Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back in the Bulk - Orlando (Calrissian), Part 2

See Part 1 here, if you missed it.

About midway through our Orlando trip, Ben Stantz, Rich Cornhole, John Reaver, Greg Hammel and I got to meet up with Ben's, Rich's, and my fraternity brothers Mitch Cold, Josh Striker, and Mike Malaria, on their own Florida adventure. We had a good time, touring "Downtown Disney", hanging out, and some of the guys even went to Cirque du Soleil together (Ben, Greg, and I decided not to drop the stack of bills needed to do so). We also took the time to enjoy some mini golf at Disney's Fantasia Mini Golf course. It was actually two courses. One set of 18 holes was traditional obstacles and whatnot, Fantasia-themed. The second course, which we would not play until the next day, was like an actual miniaturized golf course. There were mocked up sand traps and water hazards and everything. Each hole was based on an actual golf hole from an actual golf course. Neat! It was also profoundly difficult, as we were to find out.

But before that, we had a night out in Orlando to kill. Most of us were underage. Mitch and Mike were not. We ran the gamut, interest-wise, from geeky to trendy, so we struggled to find a place that would accommodate everyone's tastes. We ended up finding a place called XS that was awesome. It was a hybrid bar/restaurant/dance club/video arcade. There was something for everyone. We had a blast. Mike Malaria in particular had a blast getting pretty drunk. When we left XS and were hanging out on some raised walkways, the 5 of us from Bulkie Hall were having a grand old time making the "shocker" gesture at each other. (Skip the next paragraph if you don't know what the shocker is and would like to keep it that way. It is sexual. You are warned.)

Most of you, no doubt, know of the shocker. This gesture spread like wildfire through adolescents and people with adolescent senses of humor (yo.). We were always making shocker jokes and references (a few years later, Ben and I, along with Jared Kasparov, would even dream of releasing a series of shocker themed t-shirts like the infamous Coed Naked shirts from the 90's). Alright, for the few of you unfamiliar, the shocker is a gesture made by tucking the ring finger in while extending the other three fingers (thumb optional). This is supposedly to be used to penetrate a female sex partner simultaneously vaginally (with the index and middle fingers) and anally (with the pinky). The thumb can provide optional clitoral stimulation. The rhyme that famously accompanies this gesture is "two in the pink, one in the stink!" Very mature, I know. But that's the truth. Check if you don't believe me.

So, anyway, there we were, goofing around flashing shocker gestures at each other. Mike Malaria, drunk off his ass, was staring at us blankly. Not certain if he merely didn't find it funny, didn't understand, or just was too drunk to react, we asked Mike, "you know what the shocker is, right?" Mike, quite seriously, replied, "yeah, I know it. One in the ass, and TWO IN THE SHIT!" The briefest of pauses ensued, followed by our dismayed but amused reactions. "What? No, Mike, that doesn't even make sense! What the fuck!?" Mike couldn't, for the life of him, figure out what was wrong about his answer. The dangers of alcohol.

The next night, the original 5 of the trip ventured to the Fantasia Mini Golf again, this time to play the more difficult actual-golf themed course. Frustration ensued. Especially for me. I'll admit it, I was a sulky baby about how poorly I was doing. I like to think I've matured since then, but I was acting like a pouty child. Greg, meanwhile, adapted to the challenge by breaking the "no chipping" rule. He actually, after very few attempts, became decent at chipping the ball over sidewalks and the like to get favorable shots. Way to go, Greg.

We reached the 10th(?) hole. This one was either easier, or we all just had particularly lucky putts, because all of us were within striking range of par as we neared the actual hole. John and Rich's balls (insert "balls" joke here [insert "insert" joke here]) were tied for closest to the hole (insert "hole" joke here [insert "this author is a jackass" joke here]). As such, they had equal right to take their shot first. Rich, ever a gentleman, deferred to John. John, you may recall from previous tales, is a big dude. He has immense power in his large body, but sometimes lacked the coordination to control his strength. But not this time. John lined up his shot, putted, and nailed it. Great success! Knowing that I was next after Rich, I looked down to line up my own shot (as Rich was already doing) as John gleefully exclaimed, "I got PAR!"

