10:16 PM, Oct 1, 2005
We won another kickball game, this week, and wound up going out until well into the night. A couple relatively unique things happened. too. One thing was that I went into the office on Wednesday, so tie up some loose ends before the conference in Orlando, next week. I have been working from home the rest of the time, sharpening up this web application I built for work. It's finally completely converted to perl, so now I can make a lot of the feature improvements I wanted to make.
The American Royal Barbecue
is going on, this weekend, down in the West Bottoms. It's the biggest barbecue cookoff in the world, so it attracts some hundreds of thousands or spectators and competitors from all over the USA. The Friday night portion of the event is widely regarded as one of the biggest parties of the year in KC. I had never gone before last night, and now, having gone, I will never miss it again, as long as I have a way to get there.
It was a perfect 70-degree day, yesterday, so Geoff, Joel, and I were going to walk down. But Joel hurt his knee recently, so we took a cab down. The event is laid out as rudimentary outdoor booths, each complete with kegs of beer, and gigantic smokers, seeping out the heavenly odor of the barbecued meat attaining perfection inside. All the booths are technically private, paid for by their occupants, or more commonly, by their employers, but the whole event is so friendly that the people running the smokers are more than happy to show you around, give you a beer, and a sample of their slow-cooked wares. Walking from booth to booth, getting more and more numb, surrounded by thousands of beautiful women, also getting numb, combined with an absolutely perfect day, permeated with the sublime odors of cooking meat, just makes for a fantastic evening. That's why it was such a shame to leave.
On Wednesday, our kickball team was a little short on women, so Carrie
volunteered to give us a hand, as she has done a couple of times before. She came out with us after the game, as we played lots of shuffleboard and foosball, until about 2 AM. Luckily, she lives downtown, and gave Erp and me a ride home. On Friday night, however, she hosted an open-invitational t-shirt grafitti party in Westport, starting at 9 PM at Buzzard Beach, as a going-away party for herself, as she's moving to Boca Raton on Sunday.
Getting from the Royal to Westport was much more difficult in practice than it was on paper. The ATA
offered a free shuttle between the Royal and various park-and-ride points in the downtown area, including Union Station
, from where I could hop on the MAX to Midtown. So, around twenty after eight, I said good night to the folks I was with at the Royal, and got a beer for the road. I walked the half mile or so from the booths to the main entrance at Genessee, where I expected to see the ATA buses lined up, like at Royals games or at Oktoberfest, but instead found a menage of crossing foot-traffic, and the occasional car making it through, but not a bus in sight.
I waited for about fifteen minutes, and still didn't see a single bus, gave up, bit the bullet, and hailed a cab to take me to Union Station. On the way from the Royal to Union Station, I must have seen ten buses. Such is irony. I couldn't understand a word the driver said, so I just smiled and laughed, before I forked over eight dollars at the circle drive at Union Station. At least I now had a one-dollar bill to use for the bus. I walked over to the stop, on the other side of the building, and saw on the MAX's handy "next bus" display, that I'd have to wait over twenty minutes for the next bus. Luckily, a 57-bus rolled up about five minutes later, to run along the exact same route as the MAX, for the stretch I had in mind. I slipped my crusty dollar into the beeping machine, waved off a transfer pass, and took a seat. I was finally on my way.
I hopped off at 39th, and walked the mile or so to Westport from there, arriving, of course, first at Buzzard Beach at about a quarter after nine. This gave me ample opportunity to relieve my aching bladder, get a $1.75 PBR, and wander out to the deck to watch for a familiar face approaching the building. Carrie, with two guys in tow, walked up to the bar about ten seconds after I rested my elbows on the railing and took a sip. She rewarded me with a big hug when I walked downstairs to meet her. We set about playing shuffleboard as more people filtered in to wish her well.
Since Carrie was the only person I knew there, I set about barging into people's conversation circles, until just about everybody knew who I was, and, for some reason(especially the women) started scribbling things like "I like women with children," "I like Sex and the City," "I'm great in bed," and "Bald is sexy," among other things, on my shirt. As with all meetings of people that don't know each other, we all soon knew where everyone was from, and a girl named Noelle(I think), drew a keg on my shirt with the words, "Peoria Brewing Company," on it. Upon seeing this, a girl across the table piped up, "I lived in Peoria for twelve years."
Upon closer inspection, it turns out that this girl, named Heidi, was three years behind me at not only my high school, but also my grade school, and knew my family(but ironically, not me). Nonetheless, I scribbled, "Go Comets," on her back. She's eager to get into some local jazz flavor, and instructed me to show some of it to her when I get back from Orlando.
We moved on to the Beaumont Club, where Carrie managed to get the $5 cover waived for all of us. When we were out on Wednesday night, some relatively obvious rock and alternative standards would come on the jukebox, and she'd say things like, "I've never heard this before," or "Oh, I love this song since I heard it for the first time last week." Very curious, I thought. I figured it out when the music started playing at the Beaumont, though. She's a country fan. That explained it.
Outside, at the attached Westport Beach Club, there was a full-scale banda concert going on, which I thought was awesome, but apparently nobody else in our group did. But my tab was outside, so whenever I needed a drink, I'd go out there and dig the banda for a while. I think I was the only gringo there, though.
It was a great group of people I was with, and I got a bunch of phone numbers so we can all hang out again. Last night was a very worthwhile evening, and one of those times that I really am ecstatic to live in Kansas City.