Sunday, November 16, 2008

When people drink....

....they do stupid crap.

I know. Earth-shattering revelation, isn't it?

Some of the key players and impressive drinkers weren't at this year's conference. I missed them because they are wonderful characters in my life, and I only get to see them once a year. One guy drinks Guinness like it's water, but I've never seen him drunk. I identify with that. Big Celt from New Jersey and all-around nice guy.

Each year at this conference, there's a particular woman who is always in his shadow. I've never seen him acknowledge her, but she's glued to him. Interesting because I just learned she's married. I spent a little more time with her this year, at our meals and excursions. We'll call her Shelly. I don't know if she deliberately keeps her wits about her when the Big Celt is there, but she really cut loose this year, like I haven't seen before. Frankly, she scared me.

Then there was Mark. He's the one I danced with when we all went out last year, and the one who was so happy to see me this year. The one who said "You're so cool!" about my presentation. The one who is married.

And I also had a roommate this year. My co-presenter. She's an eternal optimist. We took a wrong turn and ended up in scary East St Louis. Know what she said? "Hey! I've been to Illinois now!" She's a good friend. We have a great time together. We'll call her Candi.

So, I spent Friday evening at Union Station in St. Louis. Cool place. Wonderful architecture that's been restored where the hotel is. The rest has been converted to shops and restaurants. I was feeling great. Presentations were over. They were a smashing success. I'd been referred to as an "expert" in my field. I was riding pretty dang high.

Candi and I went shopping. I actually found a Texas Tech tie for Son. It's a really nice one, too! He told me he wouldn't wear a C3PO and R2D2 tie, so I went with Texas Tech. Candi said, "Save it for Christmas!" No way. This thing will actually make him look forward to going to church each week! You can click the image here to see the pattern.

(Which reminds me. How 'bout them Red Raiders?! My alma mater is doing well! Someone at the conference asked if I used to be in Texas. I said I was at Texas Tech, and one of the men nearby turned around and said, "Now, THEY are playin' some football!" Oh yeah.)

Anyhow, we made our way to the Hard Rock for dinner. It had been pre-arranged through the conference. Many of us were already there, so finding a table in our area wasn't easy. We found an empty one, and were soon joined by Mark and Shelly. We checked out the drink menu. I wanted to take home a Hurricane glass, so I got a Long Island Tea in one. Mark got something...blue. Very blue. It reminded him of what we had at the bar last year. But when it got there, he didn't like it. So, it became mine.

Shelly ordered something to drink, too, but it seemed she'd been at it already. We noticed one pal was missing from the gathering. I knew why. It was our friend's 40th birthday and she was celebrating with her husband.

"It's a BIG birthday for her," Shelly said, rolling her eyes and emphasizing BIG. Now, I don't know how old Shelly is, but she obviously considered 40 to be old. I mean old.

I let a grin spread across my face. Not only was she about to stick her foot in it with me, but I knew Candi's age. She looks about 17, but she's 46. "A BIG brithday, huh?"

Shelly nodded and whispered, conspiratorially. "Yes, she's forty." And she curled her lip when she said it. Curled her lip.

"Ah," I said. "I did that in August."

She about crapped her pants, I swear.

"No way!" she said, eyes wide. "You can't be 40!"

Candi was smiling. "Yeah, I did that six years ago."

Shelly about fell in the floor. Mark was laughing his ass off.

Candi was telling Shelly about her teenagers, and about mine. Mark leaned over to me and whispered. "I turned 40 in July." Poor fella wanted to hide it from Shelly. I raised my drink to him and he was happy with that reaction.

So, I'm shopping in the Hard Rock store. I find out I've earned a $20 credit that I can use on my member card there, and here's comes Mark. He's holding a highball glass. A blue liquid is in it. No ice.

"Here," he says, holding it out to me. "Drink this. I don't like it."

"Blue isn't your friend," I said, taking the glass. "It looks like toilet bowl cleaner." The cashier giggled.

Shelly rounds the corner and shouts, "Let me have one more sip!" She takes one, gives it back to me, and says, "Woo hoo! That's strong!" I messed with her by drinking it down in one swallow. It tasted like Kool-Aid. Strong, my ass.

We made a brief, very chilly stop at the base of the Arch. Many people ran up and down the stairs under the Arch. Me and my bad knee admired the moon, and took this pic. It was a lovely night, chilly and all.


I understand that a large group went out drinking after we got back from our excursion. Being the party animal that I am, I put on my new pink-and-black cotton jammies and went to bed. I couldn't get my Internet access to work right. Oh, maybe we watched TV. Woo hoo.