I then heard a sickening thud. As though someone had stored a chestnut inside an orange and then struck it with an aluminum bat. I looked up and saw Rich on the ground. Instinctively, I assumed he had just fallen over yet again. But then I noticed John, extremely distraught and apologizing profusely. It seems that John, as part of his celebratory gesture, had swung his putter back with one arm as he shouted "I got PAR!". He was unaware Rich was bent over behind him, lining up his shot. The putter struck Rich. In the face.

Not just in the face, he was hit right on the eyebrow, right on the edge of the eye socket. A millimeter lower and Rich probably would've been blind in one eye. As it was, he was disoriented and bleeding. Concerned for Rich, we decided to abandon our game and get him medical attention. We recalled seeing a walk-in clinic on International Avenue in our explorations of Orlando, and figured we'd get him there as quickly as we could. As we went to leave, however, Ben declared that since we couldn't finish our game, we should get our money back or something. The rest of us ready to say screw that, Rich needs medical attention, but then Rich spoke up. "Heck yes, get us some free vouchers!" (Rich did not swear at that time). So we waited while Ben negotiated with the manager, trying to apply pressure to Rich's wound to slow the bleeding. I'll be damned, we got the free vouchers, and would use them the next day (a spot of Rich's blood remained staining the 10th hole when we returned).

We piled into my car and took off for the clinic. We turned onto the proper street and began driving and looking for it. We realized we turned the wrong way and had to double back. We finally found the clinic and realized it was closed for the night. The door had directions to the Orlando Hospital on it. Into the car again and off we went, eventually arriving at the hospital and entering the ER.

Rich, in high school, was an EMT and also worked in a pharmacy. He was our resident expert on all things medical. So when we were given his triage form and he insisted he would take care of it himself, we trusted him. Rich knew hospitals. So he filled it out and we began to wait. And wait. And wait. For like 2-3 hours. People who had entered a full hour after Rich were being seen, but not him. Ben and I approached the nurses' station and asked what the hold up was. She responded by showing us his form. These triage forms used a system of faces to indicate the level of discomfort and urgency. Like so:

Rich, with a head wound, a likely concussion, and bleeding, you'd think would've at least circled face #2. The one that looks like "Hey, there's places I'd rather be than the hospital, but all things considered I guess I'm not in awful condition." Nope. That stupid jackass circled face #0. "I AM FUCKING DELIGHTED BY MY INJURY/ILLNESS AND HOPE I CAN STAY IN THE ER FOREVER!!!" Rich defended his choice by saying other people probably needed care more urgently than him. Rich was an idiot that night. His defense has since changed, and now he says it was OUR fault because we let the guy with the head injury fill out paperwork himself. He may have a point with that one.

Rich eventually did get seen and treated, but we between waiting with Rich and then waiting FOR Rich, we spent at least 4 hours in that waiting room. It brought out the worst in us. Ben and John became mean, and entertained themselves by saying whatever they could to upset me, mostly lewd comments about my sister (whom they had not even actually met at that point). Emotionally and mentally exhausted at that point, and ganged up on 2-to-1, I couldn't effectively defend myself and became upset to the point that, in an effort to just get the fuck away from human beings, hid in the snack room behind a vending machine. Greg played with and contemplated stealing a lamp. I love Greg.

Eventually we got to go home. The trip had other fun times, such as wait times of 0 minutes for rides at Universal Islands of Adventure due to off-season and rain, meeting Rich's grandmother and Uncle Tony, and John eating an entire second Headhunter sandwich because he ran out of money and needed to use his free Headhunter voucher to eat (as to why he FINISHED the second one, I guess he was just hungry). I also ran out of money. Rich bankrolled both of us and was paid back at a later date. All in all, a grand vacation.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Back in the Bulk - Orlando (Calrissian), Part 1

In the weeks leading up to winter break of our first year at college, Ben Stantz approached four of us to discuss a proposition. The opportunity was this: his parents had a time share that they were not going to use, so would we like to make a road trip for a week in Orlando, FL during the later part of our winter break, January 2002, and split the cost 5 ways. He invited Rich Cornhole and I (his fraternity pledgebrothers), as well as his roommate Greg Hammel and fellow Bulkie Hall floormate John Reaver. We even had the fortuitous timing to have our trip to Orlando overlap with that of three other fraternity brothers, Mitch Cold, Josh Striker, and Mike Malaria and would get to meet up with them during part of our trip. This sounded awesome. We were all in.

