Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week Thirty-Eight

Event:  Girls trip to Nashville

Nashville.  "Music City." "Athens of the South."  "Buckle of the Bible Belt."  And the temporary home of 5 city girls about to dig down deep, find their inner-cowgirl and tear up the town!

Last weekend 4 of my best friends from college and I decided to take a trip to the shit kicker capital of the world.  Many of us have not been on a vacation in a while, so this was no doubt going to be one memorable trip.

The first day we were there it was hot.  Africa hot.  And I was really glad that I wore an orange shirt that didn't breathe while we walked a country mile.  Make that about three country miles.  I also thought it'd be a good idea to buy a new pair of (rascal) flats for my trip.  I'm not sure which part of me was more attractive that day - the 6 band-aids covering both feet (no wait, there were seven...where'd that other one go...gross) or the fact that I looked like a construction worker - literally sweating through my shirt.  As we toured around the suburbs of Nashville and Music Row, at least the shopping and the eating made the trek worth it.

Bellies full and shirts dried, we decided to walk some more to see the Parthenon.  Parthenon?  In Nashville?  I must have been under a rock because I had no idea the Parthenon was in Nashville.  That's when I learned the city built this exact replica in the late 1800's as a symbol of the city's reputation for being the "Athens of the South".  Rumor has it they got that reputation because of the Greek Gods like Kenny, Tim and Keith.  Just kidding.  I made that up but I still don't get it.  Anyway, we walked about 47 miles to stand in front of this really tall building only to discover they were getting ready for a concert that night and out in front of the Parthenon was a disco ball the size of planet Jupiter.  I'm not kidding.  It seriously blocked the entire entrance of the Parthenon.  I'm not good at history, but I seriously doubt Athens would have ever done this. 

Finally making our way back to the hotel, we rested our legs, bandaged our feet and prepared for a night out on Nashville's most famous street - Broadway.  The five of us decided to have a quick burger at Rippy's down on the main drag, where, after just a couple of drinks (ok, more like 5), I decided it was time for me to be discovered.  Liquid courage + my favorite Miranda Lambert song = jump up on stage with the band and grab a microphone.  That's literally what I did.  Before I knew it, I was whaling away signing like I was with the band.  The lead singer didn't seem to mind, as she and her band mates kept strumming along as I stumbled over most of the words.  The moment was gone in an instant, but I'm pretty sure all 7 people in the bar clapped and cheered.  In fact, a little old man came over and said to me, "You were amazing!" The lead singer even told me when she makes it big, I can tour with her.  She then asked if I studied music.  I laughed my butt off and got her autograph...just in case.  (Thanks Kinsey Rose!)

After my Nashville singing debut, this party of 5 crossed the street to the World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge.  The former home of songwriters Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, we squeezed into this little bar and found ourselves surrounded by a bachelor party, 15 guys deep.  Sweet home Alabama I was in Heaven.  We soon made friends with each of them and before I knew it, I was exchanging numbers with one in particular.  Not sure if it was his 5 o'clock shadow or his t-shirt that read "Hank Jr." on the front and "Original Bad Ass" on the back.  It didn't matter.  This was Nashville.  Rhinestone cowboy, take me away.

Over the next few hours, our new friends became permanent members of our group.  Where we went, they went.  And vice versa.  We eventually landed at a bar called the Full Moon Saloon.  The band there wasn't very good so when they took a 5 minute break, something named Coors Light took over my body and threw me up on stage, once again, trying to get discovered.  Within seconds, the lead singer hopped up and reminded me that I was holding (and fake-playing) a $2,000 guitar.  He then turned my microphone off.  Dream crusher. 

The next day the 5 of us girls got to do something not many "outsiders" get to do - we got a private tour of the recording studio owned and operated by Martina McBride and her husband.  It's the largest recording studio in Nashville and it was amazing.  The studio, a state-of-the-art facility, has been the studio of choice for artists like Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts.  None of whom were there to greet us.  Jerks!  Hoping maybe our tour guide would see in me what the old man in the bar saw in me, I waited for my opportunity to jump into a studio and let 'er rip.  I'm still waiting. 

