Today is the 90-day anniversary of our trip to Chigago to visit our friend Dan. We went on a 4-day, 10-man mission. The lineup: Bill (me), Javen, JT (aka Jitter), Willie Moe, Toastie, Phelps, Dunford, Reyn, Tucker and our host Danny. The objective: to consume as many carbohydrates and ingest as many cans of Old Style as humanly possible. I don't think I'm being presumptuous in saying: "Mission Accomplished!"
What follows is my log of the events of Thursday, June 17 through Sunday, June 20, 2004.
Thursday, June 17
+ I pick up Willie and Toastie at Toastie's house. We go to the mall to pick up Mad Libs and Trivia books. Will also needs underwear.
+ We meet Javen and Dunford at my Teall Ave residence at about 3:45, load up the van, go pick up Phelps and get on the road. There is construction and a traffic jam on route 81N, so it takes us a while to get moving. We take 690 West to Interstate 90 and begin our exotic journey. Dan and JT don't know Phelps is coming.
+ From Syracuse to Mansfield, OH, Toastie, Phelps and Will play some weird baseball card game with a 20-sided die. Later, as the night gets darker, we switch to playing Euchre; Toastie and I are pitted against Phelps and Willie, and due to a slow start, Phelpsy and Will defeat us.
+ We eat at Arby's in PA and "ring the bell" when we leave. That means the food was good. Phelps had been dreaming of Arby's for hours and finally gorged himself. Javen orders the adventure meal, to which the attached prize is a magnetic skier. Toastie uses the magnetic skier on his shirt, putting the magnetic bottom under his shirt and moving the outer skier up and down his chest. Quoth Javen: "Make sure you don't get it caught in that thicket of back hair."
+ Javen calls Jitter to tell him we're gonna be a little late; JT is non-plussed, peppering his response with a bunch of "Gary"s. We pick up some cans of brew for the trip, but the beers are only consumed when the car is not running, and never by the driver.
+ We get the brilliant idea to spring Phelps on Jitter as a surprise. Jitter hops in the driver's seat to take us to one of the local Mansfield watering holes, and we hide Phelpsy under some jackets. We get out of the car and leave Phelps in the back seat. The others are about to leave Phelps there, but I let him out. Jitter is happy that Phelps is here.
+ We hit the second bar in Mansfield. Then we head to the bar (the Wood Street Cafe) and begin the process of downing $1 Stroh's cans all night: Classic OverStroh. Jitter gets down and dirty with one of the locals. Free Bratwursts, the best I've ever had. Two married lasses try to take Phelps and I to a Jacuzzi at their hotel. No word as to whether their husbands are also there. We drunk-dial my brother at about 3AM. I yell, "Juh-juh-juh-juh-juh-juh-GEE U-NIT!" to a guy at the bar and he "G-Unit"s me back.
+ We leave the tavern and head to the dearly defunct Google's parking lot. Don't remember what happens there. We go home to JT's and Ma Jitter is already cooking up some marvelous food for us: Mexican Pizza, Salsa, Fried Cheese, the works. JT takes Toastie to meet his dad, Bill Jitters, who has been sleeping, then abandoning Toastie to try and explain why he woke him up. But JT's parents are incredibly hospitable and unusually tolerant. We all pass out.
Friday, June 18
+ We all feel like dogcrap. We get on the road at about 10AM. Plenty of Dr K and Root Beer in hand. Toastie plays a CD that I assume is Bon Jovi's "New Jersey." Toastie assures me this CD is a mix CD and not the full album. This promise secures that I will not leap from the moving vehicle as previously thought. We drive...
+ ... and drive. Ohio is fine. We get to a rest stop where we discover 50 cent wristbands from a prize machine. We try to get "The Dragon," which is a red wristband with some sort of Chinese inscription on it, but most of us only get blue or red. We all wear the wristbands, many of us for the rest of the trip.
+ Gary, Indiana. We crawl through massive traffic for about 2.5 hours. There are three girls in a red car; Jitter and Phelpsy consider getting out of the car and offering peanuts. Javen opens Phelpsy's door for him a few times, but Phelps declines leaving the vehicle. Gary is grueling, bringing down the morale of the group for the first time, making everyone miserable, but still never irritable.
+ We get to Chicago and drive through the city for a bit, then get on one of the main highways, to finally, at long last, head toward Milwaukee. (We see a tank on a street corner for no apparent reason. Toastie: "Why is there a tank?"; Will: "Duh. In case there's a war.") Again, the drive is slow and annoying, and the weather is grey. But we finally reach Wisconsin, and have our first "Reversal of Fortunes," which is buying some Miller High Life at a gas station and playing Hi-Lo. "All of it higher! All of it lower! Freeze those cards!" Spirits are immediately lifted as we head to the stadium. Javen later says he has never seen so many large men get so drunk, so fast.
+ We arrive at Miller Park, a beautiful ediface set against an underrated Milwaukee skyline. People are tailgating at the baseball game, a surprise to me. We enter the park, too late to get the complimentary yellow throwback Brewers hats, but on time to see the 3rd inning. Not a bad game; Brewers 4, Twins 1. There is a guy at the stadium with "Overbay" in masking tape across the back of his shirt. Classic Overbay. At the 7th inning stretch, they play a song called "Roll out the Barrel," the words and melody to which are inaudible. Will says the words are "Tree slap boing!"
+ After the game, we head out of the stadium. Every time we pass each other on the steps going down, we "Rock" our wristbands at each other. People are surely impressed. We tailgate for a little while in the parking lot, playing frisbee with some local Wisconsiners.
