, I hate lemurs so much right now.  And fish, and—oh no, here it goes!  No…

 

Friday, February 27th, 2:30 AM

Not again!!!

 

Friday, February 27th, 3:00 AM

This is bad. This is so bad. It’s even worse than I’d imagined. Worse than Ben Woodward and the Toilet Bowl Massacre… No, nothing’s worse than that. But this is still bad. Wait… Yea, never mind, this is way worse…

 

Friday, February 27th, 3:45 AM

I have literally destroyed the toilet. As in, this thing is no longer recognizable, every square inch of it. I can’t even describe the abomination that was created. I am honestly disgusted at myself, and my body. It’s a travesty to the human race. It’s so disgusting and ugly, I’m not even proud of it. It’s horrific.  God, I think this could even be illegal, and all I can do is sit in shame over this monstrosity, and pray for forgiveness. God help me. God forgive me…

 

Friday, February 27th 4:00 AM

Please God let this be it. This is the worst. I really hope I can pinch it off and just sleep now, cause I don’t know how much more I can take. Oh, you got to be kidding me. What’s wrong with the toilet now? It’s not even flushing. Why won’t it… the toilet paper… I didn’t put it in the trash like they… Oh, F my life…

 

Friday, February 27th 1:00 PM

Well, I’m pretty much out of commission for the rest of the day. The rest of them went to a nearby beach, one without seaweed. Whoop de freaking do. It was nice of them to ditch me like this. I’d never do such a thing, but that’s just me.

So I decided to do a little reading, an activity that’s light on the stomach. They have a couple books here to read, even this one from this dude, Ernest Hemmingway. I’ve heard a couple of the smart and nerdy babes in class talk about how he’s so romantic and stuff. You know, the one’s that act all smart because they know literature and everything. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to get acquainted with my old friend Ernest, and his book, “The Sun Also Rises.” Besides, there’s something about a girl in smart looking glasses that kind of turns me on…

 

Friday, February 27th, 1:10 PM

Screw that, this book sucks, just a bunch of drunken A-holes. It ain’t even worth it. What a pile of garbage. What a waste of my freaking time…

 

Saturday, February 28th, 10:00 AM

It’s our last day in Tulum. If anything, I might as well run to this bridge we pass on the way to town and take a picture of the ocean from there. Those types of pics get at least 15 or 20 likes on Instagram every time, guaranteed, half of which are from babes, and probably a couple extra since it’s in a foreign country. It’s totally worth it. I figure this, I can get some exercise, get a picture, and maybe meet some more babes while I’m over there too. Kill two birds with one stone, that’s my motto.

 

Saturday, February 28th, 10:30 AM

Oh, what in the hell? Yea, I’m at the bridge. I’m also stuck in a damn monsoon. Right when I got here, it came down, right out of nowhere, Forest Gump, Vietnam style. It’s like I’m that EPA butthole on Ghostbusters when they blow up the Marshmallow Man and all that white goop dumps all over him. I know exactly how he feels. So much for that Instagram pic, and my phone. And here’s to a 2 more miles of running in the pounding rain.

I said it once, and I’ll say it again. F. My. Life!!! That’s my motto.

 

Saturday, February 28th, 11:00 AM

Yea, go ahead and keep laughing, you heartless souls. I’m so glad my siblings think all of my suffering’s hilarious. Maybe I should stick them outside for an hour and see how they like it…

 

Saturday, February 28th, 7:00 PM

Well, it’s done raining, and it’s our last night in Tulum and we’re at dinner. Everybody is kind of in a bummer mood. I for one am glad we’re leaving tomorrow, because frankly, I’ve had enough of this place for one week. And now everybody’s bummer mood is kind of putting me in a bummer mood.

 

Saturday, February 28th, 7:05 PM

The waiter comes by, kind of a weird dude, taking our orders telling us about all the nice stuff they have. “Just get me the steak, and a couple beers, and some shots.” I’m getting tanked tonight. I don’t even care anymore.

 

Saturday, February 28th, 8:00 PM

I had hella beers and shots, and ate a steak, and I’m not even drunk. Well, whatever, I’ll be home tomorrow anyway, so who cares. I’ll get drunk then.

 

Saturday, February 28th, 8:03 PM

Well here comes the waiter again. Great, now what does he want?

“Thank you very, very much. Say, I have question. Do you play American Futball?”

“Who me? Well what do you mean, I have before and all…”

“Like, uh, what you say, profesonale?

“Oh Pro Football, in the NFL. No, but thank you, that’s awfully nice of you to say so…”

“Oh man. You look like profesonale. You look like one man, very handsome. Throws American Futball.”

“Um, you mean the quarterback?”

