Monday, October 01, 2012

Countdown to Halloween

I've recently been feeling the urge to indulge in some blogging again, and thanks to a post by Bully earlier today, I found some inspiration:  The Countdown to Halloween.  So, for the month of October, I plan to post something Halloweenish every day.

Just, y'know, probably not here.

Oh, I'll try to come up with as much as I can to post here at the mothership, but since most of my Halloweeny thoughts will be more pop culture centered, I'll be doing the heavy lifting over on the spin-off blogs.  Over on Categorically Thinking, I'll be revisiting my Enjoyment Modifier ideas by exploring my thoughts on various Horror sub-genres and tropes, as well as compiling lists of my favorite (and least favorite) horror themed media.   Meanwhile, The Loquacious Librarian and the Reviews of Doom will be featuring a horror-themed review each day.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Well, At Least I Know the Brakes Work . . .

While the recent increase in productivity at the Peterbilt plant next to my office is doubtless good for the economy, it's not so great for the traffic around the area.

As I was heading to lunch today, I noticed a semi truck that had started to exit the plant, only to stop barely out of the gate so that the driver could do . . . something.  Not quite sure what.  But whatever it was required him to get out of the cab of the truck.  As I was getting close to the entrance, he was climbing back into the cab, closing the door, staring the engine -- and pulling right out into the road without ever bothering to glance my way. It was at this point that my car's brakes got quite a work-out, and I skidded to a stop a couple of feet away from the side of his cab.

I was, of course, a bit perturbed.  I mean, yes, I have come to expect that most cars and trucks exiting Peterbilt are in a constant state of denial that anything exists down the road past their entrance, and so am usually pretty cautious as I drive past if i see someone at the gate.  But, silly me, I assumed that because this man was actually standing outside of his truck as I was driving up he might have noticed me.

Guess I know better now.

At some point during my skid, the driver had realized I was there and had stopped the truck; as he glanced through his window at the air turning blue around me, he hastily began to gesture at me, trying to convey . . . something.  I'm afraid I'm not well versed on Careless Truck Driver Sign Language.  Anyway, he backed up enough that I could drive past, and as I pulled onto the main road, something dawned on me:  this was the third semi in as many days to leave me with an incredibly negative impression -- although this was the first to move from " taking up both lanes roadhogging" to "tire-skidding danger" -- and not a single one of them had a "How's My Driving?" sticker on their back.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Terms of Not-So-Much-Endearment

Recently I've realized that I have a standard set of epithets I use for my best friends when they provoke me* into insulting them; and while a few of the epithets might get spread around, I tend to group specific terms with specific people.  For example, Flunky is, of course, "jackass";  Cap'n Shack-Fu generally elicits a "punk," occasionally upgraded to "Punky Brewster"; The Lovable PigPen is usually "ginger bastage," although I'll sometimes throw a "soulless" in there if he's been particularly PigPen-ish; and TopGun is lucky enough to get three levels: "jerk", followed by "jerk-face", and, last but not least, the compound epithet reflected in the following text message exchange** from last week which is the actual impetus for this post:

Me:  Can now go home and goof off. . .or maybe work out. . .nah, definitely goof off.
Him:  Aren't your workouts generally the same as goofing off? BURN!
Me:  Dear jerk-faced doo-doo head:  Why are you such a jerk-faced doo-doo head?  Sincerely, a non-jerk-faced, non-doo-doo dead.
Him:  Dear non-jerk-faced doo-doo head . . . as I am a jerk-faced doo-doo head . . . it is difficult for me to examine the reasons why I am this way.  Can a tiger tell us why they have stripes . . .or the great white tell us why they like to eat surfers . . .no. they cannot . . . and so, neither can I. It is just my nature . . .sincerely, jerk-faced doo-doo head
Me:  . . .I'll say this . . . you sure are an eloquent jerk-faced doo-doo head.

As for Li'l Random, he doesn't get a special nickname for those provoking moments; instead, I just call him "Li'l Brother" like always, except I load my voice with gallons of disappointment -- surprisingly effective.

*Yes, it's all their fault, I'm totally innocent, I swear.
**For the record, all ellipses in the quoted text are actual ellipses from our messages, and not signs of me editing things out.


Monday, November 15, 2010

The Groomsman Chronicles, TopGun Ed. Epilogue: Fragmented Follow-up

As usually happens with this blog post series, there were a handful of events which I find worth mentioning, but which I either forgot about when doing the initial posts, or which didn't really fit into the other posts' narrative structure easily.  Hence, the following bullets of additional material.

