There are two main reasons I will not be yakking in Otis's side yard this weekend (when I puke, I like a little privacy). One, my poker bankroll is a little thin, not .25/.50 thin, but definitely "No Cross Country Travel" thin. All poker-related costs MUST be paid out of the PBR. On this point, I--okay, not me but certain other adults who live in my house--will not waver.
Secondly, my good friend Big Head is to be the recipient of a suprise 40th birthday party this weekend. No, he's not so good a friend that I've told him about this blog, so the surprise is still intact.
Before we both got married, procreated and moved two hours away from each other, he and I were pretty inseparable. We coached high school soccer together for four years, were roommates for three and continue to play together on Sundays, a ritual approaching the decade mark. In addition, I was the best man at his wedding.
Now that I've established the friendship credentials, it's time for a Big Head story. Let me just say, as a point of reference, that the Blogger Most Resembling Big Head in Word and Deed is probably G-Rob.
Big Head, Paddy and I were road-tripping it to Portland back in '97. Portland is Paddy's hometown and it was hosting a World Cup qualifier between the US and Costa Rica. Kickoff was set for 12:30 on Sunday afternoon. The site, Civic Stadium, is right in the heart of downtown Portland, surrounded by various pubs and microbrews, so our idea was to hit one up for early libations and breakfast.
Sadly, the idea was not an original one. Our pub of choice was packed to the gills, not just with football fans, but with FOOTBALL FANS enjoying a riviting Rams-Falcons tilt. We got one Bloddy Mary in before they ran out. Breakfast? Forget it. Not an egg to be found in this little corner of The Rose City. Undaunted, we switched to greyhounds.
By the time we stumbled out into the now-bright sunshine, I'd had 6 adult beverages. Or 20. Same difference. Big Head undoubtedly had more. It was noon and we were trashed. On empty stomachs. (Paddy, I should mention, had one, owing entirely to the fact he was covering the game.)
The first thing we noticed when moving to our seats was that our section was entirely populated by families. There would be no blue heckling of the Ticos. A minor bump in the road. We were...uh...vocal in our commentary on the match. Two keen football minds like ours can't stay silent long. We were also consistently on point when it came down to flagging the vendors with the 22 oz. Bud Lights.
Eventually, one young patron tired of our endless insights. From behind us we heard, "Be quiet!" It was a pre-pubescent squeaky voice and upon whirling around, we pegged our detractor as the chubby freckled kid on the aisle two rows up. Laughing, we turned our attentions back to the match.
The second half dawned still scoreless, though it was a watershed moment when we finally got a hot dog down our gullets. Suitably fueled, we continued to unleash our astute tirades.
Then, it happened. Big Head felt something ping off his prodigious noggin. It was a Reese's Piece. It's origin was clear. Big Head picked up the offending projectile, stomped to the chubby freckled kid (who instintively tightened his grip on his bag of Reese's Pieces) and tried to force the candy into the terrified kid's mouth.
"You wanna eat this?!?!?" he bellowed. Again, "You wanna eat this?!?!?!"
Chubby Freckled Kid's parents were slow to react, but when they did inquire as to the problem, Big Head laid the affair out for them completely, concisely and clamborously. Their meek and hurried response was, "Billy, don't throw things at people."
The story is long from over, but that's my favorite part. I'll spare you the details of Tab Ramos's glorious 78th-minute strike which gave the home side a crucial three points. And how our unbridled celebration of said goal resulted in at least one injury to someone other than ourselves. And how a barely coherent Big Head later managed to pick up a stunning 18-year-old waitress with the classic line, "You got purdy hair." And how the long road back to LA the next day was marked mostly by the sour post-bender stench of an incapacitated Big Head.
And now he's 40. It's been at least two years since he and I have gotten sloppy stupid drunk together. I am looking very forward to this weekend, because I know--I KNOW--with minimal prodding, I can get him there again.
Hmmmm. Maybe I'm the one who's like G-Rob.