Tuesday, July 05, 2005

All Aboard the Pain Train

Okay, so here was my weekend...

(For the first leg, from Toastie's, Danny's and Jitter's early start, click here.)

Friday, June 1: Syracuse to Philadelphia

+ Willie and I leave about 10:45 for Philly. Driving is very smooth, little incident into the city itself.

+ Willie and I get lost about .5 miles away from our hotel (which would be the first of several times on this trip). We go into the airport and then end up driving around the ghettos of S.Philly for about an hour. We eat pizza off the hood of my car.

+ Willie Moe and I look for something to do, so we go to the McDade Mall in Suburban Philly. To call it a mall might be stretching it, but we use the restroom and plot our next move. While in the KMart at the mall, we find out that Sandra Day O'Connor had just resigned, and outside, within the last 5 minutes, a torrential downpour had erupted. We look out the window, and sure enough, it's cats n dogs.

+ We are soaked as we go to a McDonalds to ask to look at a phone book to call the hotel. The lady behind the counter says they don't have one. Willie calls information, where we get the address, 1600 Bertram. Turns out there are two Bertram Roads in that very section of Philly. We spend an hour driving up and down the wrong one. We cross railroad tracks while the lights are flashing and the safety arms are down: it is exhilarating!

+ We get to the hotel, open up the rooms and each take a dump. Shortly thereafter, Jitter, Danny, Jeff and Toastie show up, and boy can they make an entrance! They bring beer so we get the party started (even though I did sign that "No Parties" waiver at the front desk). Phelpsy soon shows up, then Javen (who suddenly has the new nickname G-Baby), Tucker and Dunford after that. Just the ten of us.

+ We eat some cheesteaks, change and cab it to Chickie's & Pete's where we have more beers and the most delicious cheese sauce I've ever had. We are all drunk and began singing TV theme songs (as is our specialty) outside the restaurant. We were all completely stumped on the first line of "Parents Just Don't Understand" and kept confusing it with the first lines to the opening song on "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." I was afraid we would have our Philly passes revoked. Our cabs showed up very late, and we all got back to the hotel and crashed.

Saturday, June 2: Philadelphia to Baltimore

+ We wake up, slightly worse for wear, and without food. We all drive to the park and do some tailgating with the frisbee and a few beverages. Phelpsy, while usually correct, did miscalculate the traffic, as we were to the park in 15 mins flat without any rush. He had figured that Live 8 would have brought traffic to a standstill, but it was in a different part of town. Still, better to err on the side of caution I guess.

+ The ten of us go to the Phillies-Braves game. Beautiful day. Beautiful stadium, Citizens Bank Park. Willie and Phelps get "Build-a-Phanatics." Great cheesesteak (with provolone, though Phelps prefers the Whiz) and very good beer. They had Red Hook, Anchor Steam and (oh my!) Victory Hop Devil! Where were we? A baseball game or a brew-fest?

+ Phillies win. We leave the stadium. Some weird knock-kneed guy cuts off half a dozen people on the way to the restroom, including yours truly. We get pictures at the stadium and in the parking lot, then head back to pick up cars at the hotel, then we bid a fond adieu to Phelps, and the City of Brotherly Love.

+ Straight shot to Baltimore, under 2 hours. Nice drive. We get to the hotel, where we put all our stuff and plan. We think of going to a place to eat, but the local joint is packed. A limousine nearly takes the front end off a minivan in the parking lot. We buy beer and head back to the crib.

+ We are all hungry, so we go to Ruby Tuesday's, home of the Buy-One-Get-One-For-A-Penny special/scam. We rack up huge amounts of beers, and are seated in a very reasonable amount of time.

+ The poor waitress ("...that POOOOR WOMAN...") gets the punishment of serving the 9 of us, and on her 3rd night working there no less. We are relatively well-behaved, though we do get strange looks from a group of old people. ("This man is an attorney, so you better be careful" said one in a half-joking way.) We all eat nice meats, except for Toastie and Dunford, who load up on salad. Toastie becomes jealous when he sees all the meats that he turned down.

