Sunday, June 17, 2007
  Confronting Old Age and Mortality
On the flight back, the trusty iPod kicked off the Fu-Gee-La, followed by an Elliott Smith song.

It began the process of culmination of the JVet4 BP.

A trip to Tampa that involved three good friends, and involved the near-death of another.

A lot of the personal involvement of both situations involved alcohol...and continues to.
My mate JV4 is slated to get married in less than three weeks - and it's an occasion I'm very much looking forward to.

We landed in Tampa early Friday morning, waited about 25 minutes for our consigliere, and then proceeded to get the rental car.

Full disclosure: I made sure the JVBP would be as cost-effective as possible. Part of that meant an "economy" car at Alamo. The woman at the counter "strongly suggested" that we upgrade. For the price of a #4 meal at McDonalds, we did. To a Midnight Black Dodge Charger. With a hemi.

We drove fast.

And the hotel that I also Pricelined had everything set up for us.

(The Beatles' Helter Skelter is playing loudly in my headset as I type this...)

Two rooms, double beds, conjoined like siamese twins from Cha-pee-pee-land, and we were off.

Of course, when three dudes go off to a bachelor party sort of thing, the first thing that is mutually agreed upon is...

(I know you're thinking "strip club" but you're wrong...)

It was a workout.

A workout. Cardio, iso-kinetic, and weights.

Three friends (one married), celebrating the end of another's bachelor life, chose to hit the 24-hour Hyatt weight room?

Are you shampooing serious?

Si. Serious.

(and if I may toot my own trombone, I kicked my own ass out there...)

From there, we traveled to, quote possibly, the best on-the-beach bar & grill. It's a place called Frenchy's Bar & Grill.

Anyone familiar with Clearwater Beach knows it - there are three different locations - and each one is a solid, solid joint. Me...I'm a huge fan of the She-Crab Soup. And since the terrible trio had the workout on their minds, we each ordered a salad. And by salad, I mean lettuce, other veggies, and a lite beer.


But all sorts of sustinence had to be limited. Why? Because of Bern's.

Bern's Steak House.

Lots of food was to be consumed. And lots of money was to be spent. And it just wouldn't be proper to interfere with that sort of process by pub fare.
Bern's was the bomb. Suffice to say, we ate ourselves a lot of steak. In fact, when our server dropped off the check, he offered to give us a tour of the kitchen and the wine room.

Suffice to say, it's not a tour they give to everyone. And suffice to say, the three of us could have put a down payment on a Hyundai with our meal, but... This is why I'm hot, This is why I'm hot...
Onto Ybor City... Been there?

OK, then you know.

Grabbed a quick brew at the James Joyce before heading to a Coyote Ugly franchise.

I've been to Hogs & Heifers. Been to the "original" Coyote Ugly. And to quote Francis Albert Sinatra, "I find it amusing."

The only thing I got out of the place was a discounted round of drinks (because I'm devastatingly handsome, two Miller Lites and a PBR cost eight bucks). They got some hungry women there, and they'll really make a mess out of you...

But the place blew. I mean, more than the movie. And that's all respect due to Francis Albert and Bob Zimmerman.
From there, we hit an establishment.

And by establishment, well, Google "Tampa" and then make up your mind.

And if you get really confused, type in "lap dance."

Get it? Terrific. Good talk...
From there, Saturday morning started off with a sickening phone call(s).

A great friend, who you loyal readers either know or have read about, had an accident.

He initially wasn't going to make it and, to be quite honest, I was a puddle.

And I drank myself into a deeper puddle thinking about it. Thankfully my two travel mates understood my issue...

The puddle kind of concluded around midnight, when my body kind of ceased to function in a forward motion.
The next morning, all three of us woke up with a similar notion: we need to get home. TP (our consigliere) grabbed an earlier jaunt back to the Rising Star. Myself and JVet did the same, back to the PVD.

Of course, we had a plan in the interim. To be quite honest, I wish TP had hung around. Because we had quite the scam.

Tampa 's finest hotel - the Grand Hyatt - has gorgeous, by the end of the isthmus, pool/beachfront. We went there. We drank. Quite a bit. And thanks to the nice folks in room 1431 (the Cahills), we signed out and drove to TPA.

Normally, the TSA tries to stop, um, "insoxicated" sorts of folks through the checkpoint. I walked through with, um, beer breath. And after my 3 min. convo with the semi-cute metal detector girl, we cruised. In fact, I think they she was going to detain me so I could hang out. I have that affect on people.

