Wednesday, May 8, 2013

No Tequila Since March, No Meat Since August

Around my birthday this past March, my good bud and brother, Matty Matura, was kind enough to select a spirit (Patron) for our friends and I to sip upon to celebrate the occasion. My longstanding relationship (questioning that word choice) with Patron is well documented, from the time I drank a glass of it last summer and the moment of silence that followed...

Matty: "You were fine and all, but I've never heard you be that quiet for that long after you took that shot." 

... to the time I got to work on the agave based libation following a Christmas-time shift at Stop & Shop and wound up overrunning Wong's stairs a bit and after likely a very dramatic-looking couple of balance maintaining flails wiped out flat on my back in front of the entire (modest) party in attendance. That last one, I assure you, sounds worse than it was, as I popped right back up after fending off my own fit of laughter. However, obviously tequila was at the root of the minor mishap. 

Anyway, Wong's actions the night before my birthday ensured that no one was in a mood to christen the gift that night. Since that point, the occasion to open the bottle hasn't really come about. I drink pretty moderately, to say the least, and as you likely know, when you opt for tequila over more... modest... drinks you're kind of making a commitment to the night that you're not always up for backing up, so to speak. As I headed to York College for my first post grad Alumni Weekend experience, I figured it may well have been time to at last pop the cork on that bottle of Patron. Alas, or fortunately depending on your perception, the Patron still remains unopened atop my dresser. However, another notable streak did come to an end this past weekend, and with that somewhat coarse interlude, I recount my York experience.

Just in the general sense, because I don't think I'll necessarily get back to it once I start zooming in. Always a great time to be in York and especially at YCP. The Alumni weekend brought back some familiar faces and I also got to see some friends who've yet to leave. Feels like a home away from home and brings up some of the best memories of my life. Really blessed to have known and, as this weekend proved, still know such good people. I'm gushing, I know, about a pretty dangerous area once you get beyond George, I know, but it's just a special place.

With that brief bit of blathering behind and alliteration ahead, I actually didn't have to wait long, or even ask, to relive some collegiate memories. York's current and my former a cappella group, Rhapsody, found themselves somewhat divided between the obligations of the school's musical, "She Loves Me," and a performance at the annual Relay for Life. When a couple members heard that I was heading to York that same day, they reached out to see if I could help them out and sing with them at the Relay for Life. It's a bit of a stretch to say they "needed" me and by no means am I under that impression, but I know that they were grateful to have the extra tenor/bass with knowledge of the catalog close at hand and, from my perspective, by no means was it an inconvenience to sing with them. I found myself rusty, to say the least, jumping the gun on a "Buttercup" entrance. (The one song each Rhapsody member should be able to treat like riding a bike.) Learned a song on the fly and handled it pretty well, and despite the group being in about three different keys during "Africa", blew the dust off that high harmony pretty impressively if I do say so myself. (I assure you that's the extent of my self-exultation.) The group did throw in some dub-step inspired changes to "Crazy" that pretty much hit me like a ton of bricks mid-show, but I still got to throw in my "HA-HA-HAs" so all was well that ended well.

I will say, I wish I had left to arrive in York a bit earlier in the day. I made great time traffic-wise and with about a half hour to spare before a pretty casual (especially for me) call time. With that said, I did want to make sure I got into York early to square away a couple of errands. My trip was, by my standards, pretty last minute, so I wanted to make sure to confirm with some various hanging and indeed sleeping arrangements. Basically, check in with the few cats banking on my arrival. I also wanted to make sure to drop off some "Horseplay" related material to Professor Mott before the hurricane of a weekend swept me away. Specifics of "Horseplay" are for a different post all together, if at all, as I feel that's the only bit of my writing that I get a little repetitive with, so mum's the word for now.

I'm sure most could relate that after spending enough time in a car, especially driving, you kind of zone out a bit mentally and suffer from something I would call "drive lag" after you get out, where you're physically out of the car, but not so much mentally. I was definitely suffering from this ailment, as nonexistent as it my be medically, but I thought little of it as I bounded towards Wolf Hall, prepped to drop off my script and such and just kind of rest up for a bit. Lo and and behold, though, two of the four people on main campus at the time were my good friends Justin Rivera and Renee. Obviously sounds like it was a negative to see them; nothing could be further from the truth. I just felt bad because I met their enthusiasm and embraces without really being able to string words together cleanly. A pleasure to see them both, I just kind of socially wasn't ready for it. Pretty laughable in hindsight. Got to clear the air a bit later that weekend, but I don't doubt I looked like a deer in the headlights and sounded Ozzy Osbourne with a New York accent for a bit there.

After the Rhapsody "gig" I got the chance to see "She Loves Me". Great all around. Always cool to see friends and other performers in their element. Some real talent on the stage and I'm sometimes in awe that these people are in my life.

*That last bit is a little syrupy, even for me, and I don't mean to be all that sentimental about it, but the bottom line is that I'm friends with some talented people, and that's, like, really cool. I definitely think the above has over romanticized my thoughts a bit. It's not like a weep openly every time Jay strums a guitar chord, Steve harmonizes to the radio, Joe Mayes lays out a sick bass vocal solo, Allison draws a picture, and Sean Taylor and Grebe talk about something financial that I succeed in following for about five minutes.  Essentially, I just don't want to take for granted the talent and skills of the people around me. It's a proud to be among them kind of thing.