+ Dan starts feeling badly, then stands up to go to the restroom, but hits his head very hard on the lamp hovering over his head. "Are you okay?" asks the waitress. Danny replies, "Yes, I just don't care to hit my head when I stand up." He says it out of frustration, not to be mean. However that doesn't stop the entire table from doing an impression of Dan screaming at the waitress and recreating the moment. We finally leave (probably followed by a sarcastic standing ovation from the Ruby Tuesday's staff).

+ Not everyone is feeling well, so we head back to the hotel. I am in the mood to go out, but no one else is. I get pouty and bitchy about this when it becomes clear that no one wants go to out. But I have my own reversal of fortunes when I discover the game of Dang-It! (later renamed "Frisbeer"). The object of the game is to knock other people's beer cans down with the frisbee. This would result in a "Dang-It!" where the person whose beer you just toppled would have to finish it. This led to a great evening of clean fun, though we were ordered off the front lawn of the Red Roof Inn by an angry staff member there, who threatened to call the cops. Since we're not allowed back in the state of Indiana anymore, we decided this was not a good idea.

+ We went inside, and partially, I assume to spite the man who kicked us out, got even more rowdy, downing more and more beers, and getting more and more rambunctious. We created the Uber-bed, which was the act of pushing the two queen beds together to create one giant collosal bed. Lots of homoerotic subtext going on, but nothing happened. Seriously.

+ Toastie took his shirt off and began the most hilarious pantomime in the history of the world from the outside of the hotel. (At one point, we open the door only enough to hear him say, "What do you want soundbites?" only to slam the door on him.) He did the classic "falling down the stairs" routine. Epic. This is all a little hazy but there is video available.

Sunday, June 3: Baltimore

+ We wake up for another game of Frisbeer, this time with perhaps a hint of regret. We don't all remember what happened last night, but we know it was probably less than pure. We lifted Toastie's ban on the Bob Evans chain of restaurants and chowed down.

+ We saddle up for the Orioles-Indians game. We get to the ticket machine for the train into Baltimore, but for some reason the machine won't take Dunford's coins. Thank God we got there when we did, because the line queued up pretty fast once we got there.

+ We get on the train, which takes us right to Camden Yards. It's a beautiful stadium with a lot of old-style charm. We walk the interminable ramp to get to our seats, but decide to join Danny and Jeff down in left field. We make some friends, including a guy in a yellow Len Bias jersey and a guy who shouts "Go home, Indian!" to Jitter, who is wearing his hometown Cleveland cap. Tribe beats the Birds.

+ After the game we go to Fuddrucker's for some huge hamburgers and all conversation stops. Plenty of ballgame left, gotta pace ourselves. Jeff leads us into what we think may be the belly of Baltimore's Little Italy, but we end up in a well-lit bar district.

+ We start at a sports-bar type place, which really isn't our style, but we get a table and everyone sits down. I go to the bar to try and order a pitcher or two, but the bartender never even looks at me. I stand at the bar for literally 10 minutes and not a sniff. The place isn't busy. We say F this and leave. A waitress asks, "Leaving already?" to which Danny yells, "Well it would be nice if someone would take our $^%&@!% order!" A bit harsh? Perhaps, but we all felt his frustration.

+ After window shopping a couple of pubs, including one with a 25 cent ladies night (Bouncer: "It's 25 cents for ladies only. You guys got boobies?" Javen: "In a way.") We end up at a place called Reefers (I think?), which had a sea theme. We start off drinking $2 plastic cups, but realize this might not be the way to go. The $7 pitchers were much more economical. The place suits us perfectly. We have one entire side of the bar to ourselves, there is music playing loudly, but not so loud that we have to scream to one another. Suddenly ...

+ The music comes on, and then the words: Just two good ol' boys, never meanin' no harm... Reverse dang-it. We erupt into a 9-man chorus of the Waylon Jennings classic. We then get a string of very sing-a-longable songs, which is all we need. Amazing how something like that can suddenly light a spark. We have re-railed...

+ We start racking up pitchers. One after another after another. The barkeep says he is impressed by our binging on a Sunday night. He says the record for pitchers is 25, and if we get to 25, he'll buy us a round of shots. Upon reflection, I question the authenticity of this so-called record, as the only evidence of its existence was a hand-written sign that said 25. But the gauntlet had been thrown down.