“Ah yes, quarter back. What his name? Roger, I think. Wears color of green. Play by water. What you call it, Bay?”

“You mean Aaron Rodgers?”

“Ahh yes, Aaron Rodger. My favorite. Fantastic at Futball. You remind me of Aaron Rodger.”

“Well, uh, gee, I don’t know what to… thank you… I mean, I can see where there’s a connection, but… just, wow, that’s just… wow!”

 

Saturday, February 28th, 8:05 PM

I am literally at a loss of words right now, as in I don’t know what to say. That was one of the nicest things anybody’s ever said to me… Oh my God. Dude, I… I think I’m gonna cry…

 

Saturday, February 28h, 8:10 PM

Say what you want about the Mexicans, but they sure are an honest bunch of people. Nice people too. I don’t think I’ve ever been treated with as much respect as I have here. What a great little town. Truly heaven on Earth…

 

Sunday, March 1st, 7:00 AM

Well, on our way to the airport now, and just went over our last Topes, at least for a while anyway. They’re really not so bad, once you get used to them. My sister may disagree, she’s still yelling over them and the Jeep Wrangler, but I can’t be too hard on her. I just don’t think she has the same sense of culture as I do.

And you know, Tulum isn’t such a bad place if you think about it. Sure it’s not for everybody, but that’s ok. I guess it just takes a certain person to like this type of stuff. A type of person who’s cultured, willing to try new things, somebody who has a sophisticated sense of appreciation for the world. Somebody like me…

I don’t how keen my family is about coming back, but that’s ok. I just don’t think they were able to connect to the people like I did, that waiter last night being the perfect example.  Man Aaron Rodgers…  I just can’t believe it.  I still feel like a million bucks!

Maybe someday, they’ll learn to appreciate the finer things and people of the world, like me. Hell, I feel like this whole experience has changed my life! I don’t know exactly what happened either. Last night, well, that was just amazing…

Oh well, until next time. They can enjoy places like Cancun. You know where you can find me.

-Grizzly Chadams

A friendly message to my fellow Seahawks fans

Crying Seahawk

It’s football season, and thanks a lot Seattle. You have to go and win a damn Super bowl and make my life freakin’ miserable. Yea, I’m sure it’s all fine and dandy for you guys, meanwhile I’m constantly circumvented by ungodly amounts of Seahawks fans crowding the streets, stuck with a sucky commute for the next 4 months, forced to shell out 350 bones for a crappy seat to a football game, leaving me no choice to go to the bar where it’s a pain in the ass to find a decent place to sit because of the shear number of people who suddenly realized they like football, and now I can’t even make it 10 feet down the street without some dingleberry yelling, “Sea-HAWWKS.”

And of course, I have to sit and listen to at least one person each day make some witless, disparaging comment about my team and then go on about how the Seahawks are so good and all that other bull crap, followed by “Russell Wilson this,” and “Marshawn Lynch that,” and “Richard Sherman’s the best corner in the ga—“

Shut up Richard Sherman. Nobody cares…

Ok, I’m done bloviating. I apologize for the histrionics, it was a little over the top, I know. The truth is, I like a lot of you Seahawks fans, and there are many of you whom I consider my close friends that are well versed in the game of football, people I would stand next to and defend their honor as a true fan. And in a way, now the Seahawks are world champions, it’s kind of fun having a lot more people around to talk about football since the number of fans in the city of Seattle has grown exponentially in the past year, purely by coincidence I’m sure.

But then, there’s that “One Fan…” You know, the guy who’s overly vociferous in nature, an innate instigator, the one who flaunts their team’s success and derides his opponent’s failures. They’re a little bit on the loquacious side and believe their team to be commensurate to the second coming of Jesus. I’m sure you at least know one person like this, and I happened to run into more than a couple of them who let me know quite well their unfavorable attitude towards me during a recent visit to Century Link Field when my favorite team took on the Hawks.

So being the nice guy I am, I collected their mocks and insults and came up with a few pointers to help educate these people, and to give everyone a good reminder on how to remain good sportsmen throughout the season, because God knows we could use it from time to time, especially to make sitting next to that Bears fan at the bar a much more ameliorable experience.

And please, try not to take offense to what I’m about to say. Any criticism, if that’s how you end up seeing it, is only meant to be constructive, because I’ve been in your shoes, and I know how you feel. I too, remember the first time my team was good, and that—

Well, I take that back. My team has always been pretty good throughout the years, even before I was born, so that’s not quite an accurate statement, but I digress. Here are my “12 tips for the 12th Man.”