Candi and I woke up for breakfast and went back to sleep. We were still full from dinner the night before. Ugh. And I knew what was going to happen to me that day. I imagine it's like Dr. Jekyll felt when he knew he'd turn into Mr. Hyde. The transformation started as soon as I looked at the clocked.

The countdown started. The silent auction would close in four hours.

Soon enough, I showered and made my way downstairs. Found a cup of "Refresh" tea. I could see the doors to the auction room. It was calling to me. Once I put my name on an item, I become a woman obsessed. The thing is, if someone outbids me, then I must outbid them. It's dangerous. I might even have decided that I don't want something anymore, and I have to fight the compulsion to outbid.

I'm not usually such a competitive monster. But give me a silent auction, and I'm a mess.

People were teasing me. "I'm going to go put one more dollar on everything," one man said. Another actually did that on one item, just to watch me sweat. Nice. One lady tried to be a serious competitor with me, but I got the better of her.

There at the end, all my conversations went like this:

"No! I got outbid!"
"I'm sorry."

"Do you really want that?"
"Yes. I'm sorry."

"What are you going to do with that pen?"
"I'm sorry."

"Are you serious?"
"I'm sorry."

"Blogget!"
"I'm sorry."

As it was, I came out of it with way too much stuff. But do you know what I thought about all the way home? The one item I didn't get. It hurts. Still.

So, I got stuff for everyone back home. A shirt from Ole Miss for Ranger. Golf balls, pocket knife, and hat for Son. Hoodie and two stuffed animals for Daughter. Even some socks and a travel mug for Drama Queen. And a cool hoodie for me. Which saved my ass the next day, when Candi wanted to go to the Arch and Busch Stadium when it's 30 degrees outside.

Now I'm broke.

We had lunch. Closed the conference. Said goodbye to old and new friends. Promised to email, to keep in touch. We do okay at that.

I keep having moments of nervousness. I'm now in charge of a Board committee. All on my own. I hope I do as good of a job as my former co-chair. I've volunteered for a Best Practices committee. I have one more year on the Board, so I need to run for election again.

It'll be okay. That's my new mantra.

Candi and I loaded up in the rental car with Not-So-Nice Faculty Person. We'll call her Jane. Even with Ranger's GPS thing, it took us an hour to get to Union Station. Damn road construction. See, Jane had stayed at the hotel instead of going with us the night before, so we revisited it for her. Candi wanted to show her the architecture. She wanted to see the shops, too. And that's what we did. Marveled at old buildings and shopped. I decided that something from the Budweiser shop probably wouldn't be a great souvenir in my Mormon household. Ah well.

It was cold outside. We crossed the street to get some refreshment at Maggie O'Brien's Irish Pub. That made me smile. It's an authentic place, with a pic of Grandma Maggie by the door. Gotta love it. I had an Irish Coffee. A strong Irish Coffee. Even the coffee part was strong. Yow. Irish Coffee and toasted ravioli. It was a good afternoon.

Getting back was much easier. Jane was still scowling and folding her arms. Candi looked at me and said, "You know, should a Catholic and a Mormon be getting along so well?" We laughed.

Jane was confused. "You're a Mormon?" she asked Candi. She shook her head and Jane got more confused.

"I didn't say I'm a good one," I answered. That made Jane laugh.

I called Mark and found out where the remaining conference-people were. We made plans to meet up for dinner later. They were all watching the LSU-Alabama game at Ozzie's. when Candi, Jane and I got there, the game was over and everyone on the LSU side needed to drown some sorrows.

Part of the group went to the Mexican restaurant. Part went to the Sushi restaurant. Jane folded her arms, scowled and said, "I don't like Mexican food and I already had Sushi." See, the hotel is in a complex with four restaurants, a night club, and a jazz club. No one was wandering far.

"We'll stay here," said Candi. She wanted to get done and go pack. She ended up having an enlightening evening, once Jane had a few glasses of wine. Wow. Been there with Jane, and "Wow" is all I can say.

I went to the sushi place with Shelly and Mark. I haven't had sushi before, but I'm an adventurous eater. Shelly, not so much. She went for the martinis. She took a sip of mine and didn't like them, so yay for me! I had something called a Flirtini and a Pomegranate martini. Gotta love that.

And gotta love sushi. Dang, that was good stuff. I really liked the eel. No kidding. Mark bought and I told him I'd make it up to him by getting his drinks at the next place we went. Deal.

