The summer is now officially in full swing. There is nothing left to look forward to, except of course reunions with people I haven’t seen in quite some time. For those who don’t know, I leave tomorrow morning at 3:45 for Lake Tahoe and the American Century Golf Championship. For the record, it’s 10:00 and I still haven’t started packing yet. But anyway this post is about the Fourth of July weekend. This post is huge, but I’m done apologizing for stuff in my own blog.
As we were driving down the Harlem River Drive it occurred to me. Since this was a day before a long weekend, NBC was scheduled for a 2 PM dismissal. That meant I would have to kill time from around 7:30, when I got there, till about 11 when the Germany/Argentina World Cup game was scheduled to begin. The game would end at 1:00 and that would leave me with about 30 minutes until I would have to leave to catch my train. Things were looking pretty good, but no planned event is complete until the Piccinich Effect rears its ugly head.
As I got to work, I was greeted by two very ominous away messages:
Auto Response from THoops4: Why??
Auto Response from AEHill22: …
I automatically assumed the worst, but somehow stayed calm and checked my email. To my relief there was nothing there, so I continued going about my business. Then I got the message from Tara. Things had taken an (un)expected turn for the worse to which we blamed on the fact that we talked about the plans non-stop. After a heated press conference we hoped that things would turn out ok, and promised to keep in touch with updated info.
I had spent most of the week coming up with all the possible worse case scenarios that I could think of. My boss had pink eye the previous weekend so I avoided all possible contact with him throughout the week. I also purposely slept in ridiculously hot room so that I wouldn’t catch a cold. So now with this latest piece of information the day began to drag on.
It took forever for the Germany-Argentina match to start but once it did, I was given recourse from the bad news which was being handed out like beads at the Derby. Then at 12:30 I got a much awaited message from Tara which ended the downward plummet which was our planed “vacation.” Amanda was still in. Upon hearing the news the rest of the day flew by.
After an exciting penalty shootout, which Germany won, I booked it out the door so I could catch the 1:58. By the time I got to my car it was 3:30 and I was off. I was dreading the drive up I-95 all week. 95 sucks everyday and I had anticipated that 95 on the Fourth of July Weekend would be downright miserable. And I was right. On my ride up, after sitting in a seemingly never-ending traffic jam, I was in dire need of gas and some sustenance. Unfortunately the only food available on 95 in Connecticut is McDonald’s (which all readers of this blog should know has been permanently black listed by this here writer) so I was forced to settle for a bag of cookies and some Starburst (which as I am writing this I am now realizing that there are a few uneaten ones still in my center console. Break time.)
Amanda and I arrived at Tara’s within five minutes of each other and were greeted by Tara’s family and Polar T. Bear. The weekend had officially started. I had been previously warned about Sebastian, Tara’s dog, and how he didn’t like new people, but for the record he couldn’t get enough of me. We spent the night exploring Bristol, taking the tour chock-filled with fun facts provided by Tara. Of course Amanda said she knew every single one. Fun Fact: Bristol has the oldest Fourth of July Parade in the country. And it is also the only place that has federal permission to paint it’s road lines red, white and blue.
The night was capped off with a rousing game of horse, won by yours truly. That night when we went to bed I neglected to close my door all the way so apparently the entire night was filled with the non-stop banging of the door. I, of course, heard none of it.
The next morning we awoke to pancakes courtesy of Mr. McCarthy. During our feast this exchange took place:
Mr. Mc: Boy, it’s a good day to be a democrat.
Tara: I don’t get it.
Amanda: You wouldn’t
Me: I don’t think either one of us gets it. I just thought it was pretty funny. It sounds like a movie quote.
Amanda: Yea, that’s about right.