1) And let’s start with that. You are the 12th man, and you are loud and proud, which is ok. That’s you’re thing, I get that. It’s what makes you unique as a fan base in the NFL.
But please, you don’t have to get all irascible when somebody mentions a comment on how they don’t like going to a Seahawks game because of the noise. In fact, normal people do not like loud noises. Loud noises in most situations make a person quite agitated and very uncomfortable; and throw this person into a crowd of people screaming unmercifully in and around their ears, it makes sense that one would feel a little beleaguered in such a hostile environment, as if they’re surrounded by a group of savages ready to tear their head off!

So again, just so we’re on the same page, let me reiterate. No need to reply with an affectatious scoff because you overheard a random person mention an ingenuous comment about loud noises. Just accept it and move on.

2) I enjoy a little innocuous banter here and there. It’s partly what makes the game so fun! But just as a reminder, a friendly jab at somebody isn’t the same as getting in my face unprovoked, screaming at me, and threatening to beat me up.

Even with that being said, I expect, and can handle, a little belligerence at a game, particularly if I’m rooting for the visiting team. But if you feel it’s necessary to indulge in such inordinate behavior, it would be very appreciative if you would put a tic-tac in your mouth or chew on a piece of gum or something of similar nature beforehand. Nobody likes bad breath, and I myself have very disturbing memories that pop into my head whenever my scent receptors pick up a hint of my grandmother’s old medicine cabinet. I do not the memento, thank you.

3) Also, since we’re on the subject of talking trash, I would advise you not to do it while wearing a Spiderman outfit. It does not make look you “Bad Ass.” It simply makes you look stupid, especially if you’re an adult.

4) If you’re going to bring a sign to an NFL game, I would urge you to try and use some creativity while constructing it. A couple of cardboard cutouts of the male reproductive organ with the opposing team’s name plastered across it is something I’d expect out of a 12-year old, not a group of mid-20 and 30 year olds.

I mean, a bunch of penises? Really guys? Your mother’s must be really proud to have raised such a group of refined sophisticates like yourselves.

5) I know you guys like to teach us how to pronounce the word “Seahawks,” over and over again, but such lessons are quite unnecessary. I am fully aware of the phonetic pronunciation of the word, so belaboring us with its slow incantation becomes pointless after the 12,438th time, mostly because of the fact that the word is surprisingly elementary; a compound word consisting of two syllables, “Sea” (se) and “Hawks” (hoks).

Along that note, you also do not have to augment your voice to make it sound deeper and louder than it actually is. I am a foot in front of you, and I can understand you perfectly, and probably much clearer if you use an inside voice.

One more thing: The fact that you are a 5’ 8” hipster wearing tight pants and thick-rimmed glasses negates any affect of intimidation you may have on me, no matter how many times you repeat the phrase.

6) Girls who are into football: Hot. Girls who are into football and wear football jerseys (even if it’s a Seahawk jersey): Smokin’ hot.

Girls with potty mouths: Not so hot.

7) You cannot complain about the refs “screwing you over” in that one Super Bowl, and in the very next sentence, defend the infamous “Fail Mary” as a legitimate touchdown call. It’s called football, and you can have one or the other, but not both. Arguing for both just makes you sound unintelligent.

8) If you happen to run into me on the elevator and notice my lanyard that has my favorite team’s name on it, it is very inane to remind me of that one time your team beat mine. Yes captain obvious, I am aware of the occasion in which our two teams played, and yes, I understand that your team beat mine on that day, and I certainly remember it if that day happened to be less than a week ago. Congratulations, miss lady. I applaud you and your astute NFL knowledge.

9) Being extremely loud and obnoxious, while not necessarily being a bad thing, does not prove to me that you are the best fans in the NFL. It just proves that you’re loud and obnoxious, and that’s it.

Furthermore, if you’d like to argue with me about how your team has the best fans, it’s probably not a great idea to bring up the time that your team was almost sold to another city. Yes, you are free to contend how you believe in your pure and honest heart that it was the fans that saved the team from leaving the city, but anybody with an ounce of debate experience only needs to bring up that it was the lack of revenue from lackluster ticket sales caused by fans not going to the games that rooted the foundation of the team selling crises in the first place. Again, not trying to sound like a butthole here, but just trying to do my part to help so that you aren’t caught looking like a jackass in front of a bunch of people.

10) Richard Sherman’s a nerd. Period.

11) And last but not least, you are flying high and well right now, and you think your team is the apotheosis of modern football. But need you be prepared; brace yourself for that one moment when everything changes… That game where you find yourself standing in ineffable disbelief as you watch your team lose that walk in the park playoff game to that underdog wildcard team that everybody, including yourself, had previously flouted.

