Estragon: Charming spot. Inspiring prospects. Let's go.
Vladimir: We can't.
Estragon: Why not?
Vladimir: We're waiting for Godot.
-- Samuel Beckett
This, at least, is a decent sort of waiting, waiting to wake up, finally getting a little catch up on that night of the long travel, as I see Bro Dave and Sistah Barb and others supposedly heading off for the Badger-Volunteer beach party up the coast aways, but I've got a date with a hamburger at the Nearby Sports Bar and the Packers playing a meaningless game against the Detroit Lions.
"Those bloody marys look so good," says TAW, "I think I'll have one."
"You know what, Heather," I tell our waitress. "Those bloody marys look so good, I think I'll have a screwdriver."
The Pack soon has a 31-13 lead in the third quarter when I call it quits and find the Mist (Yes!) back on the beach, but staying far from the deadly margaritas this afternoon. We soak up some more sun, but know we have to wait, wait until 9 p.m. or some other late hour for our dinner at Bern's. A wonderful nap intervenes ….
Bern's is, of course, one of the top steakhouses in America. But our late reservation means we must, wait, wait to drive downtown, and then wait, wait for our table. There allegedly is a sighting of Coach B, the Boy Genius, and definitely is a sighting of the Good Ol' Boyz from Tennessee.
Our waiter is Spenser, the oysters are marvelous, and the 40 plus ounce Kansas City Strip does not disappoint me or X or El Tio. We cannot avoid the trip upstairs for the dessert, where TAW orders a flight of TAW-NY ports, aged 10, 20, 30 and 40 years. I tasted the best one, the 30-year, but I mostly like the name: "A flight of tawny ports, my man, and snap to it!"
Even as we finish our desserts, Chico is still smarting from being stuck at the bar downstairs earlier in the evening, waiting, waiting to get drinks and his bill and when he says something to the bartender, is abruptly told, "Patience is a virtue."
"I was ready to patience him," Chico says.
"Chico, those guys knew people in town. You didn't want to mess with them," says El Tio.
It is very late when we finally make it back to the BWSWBR, and I convince Chico to share a glass of the Glenfarclas with me in the parking lot, and finally El Tio, Uncle Fenster, rolls in, having driven well past St. Petersburg. For the first time in bowl trip history, a man card is pulled. Tio has managed to get lost every time he gets in an auto, whether driving or a mere passenger, and tops it off tonight by getting lost both to and from Bern's.
"Here, take these keys," he says. "I'm not driving or giving directions again."
As Chico and I stumble up to bed, the night federale is keeping close watch on a group of rowdy youngsters, the same ones who serenaded us as we left many, many hours ago, holding shots in the air on their balcony, shouting, "Woo-hoo, it's my 21st birthday."
21? I can't remember that long ago. Not now, not with that 120 proof Glenfarclas circling about the large beef and oysters and Irish coffee in my belly.
They also serve who only stand and wait.
-- John Milton
The IHOP having proven to be an utter failure and disgusting to boot, we take the advice of fellow members of the Traveling Salvation Show and stop in at the Gondola, an alleged Italian place, for breakfast the next morning. Hey, it is New Year's Eve. The Irish Mist (Yes!) has been bugging me for years to take her out on New Year's Eve, and here we are having eggs and coffee at the Gondola in Clearwater Beach. She must be proud.
She isn't too happy with the waitress, as she tries to get scrambled eggs and I'm having flashbacks of Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, as the conversation goes something like this:
"I'd like the number 4, but I want the eggs scrambled."
"Western omelet, OK," says the woman who bears a striking resemblance to Polly Holliday, playing Flo at Mel's Diner in the sitcom Alice. As the conversation goes on, I keep anticipating "Kiss my grits!"
"But not an omelet, and no onions. Just the #4, scrambled," says the Mist (Yes!).
"So you want the Western with no onions," says Flo.
"It's an omelet."
"And I want the omelet ingredients, scrambled."
