The call came at 10:00am on Saturday morning and I was soon to be giddy as a school girl. Erik was able to go to Stu’s with me. We would leave at 3:00pm.
Erik asked if he should bring anything. My mind raced back to a story Kit told about his packing for a dudes’ trip to Chicago. Kit’s wife was on a conference call in the kitchen. Kit came down stairs and said, “I’m all packed and ready to go!” In his right hand he held a tooth brush, in his left, a box of condoms. Her brow furrowed and she glared right through him. She silently, though brusquely, beckoned him over. He stepped forward and she swiped the toothbrush out of his hand. “Now you’re ready.”
So I told Erik to bring a toothbrush and condoms.
I drove to Erik’s and threw my bag in his car (though for the entire 21 hour adventure, I only opened it to pull out my camera and later the TUMS.) He pulled out his bag and said, “I brought a condom like you told me.” Really? “I didn’t want to forget it so here…” He turned his bag over to reveal a condom safety pinned right through the middle to his bag. Nice. The trip was off to a banner start.
As we drove, I phoned Stu to tell him I was on my way. Stu only thought I was driving over. I thought it would be a surprise if we didn’t tell Stu that Erik was coming. Except that I kept saying things like, “ We’ll be there in two hours,” and “Where do we park.”
"Who’s we?" Stu’s no dummy. He said they would be on the roof waiting for we.
Along 70, we stopped to buy beef jerky, the required fare of road trips. It was at a combo BP/Dairy Queen/Stuckey’s. I forgot that Stuckey’s was like a firecracker stand that only sells pecan logs. It seemed the store went out and bought a bunch of crap from 7-11 and Cracker Barrel and then put “Stuckey’s” sticker’s over the manufacturers’ names. We chose two varieties of jerky, sodas and Gatorade, mints and a big old bag of Swedish fish.
I was double giddy at this point because Swedish fish are formed from the nectar of flowers that grow in heaven. Like liquid sex molded into red fishies. As we drove off, I popped one in my mouth and it tasted like sugar turd. These were knock off Ju-Ju fish. Fuckers. Fortunately, this was the worst part of the entire trip. (Unless you are Bob.)
We passed a billboard that said “JESUS IS REAL” except that the JESUS was at the top and IS REAL was at the bottom and those letters were crammed so close together that it looked like it said:
I thought it was an interesting misspelled religious dichotomy. Erik thought it was a sign that I should repent.
Wow, we haven’t even made it to Stu’s yet. Oh, here we are.
We parked, grabbed out bags and went up and out on the rooftop deck. Stu and his wife Ann Marie as well as Stu’s sister Sarah and husband Dave were there. Stu also had four of his work buddies over. Everyone was drinking and preparing to head over to the Broad Ripple Street Festival to see Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s. Any band with a name that long can’t be good, so I wasn’t very excited, though Stu said they were really good. Stu almost won a Grammy, so I was willing to give them a listen.
**Sidebar** On the drive back, I was discussing with Erik how I was extremely happy that he came on the trip, but that (no offense to Erik) the trip would have still been fun without him, just different, as you always have a great time with Stu. This led us to two discussions. One: without Erik there, the Mentos and Diet Coke (about to be mentioned) would never have happened. Two: if Stu is a catalyst for fun and exciting stuff to happen, does this mean that every day of his life is fun and exciting to the people around him and thus to him as well? Does Stu always have a great time because he is with Stu?
Somewhere between the roof and the street fair, Erik brought up the Mentos / Diet Coke 2 –liter video that’s been zipping around the internet. Only a few of the people at the party had seen or heard of the fun stuff you can do with those two items. Erik thought it might be interesting if we did some Mentos related hands on activities later.
We headed over to the street fair and ate meat and shrimp and crabcakes while waiting for the concert to start. Anne Marie, Erik and I discussed religion while Erik and I took sideways glances over at the two chicks in old school roller skates and very small skirts. Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s came on a we listened.
They really sounded great. Hold that. For part of the show, they sounded like frozen pea soup. Their music was awesome. Really awesome. The dude running the board was not smart or there were technical difficulties. I don’t know anything about music, but some instruments were too loud at times and some vocals were non existent. I also thought someone let their epileptic/autistic 17 year old on stage with a tambourine, but it turned he was a dude in the band. I downloaded the album as soon as I got home. Take a listen if you get the chance.
We decided to head back to Stu’s to drink beer that wasn’t $4 a cup. On the way, we stopped at Krogers and bought $55 worth of diet coke and Mentos. Instead of buying a bunch of 2-liter bottles, we settled for the 16oz bottles so that we could experiment. We also bought floss and more beer. The floss was to assist with dropping the Mentos in the Coke. The beer was beer.
Back at Stu’s, we gathered a drill, various bits and tape together. Holes were drilled through the Mentos (and kinda through the countertop) and the floss tied them together in a mostly straight bunch. We tried different variations of holes in the caps and tested them outside. It was no Fountains at Bellagio, but we had a lot of interesting results.
The best was when Stu suggested a duel. We taped one 16 bottle to one guy’s head and another bottle to a guy’s back with the help of a back brace. They stood 10 feet apart and we pulled the floss. The head attached bottle worked great.
