Thursday, April 3, 2008

Right Hand It Is: A Weekend in Florida

I am still recovering from what I will just refer to as "The Weekend". You know good things happened when every single person involved in an event--The Weekend--has as their Facebook status a message something like "Best weekend ever" or "Still recovering from the greatest weekend of all time". Mine was "Back home. What a ridiculous weekend". Common ground: The Weekend.

Parental warning: drinking involved. Please don't judge.

Everyone warning: this post is long.

Most of you know I was in Florida from Thursday through Sunday for Ross and Sarah's wedding. I have been asked for a recap. I think today is the first day where I feel up to the task of attempting that.

I slept at Joe's house Wednesday night so that my commute to Dulles wasn't nearly as bad. We all had a 7:20am Southwest flight direct to Orlando. A bit of foreshadowing: when I checked my bag, I tried to put my car keys in it despite learning my lesson with that a few months ago, and the ticket counter attendant told me not to, so I put my car keys in my jacket and checked the bag. Current temperature: 45 and rainy. Joe and I met Todd, Schlansky, and Max at the gate, where we instantly made friends with everyone. Somehow, we were perky and upbeat despite the severe lack of sleep. A petite blonde FSU alum struck up conversation with us while we all waited to board our 737. Max is severely crippled, this time physically, and he got us priority access on the plane. He managed to save the entire front row for the five of us, and we even had an older woman in our row to befriend. When Max tried to ask her to leave the seat for us, she responded "There's no savesies on planes." She dug her own grave.

By the time the cabin doors had closed and the flight attendant was making the obligatory safety speech, we had everyone's attention on the plane. Talk about the life of a party. We were shushed repeatedly by several crew members, but in a fun way. To make a long flight short (zing), we chatted, I expanded my musical horizons on Todd's iPod. Joe played with Todd's iPhone. Schlansky got his iBag, Max his iBook. There were no iBud earphones, which was surprising. Nevertheless, we had lots of iFun with Todd's iSelloutedness.

Fast forward to Orlando.

We get off the plane and proceed to call Ross, meaning every single one of us called Ross simultaneously. One got through, the rest left messages that would later be ignored, to find out where he was. Ten minutes and two rounds of phone calls later, Ross arrives along with Jon and Laz to pick us up in two SUVs. Current temperature: 80 degrees and sunny. Necessity level for jacket: zero. Jacket gets tossed in the back of Jon's 4Runner.

Big Meezy was staying at the Days Inn, which Ross had Google Mapped previously, but apparently incorrectly. We spent about 45 minutes trying to find his hotel. In that time, we passed through the same two toll booths no less than four times. We finally find him, and Todd, Joe, and Meezy (who is appropriately named Big) squeeze in to the back seat.

Universal Studious was a blast. We hardly did anything more than walk around and make jokes. We rode a couple roller coasters and did a Spiderman 3-D adventure thing. Paused for some superhero photo ops. Max and Todd almost got eaten by a dinosaur. Ellen DeGeneres was there filming her show.

Then we left.

Thursday night was the "bachelor party". Dinner at Dragonfly was unreal. Best sushi ever. We had a table of girls next to us that Jay was chatting up, but without much success. Somehow, ordering sushi and appetizers and drinks for 13 people only added up to about $400+, and everyone was full and satisfied. We threw Ross and his dad's portion of the check in to our collective split. Each person ended up paying about $50 except Joe, who didn't tip on account of being douched in beef carpaccio grease during dinner.

From there, the town was ours. We hit a local dive bar that was $7 all you could drink draft and rail liquors. It was dead at first, but began to fill up. We picked some tunes on the juke box, made lots of friends. Ross even got to look popular with the ladies (see pictures on Facebook). Bar hopping continued until we ended up at Club Decadence. MISTAKE. No more comment necessary. We ended at another bar, unfortunately I didn't notice any names, and closed it down with them. Someone had the bright idea to take us to Perkins at this point, which is a Denny's-esque all night breakfast place. MISTAKE. It's a wonder we didn't get kicked out (which could be a theme for the weekend).

Sleep at the miserly Red Roof Inn followed.

We had full intentions of sleeping in and doing nothing while the bridal party went to lunch at The Swamp to get to know one another. Ross had a last minute change of heart and decided to invite all of us. So, we all met up downtown at the local UF watering hole and began our long wait for a table for 14. Five dollar pitchers can make time fly in a funny way. Important note about Gainesville, girls are not allowed to make residence in the city limits without the following characteristics: blonde hair, skinny, gorgeous. There is a city wide mandate requiring sun dresses at all times. For anyone looking to transfer to another college, or seeking postgraduate education, consider Florida.

