Tuesday, August 9, 2011

nebraskapalooza part 3

“It was the best danged kiss that I ever had,
Except for that long one after that,
And I knew if I wanted this thing to last,
That sooner or later, I’d have to ask

For your hand, so I took a chance,
Bought a wedding band.
And I got down on one knee. (pause)
And you smiled and said to me –

Are you gonna kiss me or not?
Are we gonna do this or what?
I think you know I love you a lot,
I think we’ve got a real good shot --
Are you gonna kiss me or what?”

-- “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”, by Thompson Square.


* First, a few highlights I missed from Day Two:

1. Dusty called pretty much all the kids at the reception the “cutest, best behaved kids in America”, and I gotta agree with him. There’s some rock solid parenting going on in western Nebraska. All the kids were adorable, especially Carsyn, who kept spiking his hair every chance he got. I wasn’t the only one who thought he was beyond adorable – Dusty’s mom offered “kidnapper” demands on multiple occasions to the kid’s mom. “He’s coming home with me, you can’t stop me!” In her defense … yeah, he was that damned cute.

2. One reason why the Monument Inn was so full, was that there was a baseball tourney going on in Gering that weekend. Wouldn’t you know it, we ran into the baseball team from Ottawa while hiking around the top of the Monument! Hell yes, we wished them the best. Not quite as random as when going to the Brickyard in 2005, when we went to Lincoln’s tomb, and sure as sh*t, there’s my folks’ next door neighbors there, but pretty damned random nonetheless.

3. There’s a guy who is affectionately called “Wyoming” by certain folks in our group. (Because he lives in Wyoming. And yes, I actually thought his name at first was Wyoming. I even dropped the “what kind of mother f*cking idiot names her kid “Wyoming” blast, before realizing that wasn’t his real name. Damn, I’m stupid sometimes.) Anyways, he factors into Day Two for two reasons:

* his business partner runs a tattoo parlor in Gering … and go figure, it was robbed a few weeks ago, all equipment disappeared. Damn. Even in the ghetto of South KC, our tattoo parlors are fairly safe. Oh, and …

* again, from the “I can’t make this sh*t up” file … this was how he and DJ greeted each other when it was time for cake:

(dusty) hey, glad you could make it! (offers handshake)
(wyoming) I’ve killed 22 rattlesnakes this summer!
(dusty) (pause) well, go kill some of that cake up there then!

4. Wyoming’s wife, we thought had a hickie when she arrived. Turns out, it was a tragic farming accident nearly gone really tragic (allegedly). I still say that was a hickie, and you ain’t convincing me otherwise.

5. When we got to Joe’s on Friday morning, he noted his kid was headed our way for Kanrocksas that weekend. And I know, the “hey, we’re headed Joe’s way, his kid’s headed our way! Isn’t that weird!” vibe seems, well, weird, but hang in there until we hit dinner on Day Three. Weird won’t even begin to cover it.

6. Bill had many a classic moment at the reception, but none more so than when somehow, we got off on veins and needles and God knows what else, and he notes “ever since I quit smoking, my skin is as tough as a rock!” He said this while bleeding from his arm through his shirt, and bleeding on his hand as well, due to his skin, well, not being as “tough as a rock”. I love that guy.

Finally …

7. When we were on top of the Monument, I snapped a pic of DJ, Kellie, and DJ’s aunt standing (literally) as high up as you could. Which led to Beth shouting “God d*mmit Vickie, they have walls on this thing for a reason!” My thoughts exactly! Which is why my ass never left the paved pathway.

(late 80s nbc announcer voice) And now: Day Three of “Nebraskapalooza”!

Saturday, August 6th:

* The morning started off beyond non-eventful. DJ, Bill and Wade had a golf tourney to make at 8am. Shockingly, I was not invited to be the fourth member of their foursome*. So … I slept in until 8:10am before I was ready to go for the day.

(*: anyone who has ever seen me golf, knows leaving me behind was the 110%, “no doubt about it” right decision. I couldn’t shoot an 80 on the front 9 at Painted Hills if you spotted me the ladies’ tees. OK, ok, I might shoot 78. But, but! – it’d be a close call.)

* I also passed on a trip to Rushmore with DJ’s mom and aunt. I honestly didn’t think I’d wake up in time to make the trip. Turns out, I could have. But, I’m not even remotely upset about it – the day at the lake was that much fun.

* Katie fell asleep on top of the remote, so I was stuck with some God awful cooking show on Bravo for almost three hours waiting for someone, anyone, to get this day going. Hey, remember when Bravo showed quality television like “The West Wing” reruns? Or even semi-bearable programming like “Celebrity Poker”? Yeah, that don’t happen now.