+ We get back to the hotel and get a move on. We split into two camps: Javen, Jitter, Dan and I walk 3 blocks in the wrong direction, then take a cab to a local bar. Our camp is feeling a little down, and a gaggle of girls give me the finger for no apparent reason while I'm on my phone. But then we experience another "Reversal of Fortunes" when Javen has a brief "Urge Contrary to Swallowing," catapulting our night forward. We end up at another bar (I think it was a lesbian bar, but not sure), where we break numerous sports trivia records on a computer touch screen and begin to get tanked. After a few Blatz, everything is going down very nicely indeed. The rest of the crew shows up, shots are had, bartenders are molested. We go into a rousing "O-leee Ole Ole Ole" and "Rock N Roll Part 2" medley, bringing the house down. We take separate cabs to separate places; I have a gyro in a sketchy neighborhood. We go back to the hotel and pass out.
Saturday, June 19
+ Jonestown, Wisconsin. The entire party is hung over and hating life. Javen may or may not have slept with Toasty last night. Tommy and Reyn are out cold. We load up the ride and it's on to Chicago. Ren begins vomiting in the back of Dan's car. Tommy wants to know, "Anyone got any gum?" We are all very weak from lack of food and hydration. (Classic quote- Q: "What is Reyn throwing up in?" A: "A Dodge Stratus.")
+ Dunford, Toasty, Phelps, Tommy and Ren go to the Cubs game. Bill, Jitter, Javen, Danny and Will go to Sluggers, a little hole-in-the-wall in Wrigleyville. We eat hot dogs and french fries and drink Old Style cans. We all start feeling a whole lot better. The Cubs win in the bottom of the ninth and the place goes nuts.
+ We meet the rest of the crew in front of Wrigley Field, where Woo-Woo is challenging people to a hula-hoop contest. Few can hang with Woo Woo, though Tommy tries. While Reyn, Tommy, Danny and Phelps go back to Danny's for maintainance, the rest of us go to the Dugout, a sports bar that felt like a nightclub after the Cubs game. Jitter, wearing his bootleg "Garyland Terrapins" t-shirt, got into a discussion with several Maryland alum. He pretended he was one of them. Jitter was also mistaken for hockey player Chris Pronger. We went outside to sit at a table and drink. We told the cute waitress -- wearing her Ralph Wiggum "I'm Special" t-shirt -- we needed "attention" when she asked us if we needed anything. And she gave it to us.
+ We begin looking for another bar. There is a bar in Wrigleyville (and this part is a little hazy to me) with an entrance, but also seats outside. Jitter, being nearly 7 feet tall, steps over the "velvet ropes" of the outside portion of the bar & grill, circumventing the regular entrance. He is promptly removed from the premises for not using the proper entrance. (At least I think that's what happened.) That place has no idea how much money they lost that night. I mean, we were throwing it around.
+ Next stop was back to Slugger's briefly and then to a pizza shop near Wrigley where we had the biggest slice of pizza I've ever seen and then a massive deep dish slice. This made everyone a little groggy and ultimately proved not to be our greatest idea. The pizza made everyone a little tired, and that coupled with waiting for the train took the wind out of our sails a bit.
+ We passed onto Danny's neighborhood where we went to Danny's local neighborhood bar, a nice little place, but hot as hell, further adding to our fatigue. Everyone was a little whiny, but I blame it on the pizza, not the alcohol. Phelps finally got irritated and began calling everyone out for being a bitch. He was right. A few shots of Malort -- the worst-tasting alcohol in the world -- curiously brought back our gusto, allowing us to enjoy the evening and not die.
Sunday, June 20
+ Everyone woke up hurting, from the Malort I guess. Everyone's voice sounded as if we had been swallowing bees all night. We went to the Deluxe Diner in Chicago and enjoyed a massive breakfast. Phelps had wanted to leave no later than 9:30. We got on the road slightly after noon: myself, Phelps, Toastie, Dunford, Javen, Willie and Jitter.
+ The first six hours of the trip was uneventful, perhaps because of the melancholy of its imminent cessation. Perhaps it was because we had to drop off Jitter, our driving force, in Ohio but a few short states later. Toastie read some comments from a young child talking about the Chicago White Sox that made us all laugh. We enjoyed some so-called "iced cream."
+ We stopped at another Arby's, hoping lightning would strike twice. Alas, it did not. Had there been a bell to ring, we likely would not have rang (rung?) it. It didn't sit well in most of our stomachs. Even Phelps was non-plussed, and most food plusses him. After eating, all seven of us pulled out our cell phones and called our dads for father's day, standing in seven different corners of the Arby's parking lot.
+ We dropped Jitter off and said our lugubrious good-byes. Not coincidentally, at this point, the sun just started going down. I rode shotgun for only the second time in the trip, and waste little time nearly getting us into an accident by screaming "LOOKOUT!" at Javen. We survive.
+ We stop at a gas station in Erie, PA, and as luck would have it, for the last leg of our trip, Lady Fortune would Reverse herself in our favor again. Somehow, the subject changes to stories of being drunk, and from Buffalo to Syracuse, we listened to each other's exploits involving alcohol and nudity. Toastie stole the evening with his ribald tales. It was here that I coronated him MVP of the trip.
+ We all went home and slept for 43 hours. Overall I would have to say that it was a great trip. Even looking back on the more tedious events of the trip (mostly involving sitting in a large car filled with sweaty, gaseous men) I would do the whole thing over in a heartbeat. Would I have made a few changes? Sure. But not much.