I have put Jambo into some fairly ridiculous situations so far through the course of our relationship -which will soon hit its 14 month (I opted not to write an anniversary post, mostly because we both had to work and the post was boring), and this past weekend was no exception.
Without much planning time, I informed Jambo that we would be driving up to Michigan for a mere 42 hours to celebrate a dear friend's 30th birthday. This particular friend has been previously referenced as Blanche in the "Stay Golden" post, and has probably accumulated several other nicknames in both the blog and in life, but we'll refer to her now as Ariel...not because she has flowing red locks of hair, and not because she's a shell bra wearing mermaid, but because she's been known to sing a song similar to the one Ariel sings when giving up her voice to Ursula...only she does it during her alone time with her bf.
Jambo and I packed a duffel bag, hopped in the car, and headed up to The Mitten. An eight and a half hour car ride really gives you the opportunity to get to know someone on a whole different level. Every day that Jambo and I are together, I learn something new about him. We talked about all of the things that are working really well for our relationship...which is just about everything. We also talked about the things that are not working so great for our relationship...which is apparently my singing. As I was cruising up 65N, and belting out a Mariah Carey chart topper, Jambo tells me that because he actually can sing and works as a choir director, and has the ability to carry a tune on perfect pitch, his ears have an adverse reaction to my version of all songs. I sing all of the time...I have a mean version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" that I keep up my sleeve for special occasions. Of course I was crushed by this revelation and made a mental note to share this bit of information with Ariel as soon as I could.
We arrived at Ariel's house in record time, but Ariel wouldn't be home from work for a couple of more hours. Jambo and I took full advantage of this down time before the celebrations began...I got caught up on my Candy Crush and Hanging with Friends games, and Jambo practiced the Wobble and Turbo Shuffle to dance with Ariel at the bar.
Per tradition at Ariel's house, I ordered us a chicken feta pizza from Cottage Inn and made sure the wine was chilled for as soon as Ariel got home. I had not been back up to The Mitten since December, and Jambo had not been since November...we definitely had some catching up to do. Before long, Ariel arrived. The pizza delivery time was still about 30 minutes away, so the three of us ran a quick errand to see Ariel's aunt. We made sure to be quick, as to not miss the delivery guy. We got back to the house, totally ready to uncork some wine and chow down. However, there was one small glitch.
In Ariel's rush to run her quick errand, she locked us out of the house. The house keys were sitting on the hutch inside the locked front door, right next to the money for the pizza delivery guy. The quickest way into the house was to climb up the back balcony, hop over the railing, and open the sliding glass door. After spending hours in a car, and without proper footwear, I was in no condition to scale the side of a building...but someone had to do it. I kicked off my Sperry's, hopped up onto the canvas seat of an old lawn chair, and began to shimmy my way up to the top. Shimmying up the side of Ariel's house was not easy, and I suddenly felt like I was in the midst of a Warrior Dash obstacle. Finally, and not quite as difficult as I had expected, I made it to the top. I flung my body over the banister, and fought with an ancient screen door that seemed to be welded/rusted shut, all the while I could hear the pizza delivery guy frantically ringing the front door bell. I tried shouting out to him so he wouldn't leave....by now I was starving for some chicken feta pizza! I made Ariel and Jambo run around to the front of Ariel's house, which by the way is in the middle of a row of townhouses, to hopefully intercept the pizza guy.
Alas! The door finally gave way, I made it into the house and flew to the front door just in time to catch the pizza delivery guy as he was beginning to pull away. Ariel and Jambo finally made it around to the front, waving money to offer for the pizza. We caught our pizza at the very last second, the guy had already tried to deliver it once and was about to take it back for good.
Finally, we could eat. We gathered around Ariel's dining room table and devoured an incredible pizza and downed some wine while YouTubing 80's power ballads. Before Ariel got too out of control with her take on Atlantic Starr, I warned her about Jambo's ultra sensitive ears...I'd hate for him to relive the same pain I had caused him just hours before. As it turns out, MmmBop had previously told Ariel that exact same thing during her rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'".