Prepare, for that day will come, and it will be then when all of the insults, rude and cocky comments, passive/aggressive pokes, and in your face smack downs that you dished out all throughout the season come back to bite you in the ass. Yes, it is then when you will be bombarded with nefarious tirades that your fellow football peers have been waiting months, and possibly years with great alacrity to throw back in your face, just so they can watch with immense exuberance the culmination of your deprecation, leaving you in such a lugubrious state of insularity, that you’re only defense is to stare at a TV for months on in meeting a myriad of artificial characters who tell the tales of how they were once great adventurers like yourself, but then took an arrow to the knee—Aka, your own virtual version of hell, one that you fatuously contrived yourself.

12) And believe me, I keep a long, long tally of all the people who’ve crapped on me throughout the seasons, and my mind is very acute with every little detail, down to the most miniscule of attacks. I remember it all, and will show mercy to no one when judgment day arrives. I’m talking to you, annoying woman in the elevator with your unneeded commentary and your atrocious cackle, spider man fan who decided to open his fat D-bag mouth, the “to-up” bouncer who wouldn’t let me into the bar after the game, little turd of a kid with you’re wretched sneer who’s father forgot to teach you proper sportsmanship etiquette, Richard Sherman trash talking wannabes, every one of you who has to yell “Sea-HAWWWKS” in front of my face, 12th men, 12th women…

BEN WOODWARD!!! I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, AND I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!!!

And when the time is right, I will find you, and I will make sure you receive the requisite amount of reparations you deserve, and that no repudiation will reprieve you from the resolute ramifications you whole-heartedly deserve. I will unleash the gates of hell, create a firestorm of fury, pummel you into bloody submission, obliterate you into oblivion, annihilate you into an abysmal microcosm of existence, castigate you with a catastrophic cacophony of vindictive vitriol, permeate into your skin with pernicious perfidy where the persistence is perennial until your perturbance has reached the potential of a paltry plebian, and finally, impugn your integrity until you’re nothing but an infinitesimal ignominy shivering on the floor in destitute diffidence, for the sound of my inexorable mockery has been forever embedded into you as an intrinsic part of your impotent soul to remind you that it was your foolish desire to belittle me that has led to this intractable indignance to carry out my monolithic machinations!

Translation: I will go Kanye West leather sweat pants wearing 30-minute concert rant on you, Charlie Sheen Tiger Blood-winning on you, Richard Sherman best corner in the game on you… I WILL GO BILL O’RIELLY DO IT LIVE ON YOUR ASS, AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP ME!!!!!

“But why?” you ask, as you beg for mercy in the morose milieu that you have manifested yourself into, hoping that your maudlin pleads will mollify my misanthropic malignance and put an end to the malaise you find your self in. But I will just stare at the sorry subject of a moribund mendicant and deliver unto you a wicked smile of accomplishment.

Why? Because like the rest of us, I am a decent, God fearing, America loving, tax paying, integral part of the community; but when it comes to football, just like everyone else, I loose my freaking mind, and I become a terrible, terrible human being within the blink of an eye. And aside from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, there is one self-evident truth the founding fathers forgot to mention in the constitution: Payback’s a bitch!

If you thought that was a little too much, well… just be thankful that I’m a pretty levelheaded guy! And better yet, not a 49ers fan. God, I don’t even want to imagine what evil concoctions they have running through their acid-laced brains!

And Let’s face it guys, there is nothing out there that really effuses our inner honesty and brings forth the sheer ingenuity for excitement more than football does, and I thank the lord for that every chance I get. If you sit down and think about it, we are actually really blessed to have such a sport that bring us together in such a fraternal manner. I mean, why are the people in ISIS such jerks? Why does it suck so bad in North Korea? How come the French have to be a bunch of A-holes all the time? Yea, I’m sure there’s a couple minor factors here and there that come into play, but I bet ya if they could sit down on a comfy couch on Sunday, crack open a couple cold ones with their best buds, and watch a group of grown men savagely beat each other down just to get a pumped up piece of pigskin down the field, they wouldn’t be so pissed off, and the world would actually be a better place. Heck, they may even enjoy their lives for once. Who knows?

So if I may leave you with a benediction for next football Sunday it would be this: Today is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice, and be glad that it’s football season. Seahawks fans, and all football fans alike, take these 12 points and permeate throughout the land with the gift of your newly acquired knowledge.

Go in peace my friends, and Go Pack Go!

-Grizzly Chadams

So as it turns out, Michael Jordan wasn’t born in North Carolina…

Ever since I was born, my mother has reminded me of the fact that I was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. Yea, no big deal right? Wrong, because there’s another big part to it… That it happened to be the same hospital where Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, was born. It was a fact that I repeated time and time again throughout my life. In grade school, the kids would hang on my every word and repeat the story to others as if I were a legend. Through my college years I would tell the tale and be met with responses along the lines of “No way!” or “Get out of here!” and other expressions of excitement. Even now as a working professional, I still tell the tale and receive the nod of approval and ever so slight grins that grow at a slow, yet proportional rate. I repeat it as if it’s my mantra, my motto.