  • The soundtrack for the bulk of our journey was XM Radio's "90s on 9" channel, which brought up all sorts of nostalgic memories.  "Man, I remember this song from Freshman year of college," I would say; "I remember this song from Freshman year of jr. high," Shack-Fu would reply; "I think I must have been in elementary when this came out," his whipper-snapper fiance would chime in; "Young punks," old man me would grumble.

  • Every once in a while some song on the radio would engage Shack and I enough that we would start to sing along loudly, occasionally making up hand gestures to go along with the lyrics; most every time this would happen, I would catch a glimpse of his fiance in the back seat, trying to nonchalantly film us with her cell phone.  We later informed TopGun that our vehicle was The Party Truck.

  • While the groomsman and bridesmaids were waiting to make our entrance during the ceremony, conversation led to Special Agent Shack-Fu revealing that he was packing heat underneath his tux, a revelation that caused on bridesmaid to have a minor freak out that one of the groomsman had a concealed weapon, and the Maid of Honor to complain that it wasn't fair, if Shack-Fu got to go in strapped, why couldn't she?

  • When we had eaten lunch at Cracker Barrel on the way up to CO, Shack-Fu and his honey had split a country fried steak.  At one point The Future Mrs. Shack-Fu was so intent on trying to cut into the steak that she didn't realize that she was pushing the plate towards the edge . . . and even after she had dumped the plate into Shack's lap she kept on trying to cut into it for a few more seconds.  Let's just blame that on sleep deprivation, shall we?

  • On the day of the wedding, we went to lunch at a local place called "Once Upon a Sandwich," thinking that it was going to be a little sandwich shop.  But when we walked in, it appeared to be more of a diner setting.  When we asked the lady behind the counter if we should just find a place to sit her reply was a very sarcastic, "Yeah; this is a restaurant, after all."  To which I wanted to reply "Gee, thanks for that extremely helpful and not at all condescending response; I'm sure that won't be affecting your tip at all."

  • During the rehearsal dinner, Li'l Champ prompted us to ask his young cousin how old she was.  When we did, she very casually flashed us three fingers; I was amused at her lackadaisical motion, almost a "Yeah, I'm three years old, no big whoop" sort of thing, but then her mom informed us of the real gag -- she was actually two years old, but had at one point been told that she could have gum until she was three, and thus has been lying about her age ever since in an effort to beat the system.  The fact that she is also remarkably adorable -- almost Flunky Spawn levels of adorable -- means that she is going to be a danger to herself and others when she gets older.

  • Although my joking motto to TopGun for the last few months any time he asked me for a favor was "A Best Man's work is never done!" there were a couple of traditional Best Man duties I did not fulfill.  The first was throwing of the bachelor party, due to TopGun specifically telling me he didn't want one.  I told him that was too bad, because I would have thrown him the most chaste, virginal, sober Bachelor Party of all time -- just hour after hour of the groomsman watching cartoons and drinking chocolate milk.  His response?  "Well, I do like chocolate milk . . ." The other Best Man duty I fell short on was the decorating of the newlyweds' vehicle; this one I have no excuse for other than that it honestly did not even cross my mind until the reception was drawing to a close and I got asked about it by both the groom's sister and the bride's brother.

  • I had forgotten just how much I loathed the rental shoes that usually accompany tuxedos; by the end of the wedding day I was pretty sure my feet were about to fall off.  Am extremely grateful that neither Li'l Random nor Shack-Fu will be requiring tuxes for their groomsman.

  • I made the decision not to pester TopGun for a few days after the wedding, which was difficult -- annoying TopGun is one of my favorite hobbies -- but on Wednesday I felt compelled to send the following text message:  "We interrupt our newlywed-friendly radio silence to bring you this news flash: when it's quiet, I find myself still practicing that damn speech.  I'm cursed!  We now return you to your previously scheduled marital bliss, already in progress."  He, of course, laughed at my misery.

  • I broke my non-pestering rule again this past weekend when I sent TopGun a text about being torn between trash-talking him about that evening's OSU/Texas game and keeping quiet because I didn't want to jinx my team's chances against his.  He replied that he hadn't been watching any football so far that day.  My response:  "No football?  Two weeks in a row?  It's true, marriage *does* change you"

  • Just got a text from Shack-Fu -- turns out the indicator light was just the result of a faulty wire and not a major issue.  So, good that it was as easy fix; not so good that they had to waste extra travel time for something that probably could have waited until they were back in Tulsa.  Still, better safe than sorry, especially where The Power of the Jinx is involved.