With full stomachs, and the beginning of a wine buzz, we were just waiting on Ariel's lover, MmmBop to show up. Ariel was in the mood to begin celebrating the big 30 right at the stroke of midnight...and she had a very special place in mind.
Once MmmBop arrived, we grabbed a couple of roadies and headed off to the local VFW Hall. Before turning 30, Ariel apparently wanted to relive 1996, and we would be meeting up with Ariel's friend LuLu (this is actually her real name, her name is just too good to give a nickname.)
Just before midnight, we strolled into the VFW Hall. I am fairly certain that fresh air and sunlight have not made an appearance since the day it was built. The karaoke stage was situated to the front of the hall, adjacent to a rather large dance floor. As we walked in the front door, we were greeted with some tortured version of Alison Krauss' "When You Say Nothing At All". There was a a shuffle board table along one of the walls, numerous American flags scattered about, and a few strands of white Christmas lights hanging from various corners of the ceiling. A wood paneled bar lined the back of the hall and was surrounded by Pull Tab machines. Ariel quickly whipped out her cash, and we dashed over to the Pull Tab machine. Any one from The Mitten will tell you just how addictive Pull Tabs are, and the concept is simple. Each "ticket" is a small card with 5-8 "pull tabs" running horizontally down the card. You simply pull each tab across to reveal any cash prizes. We started with $20 worth, won $5, played $5, won $2, added $5 more dollars, and lost it all. The adrenaline rush alone was well worth it.
About a dozen or so people were scattered throughout the hall, and LuLu was about to take the stage for her karaoke performance. Jambo, Ariel, MmmBop, and I ordered a round of 1 Crown and Diet, 1 Vodka Tonic, and 2 beers...for a total of $6. Clearly, this was the place to drink on a budget. Suddenly LuLu's song selection began and my heart was full LuLu performed my karaoke speciality, "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Amazing. LuLu rocked that microphone like it was going out of style, which it actually had....23 years ago. She had opted not to sing the shorter, most common, radio version, but instead belted out the song in its entire original format - all seven minutes of it. Talk about seven minutes in heaven.
Once LuLu finished, the karaoke DJ decided to spin a little dance music for the ladies in the crowd. With a deafening boom, "Baby Got Back" blasted through the speakers and the dance floor was flooded. Each lady that felt the need to rush the dance floor to dance her ass off had a lot more than just "back"...the average weight was roughly 325 lbs. The europhic state I was in from LuLu's angelic voice was now replaced with a state of sheer horror. These ladies were getting down, and in the worst way possible. I scrambled to order more drinks, I was entirely too sober.
Sir-Mix-A Lot played for what seemed like an eternity. I used this opprotunity to run to the bathroom, I didn't need to see any more booty shaking. Along the way to the bathroom -which was roughly 17 feet away from where I was standing - I met Toothless Kim. Her name is self explanatory. She complimented me on the shorts I was wearing, and then asked if Jambo was my man. Picking up on the social ques from the event space and its patrons, I was not about to openly admit I was in a homosexual relationship with the only black man in the entire VFW Hall...that would have been an immediate two strikes for both Jambo and I. Just as I was wrapping up my brief and incredibly awkward conversation with Toothless Kim, her 19 year nephew, who was equally as toothless approaches and says: "Now don'tchu be hittin' on my Auntie!" Oh you have nothing to worry about Toothless Nephew. I politely excused myself, and continued onto the bathroom.
Just as I was walking back to the group, "Brick House" began to play, and with lightning quick reflexes, LuLu ran over to me, grabbed my rock hard butt while grinding up on me and harmoniously sang "mighty, mighty!" Surely this could not be real life. Ariel's first 60 minutes of being 30 years old were quite exciting, I can only hope to experience such when I turn 30...in17 months.
It was now well past 1, and the crowd was dwindling down, but LuLu and Ariel were still ready to party. The last song of the evening was "American Solider" to pay tribute to all our service men and women, of course. The lights slightly dimmed, some spot lights came on to set the mood, and I was trying to finish my beer when Toothless Kim asked if she could have a dance before the night ended. Ugh. How could I say no?
