Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday WhatYouWill from Wellington

So we're down in this hole of a Kansas town, and what a perfect opportunity to talk about random bullshit. For example, the picture you see here is the breakfast my colleague BrotherJents consumed this morning. This is appropriate because it is random, but not bullshit. He ordered three breakfasts: One had a chicken-fried steak with gravy, two eggs, hash browns, and toast; the second had two eggs, two sausages, two pieces of bacon, and hash browns; and the third had two pancakes the size of my head. And this was normal. For real.

I know what you're thinking: typical fat midwesterner. But no. He's actually a pretty buff-ass cracker. On a normal day, he'll have had two or three breakfasts before lunch, but since that wasn't an option on this particular morning, he had three in one sitting, and knocked back every last bite. It was a feat, I tell you. A feat.

More enthralling details of our visit to the town named after the Duke, after the jump.

After our arrival last evening, I did what I'd do on any other Tuesday evening: I went to the bar. And it was a treat, let me tell you.

It involved walking from the premises of our dumpy hotel, across a field, and into the neighboring drinking establishment, which pretty much looked like the bar of a dumpy hotel, only without the hotel part. There was quite the crew (four) there, and I immediately discovered that the topic of conversation was sports. My first thought was that these Wichita wanna-bes probably knew very little about sports. Turns out they know quite a bit about the NBA, potential NFL draft picks, college hoops, quarterback stats, and Combine times. Their problem, I decided over six partially frozen Miller Lite cans and a pair of shots, was that they sandwich phrases of their knowledge between slices of the typical bumpkin slang you might expect.

Some highlights:

1) A fifth local quickly joined the ambience after I sat down, and he wanted to have his tab run on a credit card that bore someone else's name. The bartender, being the sleuth that she was, had the patron call someone (from his phone) that I'm certain was the card's owner, to give the bartender the thumbs-up on his drinking privilege.

2) The bartender, after hanging up, poured a drink for the man, then scolded him for continuing to be on welfare, a luxury afforded to him by the hard work of "us taxpayers." Naturally, his response was that his drink was not stiff enough.

3) The house special for the evening was a $3.75 vanilla vodka-Dr. Pepper. I stuck with the frozen Miller Lites.

4) It was at this point that the NBA came up, and debate centered on a comparison of Magic vs. Bird against any other duo of rivals these guys could think of. It was decided that there was no comparison because "there wasn't any other white guys like Bird" to play against the other black greats. It was also ascertained that there was no one "really good at all" to play against Jordan during his time. I wanted to say Vince Carter, but I didn't.

5) The clan having this chat included this one sort of guy that seems to follow me everywhere I go in this country. Think what you want; say what you'll say. But know that this breed of folks is populating the country at alarming rates. And he is the asshole Hispanic Californian Raiders fan. There are characteristics about this guy that are almost always immediately noted: a) he tends to be drunk 19-20 hours a day, b) he knows everything about every theory, concept, and fact in human existence, but c) forgets semi-important details about his team like who they beat last year (Editor's Note: This representative naturally remembered that the Raiders had beat Denver and Kansas City. I was tempted to remind him that his other impressive victories came against Jet Favre, Gary Kubiak and the Texans, and his certainly once-beloved Chucky and the Bucs. But I did not.), d) has spent the massive majority of his adult life single, can't figure out why, and has no problem announcing it to anyone who'll listen, e) frequently accepts rounds bought by his friends, but is conveniently in the restroom every time it's his turn to buy, and most impressively f) always thinks that there is both absolutely nothing wrong with any aspect of the way the Oakland Raiders franchise is run, as well as a 12-4 season straight ahead.

This cat had some fantastic add-ons to throw in, such as 1) Tom Cable is going to be the most successful rookie coach the league has seen in ages, 2) Ashley Lelie is fucking awesome, and 3) JaMarcus Russell is going to go off this year. These observations I also took in in silence, but for this set of statements, I was literally uncapable of formulating words.

6) Said Raiders fan, in between spouts of his commitments to excellence, participated with a convinced, while loud-and-uninformed voice on the NBA debate. I think his sole purpose in participating was so that he could say "that AIDS-havin' Magic Johnson" as often as possible before it was time to go.

7) At one point he wanted to argue with his friends about where Dirk Nowitzki went to high school, even though none of his posse (admittedly) knew. Nor did they want to debate his absolute certainty on the matter.

8) Eventually, more and more folks showed up, and it seemed as the numbers grew, so did the number of paper-ID-having patrons. You've seen these. They're the lengthy receipt-looking IDs one gets when one's driver license is suspended for driving under the influence of alcohol. What I didn't know about these folks is that they're none too happy to pay the $24 required for the ID, but they are all more than willing to drive to work, begin drinking at the precise conclusion of the work day, then drive to the bar for more drinking before driving home.

9) Unless, of course, the topic of the titty bar comes up, and then anything goes. What I appreciated about last night's guests was that they all, young, old, men, and women, were well-educated about the nude-bar options available to them. I learned of them quickly, as I was one of the first invited for the trip that (I think) never happened. There's Michelle's in Derby, which "ain't bad but it's only topless." There's Wild Wild West up in Salina, where a guy can apparently get cheap dances and inexpensive hand jobs if you know the secret hand shake, or Jezebel's (NSFWish) in Wichita, where the talent is "ripe, the best around." I wasn't sure if I had a preference as to which club the group selected, but I was sure of two things: a) there would be huge amounts of drunk driving involved, and b) I would not be along for that ride. But it was an interesting conversation.

10) The bar is called the Round-Up Room. I mention that to mention this: The bartender at the Round-Up Room, one of few saloons in town, knows her local industry counterparts. This was evidenced by her knowledge of the staff at the pub on Old Orchard Road where, and I kid you not, her brother-in-law's brother-in-law pours the drinks.

It was at this point where the place actually got a bit crowded, and strangers were buying me shots faster than I could pay my tab and get out. Some closing overheard tidbits included phrases like, "anybody who banks up at Panhandle knows that they'll cash your payday-loan check for you," and "I busted my hand up good when I was taking them machinist classes," and my personal favorite, "They put him on a regular horse, and oh my God, when that motherfucker started trottin'..."

And I was on my way. It was quite the evening, one of those in which you never know how much you're learning until the moment has passed you by. Good times.