It was one of my proudest claims to fame, a highlight of my life, and a great pick-up line for the ladies. In fact, it was merely a couple weeks ago that I was attending a bachelorette party and I laid down the line in front of a large crowd of babes, where they all smiled with a heightened level of impressiveness. And for those that are wondering, yes I said bachelorette party, and yes, aside from the over abundance of phallic objects, its was really fun (thanks to the efforts of a few boundary babes)! Even better than any of the bachelor parties I’ve ever been to, no offense to those bachelors, especially my buddy Alex. I love you man, but being stuck in the middle of the woods at night with a busted up rig that can’t start in weather that was around 10 degrees wasn’t exactly the greatest moment of my life. Especially after the fact that we nearly rolled off the edge of a cliff and to our deaths about 10 times, but that’s a whole other story. Let’s just say I’m happy to be alive to tell my stories after that incident.

But the point is, I would walk into a room and spread the truth in front of a crowd of people, and instantaneously I would be greeted with astonishment, with a slight wave of jealousy coming from a few. What could they say that made them relevant?  Nothing. I was always one step ahead.

It had been nearly 25 years since I stepped foot in the motherland, or crawled for that matter, and I was ready for a welcoming reception home. I met my compadres Mike and Jason at Jay Bee’s World Famous Hotdog’s in Statesville, North Carolina, where I have no idea why their hotdog’s are considered to be world famous. Every place I’ve been to that claims they have world famous hotdogs have always left me with a feeling of disappointment, such as Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington DC. If you’re going to say you have a world famous hot dog, it better be damn good. At least don’t call them world famous so your standards shoot through the roof. If you don’t claim it and your hotdog is terrible, I won’t really care, but when you claim world fame status and your hotdog stinks, your reputation and integrity fly out the window in my book, and leave me with less satisfaction than if I ate a 1/4 pound all beef kosher dog from Costco, except that those actually aren’t that bad. One, they taste better, two, they’re only a buck fifty, three, a 22 ounce drink is included, and four, they don’t even claim to be world famous! They just let the taste of their juicy dog do the talking, and that’s the way I roll.

Anyway, after eating my less than mediocre world famous hotdog, we headed to our destination in Asheville, NC, telling story’s of the glory days when we were hooligans roaming the streets of Moscow, Idaho. We were a minute away from the house when the story popped into my head, and I found the perfect segway to tell my great tale of fame. “Dude, this is my first trip my back to North Carolina since I’ve been born. And I don’t want to brag or anything, but I happened to be born in the same hospital as Michael Jordan.

Mike tweaked his head toward me with a sudden look of confusion. “Uhh, Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn New York dude.”

“Bull crap,” I swore back to him. He was wrong. He had to be. I knew he was going to take offense to my statement, just like he always does, and of course he wasn’t going to believe it, he never believes anything I say, but he couldn’t prove anything this time. What the hell did he know? He was seriously going to go against my mother’s word? I don’t think so. Not even he has the balls to go there, and when it comes to arguments with Mike, trust me, we’ll go to the deepest and dirtiest depths just to prove a point. It’s personal.

“Wikipedia it man,” is all he said back.

“Wikipedia isn’t a source!” I wanted to screamed. That’s like the first things they teach us in college! God I couldn’t believe he just said that! Wikipedia? C’mon! It took a lot to hold back the fury that bellowed inside me, because I was freaking mad!  Lieutenant Dan mad when he’s yelling at God during the hurricane in Bayou La Batre. Bill O’Reily mad when he’s told to play it out. Freaking Kanye West mad when Taylor Swift robs Beyonce of the best video award at the MTV VMA’s!

But I kept my cool and held my tongue through the whole ordeal. Now was not the time to blow up and cause a scene. I was about to meet the remainder of his family that I had not yet met, including his mother, and impressions to me are above and beyond the most important. Besides, there was plenty of time to prove Mike wrong and make him look like a fool, an act I get more joy out of than being that kid who receives an Xbox for Christmas! All I needed to do was wait for the opportune moment. Patience is key in situations like this.

