Labor Day weekend was spent taking Friday off and taking an arduous, three-flight journey down to Key West for the bachelor party (yes, another one) of one of my best friend's from college, who we'll call "The Italian."
The group consisted of: (i) the "DC Crew" -- that is, three of us from the same fraternity/pledge class (Pi Kappa Alpha, for those interested) plus The Italian's two brothers-in-law to-be, one biological to the bride, one through marriage to the bride's sister, and (ii) the "NY Crew" -- that is, The Italian's six best friends from high school.
Four were missing from the DC Crew, two of which would be considered "long-time" members thereof. Dicks. (Okay, okay. I know one of them, this one, had a legit excuse, but still.)
One thing has to be said about the NY Crew: they are a completely ridiculous group of guys. A motley crew if you will. I've been around them before and like them all a lot. They're all really funny, especially when there are a few of them together. All seven of them? Forget about it. Craziness is sure to ensue. Now, I've always claimed to outsiders that my group of friends (i.e., the DC Crew here plus a few) is pretty absurd and very strange to the casual observer. An outsider would think we are kind of nasty to each other, take forever to make up our minds/get things organized, are raging alcoholics, etc., etc., etc. Well, we've got nothing on the NY Crew (maybe except for the raging alcoholic part). In any event, it was going to be a wild time.
I woke up and left the comfortable abode of Miss X with Fry in her capable hands, drove home and did one last check of the bag to make sure I had everything, then over to DCA for Flight No. 1 on Continental to Newark.
I've never been to Newark Airport but now, having been there twice, I can safely say that it is a fucking dump. AND no free wi-fi. HATE.
My second flight was Newark to Ft. Lauderdale. This flight pissed me off royally. The one advantage Continental has over all other carriers is DirectTV on flights in 737s or bigger. This was a 737 yet no DirectTV. I. Was. Pissed. #Bullshit!
The Ft. Lauderdale airport did have free Wi-Fi, however. Woo-hoo! I was hungry so found the Chili's and had what was sure to be a safe choice, the grilled chicken sandwich. Err, not so much. More on that a little later.
From Ft. Lauderdale it was a puddle-jumper to Key West. Some sort of Bombardier product that had essentially no air conditioning. Nubs.
I was the last to arrive so I went from the airport to the hotel (we were staying at the Westin) and then out onto Duval Street to meet up with everyone else who was out having dinner. Immediately upon sitting down, I knew something was not quite right. In retrospect, the heat and humidity, which were abominable, likely contributed to my ill feeling. I'm still convinced it was not due to alcohol as I had consumed only 3-4 drinks as I made my way down South. In any event, within five minutes of joining the group at the table, I was up and sprinting for the bathroom wherein my Chili's chicken sandwich expelled itself from my body.
Upon returning to the table, one of the NY Crew, who has been through that airport numerous times, asked whether I had eaten at Chili's and informed me that this specific Chili's was not to be trusted food-wise, with anything more exotic than a garden salad. Lesson learned.
After everyone settled up over dinner, we headed out to Duval Street -- think a smaller, less-crowded, not-as-stinky but in all other ways similar (including, without limitation, just as trashy) version of Bourbon Street -- to begin drinking in earnest. But not before The Italian vomited on the sidewalk while we were trying to decide where to go. Nice!
Basically the rest of the night was spent frequenting bars and er, uh, other establishments of entertainment. Much alcohol was consumed. The Italian was The Worst. We didn't crash until around 3:30 a.m. Just like the bachelor party I went to in Austin last year, going so heavy on the first night is usually not the best idea.
Woke up butt early (well, at least for having gone to sleep at 3:30 am) to go "fishing" on the Tortuga IV.
This fishing trip is a little bit a scam. You pay $60 to get on the boat and for access to a rod and bait. The boat drives out about 25 minutes and drops anchor and you fish. After about 30-40 minutes it picks up anchor, drives about ten minutes and drops at a second locale. This repeats about 3 more times, meaning for a 9 to 1 fishing trip you're actually with a hook in the water for about 2.5 hours.
We each put in $20 for a pool, he who catches the biggest fish taking the whole pot. Caveat: the fish must be big enough to be legally kept by the boat. None of us caught even a one such fish, leading to a return of money. Though, it must be said, not for lack of trying on the part of one of the deck mates to cheat the rest of us in favor of The Italian. The rest of us, not being born yesterday, didn't fall for this obvious ruse. At least one of us (a member of the DC Crew) projectile'd over the side into the ocean (a casualty of our night-before-idiocy, no doubt) and I doubt anyone felt 100%. It was hot, humid and the extremely powerful sun was beating down on us. Needless to say, we were all pretty damn thrilled to get back on dry land. The views were nice though, at least:
[P.S. Two of the NY Crew decided not to go fishing. While this might have been short-term smart it was long-term retarded. Why? Because they're now henceforth known as big, fat, sloppy vaginas.]