The Groomsman Chronicles, TopGun Ed., pt.4: Of Journeys and Jinxes

Have to say, 5 AM came way too early the morning after the wedding, but since both Cap'n Shack-Fu and his honey had to be back at work in Tulsa the next day, they were gung-ho to get going so that they didn't get home too terribly late.  I, on the other hand, had been able to take Monday off as well, so I was planning on staying at Shack's parents' place again and heading back to Denton the next morning.

As is usually the case on these extended road trips, time appeared to be going much slower on the way back then it did on the way up due to all of us being exhausted. Really the most excitement we had on our way to Pampa was early in our drive when a deer bounded across the road right in front of us; we were all pretty awake for a while after that. But other than that, a pretty uneventful drive.

As we drew closer to Pampa, I started to question my earlier decision to split the drive up over two days.  Yes, I knew I'd be struggling to stay awake due to exhaustion, and that I'd be driving at night, which I tend to avoid if possible due to less than stellar night vision, but the allure of being able to sleep in my own bed and just sleep in as much as possible the next day was overpowering.  Once I'd made the decision, I asked Shack-Fu for advice on what route to take home since my GPS had taken me on a route that added an hour onto my drive time on the way up there; turns out my GPS adds an insane amount of time onto its travel estimates when your route takes you through towns so that what is in reality a 4 hour drive, it projects as a 10 hour drive. In order to navigate by the quicker route, I had to trick the GPS by programming it in stages -- first to Clarendon, then to Decatur, and finally to Denton. 

As we were about two miles away from Shack-Fu's parents' place, my best bud announced "After this weekend, no more driving anywhere for two months!" No sooner had he made this pronouncement then we reached his parents' house, quickly transferred our stuff from his mom's Suburban into our respective vehicles, and went our separate ways.  After I'd been on the road for about an hour I got a call from Shack-Fu wanting to see if I had found my way on the new route all right or if I had run into any problems.  When I assured him everything was going fine, he said he was glad to hear it because his journey hadn't been as smooth:  no sooner had they pulled out of his parents' driveway then some nice indicator lights lit up.  Long story short, they had to drop the car off at a mechanic, load their stuff back into the Suburban, drive it back to Tulsa, and then spend part of their upcoming weekend driving back to Pampa to pick the car up.

"You do realize you jinxed yourself when you said no more driving earlier, right?" I asked, kind, helpful soul that I am; he readily agreed that he should know better by this point in his life.

I spent the bulk of my 4 1/2 hour drive to Denton on the phone with my parents, trusting in their input to help me stay awake as the miles piled on and on.  Finally, a little before 8:30 I crossed into the city limits of Denton.  At that moment, I got an incoming call from Shack-Fu, who was checking up on me again.  I told him I was less than five miles from home, and asked how their trip was going. 

"We've still got about another hour to go" he answered, "but so far it's going really good" This response, of course, prompted his fiance to yell at him for potentially jinxing them yet again. "Um, oh, dang, I mean, um, it's awful, totally awful, my drive back from Quantico wasn't this bad and it was twice as long and I was by myself.  Just horrible."

I assured him that I was positive that last little bit improvised griping had surely staved off his jinxing abilities.

After that I bid him good luck on the rest of his journey, and within a few minutes I was at home, ready to vegetate, unwind, and collapse, content in the knowledge that the upcoming iterations of The Groomsman Chronicles will not require day long car trips . . . although the next one will require some air-fare.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Groomsman Chronicles, TopGun Ed., pt.3: The Big Day

After a couple of days of never-ending car rides and very little sleep, I was finally able to catch up on my rest a bit, despite the six slices of pizza I'd had at the rehearsal dinner the night before conspiring against me in the form of a 4 AM heartburn attack.  Following our complimentary continental breakfast, Cap'n Shack-Fu and his honey decided to do a quick run out to nearby Mesa Verde to do some touristy stuff before heading to the church that afternoon, but I declined to join them because (a) I hadn't really brought appropriate clothing for trail walking (b) I figured the couple could use a little alone time with each other that didn't revolve around being cooped up in a car, and (c) I hadn't practiced or worked on my speech at all the previous day and I wanted to get it finalized.  During the few hours I was alone, I made some pretty significant edits and re-writes to tighten it up to right at 6 minutes running time.* By the time the others returned from their touristy activities I had settled on my final draft and tried to put it out of my mind until time for the reception.