* Then again, if I’d had the remote, I’d have just searched for SoapNet for some “One Tree Hill” and “90210” reruns. Probably for the best we were stuck on Bravo.

* Finally about 11am, Kellie texted that she was up, and it was go time. I thankfully asked “can we get lunch somewhere”, and the response was “we’re going to Scotty’s”.

* And let me say, if you ever find yourself in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, you MUST visit Scotty’s. (On 27th Street, about half a mile west of 71/92, basically behind the mall and the K-Mart). You HAVE to do it. Holy God, do they know their food! I got a sloppy joe and fried mushrooms, and I was in freaking heaven. I pounded that sloppy joe in about three bites. I should have gotten the “3 for $4” offer, it was that damned good. To say nothing of the fried mushrooms. If life had ended right there for me, I’d have been ok with it.

* After lunch, it’s off for the Boasheao’s lake house! Oh hell to the yes, they have a lake house! We’re driving along, enjoying the drive*, and suddenly realize, we missed the turnoff. Whoops. When even the locals are missing the street to turn on, then I don’t feel so bad.

(*: the one person in the car who knew we’d whiffed on our turn? Bandit the Wonder Dog! Dude was riding with two paws on the console, staring straight ahead while occasionally giving kisses to Kellie and her mom, while holding on for dear life to the back seat with his back paws. Keep reading, you’ll see how Bandit finished his day when / if I post pictures in this post.)

* We get to the lakehouse, and I gotta admit, when you first walk in, it looks like Mickey’s, in that it’s pretty narrow, pretty cramped, save for one good sized room, and then you turn the corner … and holy God! It’s a living room larger than half of the folks reading this’ living room is! Hell, it’s larger than my living room! Suh-weet!

* Took about 3 minutes to decide “let’s head to the water”. Unfortunately, we decided to head down the “stairs of death”. Let’s just say … uuh, how to put this … ok, if you knew G and I back in the day, you know what a death trap those metal steps were off our back deck by the hot tub? Not even Phogger would go down those steps, they were so unsafe*? These steps on Saturday, made those look safe.

(*: every time someone says “Priest was dumb / Priest was stupid / Priest wasn’t all there”, I always point out, there was only one person or dog from day one so frightened of those steps that he or she refused to go down them. P Diddy. He may have been fat, lazy, and had the motivation of a corpse, but he wasn’t stupid. I miss my special little puppy …)

* We make it down, decide to park the chairs on a fairly sunny area of the beach area, then head into the water. Let’s just say, there’s a reason why I prefer the pool to the lake, and stones everywhere is one gigantic reason why. You walk on the bottom of a pool without shoes? Wonderful. Try that at a lake? Owie!

* Kellie’s friends Dani and Brock arrive with their boat shortly after we get there. With their two absolutely adorable kids, Jacelyn and Joel. (I’m just gonna assume I misspelled Jacelyn*. Again, I am TURRIBLE with names. But I know the little boy’s name was Joel, because of the background story Kellie filled me in on.)

(*: what is it with people my age (think 25-40) coming up with crazy ass spellings of kid’s names? Take my nephew and nieces for example. Ayden, Fallyn, Reghan. Now, Reghan is somewhat normal … only, how the hell does someone from my family name their kid “Reghan”? Last time I checked, only one immediate family member has a “R” on their voter card, and mom voted against W – twice! My point being, well, I don’t have one, other than, Steve is a nice name, and easy to spell …)

* I got to follow Joel around for awhile, as he decided that chucking stones into the lake was a cool idea. (I’m guessing he was 15, 16 months old? I might be off a few months, but that’s the age range.) He kept grabbing two rocks, would run down the boat dock, chuck them one at a time into the lake, then run back up the boat dock to grab two more stones to chuck. Repeat for 45 minutes, and you get worn out pretty damned fast.

* Also funny? The neighbors’ dog, Diesel, a 7 month old Boxer. He and Bandit had some fun on Saturday playing with each other. Amongst Diesel’s highlights …

1. Diesel kept trying to leap up onto the dock. He could get two paws up, but not four. Poor guy.
2. Diesel wasn’t a fan of beer. His owners kept offering him a hit off the bottle, but he’d just bark and retreat every time. Poor guy.
3. Diesel had to, uuh, “go”. So, he just let it, uuh, “go”, right in the water where the kids were. Led to a hilarious Dusty exchange with him. Poor guy.
4. He finally got his stick! There was this stick Diesel wanted later in the day, only he lost it into the tide. He kept pacing, and attempting to swim, the shoreline, until sure as sh*t, he got that bad boy in his mouth! (And go figure, Bandit immediately stole it. Attakid!)

