Sunday, January 14, 2007

One Crazy Night, Pt.1: Shack-Fu to the Rescue!

The past few days have been shaping up into quite a Hanging Out With the Guys weekend, with anecdotes and inside jokes accumulating at an alarming rate, some of which I'll explore in a later post. However, nothing that happened Friday night or Saturday afternoon can compare with the adventure of going to see Night at the Museum.

"Adventure?" you may ask, confused at how a trip to see what is nominally a family-friendly movie could lead to adventure. Well, let just me say that any outing can become an adventure when you're riding with Shack-Fu during inclement weather.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It all started Saturday afternoon, after Peanut had dropped by our place to hang out. We had gone out to eat, and had headed back home in order to figure out how we should spend the rest of our evening. We soon got a phone call from Shack-Fu (who was returning from drill) inquiring into our plans for the night. It was soon decided that Count Shackula would stop by our place after he got to town, and we would then head to the 6:55 showing of NatM over at the Carmike Cinemark. The Anti-Cap'n got home from work shortly before Shack-Fu arrived, and was a bit nonplussed to discover that we were going out to see a movie he had already seen. I refused to give in to the guilt-trip, countering with the fact that none of us had seen it yet; he replied "Whose fault is that?" We replied "Well, yours, since you obviously didn't invite any of us when you went to see it." Conversations of this type continued until I finally started shoving the gang out the door since we were going to be cutting it pretty close, time-wise. So, Peanut, PigPen, Shack-Fu (still in uniform from drill) and I headed out while The A.C stayed at home, playing Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows on the X-Box, thus insuring that he would stay safe, warm, and out of harm's way, something which I was about to envy him. Since I didn't relish trying to clamber into the back of Peanut's truck yet again -- curse PigPen and your speedy calling of the shotgun seat! -- I opted to ride to the theater with Shack-Fu.

More fool I.

Now, the forecast had called for pretty much non-stop freezing rain all weekend, but that really hadn't been the case in Denton, so we didn't think much about heading out on the roads. Peanut took the lead, with Shack-Fu right behind. We had barely made any distance on I-35S when Shack-Fu noticed a pair of headlights spinning around on I-35N. It was an SUV which had hit a patch of black ice, sending it into a 360 which launched it off of the highway divider. This was followed by several other cars losing control trying to avoid the first incident. Shack-Fu, being a military man, FEMA worker, volunteer fire-fighter, and all-around gung-ho good guy, asked me to dial 911 while he took the first available exit and swung around onto I-35N to see if we* could help out in any way. It was around this time that I first began to fear for my life, as Shack-Fu drove aggressively towards the scene of the accident, while I witnessed a truck pulling a trailer nearly wipe out less than half a mile ahead of us.

Shack-Fu's plan had been to pull in behind the first crashed car we came to -- the SUV which had first snagged our attention took off while we were still with the first wreck -- but the road conditions worked against him, causing us to slide past it. He pulled over to the side, hopped out, and instructed me to get in the drivers seat and keep my ears open for any sign that I need to get the heck out of there. My adrenaline was pumping like crazy just sitting there inside the vehicle, praying that nobody else would spin out of control and ram into me; I can't imagine how Shack-Fu and the unfortunate driver's hearts must have been pounding standing out there in the open. The driver, a recent transfer to UNT, had smelled gasoline after the wreck and so had gotten out of the car; unfortunately, this placed her in the danger zone for any other out of control motorists. Shack-Fu (who had put on his firefighter gear as he was giving me instructions) was heading toward the shaken-up driver when he saw a semi almost jackknife when the driver saw the wreck. It was at that moment that he threw his previous strategy out the window and focused on one thing: getting thimself and the girl out of there ASAP. She, meanwhile, was in the middle of her own call to 911 when she saw Shack-Fu approaching; so excited about the arrival of help, she hung up on them, and probably would have dived into Shack-Fu's arms if her car hadn't been in the way. He got her away from the wreck and into the passenger seat of his vehicle, took back the driver's seat**, and got us the heck out of there, taking the first exit and then backing up onto the grass between the highway and the service road to wait for the authorities.

I stayed in the car with the driver while Shack-Fu headed back up towards the highway to keep an eye on things. She was making calls to friends and family, and it was during this time I discovered two pieces of information: (1) she had just moved to Denton recently and wasn't very familiar with the area, which explains why (2) she kept telling people she crashed on the way to Lewisville, which was in the exact opposite direction -- she had been on her way to church, but had gotten turned around and accidentally headed north instead of south. Seldom has such a minor mistake in directions resulted in such major damage.

It wasn't too long before a cop showed up to take her statement, at which point it dawned on me that I should probably call PigPen and Peanut (who by that point were sitting at the theater parking lot wondering what had happened to us) and let them know what the heck was going on. After I got them caught up on the situation, they decided to head back our way and find us; PigPen called me while they were on the way to find out exactly where we were parked -- or at least that's how the conversation started, before his side of it devolved into a series of expletives (or, more accurately, the same expletive repeated multiple times) as Peanut's truck hit its own personal patch of black ice and fishtailed. Luckily, Peanut was able to keep it under control, but not before giving all of us another nice shot of adrenaline.

Eventually the two of them joined up with us and helped keep the still shaky driver company while waiting on someone to come pick her up. After a carload*** of her friends showed up to take charge of her, she shook hands with Peanut, PigPen, and myself, and gave Shack-Fu a great big hug.

Gotta be the uniform****

Following our mad dash to the rescue, Shack-Fu's gas gauge was suddenly almost on E, so we went to the RaceTrac on University and filled up while deciding what to do next, since by that time it was about 7:40. We decided to head on to the Carmike Cinemark and check out the times for the later shows. Shack-Fu and I got there first, so I volunteered to run up and see the showtimes. When I got back, Peanut and PigPen were parked next to Shack-Fu, and I announced that all of the movies had already started, and that nothing started up again until about 9:30. PigPen replied "Uh, yeah, we know" and then pointed at the row of movie posters adorning the side of the building right next to where we were, with showtimes prominently displayed above each one.

If only that were the most embarrassing thing I did that evening.

But no, there would still be plenty of time for embarrassment left, because the evening wasn't over yet. The adventure portion may have just been completed, but the insanity was just beginning.

*And by we, I mean he, since I would have been more useless than PigPen in a round of The Quiet Game
**My idea, not his; figured our passenger had had enough trauma for one night without throwing my driving into the mix
***Seriously, there were probably about 7 or 8 people streaming out, making us fear for a second that we were about to have a rumble
****I suppose the whole "saving her life" thing might have had something to do with it . . .


Cap'n Cluck said...

You headed over to the Carmike? We don't have a Carmike anymore. It left Denton long about the time MC Hammer went out of style.

*sorry, couldn't resist*

Have a Cluckity Cluck Cluck Day!

Cap'n Neurotic said...

D'oh! I always do that, for some reason; I guess it's because Stillwater had a Carmike.