After breakfast, we accompanied Tara to her place of occupation, the town beach. During the previous week the beach had been closed due to high levels of bacteria. We were hoping that the same would be true today so that we could get an early start on our drive to Amanda’s beach house. However, Tara’s boss, Walter (pronounced Douche Bag), met with the authorities and it was determined that the beach could be opened. [Note: Tara’s word of the month is douche bag. Tuck that thought away for later] Amanda and I set up camp besides Tara’s lifeguard tower and I took the time to apply a generous coating of suntan lotion all over. I did not want to wind up like Ostrowe or Mar during some of our more famous horse racing excursions.
Early in the morning we walked down to the waters edge and the view was fairly ominous. The water had a rich brown color which, some later BSing to a beach patron would reveal, was caused by “an extraordinary amount of leaves for other counties seeping into the water supply.” Later while Amanda and I were lounging on the beach we noticed Nate, the other lifeguard, pushing a strange contraption across the sand around us. Every step he took was accompanied by about four “pings.” He informed us that the rusty nails that he was collecting were the remnants of the yearly bonfire held on the beach. Before the day was done he would have collected almost a thousand nails. Did I mention this is a daily chore?
The afternoon started by placing an order for buffalo chicken sandwiches at the McCarthy Deli (PS buffalo chicken cold cuts, greatest invention ever). Also a part of the order were a set of speakers we had left at the house, sadly the cook brought us sneakers instead. Later in the afternoon I talked to my dad:
Dad: So what are you doing?
Me: Sitting on the beach
Dad: I hope you are wearing sunscreen, you know you have fragile skin
Me: Yea, I put a ton on. Right Amanda?
Amanda: Yup he did.
Me: I don’t burn anyway.
Dad: Yea ok.
Tara: (from up high) Oh my god. Look at you two, you’re so burnt.
So by the time we left I was slightly burnt. However, looking back on it, I stand by my decision to not leave the beach towel. It was better than the plague I would have gotten from the water or the rusty nail I could have put through my foot.
That night we drove to Charlestown where Amanda has a beach house. We walked into the house and there was a mountain of food awaiting us. It was a tough decision but after unpacking we decided to go to rent a movie and then go to the beach (instead of digging into the mountain). No joke, Charlestown, RI is one of the darkest places I have ever been. So it was pretty cool sitting on the beach in the pitch-black darkness and seeing the stars above (we will overlook the fact that it was about 42 degrees below zero after adding in the wind chill.) The rest of our time not spent shivering or gazing was spent listing to Amanda worry about the cops coming to arrest us for parking illegally, but not pay any attention to the kids having sex on the lifeguard towers.
From earlier in the night:
Amanda: Be gentile with the screen door
(I slam the screen door shut and it falls out of the frame)
Me: Well that didn’t take long
For dinner Tara and I had dino nugget sandwiches. Amanda did not approve. As we sat on the love seat, eating and trying to decide which TV station to watch (the rabbit ears only picked up NBC and ABC), Amanda told us one more piece of vital information. We’ll call it the not-so-fun-fact. “Don’t drink the water.” It was so bad in fact that even brushing your teeth turned into a disgusting ordeal. However, we were in no place to complain because we still hadn’t spent a dime yet on this vacation. We decided to go to bed around 12:30 but it took Amanda a good 15 minutes to get an adequate amount of light into the room so that Tara would not flip out. I of course took this opportunity to throw a stuffed animal at Tara when it was pitch-black thus scaring her out of her mind.
When we were woke up the roar-er of the morning Amanda and Tara instantly kicked into “Mom-Mode.” They instinctively began preparing for the day at the beach much like their parents did when they were wee-lassies. Towels, buffalo chicken sandwiches, sunscreen, snacks, toys. You name it, they packed it. Being a relative rookie, I sat back and let the pros go to work. I offered to help, but was denied numerous times. We made it to the beach and I immediately put sunscreen because I did not need to build on the burns of the day before.