After a quick bite to eat, we got ready and headed to the church for the series of pre-wedding photos.  Although we were a few minutes past the time we had been told to get there, we still wound up beating both the bride and groom.  When TopGun got there, he showed us that there had been a mix-up with Li'l Champ's tux -- apparently, they got the measurements of his shirt and jacket reveresed, so the shirtsleeves were so long they had to be shoved up into the jacket, which itself had to be left unbuttoned just so Li'l Champ could breathe. 

Quite the dashing pair, no?

We also discovered that TopGun's uncle did not have a silk pocket square like the rest of us, so we scrapped that from our ensemble, which actually worked out well for me, since Shack-Fu came up with the idea of using my pocket square as a makeshift retrieval device for the wedding rings.

Yes, that's right:  they entrusted me with the rings.  No, I don't know what they were smoking either.**

Anyway, once we had our wardrobes straightened out, it was picture time, both serious

Father of the Bride called the groomsman "Three Horseman of the Apocalypse" -- I am obviously not Famine.

and not so serious

TopGun: Ladies Man Extraordinaire
Move over, Charlie's Angels, there's a new team in town

"Hey, did I mention I'm down to 152 lbs now? I did?  Just wanted to make sure you all knew that."

And then the bride was sent upstairs to wait out of sight, where I'm sure she was nervously fretting about the upcoming nuptials, pacing back and forth, chewing on her nails . . .

Then again, maybe not . . .

And before you knew it, it was time for the ceremony itself.  Despite a couple of technical glitches at the beginning (sounds system problems during slide show, door almost swinging shut on bride), once the bride and her father started walking down the aisle

everything went wonderfully, from the vows

to the lighting of the Unity candle

So, uh, you come here often?

to the big kiss

to the introduction of the newly minted Mr. and Mrs. TopGun

the important stuff went off without a hitch.***

After that it was time for all the post-wedding pics with the bride and groom together

Gotta love Li'l Champ's jaunty GQ solution to his shrunken jacket

followed by the signing of the marriage license

She wasn't smiling as much a few seconds later when TopGun pretended to rip it up . . .

which the Maid of Honor and I witnessed (and heartily endorsed)

After which it was reception time. After everyone had had a chance to eat I delivered the infamous toast, the cake was cut, and then the DJ started up the music for the happy couple's first dance.
TopGun just looks overjoyed to be dancing in front of a crowd . . .

 . . .but at least he has something pretty to look at to take his mind off it.
After that there was the father/daughter dance, followed by a few dollar dances, where people could dance with either the bride or groom by paying them a dollar. They tried to get Li'l Champ out to dance with the bride and his grandma, but he balked, using the "I'm shy!" defense. As I went onto the dance floor myself, I paused to inform him that I was going to make it my duty to make sure he danced at least once before the night was through.  A few minutes later, I saw him out on the dance floor

When he came back to the table afterward, he complained to his dad "Todd made me dance with my new cousin!" like it was the most painful experience of his young life . . . after that he was on the dance floor non-stop until time for him to leave.

I didn't do much dancing on the whole, mostly because the bulk of the songs played were country, and mostly because the couple of fast songs I did dance to almost killed me -- stupid altitude!**** But before I collapsed from a coughing fit -- CONGA LINE!

If Shack-Fu's at a reception, there will be a Conga Line.  Bank on it.
Eventually, it was time for the newlyweds to head off to their honeymoon suite, so they were sent through a gauntlet of well-wishers wielding air horns

Is it just me, or is Shack-Fu's expression just a tad manic here?

After sending the happy couple on their way with only a smidgen of hearing loss, we helped clean up and then headed back to the hotel to try to catch a few hours of sleep before getting up waaaaaaaaay too early to head back home the next morning -- after I got my constant body-wracking coughs under control that is.

Stupid altitude.

*Well, 6 minutes while practicing -- no telling how long the actual speech lasted, as I was probably going a mile a minute then.
**When the bride handed her engagement ring over, she admonished me "Don't lose it!" then quickly said "Just kidding."  My reply? "Oh, so I can lose it then?  Phew, that's a relief!"  I then got a preview of her death-glare.
***Except, y'know, technically they did get "hitch"ed . .
****Yes, it was all the altitude's fault, and had nothing to do with the fact I haven't worked out in months . . . yeah, that's the ticket . . .


Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Groomsman Chronicles, TopGun Ed., pt.2: On the Road to Rehearsal

The day before TopGun's wedding, Cap'n Shack-Fu, his fiance, and I got up around 5:30 AM so we could get on the road and make it to CO in time to check into our hotel and get freshened up before the rehearsal that evening.  None of us had slept all that well, but we plodded zed-word-like to Shack's mom's Suburban, loaded up our stuff, and hit the road with Shack behind the wheel, me riding shotgun, and Future Mrs. Shack-Fu stretched out in the back seat trying to catch up on sleep -- which turned out to be a bit of a futile effort as Shack and I started coming to life and visiting, getting progressively louder as the miles wore on.  I noticed her occasionally rising up to give us groggy withering glances, but I did not notice the time that a sudden burst of noise from the front prompted her to attempt to slap Shack-Fu upside the head to quiet him down -- "attempt"' being the operative word, as her sleepy strike missed him so completely that we weren't even aware of her foiled attack until she told on herself later.

Not too far into the drive I got a text from TopGun wanting to see if we had hit the road yet.  My response; "why, is there somewhere we're supposed to be today?"  He replied "Only if you value your life."  After I gave him our estimate of when we would be hitting town that afternoon, he realized that we weren't too far ahead of him on the road, so we made plans to meet up at Clines Corners and caravan from there with TopGun leading the way, since he also informed us that the route we had planned to take was plagued with enough road construction to add a couple of hours onto our drive.

Before heading on to CO, however, we had to make a stop in Albuquerque* so TopGun could pick up his sister and niece at the airport, after which we stopped for lunch at a local Cracker Barrel which seemed like it might put us behind schedule, but Shack-Fu and I decided if we wound up getting to the rehearsal late we would show solidarity , and blame it all on TopGun.  "We were just going to grab a quick bite to eat while driving, but noooooooo, TopGun had to have his Double Meat Breakfast!"  Secure in the knowledge that we now had a convenient scapegoat, we soon hit the road yet again.

Several hours later we arrived in CO; since TopGun still had to go pick up Li'l Champ for the rehearsal, Shack, his honey, and I were able to go check into the hotel, get freshened up, and still beat TopGun to the church.  Thankfully, I had met the bride-to-be a couple of times before so there was at least one familiar face who could introduce us around.  But once TopGun showed up with The Coolest Kid in the World in tow, we were able to get started.

 Before starting the rehearsal in earnest, they played a slide show for us since none of the wedding party would be in the sanctuary when it played before the wedding the next day. The slide show consisted first of pictures of TopGun, then of his fiance, and then of the both of them together.  Combined with the little speech TopGun gave before starting it about how thankful they were to have all of us there it was actually pretty touching, and so I responded to getting a little emotional as you might expect:  by mocking TopGun as an exhibitionist for having multiple pictures of himself running around shirtless at various ages.

Hey, you express emotions your way and I'll express them in mine, okay?

For the most part the actual rehearsal was uneventful, although there were a few interesting moments; the most interesting for me involved my interactions with Li'l Champ.  To start off, Li'l Champ's role in the ceremony wasn't to be ring bearer, or anything as pedestrian as that.  No, while I may have been Best Man, Li'l Champ was The Best Best Man, and therefore stood up front next to his dad while the rest of the wedding party entered.

and then moved up to stand right in front of me after the bride's father gave her away.

As you might suspect after my last post, having Li'l Champ and I in such close proximity to each other for extended periods of time while decisions well above our pay grade were being discussed in depth was a recipe for, if not disaster, than at least some minor physical altercations. To be honest, I'm not sure which of us started picking on the other first; all I am sure of is that it was quickly apparent that in the many months since I had last seen him, Li'l Champ had upgraded me from "grappling partner" to "striking partner."

Translation:  I was the recipient of multiple punches to the gut from Li'l Champ's tiny little fists.  Once the hands were restrained, then I was treated to mini-head butts to the gut and some mule kicks to the shins.  Surprisingly, our little struggles didn't appear to draw any attention from most of the wedding party who were too busy discussing the order of the vows or how best to light the Unity candle.  Afterwards, when I told TopGun his son was picking on me, his response was to tell Li'l Champ, "Now, no beating up Todd during the wedding tomorrow," to which Li'l Champ replied "I know," in that resigned tone which comes so naturally to the little ones.