+ While it may be true we spilled a pitcher's worth of beer on the floor at this place, we racked up 30 pitchers. Thirty pitchers for 9 guys is more than three pitchers a piece. And that isn't even counting the one we ourselves vetoed because Dunford gave some to some girls at the bar. Talk about integrity! We told everybody that Toastie was getting married the next day.

+ The rest of the night is a haze. I thought I lost my cell phone, then proceeded to send Willie a text message, even though he was standing right next to me. I think I ate a slice of pizza, but cannot be sure. I think we took a cab ride home, but am not positive, though I think we did because I kept telling Toastie in the cab ride that he better treat that girl right. And Danny said to the cabbie, "I don't care how you get home, just keep it under $25." Thank God he was there. Danny also pretended to break up a faux fight between Toastie and I. Good stuff. As Will said later, "That's what you call committing to the material."

+ On a personal note, I was so bombed that I couldn't fall asleep, so I got my iPod and sat outside the hotel room in the fresh air. I was either in my underwear or pajama shorts, but I don't remember which and I didn't care. I kept playing the theme song for "G.I. Joe" on my iPod, and I don't know why. There was something soothing about it, and it made me less apt to vomiting. It worked because I didn't puke. Go Joe!

Monday, July 4: Baltimore to D.C. and back to Syracuse

+ The next day was especially painful. We split up for our last journey to the same destination. This time it's RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. My head is spinning and even a Big Mac and fries is not helping. I get disoriented and have to call Javen to ask him how to get out of our hotel complex.

+ The drive is only about 45 minutes from the BWI area to the stadium, but one thing I never even thought of was the need for cash to pay for parking. It was $10 and Willie and I were flat broke. We had credit cards and post-dated out-of-state checks, but no cash. So instead of being able to park, we had to search for an ATM. I went to a gas station, but the man behind the bullet-proof glass said they didn't have ATMs. I went to a shopping district down the street, but the man in the National Liquidators said their ATM was out of money. These places are all in a relatively not-good section of town. Finally there was a Safeway with a working ATM. When the money finally came out I felt like a slot winner at a casino.

+ We finally make it into the stadium and to our seats. RFK is one of the old multi-purpose "cookie-cutter" stadiums that were all the rage in the 1970s, but are now being replaced with baseball- or football-only stadiums (see Veterans Stadium in Philly, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, etc). It doesn't have a tenth of the charm of the other two ballparks we saw, which is a good reason that D.C. should build a new stadium. Outstanding attendance, though.

+ There were about four Mets fans sitting a few rows ahead of us, and they were being really loud and obnoxious. They are yelling at girls and making fun of the beer vendors. Toastie started to get annoyed with them and started yelling, "Oooo, I'm so tough. I got my shirt off." Toastie and Jitter began countering every one of their cheers. So you would hear: (THEM) Let's go, Car-los! (US) Strike out, Car-los! They were pretty built dudes, but there were still 9 of us, so I wasn't too worried. Danny said to Toastie, "Dude, THEY are US when we're not hungover." While this is true, I realized that the difference is we are not mean-spirited guys, and we primarily act this way to entertain ourselves, not draw attention to ourselves. If attention comes our way, so be it, but it's a byproduct, not our goal. Mets end up winning.

+ Toastie and Will are clearly ready to head back to Syracuse. So we leave immediately after the 7th inning stretch. It's a 6 hour drive, but we find a way to make it in 8 hours, due to some clever wrong turns and bad decisions on our part. Still, the drive through Pennsylvania was much nicer than usual due to the backroads and scenery we were able to see, forgoing the usually nightmarish 4 hour death march up through Route 81. We got home about midnight. And then I started typing this.


d. dunford said...

"Happy To Be Stuck With You!"

Ban-dingo said...

Boy, I really come off like a jerk in this thing. For the record, the waitress in Ruby Tuesday asked me "Do you want me to raise that lightup for you?"

To which I replied, "Yeah, if you don't mind. I don't particualrly enjoy hitting my head." - Although you certainly nailed the tone with which I said it.