"Ok, sweetheart, I got you. You want the Western, scrambled."
"Exactly," says the Mist (Yes!).
She got the Western omelet. Still, the place beat the StinkHOP all to heck. We would be back for breakfast again.
Another day in paradise, sitting in the sun on the beach, sipping some beers, bringing in some gin & tonics for my lovely wife, even a little of the OSOB, Glenfarclas. In fact, as the week wears on, the Irish Mist (Yes!) actually takes a liking to the OSOB. This is quite a change, and the scotch is quite the piece of work. When SoCal named Glenfarclas the OSOB, I vaguely remembered it from the trip to Happy Valley this year, when X showed me a bottle. The bottle was nearly gone when we left that unhappy valley a couple of days later, and the remainder of the troupe said they had little of it, and I just remember it as smooth. But when I went to pick some up in Madcity for the trip to Tampa, all that Steve's had was the "cask strength" Glenfarclas, running about $70 a bottle and all of 120 proof. That's right, it was 60% alcohol, the sort of scotch you had to sip, even if you added a touch of water or poured it into a large tumbler of ice.
This strange combination of events somehow has made the Mist (Yes!) into a scotch drinker for a few days, an event that makes it easier for us to communicate in that scotch-addled way – I now understand that the scotch-addled way is called "Speaking Monsignor," as X's cousin Mayo was with us last night and was able to translate for the assembled group whenever I opened my mouth. Whatever. But I can only figure that the OSOB is closer to the full-tilt booze the Mist (Yes!) normally consumes, the Beefeaters, that and the fact that this is one of the smoothest of the usquebaugh that I've ever had the pleasure to set loose running over my tongue. It even seems to have an aphrodisiacal effect on the two of us.
Note to self: BUY THIS STUFF AGAIN !!
Suddenly, the sun is setting and the world is getting dark, and all I remember now is pouring a glass of the OSOB and sitting on the beach, but for some reason I am driving a car full of folks on our way downtown to Ybor City, home ground for all Badgers. We find our spot in the Green Iguana and the entire troupe is here now, and more crazy Badgers, including OB and The Fiancée (who I discover actually has a name, but for the life of me it is lost in that bottle of Glenfarclas) and Tristan and Myles Long, and MN Badger and Bucky Basser and Roy and others I am sure were there, but are stationed not in any synapse that I have left standing, but next to The Fiancée's name. The parade and subsequent pep rally are a great way to spend time in a crowd and eat and drink and wonder about the fact that all these people want to wear red or orange and catch beads from passing floats. Heck, TAW got so excited, she gave her beads to Mike Leckrone, and didn't even ask him to flash for them. The Hairy-haired one got so excited, not to be outdone by the stories of his mother's flight of tawny ports the prior evening, he lines up a flight of … beer.
It is enough to make me want to stop at a nearby cigar store in Ybor, home of great cigars, so I do that. Smooth as the OSOB.
We get out of Ybor long before the shooting starts, always a wise decision when you are on the high side of 50. Back at the hotel, Sistah Barb and Bro Dave and the JJ's and Matt and Liz and Bro Dave's buddies are out on the beach, drinking champagne at 10:30, because they doubt they can make it to midnight, and it is tough to stay out here, what with the techno music and strobe lights and all coming from the bar at the Best Western Sea Wake Beach Resort.
The rest of us gather in TAW's room to watch some fireworks across the bay, and welcome in 2008, complete with somebody or other out in Vegas jumping his motorcycle over something or other. They keep building up to the jump, and then delay it and delay it, and we have to wait some more.
"Patience is a virtue," Chico reminds us.
Now, for no apparent reason, some guy from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls me to confirm that Myles had a female with him, which I can confirm, although I can't aver that she was "with him."
The year is finally over. I've been telling everybody to be in the lobby, ready to go at 8:30 a.m. I make it clear to the Hairy-haired One:
"The family doesn't like to wait. If you aren't early, you are late."
To Be Concluded ...