Luckily for us, nothing brings a bunch of testosterone craved boys together like a classic Pay-Per-View UFC match, including an epic bout between Rhonda Rousy and Miranda Tate, and watching Anderson Silva’s leg snap in half. I know people are gonna hate on me for saying this, but seeing that live was freaking awesome!  And even better than that was the epic Packers and Bears matchup that proceeded the following day. Wow, that was one that’ll go down in the history books. It’s 4th and 8 with 44 seconds remaining in the game. the Pack is down 27-28 and the Bears are lined up for a jail break blitz. 7 defensive linemen vs. 6 on the offense. Rodgers snaps the ball and Julius Peppers runs towards Rodgers unblocked. John Kuhn the fullback dives in front of him with a last ditch effort to deliver a block. He barely slows the bastard, but it’s just enough for Rodgers to escape within a fingertips length. Out of the pocket he spots a wide open Randall Cobb in the middle of the field. He delivers a strike and into the endzone goes Cobb, ball in hand… and that’s when me and Mike went bonkers. We were jumping up and down in the bar, yelling, calling, texting, hugging complete strangers, and even in some instances, kissing (ayayay I know, I almost got slapped for that)! But in the end it didn’t matter, for we were full of cheer and were going to spread it around to everyone we could see, including Bears fans! You’re probably asking why, but it’s just the kind of guy I am. I can look past those types of things for one night.

We made our unmistakable appearance known to all at the various bars we visited, and by the evening’s end it had been a complete night of unforgettable memories and passion. Yet something was still bothering me deep inside as I lay in bed at the end of it all. The controversy of Michael Jordan’s birthplace still lingered, and I just couldn’t shake it off. I had to know. This had to be settled once and for all.

I picked up my iPad and googled his name. I hovered my finger over the link, but couldn’t quite press down on the screen. What was I nervous for? This was my mother’s word against Mike’s. There should be no sense of hesitation inside of me. But there was… “Man up,” I told myself before I pressed down on the link and watched the circular bars rotate in the upper left corner of the iPad, waiting for the answer, my heart working overtime against the disproportionate level of alcohol in my bloodstream. The answer would come soon. I was right. I had to be right. The screen finally refreshed and there popped up the wikipedia page. I gazed down at my answer in plain black text, waiting for me at the right hand side of the screen.

Michael Jordan: Born – Brooklyn, New York.

My heart sunk at the answer presented in front of me. How could this be? My mother had been lying to me my whole life, and I bought into until just now, when I finally saw the truth. How was I going to tell all my friends whom believed my story throughout the years? How could I even bare the thought of facing all of the babes I had met at the bachelorette party now that I’m a phony? And the worst of all, how will my relationship with my mother resume now that that sacred bond of trust has now been broken?

I awoke the next morning, pretending that the whole incident never happened, but it was no use. “Oh, by the way, did you find out where Michael Jordan was born?” It was a cheap shot question I could not defend, and he said it so smugly in front of everybody. He was mocking me big time, and I tried to play it smooth, but all that came out was one of those pathetic looks of the same fashion as the one that is permanently engrained onto Jay Cutler’s face. And he stood there in his pompous stature that makes James Franco look like Mother Teresa. No other words needed to be exchanged. Congratulations Mike, you won the argument, and my life is over. I’m sure you feel no shame whatsoever. In fact, I bet you’re ecstatic. I hope you’re happy, and I hope the torment you put me through along with a newly broken family was worth it for you.

I can’t believe she did that, out of all people, my own mother! I’m completely devastated. Those types of things just shouldn’t happen. The thought of sneaking off to get a McRib before Thanksgiving pales in comparison to this quarter century fib. It’s probably going to be at least another quarter of a century before I fully recover too. But then again, I did get over the fact that Santa Claus didn’t exist, so maybe there’s hope for a rebuild of our relationship. Although I think a lot of chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake may be required for the rekindling (*hint hint*).

Wisconsin: Part 3

It was the night after the Packer game…  And they lost… Big time.  17-0.  But it was preseason, so who cares?!!

 

It was just great to be a part of the game day atmosphere with family and friends and prepare for yet another season of hard hits and epic pigskin battles.  So we celebrated, Wisconsin style…  We went to the bar.

 

We walked into the Harbor Bar in style as if we owned the place, immediately grooving to the top 40 hits blasting through the speakers.  We mingled and drank with the locals; clad with green and yellow face paint all over our bodies, with of course the American Flag bandana wrapped around my forehead.  What can I say?  I love my country!

 

It didn’t take long for the drinks to start pouring, and the dance floor looked more and more appealing with each shot of Yager sliding down my throat.  I looked at Nick, and he looked at me.  We didn’t even have to say anything.  Our 6th sense beams of communication connected and we knew exactly what we were going to do.  “Lets do this,” I said, responding to his nod of approval, and we stepped out onto the waxed wooden floor, greeting a group of bachelorette party goers waiting for some Wisconsin bachelors to sweep them off their feet.