For our last night in Nashville, we wanted to take in a little piece of history so we bought tickets to see a show at the Grand Ole Opry.  Unfortunately, the Grand Ole Opry was temporarily closed due to the flood.  Therefore, they were doing shows at the original home of the Grand Ole Opry - the Ryman Auditorium.  Excited about experiencing a concert at Nashville's most famous historic attraction, our excitement quickly turned to dismay when we were greeted by Minnie Pearl and realized everyone around us was over the age of 70.  Surely the concert will be good.  Surely.  Unfortunately for us, the concert was a cross between The Lawrence Welk Show and the Prairie Home Companion.  It was like an AARP convention with square dancers.  Old time country singers (and I mean some of the originals!) came out and sang a couple of songs, then they would take a commercial break (the show was sponsored by Dollar General if that tells you anything) then another golden oldie would come out with a walker, sing a couple of songs and walk off.  Thanks to God, the sun, the moon and the stars they sold beer.

After the sweatin' to the oldies concert wrapped up, we once again met up with the Boys of Fall and had another knee-slapping, boot stomping, yee haw hollerin' good time. 

Nashville's a drinkin' town with a music problem.  And while I didn't get discovered, it sure was fun trying.  Yee Haw!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week Thirty-Seven

Event: State Fair

Yee Haw it's State Fair time!  This weekend my family and I packed up and headed out to the booming metropolis of Hutchinson, Kansas for the annual Kansas State Fair.  Having been once before as a youngin' we were all pretty excited about coming back.  Dad wanted to see the horses, mom wanted to see the rabbits, my sister wanted to eat a fried twinkie and I wanted to milk a cow!  High hopes....

As we made our entrance, our noses became keenly aware that we were, in fact, in the middle of what arguably could be the biggest farm in Kansas.  Watch your step.  As we walked down the main street of the fair, we decided to head into "Dairy Land" because again, I was convinced I was going to milk a cow.  As we entered, we could not believe our eyes at the size of some of these heifers.  I walked up to one that I swear was bigger than my SUV.  I turned to the cowboy standing by and was like, "this is the biggest cow I've ever seen!"  He replied by telling me the cow was pregnant, which helped explain why it needed its own area code.

As we meandered down the barn, this guy walked up us and said, "Do you guys want to see a baby bull?"  We were like, "uh huh."  So he took us to the far end of the barn and there, lying in the hay, was a brand spanking new bull.  And by new I mean this baby had been born 30 minutes before we got there!  The mom was standing there with all of her birthness hanging out (I'm not gonna lie, it was gross.  There's a reason they don't show this type of birthing video in school.  This would be traumatizing to children of all ages, including 34-year-old ones).  Anyway, mom's standing there with her innards hanging out and the baby is lying there all gooey and stuff and we're just standing in complete awe.  Our new friend turned to us and said, "The baby hasn't taken its first steps yet, but it will soon."  So despite being totally grossed out, yet not being able to take our eyes off of what was happening, we continued to stand there as we witnessed a true miracle. 

This sweet baby bull was looking around dazed and confused when all of the sudden, it started to make its mooooove.  (sorry, I had to).  He leaned forward, then stuck his butt in the air and propped his hind legs up, then, wobbly, he popped up on one arm, then the other and before we knew it our brand new baby bull was standing on all fours.  We all clapped as if to say, "Oh look at little junior, we're just so proud!"  He took just a couple of steps and down he went, face planting into the hay.  At about that time I found myself practically in the hay with him, not realizing that maybe I was a little too close.  The mom looked at me and let out this sort of a moo/snort/growl/get the hell away from my baby or I'll give you something to blog about kind of warning.  Apparently it's a little too soon to lean in and put my arm around junior for a picture.  Ok, backing up.

Deciding that we could go home now because really, how many times in your lifetime do you get to see a baby bull 30 minutes after it was born?  But, we decided there had to be more adventures in store, so we made our way out of the big cow barn over to the arena where they show the cows (sort of like "best in show" but with heifers).  While walking over, we had to pass through a tight area where the cows and their owners were walking from the barn to the arena, preparing for the contest.  My family and I were walking in a single file line, with me bringing up the rear (pun intended - wait for it).  I of course, found myself sandwiched in between the back of a cow and the front of another.  For the record, I have never lived on a farm but this city girl knows the golden rule.  Never.  Stand.  Behind. A Farm animal.  Of any kind.  Never.  (This lesson I learned on a 7th grade church mission's trip when I got bucked in the butt by a horse. I digress). 

Anyway, here I am sandwiched in between two cows and as I try to quickly navigate around the back of 'ole Bessie, I hear someone exclaim, "Watch out!"  At this moment, everything happened in slow motion.  I turned my head in the direction of the warning call only to see this two ton heifer drop the biggest dump known to man.  Right there, right in front of me.  The good news is, my foot was not firmly planted under her ass.  The bad news is, shit splatters. 