Sunday at the beach was a great time. Tara was right next to us, so we didn’t have to scream up to her, and also she didn’t have to worry about saving anyone. After lounging in the sun for a while, soaking up some more cancer, I mean sunrays, we decided to go for a dip. The water was nuts. The undertow was particularly rough all day and one of the lifeguards would later say it was the worst he had seen in four years. Every time we went in the water we wound up a good 300 yards from our campsite. This made playing football in the water even more fun. At one point the wave won the battle and swept the football all the way back to the beach. I trudged after it and once I picked it up I turned to head back into the briny deeps. That’s when I saw Tara try to body surf a wave only to get slammed under the water by a breaker. As she stumbled to her feet she was unable to heed my screamed warning. A second breaker crashed down on top of her and all I could muster was a horrified look. Last I heard she still had water in her ear from this very event.
That afternoon we were sitting on the beach minding our own business when some guy drifted out way too far and all the lifeguards were called in to his rescue. Two lifeguards started the sprint out but one of them abruptly stopped as soon as he reached the water. Then a forty-pound girl lifeguard made the sprint out with a tether attached to her back. After a good five minutes they finally reached the guy in the water and the lifeguards, along with some Good Samaritans on the beach began dragging the tether into shore. The guy who was “drowning” walked out of the water just fine, however two of the lifeguards were injured. In fact the forty-pound girl was in worse shape than a little kid who simultaneously found out that both Santa and the WWE are fake.
As we were leaving that night Tara felt compelled to destroy a rock sculpture that some guy made on the beach. She apparently did not approve. I learned something funny that day at the beach. Apparently putting sunscreen upon getting to the beach does not cover you seven hours down the line. Saying that I was red was the understatement of the century. We got back to the beach house I was crisp. Considering that I average going to the beach once every three or four years, spending two straight days at the beach left me in shambles. I’m just a city guy, I’ve got a golf tan. If I go outside, it’s like for 15 minutes. Who needs a…..Sorry, back to the story.
Even Tara and Amanda were feeling fatigued after Sunday, and they are beach babies. On top of it all, we still had one more day to go at the beach. That night it was proclaimed that I was forbidden to not wear a shirt Monday at the beach. I couldn’t have agreed more. Amanda’s house looked like a battlefield that night. I was sprawled out on one couch with a bad case of the cancer, and Tara was spread out on the other trying to get the water out of her ear. Somehow we managed to make it out that night and stopped by Lynchy’s beach house. After an hour of being unsocial and making fun of the 16 year old pregnant chick (I think it was all a ruse. She is due is six weeks and isn’t showing at all), we bid Lynchy farewell and went back home to watch Casanova (the movie). Afterwards, we again did the night light dance for a good 15 minutes before hitting the sack.
Sleeping was pretty miserable that night. My entire body felt like a flesh wound and my shirt was sticking to my body. I woke up at 5:00 and ambled downstairs to the kitchen. There I stood against the counter by the light of the refrigerator with my new best friends, Advil and Coke. A couple of minutes later, Aloe came along and provided sufficient comfort to allow me to make it through the rest of the night.
Monday morning started much like Sunday, except it was a little more bittersweet. Roars led to Amanda and Tara’s “Mom Mode,” and we were before we knew it we were out the door heading for the beach. We got to the beach earlier than the day before so it was relatively empty. We walked down and made camp in the same place we had the day before. I briefly took my shirt off to put on some sunscreen just in case my shirt wasn’t enough protection, when I was blind-sided by the following exchange:
Beach Guy: So NOW you decide to put on sunscreen.
Me: (Shouting at the guy who is a good 50 yards down the beach at this point) I was trying to think of something witty to say, but I have nothing.
Beach Guy: Yea, you don’t
[Point Beach Guy]
After regaining some of my pride, I set-up a makeshift goal near the waters edge and we started to play soccer. A few seconds in, Beach Guy showed up and we decided to play a The-N-esque Boys v. Girls game. I was reluctant to team up with my new arch-enemy but Mike, as his name turned out to be, was a pretty good guy and also a two-time state soccer champ. We were winning handedly but fell victim to the dreaded “next-goal wins rule” that was evoked after we had been playing for half an hour. After the game we decided that Mike could become our elusive fourth friend, whose only role was to take pictures of the three of us. But for the time being we decided to walk the length of the beach.
