The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Friday, October 17, 2008

(The following is taken from my blog on myspace. I may elaborate on some things later - specifically, the other characters in this story - but enjoy this for now.)

A few weeks ago, I announced plans for a meetup for readers of the USA Today blog "Pop Candy." The plan was to meet at a bar this past Friday, then hang out at the Texas State Fair on Saturday during the big Texas/OU game.

You know what they say about the best laid plans, don't you?

In the days leading up to the big event, only two people RSVP'ed: Andrea, aka Araiday, and Debbie, aka babybenrox, both to come into Dallas from Oklahoma City. At first, I thought we'd be hanging out the whole weekend. Then, it turned out that Andrea would come in on Friday, and Debbie would come in on Saturday. Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, Andrea then said she could only come in on Saturday. Later, she broke the news to me that she wouldn't be coming at all. So that left Debbie and I to hang out during the day on Saturday. Or so I thought.

My phone rang early Saturday morning. It was Debbie, telling me that she was having some car trouble, and that she probably wouldn't make it to Dallas. I floated the idea of me going up there.

"Not unless you like hanging out at Auto Zone," she said.

"Okay," I said, resigning myself to fate. I then went off in search of juice for my phone battery, since I left my plug-in charger at home. Turns out I was worrying about the wrong battery.

I got in my car to charge my phone, and to drive around looking for a place that sold phone chargers at 8 in the morning. During that time, I came upon a place that advertised $5 car washes. My car had been under attack from a swarm of migrating butterflies a few weeks ago, so my car was due to get cleaned. As my car got cleaned up, I was still fixated on getting that charger (as well as wondering who would win the big game). Those thoughts changed to something else as I tried to start my car after it was dried.

"Holy shit."

It would not start. My first instinct was to pop open the hood. Unfortunately, since nothing popped out at me (nothing was bubbling, nothing on fire), I didn't know what was going on. Fortunately, the staff at the car wash place had a device to give me a jump. They hooked it up, I turned my car on, and I began a new mission: to find a batter terminal cleaner. (This was also at the advice of my dad, who was the first person I got on my phone after the jump.) I ended up at a NAPA store. I got the brush, and asked the clerk if he could test my battery. After knocking off a lot of the corrosion, he asked me to try and start my car.

"Holy shit."

"Looks like you've got a bad cell," he told me while looking at his meter. It had been awhile since I got a battery, so if that was the only thing I needed to spend money on, I was fine with it. I also decided to get an air filter, remembering the dirty piece of plastic the guy at the oil change place showed me a couple months back. Confident in my limited skillz, I went to install my new purchases.

Five minutes later, I was back inside asking for help. I couldn't get the air filter cover to fit, and the bar that secured the battery couldn't screw into place. The same guy (an assistant manager, mind you), took one look, flipped the air filter over, locked the cover into place, then manuevered the battery bar into position. (Like I said, my skillz are limited.) I went back to my hotel to get cleaned up. After a well-deserved shower, I laid in my bed to rest for a bit before the game.

About three hours later, I awoke to find UT trailing OU in the second quarter. (I'd go over what happened in the game, but you probably know by now.) Toward the end of the game, I texted a proposition to the ladies.

"How do you feel about dinner tonight?"

My enjoyment of Saturday night came down to two choices: try to entertain myself in Dallas by myself, or make a quick 2-and-a-half hour drive to Oklahoma and meet up with some lovely Oklahomans. After a while, I ended up talking Debbie into my idea.

Our plan was to meet at a nice place called BJ's in a town just south of OKC. I couldn't resist a little bragging, so I put on my new UT t-shirt, white, with burnt orange lettering and an orange longhorn. I ended up beating her to the restaurant (driving 83 mph helps). But, after a few hours, a fill-up, and countless hours spent at auto parts stores, the Pop Candy Dallas meetup finally took place in Norman, Oklahoma.

Gifts were exchanged: a "boo bucket" of candy for me for my drive home, (carrying on a tradition first started during 4th of July weekend), shot glasses for her and Andrea (she was in Clinton, OK, an hour away, so I gave it to Debbie, since they actually live in the same area code), a UT football for Debbie's son, the world-famous Baby Ben, and crab hats for all of us, sent with TLC from Stacie, aka fressshies. Our night consisted of a lovely dinner, something called a "pi-zookie" (fo' shizzle), and a trip to a nearby Indian casino. Since most of the machines were penny slots, I didn't lose that much money, but I still had fun. Mix in trying to explain to someone how the 25 different paylines on a video slot machine work, a biker with a rattail staring down my friend, and a dance party set to the music of a slot machine, and it was definitely a night to remember.

I dropped her off at the restaurant, we took some more pictures with our crab hats on, and then I headed back to Dallas.

For those of you who may still think that "meeting people from the Internet" is code for "I have no social skills in real life," I say get over yourselves. Especially if you get to meet a Candy (or a Whitness, as they're sometimes referred). You will have a GREAT time.

Labels: , ,