 Not too long after that as we were heading towards the rehearsal dinner, Li'l Champ got over his initial shyness towards Shack-Fu and decided to initiate him into the gut-punching club, only to fall victim to Shack's patented tickle attack which had Li'l Champ flat on his back, giggling hysterically and begging his dad for help.  TopGun, being a good dad, declined, using it as a teaching moment.  The lesson?  "Actions have consequences."

One other rehearsal tidbit:  when the first groomsman, TopGun's uncle, practiced walking in, he and high-fived TopGun and Li'l Champ.  Shack-Fu in turn did one of those finger-wiggling things, and I decided to go with the tried and true fist-bump

Everyone enjoyed the impromptu greetings so much that they requested we keep them for the actual wedding.

For the rehearsal dinner we just had some pizza from a local pizza place.  TopGun and I both had six slices apiece, but the difference is that for him that was the first pizza he'd had in 6 months -- for me it was just another Friday night.

After the rehearsal everyone was invited over to the bride's place to hang out, but unfortunately the part of me that wanted to hang out and get to know the bride and her family more was shouted down by the part of me that was suffering from next to no sleep and elevation changes -- a part that manifested as a blinding headache by the time we reached the hotel**.  So I made my apologies to TopGun, handed over his and Li'l Champ's tuxedos which I'd carted from Texas, and headed back to the hotel to collapse so I could be well rested for the big day. 

*I kept asking TopGun if we could stop by a nice pawn shop while we were there so I could sell off these two really nice rings some dope had entrusted me with, but for some reason he wasn't too helpful. . .
**Although to be honest, that might have had something to do with the fact that I indulged in one last pestering of Li'l Champ before we left, and then sprinted away as he chased, I fact I regretted instatly -- think I was still winded the next day.


Friday, November 12, 2010

And in This Corner . . . Li'l Champ!

As I was preparing to write the next installment of "The Groomsman Chronicles," it dawned on me that to put certain things into context, I should probably talk a bit about one of the key players who hasn't gotten much coverage here at CoIM:  TopGun's son Li'l Champ, a.k.a. The Coolest Kid in the World*.

I met Li'l Champ last year when he came down to stay with his dad for about a month over his summer break.  He was really shy when TopGun first introduced him to me -- wouldn't say hi or shake my hand or anything.  Think that shyness last a whole, oh, hour, hour and a half tops before we were fast friends. And, as with most of my friends, the majority of our interactions consisted of picking on one another**.

The best thing about Li'l Champ's visit was the floor show I got to watch daily as the then-6-year-old wrestler and budding MMA enthusiast would challenge his dad to a match; and then, after TopGun would get tired of rolling around, Li'l Champ would then saunter up to me and whisper "Hey, Todd . . . wanna fight?" And then, when both his dad and I were through letting him beat up on us for the evening, he would grab one of the pillows off of TopGun's bed and practice his ground-and-pound on it.

But the best part of it wasn't just watching this scrappy little kid picking fights with guys 3 or 4 times his size; no, the best part was that every single match was a gigantic production narrated constantly by the pint-sized ringmaster. 

"Okay, now, dad, you and I have to go out of the room and do our entrances . . . and now, here he is, ladies and gentleman, the one the only . . .GSP! [mimics crowd noise and runs around the room before coming to stand before me]. Okay, Todd, you're my coach, give me a pep talk . . . DAD!  It's your turn to come in! No, Dad, you have to run around the ring! Okay, Todd, now you're the ref, you have to say 'Let's fight!' . . . say it!"

The running monologue would die down slightly while he was actually wrestling around with us, but not a lot, as he would often interject instructions to make our actions fit the narrative in his head.  "Okay, then dad, you hit me in the jaw -- not really, stop it! -- and it rocks me, and I'm wobbly, and you try to take me down -- try to take me down, dad!  But I recover, and I knock you down instead . . . dad, go down!"  Needless to say, TopGun and I both indulged in quite a bit of contrary behavior to get Li'l Champ's goat; good times, good times.

Now, when Li'l Champ and I would be wrestling, it would be straight up grappling -- kid's got an impressive guillotine choke and arm bar, by the way -- but when it was him and his dad then Li'l Champ would pull out all the stops and fists and legs would go a-flying.  And although TopGun did have me stand still and let Li'l Champ demonstrate his pretty impressive leg kicks on me, during that first month he stayed at our place the little brawler never moved into striking territory with me.

That would eventually change.