 

Within seconds we began to impress with our vast collection of dance moves, ranging from the Miley Cyrus twerks to the smooth and sensual hip flow from the “Teach Me How to Dougie” Era.  I even made my way back to my roots, the Western Swing, a dance I had mastered at a young age when my partner and I got 2nd place in Mrs. Lyons 6th grade dance contest (I still think we got robbed of grand champion, but that’s a whole other story).

 

It was then when she came up to me and brought her mouth close to my ear.  She had prepared a soft phrase; I think something along the lines of the music selection.  It was either that or my strong resemblance to Aaron Rodgers…  Probably the later.  We got to talking, which led to a drink.

 

“Could this be the one?” I asked myself.  Now this was no boundary babe by any stretch of the imagination, and she had a bit of an attitude, but she was pretty decent looking and was sporting some Packer attire, so I found it in my best judgment to afford her a piece of my time.

 

Her name was Erica, and she was definitely playing hard to get.  But I saw right through the guise and never lost my composure, even with the obnoxious idiot behind us throwing terrible pick up lines towards her.  He was desperate, so I just sat back and watched him dig his own grave.  He couldn’t have made it any easier for me to swoop in for the kill.

 

There I was, just about ready to lay down the finishing move when my younger sister approached the scene.  She’s a great soul full of energy, but still has much to learn, especially from me.  She took a look at Erica and gave her opinion, for which being a patriotic American and supporter of the First Amendment, I totally appreciate.  “She looks trashy,” she whispered in my ear.  Only one problem; her “Whisper” was heard all across the bar, and right into the direction of my new Wisconsin interest…

 

Long story short, that there went my chances.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bummed out, but no matter what, you always have to side with family in situations like these.  I guess I’ll never know if Erica was truly the one…

 

No matter the circumstance, there was no need to fret over lost love at this time, for come morning it would be my last day in Wisconsin.  And I had to make it count!  Being an established beer drinker, I awoke bright and early at sunup with no consequences from the night before.  I wish I could say the same for little sis, but as I touched on earlier, she is prone to making foolish decisions from time to time.

 

And I’m sorry to say, but she wasn’t fooling anybody when she tried sneaking into the bathroom for a little relief of the bottle flu after a far prolonged sleep session past noon.  I’ll never quite know for certain, but I think it was the sound of her coughing up dinosaurs that bellowed throughout the halls of my grandparents that gave it away; fair retribution for ruining my chances with Erica.

 

“Hey how’s it going?” she tried pulling off with an innocent smile on her face towards mom and grandma…  Right after she had finished barfing her brains out in the toilet.  My mom and I looked at her and laughed our butts off.  My grandma acted like she didn’t know what was going on, but she knew full well the mess that Emily had gotten herself into.  I’m sure she’s gotten herself into a few messes from time to time.  It’s in our blood, and I know she totally related to the experience Em was facing when she blasted chunks of destruction into the transportation sector of Waupaca’s sewage treatment plant.

 

However, with a little help from her family followed by a pontoon ride around the Chain O’Lakes with Captain Brian at the helm, she was back and business and we were off to a great last day in Wisconsin.  The cavalry was out and about across the lake with everyone in central Wisconsin conversing to Waupaca to enjoy their beautiful Saturday on the lake.  And boy was I eating every up every minute of it!

 

It was a fun-filled day of chilling at the lake with our beer and kooskis…  POSSIBLY being a little heavy on the beer.  After sucking a few cold ones down and suffering nibble wounds from the baby blue gill roaming about the lake (the little bastards just kept biting at me!), I was out on the dock rockin’ out with in my Speedo with the ol’ guitar belting out the tunes of Neil Young, Nicki Minaj, and Carly Rae Jepson of “Call Me Maybe” fame.  The passing patrons were loving it, often stopping for a cheer or two, further adding to my confidence level.  And it didn’t stop there.

 

I continued with the entertainment, moving onto the floating dock by showing off my greatest diving board moves, from flips, to dives, and even some mega huge cannon balls.  I was doing it all.

 

Out in the distance, I spotted some honeys passing by on their kayaks.  We made eye contact, and with my 20/15 vision I could make out a slight blush coming from one of them.  It had to be my rock hard washboard abs complemented with my tight fit Speedo that they found so admiring. I guess those years of push-ups, planks, and sit-ups finally paid off.

 

My mind was racing for ideas for my next trick.  They were coming my way at a swift pace.  Impressing them rapidly became my number one priority.  I had almost conceived the perfect flip in mind and was on the verge of execution.  Then all of a sudden, a voice hollered from behind me, disrupting my much important concentration.

 

“Belly Flop!” it shouted.  I turned to my back to find the culprit.  I figured it would be a cowardly being hiding behind the oak trees that guarded the beachfront.  Instead, I saw Nick holding his beer in the air with a stupid grin on his face, proud of his clumsily made comment.