The back attached bottle shifted positions and basically shot ¾ the bottle into the back of the guy’s head.
Revolutionary War Reenactment Purists would have been disappointed.
While the Mentos thing was dying down, some of Stu’s work buddies began to catch quarters off their elbows. See photos for details.
We circled up and started going around, starting with one. As the coins increased, more and more dropped out. I lost at 11. The winner caught 13. That was the standing record. Everyone tried to get 15 and we all failed. Our rules were that you had to catch every quarter for it to count. We then went for a second round and this time The Dark Horse (my nickname for the night) finished first with 13 coins. I was challenged to break the record with 15. I stacked them and without a flinch, caught them. Someone suggested I do 16, but I stacked on 20.
And caught them.
Then 25. Caught. The crowd were going wild!
Silence. 30 stacked.
30 CAUGHT! In the moment we were all carrying on like this all meant something. And for the moment, it did. High fives. Cries of disbelief and awe. I think I saw Erik tear up a little.
At the time, it seemed like I couldn’t fail. I was a GOD!
I stacked 35… they were hard to position. They were up. I quickly snapped my arm down and my hand grasped shut.
A defiant quarter tipped off my finger and shot into the darkness. 34 caught, but you had to catch them all.
I tried several times in vain to break that record. I couldn’t even catch 15. Could have been the drink or the ten minutes it took to find enough quarters in the dark. I’m not sure if it is a reflection on the quality of my life, but that was the proudest moment I ever had in my life. Oh wait. My marriage was first, then the catching 30 quarters. Oh. First my marriage, then Greg being born, then the quarters. (Ad nauseam, a la Steve Martin’s A Holiday Wish 1991.)
That done, we went inside and took our blood sugar. Sarah was checking hers and I asked if I could check mine. We borrowed the safety pin used to attach the condom to Erik’s bag and heated it up with a match. It seemed too easy to draw blood. My blood sugar was at 108. Erik ponied up with claims that he could beat mine. He registered 123. Ha! One of us won depending on who you ask.
We then left for the bar, our pockets jingling with quarters, our poked fingers just starting to fight off the infection from the poorly cleaned pin. We went to the Broad Ripple Tavern, which is exactly 57 feet from Stu’s apartment. Stu’s buddy is a manager, but wasn’t working that night. This turned out poorly for Bob. As we stood in line with the other intoxicated cattle, Bob was looked over and told he was too drunk to come in. Bob debated the point with the gentleman at the door. The gentleman at the door countered. Bob riposted. Stu intervened with some clever dialogue concerning why Bob should be let in. A second gentleman came to the door and interjected. Bob redoubled his efforts. The second gentleman brought over an officer of the law to suggest the Bob kindly leave the premises. Bob established his position with the officer. The officer took Bob’s words to heart and told him to leave or he would be arrested. Bob conceded his defeat and walked away. And that was that.
Until five minutes later when Bob tried again to talk his way in the bar and he was promptly handcuffed and taken away. Bob lost the debate.
At the time, we were all in between bars, leaving the one Bob couldn’t get into and going to one with a less stringent Bob’s Drunk Policy. None of us knew he had been arrested. So we kept drinking. Sorry Bob.
We finished up the night and headed back to Stu’s. In transit, we stopped at doorway that was pretending it was a restaurant that sold Gyros. Erik’s meat was cut fresh from the slab. My was dredged from a pot sitting on a burner. Erik’s melted in his mouth. Mine was part gravel and part lava rock. Unsatisfied, I stated that I needed pizza. Stu pointed me towards a general direction. I went to the general direction and did not find pizza. Luckily Stu was still in the parking lot with Erik and he walked me to the pizza joint.
Inside, it was packed with people in the ORDER HERE line. Stu walked right up to the PICK UP area which was much emptier.
“Order for Stephens,” he demanded of the pizza dude.
Pizza dude looked at the monitor. Frowned. Looked at the boxes waiting to go out. No Stephens. “Sorry buddy. No order for Stephens.”
“Impossible. Look again.”
Pizza dude took a casual glance at the monitor. “Sir, there was not an order for Stephens. What pizza did you order?”
“Large. Cheese. Check again, please.”
Pizza dude looked at the boxes. Nothing.
“Sir, there is no pizza for Stephens and there is no large cheese.”
“Are you sure?”
“Sir, I am going to have to ask you to leave.” Then pizza dude stopped. Looked at a box and said, “How long ago did you order it?”
“About half an hour.”
“This pepperoni has been sitting here for two hours.”
“We’ll take it.”
Pizza dude picked up the box and started to ring us up. Stu added, “Don’t forget the breadsticks.”
Minutes later we gorged on pizza and breadsticks dipped in thick garlic butter. I stayed awake long enough to pass out on the couch. Anne Marie had put a sheet over the couch. I’m sure it protected the couch from me rather than me from the couch.
In the morning, we said out goodbyes and drove back to Columbus. Somehow, neither Erik nor I were hungover.
See photos of the night at Flickr
Coin catching web site HERE
Listen to Margot and the Nuclear So and So's on MySpace HERE
Diet Coke and Mentos - Double Squirt on YouTube