Shelly was a raving idiot, though. She'd had a couple of martinis and a shot of saki. She called her nine-year-old daughter to say goodnight, then talked to her husband. "Are you drunk?" he asked. I can only imagine what she sounded like to her daughter. Kinda scary.

We wandered to the Mexican place and found the LSU people, and a few other. I sat and chatted with the new president about where I live. Her brother used to teach here. He died right before I started my new job. And I watched Mark and Shelly have a few shots of tequila, with some couple they met at the bar. Yikes.

Then, we were off to the Jazz Club. It was two-for-one cover, so Mark covered me. I had no cash. We all found a table, including Shelly's boss. He was worried about her. He needed to go pack and sleep, but he didn't want to leave her alone. He told Mark to keep an eye on her and make sure she's okay. Mark promised. The boss made him promise again before leaving. And he called a few minutes later, to make sure.

And I think he had cause to worry. I think he put the fox in charge of the hen house.

Shelly ordered a drink. Mark gave the waitress a recipe for the blue drink he had in Utah last year. It's called an AMF...short for "Adios, Mother Fucker." Which is what Shelly started shouting at the top of her lungs when she heard Mark order. Dang, that little woman has some big lungs. So, I ordered one, too.

I had to laugh when the drinks came. Mark sipped his blue drink and said, "I don't think I like that." Cracked me up. Predictable. He finished it, though.

Shelly saw the couple from the restaurant bar and went to say hello. On the way, she introduced herself to every table. A drunk woman introducing herself to every stranger at a bar. What a great idea....

Mark looked at me and said. "So, you've had as much to drink as Shelly has," he said, exaggerating. "So, why aren't you acting like a lunatic?"

"I don't," I said. "I've never been drunk."

"Seriously?"

"Yes, seriously."

He smiled big and rubbed his hands together.

"Oh, no, you don't!" I said. He just laughed.

Shelly had been gone too long. She was still standing by that couple, so Mark went to check on her. He brought her back to the table and sat her down.

"Shots," he said. "They were doing shots." He turned around and she was gone again.

Before he could ask, I pointed. On the stage, about six inches from the frontman's nose was Shelly.

Mark went to retrieve her again.

She was protesting when he sat her down again. "I jush wanned him to play shum rock 'n' roll!"

It's a jazz club. But they took pity on the poor drunk girl and played "Jailhouse Rock." She danced in her seat. Mark seized my hand and we danced to it. Great fun!

We returned to the table to find Shelly telling the new president-elect that she (the president-elect) would have a hangover in the morning. The woman was stone cold sober. It was time for me to go pack and sleep.

I made my way back to my room to find Candi had fallen asleep reading, with the TV on. I changed into my jammies and hauled out the suitcase. Candi woke up and we chatted about the enlightening time she'd had with Jane. I told her about Shelly. My phone rang.

"Hey, we're going to my room to watch YouTube," said Mark, too loud. Too drunk. I could hear Shelly laughing hysterically in the background. "Wanna come?"

"Uhm...no, I think I'm going to pack and sleep," I said.

"No! You have to come to my room and hang out with us."

"Us?"

"Shelly and me. We got some drinks, too."

Does this sound like as bad of an idea to you as it sounded to me?"

"Wait!" he hollered. "We'll come to your room! What's your room number?"

"No," I said. "Don't do that. Candi is asleep already." Candi gave me one of those what-you-talkin'-about-Willis looks.

"We'll wake her up! What's your room number?"

"I'm not telling you. She doesn't want you to wake her up."

"Okay, we'll just knock on all of them. Are you on the fourth floor?"

"No, I'm not. Don't knock on anything!"

And he gave up. They headed to his room, and God knows what.

The next day, after the nice lady at the airline counter didn't charge me for my 56-pound suitcase, Candi said to me, "I wonder if Shelly woke up in time this morning?"

I laughed. "I wonder where Shelly woke up this morning."

And we headed home and back to normality.

I gotta find a sushi place around here.

4 comments:

Ronjazz said...

I admire you, Jones, for not relenting to temptation. Sounds like a fun group. Obnoxious a bit, of course, from the drinking. But fun nevertheless.

Blogget Jones said...

Oh, Ron....I don't know that I was all that tempted! Drunk guys do nothing for me. Uhm, literally.... And I had my fair share of drink. I just don't get drunk!

It is a fun group, for the most part. I missed a few people, though.

;o) BJ

CruiserMel said...

I'm rollin' here. Funny stuff, blogget. These were grown-ups? LOL

Blogget Jones said...

Not only grown-ups, Mel, but college administrators! Amazing!