 

“Shut up Nick” I sneered back, but the chants kept on coming, this time from the rest of the cousins.  I was a second from swimming over and beating him up, when I heard more cheers, this time from the middle of the lake.  I looked back and there was a pontoon full of young bucks egging me on.

 

I was pretty upset at this whole conundrum I was in, the most upset I’ve been since my sister screwed me over with this girl named Erica; but at the same time, I was in total contemplation, for now there was a crowd to please.  I still remember the pain I went through at Kelsee Tower’s 6th grade graduation party (or 7th grade, anything before 8th grade is kind of fuzzy) when me, Ben Grimm, and some other dingus (I honestly forget the other boy was) decided to impress the girls with some belly flops in her pool.  Jesus Christ I remember it hurting like crap!  The worst part was, I had to act manly and pretend it didn’t hurt!  I was still a boy, and that kind of thing takes a toll during that part of your life!  Anyway, that was the last belly flop I ever did, and I vowed never to do another one as long as I lived.

 

But now the pressure was on, for another pontoon had shown up.  This time full of drunk buttholes, but still fans nonetheless who fancied themselves with the words “Belly” and “Flop” back to back and repeated over and over again.  It was getting harder to say no, but yet there was still not enough incentive to convince me it was a good idea.  So I stalled, hoping they would grow tired for their chanting and move on to the next thrill.

 

But these alcoholic lake venturers were determined, and the more I delayed, the harder they chanted.  AND to add to my luck, yet another pontoon showed up, further inflaming the excitement of the belly flop mantra.  “BELLY FLOP, BELLY FLOP!”  It got louder and louder, and from all corners of the Waupaca Chain o’ Lakes.  I swear people were reciting it from two lakes down.  They couldn’t see the action, but they knew something grandiose was about to happen, and wanted to be part of the experience.

 

In my world there are two types of pain.  The pain you experience after doing something foolish and not knowing of the consequences of your actions.  And then there’s the pain you experience with the full knowledge that what you’re about to do is going to hurt like hell, but it has to be done anyway, which takes much more courage than the prior.  And by God, I knew this was going to suck, but now with a crowd of 50+ waiting for the big jump and the kayak babes drawing closer in my line of sight anticipating the great performance, it was time to act, to sit up or shut up; and at this point I couldn’t let them down.

 

I took a deep breath and prepared myself for a leap that would send me into great agony, just like many of my heroes from the Green Bay Packers had faced in their moments where they had to make the choice of victory and sacrifice over failure and comfort.  I stepped onto the diving board, took a giant bounce, and launched myself into the air and into the spread eagle position, awaiting a dire misery for what seemed to last an eternity.  I was going down… And down… And down…  To meet my inevitable doom…

 

“PLOP!”  The sound of my bare belly smacking on the lake surface echoed across the lake as the pain of a thousand needles piercing my stomach vibrated throughout my skin, feeling as if I had flopped onto a bed of concrete before submerging into the murky water.  It was a struggle reaching the surface, for I could barely sense which way was up and which was down.  But from a will to see the beautiful Wisconsin scenery for at least a final moment, I miraculously arose from the dark depths of the lake to a crowd gone completely berserk.  Suddenly, the stinging sensation I had felt seconds before became miniscule to the glory I was receiving masked with a rush of adrenaline.  I had made the day of over 50 lake goers, 2 kayak babes, and a group of cousins who had initially summoned me to undertake this magnificent feat.  And with that feat, I was finally able to gather the respect I’d been seeking throughout the Fox Valley region.  My mother looked on, proud of her son and his most recent accomplishment, as if all of my previous achievements, getting my black belt, becoming an Eagle Scout, handing me my high-school diploma, and graduating from college had all lead up to this moment.  Something that Nicki Minaj would famously coin, “A moment she wishes she could have for life.”

 

It was almost a perfect day, minus the fact that I lost at a game of mini-golf that had taken place at the Tom Thumb mini-golf course, a Chain o’ Lake tradition as adamantly advertised at their club house.  Which wouldn’t have been so bad hadn’t it been for my little sister pointing out every time I missed a freaking shot!  “Oh gee Emily, I didn’t realize I missed the shot from the fact that my ball didn’t go into the hole.  Thanks for blurting it out Captain Obvious!”  Needless to say, I don’t need to go into too much detail about mini-golf.  It’s pretty boring anyway.

 

But no matter how unfortunate mini-golf was, my time in Wisconsin was coming to a close.  The next morning I would have to say goodbye to the wonderful state I had grown so fond of over the past week.  All good things must come to an end, but is it truly the end???

 

TO BE CONCLUDED…