This shit pile had to be as big as a watermelon.  I shit you not.  Holy shit!  It was like she ate an entire Chipotle restaurant!  I mean, how in the hell do they do that STANDING UP?  Around a crowd of people?  I can only assume she was nervous because she knew she had to go in and enter a contest, so maybe she figured it would help her waist look thinner, who knows.  But holy shit.  As the shit splattered on the hot concrete, I, of course, was standing within a 5 mile radius of the explosion and thus, shit splattered onto my bare leg and all over my shoes.  This is exactly why cowboys wear jeans and boots.  Welcome to the state fair, city girl.

After using 672 Kleenexes to clean me up, my family and I pressed on to continue to have the ultimate state fair experience.  (I'm now reminded why we don't do this every year).  We made our way around the food court and we tried two things I have never had before.  One was a Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger where the burger and all the fixin's are sandwiched between a Krispy Kreme donut.  Heart attack - party of 4.  When we all regained consciousness and our arteries were back to normal, we tried fried green tomatoes.  I've never had them before but now I want them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Deep fried yum. 

Before making our final stop at the horse arena, it became clear to me that I would not, in fact, get to milk a cow.  But, given my recent bonding experience I think I'm good for a little while.  Instead, as my family and I looked across the desert plains (ok, it was just a dusty road) I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  There, standing in the Arabian desert (again, just a dusty rode in Kansas) was a CAMEL!  Not only did I get to pet it, I got to RIDE it! 

As we exited the fairgrounds, I noticed the long line of people waiting to get in.  That's when I turned and saw a flyer on the ticket window that said, "Sheep thrills". 

They have no idea what's in store.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week Thirty-Six

Event:  Went on a Police Ride-Along

"Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha gonna do?  Whatcha gonna do when WE come for you?" 

Last week I got to ride in the front seat of a police car with a Police Officer from my local po-po department for an entire four-hour shift.  I was excited and nervous - mainly because I didn't know what to wear!  I mean, will I be introduced to the entire squad?  Will I get to go down the line at roll call and pick which hot, young, single rookie I get to ride with?  Or, will I be stuck with the 67 year-old Chief?  Will I be chasing down criminals, and should I therefore wear my Puma's?  (they make me run really fast).  Or should I be casual and wear flip flips in case they ask me to go undercover for a drug bust?  They don't tell you this stuff when you sign up - what's a girl to do?  In the end, I landed on jeans and a top with a mildly plunging neckline, with a scarf, just in case.

Waiting at the station, I was brushing up on gun safety while preparing my questions, like, "How long do tickets stay on your record?"  Or, "How fast can I really go before you'll pull me over?"  Or my favorite, "Hypothetically, if I'm at a happy hour, how many drinks can I have before driving home and still be ok to drive?"  Hypothetically, of course.

Before I knew it, I was being called to the front and there he was.  Tall, dark, handsome and...married.  Shoot!  (pun intended)  Good thing I wore the scarf.  Unfortunately, there was no role call and no grand entrance in front of the squad.  Instead, we immediately packed up and headed out.  Before hopping in the police car, I got a tour.  Of the car.  I had no idea all the stuff police officers carry in their trunk!  Everything from first aid kits to biohazard suits to heart-starting paddle things to teddy bears for kids.  It was incredible.  The back seat was half regular back seat and half criminal-you're-in-trouble-now-bullet-proof-glass-with-bars-on-the-window-you're-not-going-anywhere back seat.  This special seat was plastic and the floor had a hole in it so the police can spray it down if they need to.  Ewwww.

As I hopped into the front seat, I sandwiched myself in between the door, two rifles and a laptop propped up on the console.  At my feet was "The Stalker" - the gun zapper thing they use to monitor your speed.  I attempted to take the batteries out so I could look out for my fellow citizens but I had no luck.  (Just kidding Officer).  As we hit the road for our first call, I was amazed at how much was going on in the car.  The laptop, the city dispatch on one radio station, the greater metro-wide dispatch on another radio station, and me, just yapping away.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  Here we were, Dirty Harry meets Cagney and Lacey.  I was ready to fight crime.  To serve and protect.  To keep our city safe.  I was ready to put my life on the line.  Well, that was all fine and good until our first call was to drive down a quiet street and tell kids to quit playing in it.  Hmmm.  I hope it gets a little more exciting than this.

