I took the bus to Heidi's house last night, and encountered a very interesting drunk guy en route. He was from St. Louis, visiting his brother that lives in the Northeast, and was terribly slurring his words, at 6:30 PM, at that. However, he had tons of questions about development in Kansas City, so I put my headphones away, and happily obliged him. I guess I saved him some trouble too, when I told him that Buzzard Beach, the bar to which he was going, only accepts cash. He conducted himself with the kind of naive confidence that usually accompanies inebriation. Everybody on the bus had a good laugh when he got off in Westport.
The 51 dropped me off within two blocks of Heidi's house, and I made a mental note to remember to always take that bus in the future, for getting there. I reached her doorstep, called her, and she was on the spot. Just then some more people who would be joining us arrived. It was a very punctual group. We talked for a little while, and I called my man Loor over at Atlas Cab. Ten minutes later, two cabs were waiting for us outside.
Our cab dropped us off at Charlie Hooper's, in Brookside, where I was ecstatic to see that they were not offensively busy, as they usually seem to be. We were able to push a couple of tables together and sit together in comfort. Spirits and laughs ensued, and many photographs were taken. To ring out the old year, I splurged on a steak and baked potato, which Hooper's was offering on special instead of their customary pasta dish. It was sublime. I honestly don't think steak gets any better than a medium rare KC Strip. I don't have them very often, but I think last night qualified as a special occasion.
Then, as the fun was reaching critical levels, Heidi corralled us all up to head off to the Brooksider, where some of her friends were waiting. Andy, one of the people in our group, very generously covered everyone's way in, as the Brooksider had a retro band playing, and a five dollar cover. The music was excellent, and the place was very festive, but it was way too crowded. Almost as soon as I got a beer, someone bumped into me, and made me spill a lively portion of cold beer down my sleeve.
When we walked in the door, the group kind of dispersed, with all the women going to the bathroom together, and all the men beginning cautious circuits of the bar, looking for the women. After a couple of minutes, we were all reunited in a place where people kept walking between us. Amy and Kynha and I all agreed that we liked Hooper's better, and should never have left. So, I bought Andy a carbomb to relieve my soul of the guilt, and the three of us went back to Hooper's.
It can't be overstated, how nice it is to go to a bar with two pretty girls. I was getting more dirty looks from other guys around the bar, and as there were only three of us together, the conversation was pretty much required to be engaging for all three. After perhaps an hour, 2006 began, and the bar passed out complimentary champagne glasses for all to enjoy. Amy, Kynha, and I cheered with everyone else, and were intrigued by a table of folks who kept restarting the countdown, multiple minutes into the new year.
We had been hanging out with these folks for a while, when Katy and Kristin arrived. Katy made herself scarce, and Amy went with her to go and play darts, which left me with Kynha and Kristin, at the table. The details are a bit fuzzy, but Kynha and I were soon afterward among the group of "re-counters" again, and Kynha was talking to some guy about politics. They both disagreed vehemently on politics, and were about to engage in a potentially nasty argument, when I retreated to the game room, and saw that in a game of 301, Katy and Amy were stuck with scores of 3 and 4, respectively. They didn't really know how the game was going to end, so I had to explain the finer details, after which Amy won.
That's how the remainder of the night progressed: wandering back and forth between different groups of friends. Eventually, the rest of the people we went out with came back from the Brooksider too. Apparently, Andy had hit his limit, drank some more, and got kicked out of the Brooksider for his drunken clumsiness. With everyone reunited, my wanderings became even more pronounced, and by about two o'clock, the reason chip in my brain told me it was time to go home. I made the rounds, saying good night and "Happy New Year" to everyone, and walked out the back door, dialing Atlas Cab for a ride home. Loor told me it'd probably be about twenty minutes, which was understandable. So, without any clear direction on how to get home, but no rush either, I started walking.
I didn't get far before I came across some older folks(30s or 40s) celebrating by their car. I'm not sure how we started talking, but they offered me a ride home, when they heard I had taken the bus. That offer, however, was contingent on me living somewhere near them, which it turns out, I don't. One of them pulled me into Joe D's Wine Bar, where the friendly staff told me that there are usually cabs piled up in front of the Brooksider, a couple blocks away. I hurried over there, and sure enough, there was a cab sitting right in front of the door. I climbed in, and headed for home.
The driver, like most cabbies, was a bit crooked. Instead of taking the normal way to downtown from Brookside(Ward Parkway to SW Trafficway), he stayed on really minor back streets with lots of stop signs and traffic lights, running up the fare. I was unfortunately pretty oblivious to this, as I had other things on my mind at that point. It didn't occur to me that I was being had until we were in Westport, only twenty blocks from Brookside, and I looked at the meter. It was already over ten dollars. I came to my senses, and rather forcefully told the driver to stop screwing around and get on SW Trafficway. When he dropped me off downtown, the meter read over fourteen dollars, when it should have been more like eight or nine. I tipped only enough that I wouldn't have to get coins for change(something like forty cents), and started walking to my door.
I made the instinctive grab for my keys, and realized that I had left my keys in my coat, and I had left my coat at Heidi's place. I started making phone calls, and eventually got a hold of Nathan, who was closing the Newsroom, and said he'd hurry home. He got home, opened the door, and we found ourselves having a nice conversation on our front porch, for probably about an hour. We walked into the apartment, and the clock on the cable box read 4:30 AM. It was time to bring the great, ten-hour night to a close.
The pictures are done, in record time. Enjoy.
Crazy crappy cabbies. When I've told them to take Clark instead of Sheffield, three times it's happened that they insist on taking Sheffield unless I direct them every thirty feet, because they're "new to the city." What??
8:04 PM, Jan 3, 2006