Lunch was a blast. Everyone had fun. Post lunch was my day. My self-proclaimed quest on the trip was to find an alligator that was both alive and in the wild. I asked all around for a good place to do this and met optimistic responses. Alice Lake was the place to go. We let all the people with more important things to do part ways, then the rest of us stragglers--me, Jay, Joe, Max, Mitch, and Erica--went in search of a gator.

After about an hour, I found one! He was smallish, and had a big bite taken out of his back. But that was not important. What's important is the video you're about to watch. No more explanation is necessary.

Friday night was the rehearsal dinner at Mr. Han's. Chinese food that was, in my educated opinion, overrated. There wasn't enough food, and what came out was pretty good, but did not meet the hype. There was endless wine in carafes on all of the tables, though, so despite being relegated to the children's table outside of the private room, we managed to entertain ourselves (and most of the rest of the wedding entourage). The bride and groom to be weren't interested in getting blasted the night before the wedding, so they didn't make a late night out of this, but the rest of us made our way to Ale House where Jennie took amazing care of us. You can't put a price on good service in a bar. When you have a young-ish girl trying to take care of about 20 rowdy, drunk, older people, mostly guys, and she doesn't even blink, it's impressive.

The convenient thing about the Ale House was that last call was 1:30am. The grocery store next door sold beer until 2:00am. Our hotel was a block from the grocery store. If that's not destiny, I don't want to believe. Needless to say, the after after after pool party at the Red Roof Inn was where things were happening. Nevermind the fact that the pool was closed. We hopped the fence. Cory, the big Forest Whitaker looking security guard, was okay with it.

We all nursed our hangovers out by the pool. Still 80 and sunny, it was a perfect day. Naps, Gatorade, and swimming are the perfect cure for any drinking-related ailment.

We met at the Sweetwater Branch Inn for the wedding around 6:30. Everyone looked amazing. I'm not much for the sentimentality of weddings, though I respect the importance of the experience. During the ceremony, the entire line of bride's maids were weeping. Even Todd shed a tear...

We chose our seats poorly, so we couldn't see or hear much of the ceremony. But it seemed nice. The cat that lived in the gazebo enjoyed his perch over top the wedding party. And then, Ross and Sarah were married. Reception follows. Good times.

Dinner was good, the speeches were good. I particularly liked Mr. Wechsler's (father of the bride) speech. Very deep, straight from the heart, and well thought out. Ross and his dad made a really good slideshow that played before we ate. It's okay that none of the pictures had me in them. No big deal.

Once we got to the bar after dinner, things went haywire. There were no holds barred. You know your wedding is getting out of control when a "Free Michael Vick" chant is raised. We had dueling college chants. Hokies vs. Seminoles vs. Gators vs. Canes. Despite the Hokies being the only team who couldn't back up our boasts, we won the chant off.

Someone (probably me) decided Ale House again after the wedding would be a good idea. So the group, minus the newlyweds, made its way to Ale House again for a repeat of the previous night. Jennie was there but was not our server this time. Manny took very good care of us though. Jennie did come out and chat for a little bit. At some point during the night, we had a majority of the bar chanting "Primae Noctis". That may have happened Friday night. Fuzzy memory on this one.

This night shaped up a lot like the previous night. Late night pool party, though this time it was a little more ridiculous. Mitch went feral. Cory came back a little less pleased than he was the night before, but he let us stay if we shared our beer. Not a problem at all. Max rebroke his foot for the fourth time on the trip. Permanent boot...

Brunch at 9am. MISTAKE. Even the newlyweds who weren't up until 5am didn't make it on time. But we were there right at nine. Atlanta Bread Company was the spot for the obligatory Jewish bagel brunch. This might have been one of the most fun moments of the trip. Everyone was deliriously tired. We spent the majority of the brunch convincing Erica to stop in Orlando on her way to Tampa so we had a ride to the airport. She finally accepted after Joe managed to bring tears to his eyes. We sent the couple on their merry way to St. Lucia after an all-in (hands and a crutch) cheer for the Weinrebs.

The drive to Orlando was really fun as well. Erica drove me, Todd, and Max. Everyone else was in the other car. Max got us through the security gates without waiting in line (thank you cripple in the wheelchair, yes we exploited your handicap). The only negative to Erica driving us was that we got there hours earlier than we needed. Small price to pay for a great favor.

Sometime between checking my bag and getting on the plane, I realized I never grabbed my jacket from Jon's car. Car keys and jacket got left in Gainesville. So, $70 later, they were overnighted my way. Thankfully, Max was nice enough to drive me to Annapolis on his way to Silver Spring from Reston. Melissa drove me to Joe's on Tuesday to pick up my car, where it had lived since Wednesday.

That concludes the trip. Hope you enjoyed.


mandie said...

quit braggin

the usual said...

"girls are not allowed to make residence in the city limits without the following characteristics: blonde hair, skinny, gorgeous."

i hate you for saying that. but nice long post...too bad it didn't occupy more of my time. :-)