As the night went on, our calls did get more exciting.  We sat on a sleepy corner with "The Stalker" and checked people's speed as they drove by.  The third card we zapped was an unfortunate teenager (now I feel bad) driving a BMW (I don't feel bad anymore) on her way to babysit (oh crap I feel bad again) going 50 in a 35 (say goodbye to your babysitting money!)  After that, there was a noise complaint about a dog barking so we sat in front of a house for 15 minutes and heard nothing but crickets.  We are literally serving and protecting at this very moment.  Then we made a stop to interview a teenager whose skateboard was stolen.  Did I mention we were protecting?  During these stops, the Officer made me stay in the car.  I was obedient and didn't mind, but as we approached the four-hour mark, I was beginning to get punchy so when he stepped out of the car and once again told me to stay put, I responded by saying, "I'll hold all your calls."  (Apparently I needed to be reminded of the scary plastic back seat he might put me in if I don't shut my trap).

The best part of the night was when I thought I caught a criminal in the act.  For about 30 minutes the Officer was telling me about this string of burglaries in the area where criminals would case the house and when the people would leave, they'd break in and steel big screen TVs.  As he's telling me this story, I see out of the corner of my eye something that didn't look right.  As we turned the corner, I hit his arm and said, "Oh my gosh - look left!  There are burglars stealing a TV right there!"  Sure enough, part of that statement was correct.  Instead of burglars, it was 4 girls.  Instead of a flat screen, it was the biggest boob tube you've ever seen.  And instead of stealing it, they were moving it, along with the rest of their stuff.  So I guess this means I won't be getting a medal or a purple heart or anything.  Damn.  I was really planning on a citizen's arrest. 

During the last stop of the night, the Officer and I were just chatting along, and without warning he flipped on the siren and lights, pulled a 180 in the middle of the street and hit the gas.  It took me so off guard I think I tinkled a little bit.  As he pulled over the speeder with no lights on, I again, found myself sitting, waiting patiently.  That's when I got the idea to pick up the zapper that I had been holding and I pretended to point it at oncoming traffic.  I pulled the trigger only once.  But now looking back I wonder if there are cameras in police cars.  If so, I'm soooo busted.  To add insult to injury, when the Officer got back in the car, his radio was up really loud and I couldn't hear him so I instinctively reached up to turn the volume down on the dashboard and I got my hands slapped.  I guess we're not at the Starsky and Hutch level just yet.  Ok, just checking.

In the end, I had an amazing experience and now have a new respect for the city's finest.  I learned they are genuinely good people, just trying to keep the streets safe and people out of trouble.  I also learned police officers don't think it's very funny when you ask them where the closest donut shop is. 

Duly noted.  10-4.  Over and out.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Week Thirty-Five

Event:  Rode a Harley Davidson Motorcycle

Saturday morning I drove to Manhattan, KS to attend the first football game of the season for my alma mater, K-State.  Shortly after arriving (and after doing just a little tailgating), my friends and I made our way through the parking lot towards the entrance of the stadium.  It was then we were reminded that today was "Harley Day".  This is a K-State tradition 13 years in the making where motorcycle-owning alumni can sign up, and if chosen, be a part of the elite group that gets to "kick off" the game with a hell's angels of an entrance.  Right before the teams take the field, 100 burly, tattooed, bearded, muscle men enter the stadium one-by-one revving the engine of their Harleys as they circle the inside of the stadium. 

Generally, most Hog riders have wives or girlfriends riding with them.  Most of them, anyway.  As we headed towards the entrance of the stadium, we noticed all of the motorcycles were lined up right in front of us, preparing for their big entrance.  Standing next to them were the motorcylcle riders, either covered in leather or purple - from head to steel toe.  As we walked by, my friend leaned over and said, "You should see if any of these guys need a partner to ride in with.  Ask around and maybe someone will let you ride with them."  Brilliant!  I thought.  As I stared down the long path of extremely intimidating bikes (and men), I jumped in and asked the first big, scary, tattooed man I saw.  I sweetly walked up and said, "Excuse me sir, do you have a partner to ride with?"  No sooner did the words escape my mouth, a woman I'm sure they affectionately call "Big Bertha" walked towards me.  Her sleeveless, tasseled, leather vest brought tears to my eyes and I quickly made my way down the line.  The next guy I asked had a beard that would make ZZ Top jealous and I'm pretty sure he had only 4 original teeth, but I asked anyway.  Unfortunately, again, the answer was no.

