5 May 2005
"Steve, shut the f__k up!"
On one hand, Chuck was totally justified to use such sharp words -- Steve should not be allowed to get away with this. On the other hand, though, you should never speak to a friend like that, your strong words being delivered with such sincerity.
I can't remember what Steve was singing, because I didn't even know at the time. Unlike him, my social circle for the last four months extended beyond my sister's kids, and my channel surfing reached higher than 7 and 11, or whatever channels PBS is on in the Washington D.C area. Even if I did know the words to silly kid's songs, I knew better than to sing them in a bathroom at an acoustic-enhanced high volume while dropping a deuce in the morning at a Lorraine, Ohio, Motel 6 while my jet-lagged friends were catching up on lost sleep in a time zone they were unaccustomed to. Especially Chuck. While Huggins and I arrived Tuesday night, Chuck's journey eastward was an all-night flight that didn't deliver him to us until Wednesday morning at about the exact time Huggins and I were waking up.
Wednesday didn't allow for a lot of rest time, either. We started by seeing the sights of the Nation's Capital, went to an Orioles game in Baltimore, and drove for hours until we ended up just outside of Cleveland.
"Chuck, be nice. Apologize to him," I said (nasally, if I remember correctly). Turns out, I'm big on friendliness when I am hardly awake. (Evidence has shown that I don't always have my wits about me when I am half-asleep)
It has been four years, but I remember Chuck mumbling some sort of apology or subtly showing some sort of remorse.
When I woke up an hour or so later, Steve was gone. I looked out the second floor hotel window, and his Toyota Corolla (silver) was gone. I was worried that Chuck's F-blast made him sad and he went on without us. In all the years I had known him, Steve was never ever the sensitive type, but maybe four months on the uptight east coast had made a hard man humble. Panic never set in, though, as I figured Steve would at least call, Chuck could apologize and Steve would come back. It would make things uncomfortable for the next four days, but at least we'd have a ride back to Utah.
Steve came back soon after we awoke and his feelings weren't at all hurt. I was happy to learn that the little guy still wasn't fragile. "I just went to Dunkin' Donuts and drove around by the lake," he said. I was as angry at him for not picking up doughnuts for the rest of us as Chuck was for him singing Schoolhouse Rock or whatever while we were sleeping. I communicated my anger much more maturely than Chuck -- through passive-aggressiveness, of course -- and we ended up going back to Dunkin' Donuts, where I discovered one of my mouth's favorite donuts of all-time. I can't remember all of the specifics, but it was glazed with a little bit of chocolate frosting and cream filling in the hole.
After devouring our doughnuts, we got back on the road and headed towards Detroit to see the Tigers play the Red Sox. Word on the street is things in Detroit are only getting worse, but it was weird to park in an area of almost-sky scrapers that were abandoned except for the squirrels running around in the windows.
Comerica Park (new Tiger Stadium) was as beautiful as the streets surrounding it were run-down. If not for the history and feel of Wrigley Field, Comerica would have been the best stadium we visited. The boringness of the game equaled the amount of beauty of the ballpark and the amount of barrenness of the nearby streets. Three things made the game worth it: 1) Getting the shirt to the right by filling out a credit card application on which I used Steve's address and phone number. 2) Teaming up with the fellows we hated who were sitting in the row behind us to make fun of a douchebag who showed up with a babe. ("He's as straight as a circle," were words that became the key one of them used to enter into the doors of Steve and I's hearts). 3) A fire breaking out in one of the tall buildings that were beyond the right field bleachers. The fire itself was interesting, but none of the local fans thinking it was a big deal made it hilarious. These three things and the incredible stadium were more than enough to make the Tigers-Red Sox game more than worth our time.
The rest of the day was ours, we just had to eventually end up in Chicago. Detroit is pretty close to Canada, so we decided to pay our neighbors to the north a visit. Problem is, we missed the exit ramp. We almost took a turn-off that would have taken us to an Indian Reservation. Huggins or Chuck wondered aloud, "Does that take us to Canada or an Indian Reservation?"
"I defy you to tell me the difference," I said. The crowd went wild, and the line would become my one good quip from the cross-country excursion.
So, Canada was a no-go. A few hours and an enormous traffic jam later, we found ourselves in Ann Arbor. We quickly found the University of Michigan's football field, aptly named The Big House. Due to construction on the bleachers, the entire stadium was lined with a fence. Huggins, Chuck and I climbed over the fences and entered the empty stadium, ignoring the signs that implied we weren't welcome on the premises. We ran down the stairs and onto the field, where we posed for pictures and played a few minutes of fake football. Three years and four months before Utah did it, we owned the Big House. In a text message to me today, Steve admitted that every time he sees Michigan play on television, he regrets not coming in with us.
Notre Dame was next on our hit list. It took awhile, but we ended up in South Bend, Indiana. ND's football stadium was locked up, so we couldn't repeat our Big House photo-ops, but we did spend a few hours walking around the stadium, seeing Touchdown Jesus, and pretending to be football recruits whenever students would walk by. "I could really see myself playing here," one of us would say in the midst of a passer-by.
The campus of Notre Dame is where Huggins' obsession with buildings looking like those in the movie "Skulls" got way out of control. It all started with a library in Washington D.C. and continued on with every single old building we saw. "That looks like that movie 'Skulls'," Huggins kept saying. (The next night, as we were going to sleep in Normal, Illinois, Huggins' fixation with 'Skulls' was brought up, and Chuck said, "At first, we blew it off, but then were were like, "What the hell?" -- maybe you either had to be there or completely exhausted, but we laughed for at least 20 straight minutes [probably even more] at this line. Literally -- and I mean "literally")
Our goal of finding a spot to eat on the campus of Notre Dame yielded nothing but a few short conversations with the Fighting Irish co-eds, so we headed back towards the highway, stopping at a Popeye's for some fried chicken and biscuits. We were the last customers allowed in the store, as they were closing the lobby for the night. After a few minutes of tension, a worker or one of us cracked a joke that everyone laughed at, and the rest of the wait was as pleasant as it can be for starving adventurers and workers who have to stay late to make a meal for those adventurers. Good will only goes so far, though, and they made us eat our food outside when it was done being cooked, er, fried.
We finally made it to Chicago where we spent another action-packed, joke-filled day, that would have been at the top of most Americans' Best Day Of The Year list, but for us it was merely a come-down from the greatness we experienced the day before. Four years has caused me to forget a lot of the jokes that made the day as great as it was, but I'm fairly certain that I remembered and shared the best of them. Trust me, this day was incredible.
We all later found love, and some have created kids, but at that point, and a few months or years (depending on which one of us is being referenced), Cinco de Mayo 2005 was probably the best day of our lives, and it all started with Chuck telling Steve to shut the f__k up, which to this day is still the best F-word moment of my life.