She quickly dragged me to the center of the dance floor, placed my arms around her waist and settled in as though we were at a high school homecoming and Lonestar started playing. Of course, Ariel, MmmBop, and Jambo had a field day - they all started heckling and snapping photos. Toothless Kim told me how I was the sexiest man in the whole entire building - which I already knew- and if I were just a couple of years older she would try to take me home. Sorry Toothless Kim, your nephew had already chased me away.
Finally the song ended and it was time to make a quick departure. Ariel insisted on meeting LuLu at City Market bar. City Market is somewhat of a mini farmer's market in Downtown Lansing, which apparently has an after hours bar. The bar is about the size of a shoebox . 12 people were in the bar when we showed up; our group of 4, plus LuLu and her sister...the rest were employees. We drank some beers and threw back some shots while City Market blasted the soundtrack to Great Gatsby. We got kicked out somewhere between 2:00 and 2:30, the bar would just be serving employees for the rest of the evening.
We made our way back to Ariel's house, this time making sure she knew exactly where her keys were. We all changed into our pajamas, and per another tradition, hopped onto Ariel's gigantic bed to watch TV. Ariel was dying to introduce us to the HBO hit "Girls". I only had it in me to watch the very first episode, if I weren't so exhausted I could have watched the entire series in one sitting. I was hooked.
After sleeping off the night's festivities, we were all slow to get moving Saturday afternoon. We watched another episode of "Girls", and Ariel fought through an allergy attack. Apparently turning 30 isn't all glamorous all the time, and MmmBop made sure to mention that Ariel had begun her downward descent towards dying.
The afternoon passed rather uneventfully, and it was time to get ready for Ariel's big birthday dinner. A few other guests showed up, including my college Wife and one of her sidekicks. Ariel made sure to reserve her go-to cab driver, Juan, for the evening. Juan isn't a traditional cab driver, and I'm actually not sure if he's licensed to drive passangers in his four door mini-van and charge them for it, but he's reliable and gets us to where we need to go without fail.
Jaun rolled up, we piled into his van, and we were ready to go! As he dropped us off for dinner he handed us each a ticket for free admission to Omar's Show Bar. No 30th, or any birthday for that matter, could be complete without a visit to the titty bar...especially if it's free!
Ariel's childhood friends, college friends, and family all joined to celebrate her, and we gorged ourselves on some of the best calamari, risotto, steaks, pastas, and grilled cheeses possible. Since we were all dressed up and dining at a fancy restaurant, we were on our best behavior. However, Ariel's grandmother entertained us all with a delightful acapella tap dance routine.
Once dinner was over, we parted ways with Ariel's tap dancing family, and the true party animals went out to drink. No one should spend their 30th birthday sober. Ariel had her sights set on boozing and dancing, and we ended up at Eden Rock. Eden Rock is every club/bar/frat party you have ever been to rolled up in one. It has a dimly lit lounge, a dance floor, video screens, beer pong tables, a patio, girls dressed for bachelorette parties, douchebags with popped collars and croakies, wanksters in basketball jerseys, thugs with sagging jeans, and a Kurt Cobain look alike with greasy hair and a flannel shirt.
Unfortunately, the dance music wasn't up to par for Ariel's liking as it was an odd mix of every popular R&B song mashed up with dupstep. Jambo took matters into his own hands, and requested the Wobble and Turbo Shuffle for Ariel, after all he had been practicing just for this very moment.
After several rounds of drinks and a few shots here and there, we called it a night...plus, we had a game of Cards Against Humanity to play. As requested, Juan returned to pick us up, and this time he had coupons to Rally's for us. He kindly stopped at Rally's so we could get our fix of banana shakes and french fries before the night was over. While en route to Ariel's house, my Wife's sidekick schooled us all on the proper use and form of the plural of cul-de-sac. Although we did not encounter a single cul-de-sac that night, I now know cul-de-sacs is not the correct plural form, it is actually culs-de-sac. I just hope I never find myself trapped in a culs-de-sac.
Sunday morning eventually rolled around, and after a delicious breakfast at the neighborhood Cracker Barrel, it was time for Jambo and I to head back South. I had a fantastic time celebrating the 30th year of Ariel's life, and frankly I may just stay 28 forever.