I went to get two more beers (the keen reader will notice that not once have we mentioned food on this seventh day of rest), and we waited in line.

Since Jay and I had switched flights (as had our war-time consigliere), we were stuck in the "B" line for our connection to BWI.

But mercifully, I met Jessica. (no, no THAT Jessica. but as pretty.)

She was pretty, proportional, and was reading an ACC Football magazine.

In fact, the two of us spoke about the league, and her alma mater's chances (Florida State).

I (in more full disclosure, know nothing about ACC Football, but when you look as good as Jessica does, I'm more than willing to make up sh-ampoo about the gridiron...)

Good luck finding someone who is as pretty, wearing a pink sun dress, and wants to drink beer and talk about football. (she's carrying a Glamour magazine and a Street & Smith's ACC Preview mag.)

And, for those of you out there who read this too shampooing much, you know that, well, I leave you with that.
I'd again like to mention the high-quality service of our Southwest flight attendants. When I ordered our third beer of the trip, the gentlemen tried to explain: "Look, I thought I told you, you were all set."

When approaching the rear lavatories, both flight attendants - one married male and another attractive female - stopped me. They wanted to know who was paying for the attractive young ladies' Heineken.

It was me, I told them. Of course, Jay painted a wonderful picture - me, not having eaten all day, but having sculled about three glasses of wine and four tall Miller Lites without the benefit of any food - and thankfully, the SWA FA's had a sense of humor.

Hey, c'mon, full disclosure here: as per wont for my journalistic integrity - it is what it is. Jay's just jealous. This is why I'm hot. This is why, this is why, this is why I'm hot.
And when I called for the third beer, it was the same policy. But it involved a "tip."

So the service continued. Self-service.

And it's changed my opinion of SWA.

From steerage to sweetage.

Jessica thinks FSU ends up with four losses. I say three.

But when you're THAT pretty, and reading up on the topic in late June, I'd baptize her as the expert and me as merely as the guy gawking.

I started out on Shiraz and then hit the harder stuff...But the joke was on me, there was nobody to call my bluff, I'm going back to J-tizzy-city, I do believe I've had enough....
We moved our flight, and it was the right thing to do.

And, without tuning my own trumpet, I know a lot of people. And if, initially, I don't know people, I tend to try to know the ones I'd like to get to know. It's a diplomatic way of explaining that I'm a chatty sort of cunning stunt (say that three times fast).

I had the pleasure of meeting an individual who I had heard a lot about - and all the complimentary words and phrases certainly rang true.

I'll be dead honest - I'm not real good at social things. Yeah, it's kind of what I do, but I can't claim it as a gift.

So, after about nine-too-many beers, I tried to be the social butterfly type. I think it was an Edsel.

But said individual was striking. Extremely nice. And matched up to all the words. Sometimes it's nice when prose meets reality. It makes us feign-writers feel like we might actually be able to capture a reality which we're not fleet of feet enough to catch.

All in all, I learned a whole hell of a lot this weekend. First off, I got the way-not-too-subtle notice that I'm old. 32 years old. And can't hang anymore.

Second of all, I love my friends. They're my mates. And when I say "I'd take a bullet" for them, I literally would. Especially since a mate whose job IS to take a bullet, took a hard shot, and is in bad shape, it's fucked me up. (sorry for the lack of "shampoo" but it's that critical).

Buzzy, I love you to death, and what happened has really messed me up - and without trying to sound self-important - I'm sure I'm not the only mate in this state.

I cried my eyes out for you and every bit of positive news is like a fresh blow of air into my lungs.

It's going to be a long road, I fear, but I'm there every step - as we all are - and if there's a tougher motherfucker on Earth, (again, sorry for the profanity. but, if you know the man, it's my only way to communique) then I'd like to meet him.

Beat this. Beat the odds. Beat everyone's projections. You always have. You always will.
My faithful, thanks as always for tuning in.

TLBR is my way of not going nuts. I'm on the couch, you're always listening.

For that, I can never express my true gratitude.

Just keep reading, I'll keep writing.

And as my only man DB says: "you be you, I'll be me, and we'll meet in the middle."

Godspeed Buzz.
Until then, I remain your humble and obedient servant,
I hope your buddy turns out all right. I have a soft spot for those that do what he does.

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