Monday, September 26, 2005

Expect the Unexpected

It was a normal Friday.  Had lunch at Hooters with the Axeman, skipped out on working out because of a late poker session the previous night, and left work before 6pm.  I tooled around the house for a bit, played with the miniBloods and listened to Mrs_Blood recount her day.  Then my cellphone rang.

I didn’t expect any calls, but I soon came to my senses and realized that this weekend was the Bash at the Boathouse.  ‘twas Al.  And he was wasted.  Duh.

I was eager for a dial-a-shot since I couldn’t make it up to Philly this year.  With my trip to Cali for my friend’s wedding, a trip to Florida to visit the ‘rents, and a looming December Vegas trip, I simply had not the funds to support a trip up to the Boathouse.  I was bummed, mainly because so many people made it to Brad-o-ween.  Not going to the Bash was borderline criminal.

Al didn’t call for a dial-a-shot, he called to gamble.  The negotiations began with Al claiming he had enough cash in front of him to fly the entire Blood clan to Philly.  Not only could I not accept that offer due to the inordinate expense, but miniBlood was just getting over a stomach flu that made him stay home from school that day.  Not a good combination – stomach flu and flying.

Al changed his tactics, obviously smarter than he looks.  He asked to speak to Mrs_Blood and asked her if he paid for the flight, would I be able to come?  I told Mrs_Blood that he probably wasn’t bluffing, so if she said yes, be prepared for the inevitability of Al following through with his ludicrous offer.  Mrs_Blood looked me straight in the eye and said yes.


I still didn’t believe him.  I figured flight costs had to be through the roof and since Al was drunk, he’d be easily distracted and forget.  Just for kicks, I logged onto Orbitz and did a search.  Like I suspected, many flights were $800 and above.  Except 1.  There it was, a direct flight for $158.  Ten minutes later, Al called back and said I was booked.  Lord help me.


I’m not a very spontaneous person.  Perhaps it’s my conservative nature, perhaps it’s the fact that I’m something of a control freak.  When someone asks me to do something major (like travelling) on the spur of the moment, my first reaction is to say “Hold on a second, let’s think this through.”

Looking back on my life though, some of the most enjoyable experiences have been those that happened without much forethought or planning.  This past weekend was one of them.


The flight up to Philly was uneventful.  And that means it was perfect.  The iPod had been loaded up with some new CD purchases and I was good to go.

(To the metal faithful:  Devildriver – The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand, The Black Dahlia Murder – Miasma, and Pro-Pain – Prophets of Doom.)

Eva and Otis picked me up and we were off to the boathouse for some early afternoon drinking and poker.  I won’t get too much into the poker, but it was a blast playing outside in perfect weather with the perfect company:  Otis, Bobby Bracelet, Helixx, Joaquin and his two buddies Mike and John, Steve (Daddy), Steve (StB), Pauly, Derek, Jason and his lovely wife Rachel, F-Train, Carter, Landow, and everyone else who I hopefully haven’t forgotten.


I think there was some drinking.  And boobies.  But don’t quote me.  I do remember the metal band rocking the house at the end.  Did Otis fall?  Second hand stories tell me he cheated and used a bar stool to keep himself steady whenever he walked anywhere.


On Sunday morning, I found out that Mrs_Blood had a home game without me.  At my table.  With my chips!  She had 9 people show up.  That’s more than I can gather.  Not surprisingly, people like her better.  And not surprisingly, she owes G-Rob $50.


Al gets his fair share of press, without a doubt.  But I want to take a moment and give some props to his good friend Big Mike.  I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone so bighearted.  His capacity for drinking is only matched by his capacity for generosity.

Big Mike made sure everyone was covered on their drink bill at the Bash.  I don’t want to get into too many details, but Big Mike is the one that made my trip happen.  And for that, I am truly indebted.

Al had told us how impossible it is to actually pay for anything whenever Big Mike is around.  It is so very true.  I had to employ stealth technology in order to pay for breakfast on Sunday morning.  It was the least I could do.

I also contributed when I could to the worthy cause that drives the Bash at the Boathouse each year.  Since drinks were paid for, I felt that I could at least tip the bartenders liberally.  So that’s what I did.


And last but not least, a big heartly thank you to the force that drives the CantHang Experience, Evanne.  She made sure Otis and I had rides to and from the airport and made sure our stuff got to the right hotel room.  A finer hostess cannot be had.

****Thanks to everyone who I saw, it was a terrific weekend made only better by the terrific company.  Next year, I’ll book early.

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