* Even funnier than Joel tossing rocks? Was Joel period. Amongst his highlights:

1. He pointed at the sky and said something like “AAAAA!” He was pointing at the moon.
2. He kept shoving a life jacket at his sister to wear for the boat ride. (Sounds pointless, unless you were there. A 15 month old pretty much beating up his much older sister is always funny to watch.)
3. He had a farmers’ tan. That cracked me up. Pale white on the chest … as dark as me on the arms.
4. He was so tired when we went out for the final boat ride / water ski round, that he fell asleep in Vickie’s lap. That kid is a keeper!

(the kid's a keeper. photo: me via the snagg camera).

Finally, after a few hours of moseying around, working on the tan, floating out into the lake a little bit, the Golfing Boys arrived. Kudos to Dusty and Bill’s team for shooting 5 under par, with apparently 4 of those strokes coming from Dusty’s 4 birdie putts, “all from 8 feet or more!” Unless there’s indisputable visual evidence to the contrary … I’m going with it, The Kid’s been on fire on the green all summer long*.

(*: the putting green. What, you thought I meant something else?!?!)

They also won a $40 gift package from Scotty’s for “shortest drive” of the tournament. Somehow, you knew Dusty would win something for being the “shortest” something (rimshot!) Come on, I kid because … well, because I can. (And in his defense, it wasn’t his drive that won.)

* Speaking of Shorty … DJ gets there, his better half greets them, and they try to get the jet ski operational. Let’s just say, a 13 year old spark plug coupled with not having been on the water all summer long equals (scooby doo voice) whroot whroo!

Somehow, Bill gets the jet ski operational … and let’s just say, it was about the damned funniest sight I’ve ever seen. Here’s Bill out there, in rolled up, water-logged jeans, with legs that haven’t seen the light of day since 1982, riding around on a jet ski, no life jacket, long sleeved shirt on, just … priceless. Absolutely priceless.

* Also priceless? Was the next two out, DJ and Kellie. They take off, the thing is working, about 5 minutes later, a jet ski that looks like ours comes back into the bay area, and Bill says “hey, they made it back!” We based that assumption off the fact that the rider in the back was significantly taller than the person driving the jet ski in the front. Turns out … it’s the neighbors.

* So, the happy couple finally makes it back … and wouldn’t you know it, our “special little guy” was a solid couple inches shorter than his better half. Hey, when even her dad can’t tell the difference between random neighbors and DJ …

* After a few more moments of stalling, it was time for the “main event”. Excuse me, let me do this WWE style. (mean gene okerlund voice) the … “MAIN EVENT!!!” Oh yeah, DJ on water skis!

So, a group of us prep to head back out on Dani and Brock’s boat, (Julie chen voice) BUT FIRST, I’m reminded that I have the camcorder deal in the car. I race back up to the lakehouse to get the camera, race back down, and barely make whatever you call a boat heading out onto the lake. A boatoff? Whatever. Anyways, to get onto their boat, you had to step through a puddle of mud that makes the swamps of North Jersey look classy. Go figure, I get all muddied up on my feet, and drag in said mud onto the front seats of the boat. Which prompts this exchange after I attempt to clean up said mud:

(dj) stevo! put your feet over the edge, that’ll clean ‘em up!
(stevo) (puts feet over edge into the water)
(dani) is he (dj) always like this?
(kellie / katie same time responding) yup.

* First up to try the skis out? Dusty. Which prompted this exchange:

(brock) hang on, I’m tossing them out there one at a time!
(dusty) ok!
(kellie) wait, are these skis gonna fit him?
(brock) what?
(kellie) well, he’s kind of small, are you sure these skis aren’t too big?

Hey, she called you small, not me.

* He successfully managed to get up twice. Lasted the first ski run almost 3 minutes, the second one … uuh, not quite so long. Then it was Kellie’s turn, and God bless it, she almost made it up the first time. I honestly thought she had it. Not quite. Attempt dos wasn’t as good. After that, it was “f*ck it, we’re tired, let’s eat!” time.

* We get back to the shore, and realize “hey, DJ’s mom and aunt called!” Turns out, they were lost trying to find us. How the hell you get lost in the “not quite wilderness” of western Nebraska, I have no idea, but they pulled it off. Thankfully, they weren’t too far away.

