Journal Entry # 43 - Road Entry#33 (Guest Bedroom - La Canada, CA - 11:17pm - November 15, 2010)

The South.

Now I begin my epic tale and journey through the southern portion of the United States of America. There will be tons of cliches - I assure you that. Nonetheless, southern hospitality is very much alive, and it is spectacular.

It's the date of my brothers actual birthday. As you read before, I celebrated Ben's birthday with him in Los Angeles by taking him to the Dave Matthews Band concert at the Hollywood Bowl a week prior. I am getting ready to leave Los Angeles with a flight to Charlotte, NC - departing from LAX.

I purposefully booked my flight to coincide with Andy's flight from LAX to Charlotte by asking Abbie*. I booked it three or four weeks prior as I was in Alexandria and Mt. Vernon at George Washington's home. (*Andy's girlfriend / travel agent & personal assistant).

Mom took Andy and I to the airport together after I offered to pick him up as to relieve Abbie from those duties. We would be flying Continental through Cleveland to Charlotte (talk about alliteration). We got to the gate with plenty of time to spare and took off on time. Andy and I couldn't seat near each other as a woman was unwilling to switch seats with me as a courtesy. It was fine as I contained myself with some sleep, writing, and sudoku on the flight over.

We got into Cleveland near the lunch hour and Andy had to confirm that he was on the next flight with me to Charlotte. The customer service desk was kind enough to switch Andy's ticket from his original connection (later) to my original connection (earlier). Andy and I celebrated this efficiency and convenience with a trip to the bar.

The bar was packed with lunch-goers as Andy and I sat down to a small table in the middle of the restaurant. Andy asked me if I was going to order even though he saw me bring a lunch with me on the flight from LA to Cleveland. He then proceeded to razz me as I ate my lunch in the restaurant - along with my water order. Our server noticed Andy with his Oregon gear and made sarcastic remarks of our football program and team. I finalized realized he was doing so because we were in Ohio and the Buckeyes had beaten us in the Rose Bowl 9 months prior. I also remember the server being very casual about my lunch sack and how accommodating he was to his customers. I left him a grateful gratuity because he could have made me eat in the concourse.

We touched down in Charlotte well before sunset (5pm i think) and proceeded to the rental car franchise on-site. Andy, (I mean Abbie) had scheduled to rent a car for the weekend and the wedding festivities. Sam, our best friend, was getting married on September 4 to Lindsay. We arrived on Wednesday as men of the wedding party, along with Chad, Tim, and 'little'Andy (Sam's brother / best man). Andy and I took the rental car to Sam's apartment to meet up with them and conclude Sam's bachelor lifestyle.

As we drove into Sam's apartment complex, we were greeted by Sam and two cold brews while pulling into a parking spot. He had a BIG grin on his face - as did we. Andy and I took our bags and brews up to his apartment to reunite with Chad and little Andy (Tim's flight was scheduled to arrive later - but then got cancelled and pushed back until the next morning).

The five of us then decided to make a beer run to Harris Teeter grocery. We obviously took too long at the grocery store (being indecisive about beer) and made it back to the apartment at dusk. I cracked a brew with the guys - but was hesitant to pace myself throughout the night. We also made a traditional bachelor dinner for the group (frozen taquitos, chips, and salsa). It was the start of a great night.

Three of Sam's Charlotte friends came over as well - Chip, Jimmy, and Josh. We moved the discussion, drinking, and eating up onto the roof deck atop of Sam's building (three stories). We were all having a good time up there being guys - fraternizing and enjoying each others companionship and friendship. We all hadn't been together since Chad's wedding in June.

We were up there long enough to the point where one of us had to go back to the apartment to get more cold-brew. I volunteered to because I wanted to get my camera as well. When I was gone, big Andy threw up on the roof because the chewing tobacco and beer combo wasn't sitting well with him. I didn't know this at the time and actually found out the next day. Myself, Sam, the Oregon guys, and the Charlotte guys all made our way to Connoley's bar downtown as the group's drinking capacity went from empty to half-full.

We spent an hour or so at Connoley's bar playing the great bean-bag throwing game of corn-hole, talking sports, talking women, and other various topics. As we did this, Dan joined the group as his flight touched down hours earlier. Dan is the husband of Lindsay's cousin. Dan knows Sam well due to the numerous Las Vegas trips they have taken together. Now there are 9 of us and we decided to bar-hop over to the Town Tavern for some cheaper drinks. I have to admit, it was not my idea and a smart move on the guys part while being intoxicated. I think I was on my 3rd or 4th beer at the time.

At Town Tavern, a round of whiskey shots was verbalized and bought by Chad. The entire group took a picture before, during, and after this Whiskey shot (Dan took the picture I think). As soon as we finished the shot, big Andy threw up again onto his button-down shirt. He was obviously smashed. What came to surprise me though was that he was completely embarrassed. The Andy I know would just have said "screw it" and kept the night going. But as soon as everyone realized he was walking out the front door - he was off running down the street without saying a word to any of us.

Jimmy and Josh ran after him because he had left his credit card at the Town Tavern bar. The rest of us were perplexed and decided that it would be good to head back to Sam's apartment to find Andy and start turning the night in. Dan offered to give us a ride in his rental car from the bar to the house even though we explained that it was an easy walk. Sam, Chad, little Andy, and myself got into Dan's rental car in the parking garage.

Dan opened the car doors and we found his baby-seat on the passenger's side in the back. With little Andy being the youngest and coincidentally smallest, he rode baby-seat. As Dan drove us the mile back to the apartment, little drunk Andy cracks up the vehicle with a "goo-goo, gaa-gaa mother fuckers". "I'm a little drunk baby".

To say the least, we all got a kick out of it for the rest of the weekend.

The apartment felt like a bachelor-sized tornado had swept through each square foot of it. There were remnants of beer, tobacco, taquitos, salsa, used-dishes, clothes, towels, cups, and more beer all over. The guys went to the pool for a late night swim as I cleaned up the mess and got ready for bed. I was down on the air-mattress when they got back. Sam was scrambling for gauges and band-aids as big Andy cut his toe at the pool while wrestling with Chad. I remember looking at my phone for the time as the whirlwind of a night eclipsed - 4:04AM.

What a day with the guys. My friends are inexplicably fantastic.

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