After the show I met up with Steve, Doug, Angela, and many others and really got the alumni festivities started. The blow by blow there would bore you, but I was getting as much of a kick out of catching up with just casual familiar faces as I was old friends. What I mean to say is, it was cool to run into people I wouldn't consider buds of mine and just kind of saying "Hey, you're that person I used to see all over campus, but never said two words to... You noticed me? I noticed you, too!... How's it going?....Cool, have a nice life and/or see you next year!" Really interesting vibe on top of catching up with dear friends. More to the night than that, including catching up with the newly-svelte DeJesus and Dunn, Rita driving over to say hello, and finding out Kyle Minogue is living in our old Jackson house, but tough to put all that in a sensical and concise paragraph. Great times.

As if the weekend weren't already ripe with memories, Saturday morning saw the beginning of a story-ful day as Melissa, Doug, Rita, Steve and I went to grab some breakfast. Now, as you'd expect, a great deal of reminicing was occurring and, not surprisingly, Jamin's wedding came up. I, thinking with my stomach as I often do, casually brought up that the chicken fingers at their wedding were genuinely some of the best I've had in my life. Obviously they paled in comparison to the bride and groom, sanctity of the day, etc. etc., but it would a total lie if I said the chicken wasn't one of the top five memories of that day for me. Moose, if you're reading this, love you guys.

Steve then said something to the effect of "Oh, I wouldn't know, I was eating broccoli the whole time. I asked why and Steve replied, "I haven't eaten meat since August." Here's where it gets interesting.

Up until that point, the conversation had been very jovial, light and, dare I say, bubbly. Steve's meat claim was by no means rude, pointed, or condescending at all, but it was said very seriously and matter-of-factly. It ran in contrast to the rest of the table talk and was therefore very punctuated. That morning, Steve ordered a "Western Omelette"  that the menu clearly stated had ham in it. As I looked down at the omelette  now half eaten, I noticed these pretty large pink chunks of ham in it that couldn't be mistaken for onions if you squinted. At that point became so confused I felt as though I was listening to Sean Taylor and Grebe talk about financial stats. Can't emphasize enough how overwhelmed and lost I was in that moment. Steve was flagrantly eating meat and I found it impossible to believe he wasn't aware of it.
Surely he read it on the menu.
Surely he sees the giant pink chunks in his breakfast.
Surely he at the very least tastes the ham as he's chewing it.

Surely he sees the door coming up. (Last one not relevant)

I really thought Steve was just kind of making a joke that I didn't quite get. A feeling to which I can certainly relate and sympathize. My brain was left with a "fight or flight" moment to gently call him out and get to the bottom of the statement, or ignore the statement entirely and keep eating. I opted for the latter and Steve and I both resumed eating. About three minutes later, Steve realized that he'd accidentally soiled his voluntary vegetarian lifestyle and was no longer meat free since August. He was pretty floored and the table was similarly flumouxed by how he got three-quarters through a ham-filled omelette. I think that cloud of confusion was the only that kept me from busting up at the situation. Not trying to be too hard on Steve. Lord knows he's seen me be pretty boneheaded. I think moments like that just serve to remind us both how important we are to each other. Tomorrow is a new day and the start of a new streak. I will say, ten years from now, when you ask me to describe my first alumni weekend, this will be likely the one story I remember off the top of my head. Truly a golden moment.

After breakfast, I wanted to make sure to set aside a good chunk of my day to basketball. I turned down a couple of plans specifically to make sure I had plenty of time to get a good run in with all the students and what have you. The Grumbacher has never really had the reputation for being too packed on a weekend day, but for some reason I thought alumni weekend would be the exception to that rule. Unfortunately, I found that some things never change as I wound up shooting around... a lot... and eventually playing some "21" equivalent that took forever to finish, and finally some twos with Le Von (no disrespect, not sure if that's how he spells it) and a couple of his friends. That was a lot of fun and certainly better than nothing. They were good dudes. On a personal note, my chest was incredibly tight from a Thursday workout. I think the day in the car on Friday didn't let me properly stretch it out and bottom line my chest was tight as a snare drum on Saturday and my first few shots were about three feet short. I held my own, though, to say the least, and actually wound up winning I think all but one game I played, but I didn't really loosen up until it was about time to go. Couldn't help but think if I was shooting this well feeling awful, how well I could have played if I were feeling up to snuff. Oh well, just pick up games anyway and a little petulant on my part, but in the interest of full candor, it was nagging on my mind.

The guys I played with happened to be black and my good friend and Grumbacher mainstay, Rachel, happened to see some of the game. Later on that night, I met up with Rachel at the bar and as Le Von passed by he was nice enough to mention how cool it was to play with me etc. Rachel and he then proceeded to talk about how this skinny white dude walked into the gym and pretty much showed them up. They were both exaggerating a bit (not that skinny) about how I showed them up. I played well, but didn't dominate or anything. Anyway, my point being, I was called "skinny" and "white" about 15 times in 30 seconds, but it was hard to be offended because they were being so complementary. Good laughs there great to see both Rachel and Le Von again.

Prior to the bar, I went on a bit of a bar crawl with Dunn and Big Phil. Great time and featured some great live music at the White Rose. Could be in my head, but York College seems much more open to planning things with a pretty buzzing surrounding community than they were when I was a student. That bodes well for those businesses and the college crowd and enrollment if that teamwork continues. In a couple years, hopefully there will be more of a weekend crowd to  play ball with indirectly is what I'm saying.

Hard to segue into this, so I'm just going to have to apologize for the short tangent. I think due to the West Coast schedule and my lack of a smart phone, I gave about five people inaccurate Orioles scores and stats. I was seeing highlights from the night before and thinking the game was live. It was really a mess. My bad on that. Idiot move. Steve should have fun with that one.

Great to be back at YCP with such great friends. I look forward to my next visit.

Song of the Day: "I Should Go"- Good Old War
Jazz Song of the Day: "Whither Must I Wander"-Dave Douglas