The first issue we had to tackle was transportation. Of those of us with cars, it seemed mine would be the most accommodating for 5 travelers: a maroon 4-door 1993 Mercury Sable sedan, originally owned by Mary "Nonnie" Lebowski. We would all take turns behind the wheel, with one exception. Rich couldn't drive. I mean, it's not that he was physically incapable, but legally, he was unable. He had no driver's license. This wasn't a big deal, four drivers was enough, but it did provide leverage when it came to seating. The four drivers rotated, and each was paired with another to sit shotgun, navigate, and not fall asleep during the night portions of the drive. Ben and John paired off, as did Greg and I. Rich, as his contribution to the driving, was relegated to the middle in the back (aka "sitting bitch") for the entirety of the trip. There and back. And frequently while traveling around Orlando once there. Rich was a good sport.

The trip down had its highlights. Just into New York, John pointed out the exit Ben was supposed to take onto a new highway out his window as we passed it. Ben pulled off at the next exit and, trying to find a way back to the proper ramp, took a few side streets. On one, he waited nearly a full minute behind a car at a stop sign only to realize we were sitting and waiting behind a parked car. Oops. While getting gas, I watched from the convenience store window as Greg pumped gas, kept company by Ben, when they began to look panicked and started squeegeeing the side of the car like mad. Greg, it seems, didn't believe that my gas tank could possibly be full yet when the automatic shut-off occurred and insisted on trying to pump more gas in. Predictable spillage occurred. We visited South of the Border, for which there are SO MANY SIGNS on the way, and found it both closed and unimpressive. During the middle of the night, I enjoyed the freedom of several lanes and miles of empty highway by opting to luxuriously drift between lanes (like when Kramer adopted the highway and made extra-wide lanes), an experience that woke the back seat passengers and filled them with concern for my driving ability. We did, however, arrive safely and earlier than planned.

Once we were able to check in to the hotel (following a time-killing trip to Wal-Mart for forgotten toiletries and an authentic Krispy Kreme experience), we were treated to pretty posh living arrangements. Our room was a full suite with a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, washer/dryer, and balcony. Ben and Rich took the master bedroom, being the only two mature enough to share a bed. John and I took the other bedroom with two twin beds. Greg claimed the pull out couch. This was so much better than dorms.

Our first night (or was it second?), we just had to eat at a place called Jungle Jim's after an afternoon of Pirate mini golf (great fun, even though I sucked at it!). Jungle Jim's was a safari themed burgers & sandwiches sort of restaurant. Their specialty was an enormous sandwich called the Headhunter. The Headhunter was like 2 pounds of meat, loads of every topping, a bun (complete with olive "eyes" on toothpicks), and a bunch of fries. Anyone who could finish the Headhunter was entitled to a certificate for a free one. John, being a man of large size and appetite, decided he would take on the Headhunter.

Visually, it was an imposing sandwich. John's first task was to press down on it and squash it into a size that would actually fit into his mouth. He then began eating this compressed burger brick, pacing himself as we ate our more modestly sized (but still generous) meals. Around halfway, John felt full. By 3/4, the sandwich stopped being tasty and started being despair-inducing. But John kept going. Even as he complained that it wasn't fun anymore, he kept making slow and steady progress. And finally, with great pride, John finished the Headhunter. He received his complimentary gift certificate from our waitress, who also played Belle at Disney World. We journeyed back to the hotel with victory in our hearts and a plastic pirate flag from the mini golf course on the car antenna. And then we gave both our John and the john a wide berth.

That night, Rich, traumatized by a close loss at the earlier mini golf game, had a nightmare. In his nightmare, we returned to the pirate mini golf place to play again, and once again, Rich lost to Ben. Greg came in third, and John in last. When Rich described this dream to us, I asked where I placed. I didn't finish. A decorative cannon in a pond shot an actual cannonball, which struck me. I did not die. Unharmed, I instead became enraged and waded into the water to attack the cannon with my putter. I was escorted off the premises by the police. And my friends kept playing through. Thanks a lot, Dream Rich! But perhaps Rich's dream was premonitory of upcoming mini golf misfortune. Soon tragedy would strike one of our traveling party, and the trip would take an unexpected turn.

To be continued...