My third and final attempt was almost not meant to be.  My friend was standing and pointing to this guy that looked like a city boy who had just hopped on a motorcycle.  He was totally normal.  No leather.  No fringe jackets.  No spiky helmet.  Just a purple t-shirt and a backwards K-State hat.  Right as I ran up to him, he fired up his engine and wouldn't you know it, he was the next one in line to go.  The traffic police was signaling for him to go but I grabbed his shoulder and yelled in his ear, "DO YOU HAVE A PARTNER?"  He of course couldn't hear me, so I attempted to do sign language, but failed miserably.  I then pointed to the back seat and raised my hands as if to say "Nobody's there - how about me?"  He nodded.  Before I knew it, I was being whisked away.  On a Harley.  Without a helmet.  With a total stranger.  Isn't it funny that when we were little we were taught not to talk to strangers?  See, my parents should have been a little more specific.  "Don't talk to strangers on motorcycles" might have been a better lesson and one that would have kept me from doing what I just did.

But I didn't care!  The wind was in my hair, the engine was loud, we were going fast (but not too fast, mom) and that's when I quickly realized, I don't know what to hold on to.  Do I wrap my arms around this total stranger?  What if he has man boobs?  Do I hold onto them?  Do I grasp his shoulders like a masseuse?  Do I put my fingers in his back pockets and hold on for dear life?  In my rush to just manage to get on the motorcycle, we didn't have time to go over the instructions.  In the end, I settled on holding onto the back of his seat.  It was about the size of a small tortilla, but my little fingers wrapped around that thing so tight, I held onto it like a Chipotle burrito.  This burrito was saving my life.

As he and I made our way towards the stadium entrance, we had a few moments where we were able to actually speak.  That's when I learned he is a Mechanical Engineer, a fellow grad just a few years older than me, and appears to be single.  (No ring).  Assuming my hand placement was safe, I jokingly said to him, "I hope it's ok to put my hands here - I don't want your wife or girlfriend to get mad."  (Yes I was fishing, but let's just stop right here.  Why am I even talking?  Could someone please put me out of my misery?  In general, comments like this get me nowhere).  His cryptic response was, "You're fine."  What the heck does that mean?  Does it mean your pregnant wife is in the stands, but it's fine because I could outrun her?  Or is it because your girlfriend is watching this on TV and won't make it to the stadium in time to kick my a$$?  Or, is it fine because you are certifiably single and while you'd rather me put my arms around your waist we're just not there yet?  I can't believe I'm even worrying about this right now.  As my mind continues to run through all the possibilities, he tells me I need to move my feet from their current position because the exhaust pipe will burn the rubber off my shoes.  Oh sweet Jesus.  I have realized the threat of death by falling off and hitting my head, but I hadn't thought about the third degree burns my heels might get.  What else was I doing wrong?  Before I could double check any other body part placement, off we go...

Right before we entered the stadium, he leaned over and said he would keep his hands on the handlebars (thank you, Lord) but that I was in charge of waving to the crowd.  No problem. This is usually how I make an entrance anyway.  As the engines roared, we entered the stadium to 51,000 cheering fans.  I shook hands, kissed babies and waved like I was the princess of the freaking world.  Seriously, there was finger pointing and waving, fist bumps, arm pumps, roof raising, gun shooting, peace signs, thumbs up and #1 finger pointing.  Oh yeah, I was a natural.  I'm pretty sure people either thought I was the Homecoming Queen or running for office.  It was amazing.

As we made our way around the stadium track, we came to a place where the motorcycles stopped to take a minute to let the engines roar.  My fragile ear drums were not prepared for this, so my double action fist pumping turned to a single wave while slyly plugging one ear with my other hand.  During the chaos of it all, I leaned over to say, "Holy !@*%$ this is loud!" but he didn't hear me and now I can't hear him.  Or anyone else for that matter. 

As we exited the stadium, I found myself still waving (I'm pretty sure he told me I could stop, but I didn't hear him) until we pulled back into the parking lot.  There, I thanked my new friend for the ride of a lifetime and, (let's blame it on the brain rattling engine revving part) I asked him for his home address so I could send him a thank you card.  WTF?  What is my deal?  Really?  A thank you card?  Diving in to save myself, I quickly said, "I mean, I'll look you up on facebook and you can send me your address."  Ok.  Did I fall off the bike, hit my head, and not remember it?  What is happening?  Puzzled, he stared at me, as if to encourage me to keep going.  After taking a moment, I said, "how about I get your number and I'll text you, then you can text me your email address."  Oh. My. God.  This is a sinking ship.  Reluctantly, he gave me his number (probably thinking he needs to get a restraining order), I thanked him and walked away. 

The next day I sent him a text, thanked him again and he sent me his email address.  I then emailed him a couple of pictures I took and thanked him one last time.  I then cyber stalked him and learned his facebook relationship status is "single."  Ok, I'll stop...