* It is at this point, that I become the only person who refuses to ride, or drive, the jet ski. I have very simple logic for this: I’m a woosy. I had no intentions of driving that thing out on the open lake and being the only dumbass to overturn and wind up swimming back to shore. Of course, this led to all kinds of “make fun of Steve” moments, and what can you do but roll with them. But yeah, Day Three: the Day Stevo Was Too Scared to Ride a Jet Ski. (charter hospital pa voice) paging Steve. Steve, Nurse Johnson is ready with your medication in room 212 …

* Probably shouldn't have said the "only one". Bandit the Wonder Dog was done-zo:

(awww. photo: me, via the snagg camera.)

* We decide that any good day has to end with dinner at western Nebraska’s best restaurant … Valentino’s!!! OK, I lobbied for Valentino’s*. I even looked up online to confirm Scottsbluff had a Valentino’s, and it appeared they did! I was fired up! Was even stalling for time to ensure we’d arrive too late to go to Joe’s or some other Mexican joint.

Unfortunately … the website was outdated. Valentino’s closed out there eight years ago. (stevo dropping the foul phrase he’s known for dropping voice) God f*cking dammit!

(*: if you’ve never eaten at Valentino’s, you need to. Go to Omaha, Lincoln, hell pick a decent sized city in Nebraska save for Scottsbluff apparently, and get your ass in there. It’s beyond incredibly good. It’s, uuh, dynamically good!)

* Of course, my scheme blew up in my face when I found out that not only was Valentino’s no longer in operation … but Bill had Joe’s business card, and he called ahead to let Joe know we were coming, so “don’t close early!”

* We had to deal with Bandit the Wonder Dog, and DJ came up with some scheme involving switching cars, heading back to where they were staying to change, drop off the dog … I’d be lying if I said I paid attention to his plan. I know The Kid far too well. He needed six minutes of privacy. It’s all good. (dusty voice) six minutes?!?! Try eight! Good God, this is tanking in a hurry …

* Katie and I get to ride to Joe’s with DJ’s mom and aunt. I can say this as someone who unapologetically drives like a crazy Texan, as someone with (at least) 11 speeding tickets and an unfortunate drinking-and-driving incident in my driving career, and as someone that has ridden with Dusty on so many occasions that I’m immune to his crazy ass driving. And what I can say is this:

I have NEVER been as scared for my life as I was with Beth behind the wheel going to Joe’s.

I don’t think she even noticed the double yellow line in the center of the road. The whole ride back she was screaming about slow Nebraska drivers, was going off about how fast they made it back from Rushmore, about going through “The Needles” or something like that, I’ll be honest, I was praying I wouldn’t need to be life-flighted to Lincoln or Omaha on a 757 at the end of that car ride.

* We arrive at Joe’s (sans DJ and Kellie), and somehow, all of whatever county 64 is on the Nebraska tags is in attendance. (I know 1 used to represent Omaha (Douglas), 2 was Lincoln, and 59 was beautiful Hemingford, but I’ll be damned if I know what 64 is. 21 is Scottbluff, in case anyone cares.) We walk in, and there’s exactly one long stretch of seating available. We grab it.

And in a moment of hysterical humor, well …

(steve) (pushing tables together)
(dj’s aunt) hey, grab that! (points in direction of high chair)
(steve) (does a double take)
(steve) what the f*ck do we need a high chair for?
(dj’s aunt) for Dusty, of course!
(steve) (starts crying from laughing so hard)
(steve) that’s awesome!
(dj’s aunt) there’s a story behind this, get him to tell you it!

So … I get the high chair, we all have a good laugh when The Kid arrives … and he refuses, absolutely f*cking refuses, on the entire 10 hour drive home, to even hint at what the story involving him and a high chair is. I tried everything. He wouldn’t budge. Apparently not even Kellie knows the story, because she was as anxious to hear it as we were. (Note to self: ask Vickie and Beth what the high chair story is at Fikeapalooza in two weeks …)

* I order the pork chile smothered tamale, with beans and rice. I should probably note, Joe’s 80 something year old dad hand rolls the tamales each day. It was the best damned tamale I’ve had since I worked at “former employer” and my boss used to bring in her homemade tamales. And honestly? Because of the pork chile, they were better than Mary’s. (steve awaiting lightning bolt hitting him in the head …)

* We notice there’s two huge groups there: ours, and the birthday party from County 64 next to us. The only other people there? Are this nice looking, friendly couple sitting directly next to us. When Joe comes around with refills on our drinks, he says something like “aren’t you guys from Kansas City”? Yes, yes we are. Turns out, the folks next to us … are from Blue Springs! And they’re not only from Blue Springs, they wound up at this restaurant because their smart phone told them this was the best Mexican restaurant in the county!