All in all, I really enjoyed having Li'l Champ stay with us, and looked forward to his return trip for Thanksgiving and Spring Break -- although during the former he was directly responsible for me spending good money to go see Twilight: New Moon at the theater, and for that, I may never forgive him. Still, I have to say I was looking forward to getting to see the little punk again at the wedding -- little did I know that his tiny little fists now had my name written all of them . . . but that's a story for the next installment of The Groomsman Chronicles.

*For anyone out there saying "Wait, why isn't my kid The Coolest Kid in the World," well, all I can say is the day your kid gets a haircut to look like his hero Chuck Liddell and then manages to slap an arm bar on me, then we can talk about revising the ratings.
** I have to say, being an only child, I often take great delight in playing the role of "ornery uncle" to my friends' kids; I bet that info makes all of my own ornery uncles proud.


The Groomsman Chronicles, TopGun Ed., pt.1: A Best Man's Work is Never Done

As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend I drove up to CO with Cap'n Shack-Fu and his fiance to be a part of TopGun's wedding. But in order for me to meet up with Shack-Fu without either of us having to take an enormous detour to get to our respective home-towns, we instead planned on taking a minor detour to meet up at his parents' house in Pampa, TX, which was kinda-sorta on the way. My plan was to sleep in a little bit on Thursday, drive up to Pampa before it got too late, and wait for Shack and his honey to get there after he got off work and she got out of class.  Then we'd all catch a few Zs before getting up bright and early to start out on the approximately 10 hour drive up to the wedding site.

My plan received a minor hitch when I got a message from TopGun the previous evening asking if I could give him a ride to the airport because the one he'd set up had fallen through.  I accused him of making that up because he was obviously too lazy to make the drive up to Denton on Wednesday night to drop off his and Li'l Champ's tuxedos with me as previously planned; as usual, he side-stepped the accusation without officially denying it.  He's a wily one, that TopGun.

But despite my suspicions of chicanery, I responded as I had to pretty much every request TopGun had made of me for the past six months, whether it was wedding related or not:  "Of course I will, Champ.  Boy, a Best Man's work is never done, is it?"

So, instead of sleeping in as previously planned, I was up bright and early to make sure I'd gotten everything packed and ready to go, and headed over to Frisco to pick TopGun up and drive him over to Love Field, where he'd catch a plane to meet his mom, and would then ride up to CO with her.    After dropping him off, I headed back towards Denton, eventually sending the following text to TopGun after I passed by my apartment complex at precisely noon:  "On the road since 9AM and just now leaving Denton to head to Pampa.  The things I do for you, Champ"  He replied with "Lol . . . sorry man. Thanks for the ride . . ."  I told him no need to apologize, I was happy to do it, just knew that if I didn't bitch about it a little he'd start to think something was wrong with me.  His response: "I was getting worried . . ." Despite my needling him about the extra drive time, I was glad to get that last bit of one-on-one time before all of the wedding craziness began.

On the whole my drive to Pampa was uneventful; the only thing worth mentioning is that I made the mistake of trusting in my GPS to point me to the fastest route instead of doing any research myself beforehand, the end result of which was my drive taking an hour longer than it should have -- a fact I wouldn't confirm for myself until my drive home a few days later.  Thankfully, even with the extra hour's drive-time, I managed to make it to Pampa and find Shack-fu's parents' house with no problem around 5:30 -- which just left another 5-6 hours before Shack-fu was scheduled to arrive.  I spent most of that time visiting with Shack's mom -- his dad's out of the country for work right now -- and playing with their chihuahuas, Molly and Buster. 

When Shack-fu and The Future Mrs. Shack-Fu got there we visited briefly, but quickly headed off to get some sleep before our all-too-early departure time.  I was being put up in the office with a nice air mattress, and had just collapsed onto it when I heard something unexpected:  a music-box like rendition of "Greensleeves."  Thinking it was coming from the hallway outside, I ignored it -- big mistake.  Because it turned out to not only be coming from inside my room, it was music provided by a Christmas clock which was set to play the song every hour on the hour.  Needless to say, my sleep that evening was not exactly restful; the song would wake me up hourly, but I was always too groggy to get up and find the source of the music in the dark before it stopped playing. 

Not the worst start I've ever had to a road trip, but not exactly the best either.

So ends day one of my trek to TopGun's wedding.  Come back soon to find out about the long drive on day two; some serious synchronicity on the road; and how I ended up in handcuffs before the day was over.