When we got back, we hopped into the water and we could all feel Mike’s eyes burying into the back of our heads. He desperately wanted to be our friend. The water was calmer on Monday, but also much colder. After a while I began questioning my ability to have kids some day down the road. Amanda on the other hand was very reluctant to show off her temperature predicting skills. After a rousing game of Kill the Carrier, I was once again blindsided by our fourth friend, this time I was a little quicker:
Mike: Hey, if it isn’t Lobster Man
Me: Hey, that’s Mr. Lobster Man
Mike: Oh, I’m sorry Mr. Lobster Man
[He so wanted to be our friend]
As the day started to come to an end, Amanda’s Dad and younger brother made a cameo. It was decided that we would go to his house for dinner that night. Around 4:00, after hours of wanting to be our friend, Mike and his lady friend packed up and headed home. And here’s the kicker, he didn’t even say goodbye. He was promptly demoted from “Mike,” back to “Beach Guy.” That’ll learn him to mess with us. Around 4:30, after a bit of procrastinating, we reluctantly left the beach for the last time. We went home, showered, and got to Mr. Hill’s around 5:30-ish.
A running joke is how Amanda says all of her word strangely. Now since we were having dinner with people who Amanda is related to, she figured she could take this opportunity to put Tara and I into the minority for a change. However, her plan backfired:
The child loved to color with his Crayola _________.
Everyone Else: Crayon
In order to get to Block Island, you must take the _________.
Everyone Else: Ferry
For the next 15 minutes Amanda was the butt of every joke. This is significant since Amanda is fairly adept at making fun of everyone else. Tara and I reveled in the sight.
Amanda: (to me) You’re such a loser. Wow I say that a lot. That’s like my favorite word.
Tara: My favorite word is d……………..
Dinner that night consisted of hamburgers and hot dogs. I ordered one of each, but I didn’t realize that hot dog buns were already pre-cut and placed on the table. Not knowing this I got up, dug into the bag and cut my own bun. For the rest of dinner I was the subject of endless ridicule because now there was an unused bun left over on the plate. I finished my dog and decided that I could put out the fire by dumping water on it and eating the remaining bun plain. However, as it turned out I mistakenly grabbed a container of gasoline and dumped it on the fire because now there were an uneven number of hot dogs and buns.
At this point I decided to leave the scene of the crime and start up a rousing one-on-one game of wiffleball with Amanda’s younger brother, Travis. Much to the amusement of everyone in the vicinity we began announcing the game like Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. The game was originally set for nine innings but the voices of god started to become restless and the game was shortened to five innings. However, with Travis pitching in the bottom of the fifth and up by five runs, he began to purposely dropping the balls that I purposely hit straight back to him. Then when I started striking out, he threw all balls. The game went to extra innings and in the top of the sixth I let him score five more runs. However, in the bottom sixth the same shenanigans took place and in order to appease the masses I had to hit a couple of home runs in order to win and end the game.
And with that the weekend came to an abrupt end. Amanda was staying in Charlestown with her Dad, and Tara and I were headed back to Bristol. We jumped in the car and followed Amanda to the Route 1. We got out of the car said out heartfelt goodbyes and then took off. The weekend was history with the slamming of the door.
Who needs anything else? But I guess you had to be there.
I spent the final night at Tara’s house, but we didn’t have any fun. It was not allowed.
That same night I added another entity to my ever-growing blacklist. Carnies. They are all a bunch of bastards who excel at scamming people out of their money. I will never again drop a dime on a shady game of the Midway. That is of course until I have a kid of my own at which point I will gladly drop 50 bucks to win a giant stuffed animal, with an actual retail price of 5 bucks, for him/her.
Total amount of money spent this weekend by three of us: Zero Dollars. This would be a great reality television show.
If this trip was any indication, that thing in May, which I am not at liberty to talk about is going to be fantastic. And maybe by that time I will have wised up and won’t come home looking like a tomato.