Yes, it really is a small world after all!

* We finish up at Joe’s, and “annoying camera guy”, as I dubbed myself, wants to take a group photo. Well, here you go:

(blackstreet voice) play on playa. play on playa. from left to right: joe, me, dj's aunt vickie, bill, vickie, kellie, dj, dj's mom, katie. photo: joe's son cisco, via the snagg camera.)

* After Joe’s, Bill tries to convince Dusty to take the jet ski and trailer back out to the farm to dock it for the night. In Dusty’s words, “no licence plate, no working lights, and you want me to drive?” Bill’s reply: “Just say you’re not from around here!” That became the running joke the rest of the trip, “we’re not from around here! We can do whatever we want, we’re not from around here!!!”

* We make it about 2 miles to the grocery store … and DJ and Kellie agree to take the trailer out to the farm. (I guess the “I ain’t from here!” logic kicked in?) Meanwhile, it’s like a Chinese fire drill with everyone else trying to figure out who is in who’s car. Of course, the real reason why we stopped? We were out of beer at the house. So Bill sends Vickie in to get a case of Miller Lite, and since I was on a margarita kick all weekend, I follow her in to get a fresh bottle of Cuervo.

And wouldn’t you know it, sure as sh*t, as we stand in line to check out in the liquor department … the lesbian chick in the white t-shirt from the night before at “The OT” walks in!

I turn back to Vickie, who looks at me with a “wait, is she … oh my God, yes she is!” look. Apparently t-shirt chick and cashier are “friendly”*, based on their encounter while cashier chick was stocking the beer fridge. Finally, we check out as (thankfully) t-shirt chick forgot she invited us to a wine tasting at that grocery store earlier that day, and we make like Sven for the cars almost half a shopping center away.

(*: friendly in the adult sense of the word.)

* We head back to the Boasheao’s homestead, and it’s gift opening time! The five funniest moments from the next 30 minutes of my life, in no particular order … screw that, in descending order, from “somewhat humorous” to “brought the house down funny”:

5. Vickie could not figure out how to work the remote. She wanted to put on one of the Dish Network music channels (they play XM channels). After ten minutes and multiple reboots, she somehow lands on The Pulse and drops a “hope you like it, I’m done!” blast. I like The Pulse, it’s all good.

4. DJ and Kellie leaving at the very end of the gift opening, with DJ dropping the “somebody had a crop duster!” comment. When someone’s, uuh, flatulence, is drawing comparisons to Duke back in the day, you know it’s a good time.

3. Actual exchange about halfway through the card openings:

(dusty) what’s that envelope for? (the one on kellie’s lap getting bigger by the moment)
(kellie) the cash, sweetie!
(dusty) (a “convincing himself of this being a good idea” look) oh, yeah, that’s a good idea, keep it all together.
(steve) (stares at dj's aunt vickie with a “is he really this far gone?!?!” look)
(aunt vickie) (stares at steve with a “yup, he’s really this far gone” look)

2. Another actual exchange after opening up Wyoming and his wife’s gift:

(kellie) (opening gift)
(everyone) (can’t really tell what it is)
(bill) did he give you more gange?

1. Funniest exchange of the night, and possibly the whole trip:

(kellie) (opens card)
(kellie) holy crap, that’s … (counting money) … that’s $250!
(dusty) sweet!
(steve) (doing math in head)
(steve) (realizes they’ve cleared $500 plus and counting)
(steve) (turns around to katie)
(steve) hey, you want to get married!
(everyone) (laughing)
(steve) what, I’m serious!
(dusty) what, trying to keep up with the Joneses?
(everyone) (more laughs)
(bill) well, she didn’t say yes.
(steve) but she also didn’t run out of the room screaming NOOOOOO!
(everyone) (more laughs all around)

* Finally, its off to the hotel for the night, my Cuervo bottle in hand. Somehow we wound up watching “50 First Dates”, and passing about between 1:30 and 2am. I’d be lying if I said I remember anything from about “someone brought a crop duster!” onward.

And that’s the mark of a truly great day – good times, spent with great people, good friends, perfect weather, enjoying life. Day Three might have been my favorite day of 2011 so far. Scratch that – it was my favorite day of 2011 so far. All that’s left to figure out, is if Day Four can even approach the fun that days one, two and three brought to the table …

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