After our fishing disaster, we all went back to the hotel and each or in small groups kind of did our own thing. I went down to the pool as I'm wont to do to drink some rum-based cocktails, eat lunch and, of course, catch the Sun's glorious rays. Did I mention that it was balls hot and oppressively humid the entire time we were there? Because it was. And the pool was piss warm. The long and short of it is that I was only able to last down there 1.5 hours, which is rare for me, and was so wiped out that I promptly napped for 2.5 hours.
After napping, we got ready for dinner. [Aside: It's at this point I got a phone call from Miss X. Though we had been texting since I got there we sort of had an agreement that there would be no calls. This being the case, getting a call seemed to me to signal some sort of emergency. I'm not going to get into details but suffice it to say that Fry screwed me again as far as his time at Miss X's goes. #BadDog!]
We decided upon dining at Braza Lena, a Brazilian steakhouse, which boasts of 16 cuts of meat and the largest salad bar in the keys. Amazingly enough, I've never actually been to a Brazilian steakhouse which, considering my love of red meat is shameful, I know. This was very good, not great. My favorite cuts were the flank steak, top sirloin and chicken wrapped in bacon. We had drinks no dessert. I could have eaten more but it seemed like they stopped bringing us food after awhile. Guess they've gotta make they're money somehow.
We went back to the hotel and boozed a little before heading back out to Duval Street for more drinking and debauchery. My earlier exhortations to the contrary, I was again up until 3 a.m. The Worst? Easily The Italian's soon-to-be brother-in-law, through marriage to the bride's sister. He was fucking RIPPED!
Most of the crew was up relatively early, in the 10:30ish range and out the door for breakfast. I begged off, needing additional sleep. Plus, I had an agenda of my own: (i) sight-seeing, (ii) shopping for Miss X and (iii) eating myself.
For sight-seeing I had a few checklist items. First, way back in the day, when I started at my current firm and was doing real estate transactions, from about August 2007 thru January 2007, one of our clients was in negotiations to buy a marina in Key West. The owner of said marina said, "I'll sell but you have to buy my restaurants too." This deal was a nightmare. Complicated as all Hell and with numerous false-starts on closing, including one that was to occur during my mom's wake (it didn't). The deal never did close but these restaurants are burned in my mind. Thus:
Second, the southermost point in the Continental United States. There was a line to take in picture in front of it. Am I too good to wait in line? Yes I am. As a result, I've just made some strangers "famous."
Third, some other random "attractions":
|Hemingway's House is back there somewhere.|
Not worth $12 to see.
|This just made me laugh when I saw it.|
As for shopping for Miss X...I looked, honestly I did. But, it's all crap down there. If there's one thing Miss X doesn't need, it's crap. Who does like crap? Little kids! Luckily, Miss X nannies two of those so I got them some:
Finally, lunch. While walking around looking for Miss X, I came across a menu on Duval Street that looked promising. The restaurant was called bagatelle (yes, that lowercase "b" is intentional) and served breakfast food until 4:00 p.m. Don't mind if I do. Steak and eggs that is.
With all that out of the way, I rejoined the group for some in-room boozing (naturally) prior to our big dinner finale (sans three of the DC Crew, including both future brothers-in-law who had lamely skipped out early) at a place called Michaels. Apparently it's Zagat's Rated as the best restaurant in Key West and a top-3 restaurant in all of Florida.
The restaurant was smart enough to put us in a back room, sequestered and closed off by doors from the rest of the patrons. Let's just say the dinner conversation was "not appropriate" for *any* outsiders and leave it at that. Generally, with a few exceptions, everyone thought the taste of the food lived up to it's billing. For my part, I was drinking Ketel rocks followed by the house Pinot and ate the French onion soup (excellent) and the Veal Saltimbocca for dinner. This consisted of:
Tender veal sautéed and topped with prosciutto di parma, yellow tomatoes, fresh sage, manchego cheese and a velvety cream sauceIn other words, "Mmmmmmmm."
After dinner, a few of us were pretty much cashed for the weekend, myself included, so we did not venture back out onto Duval Street. Oh well.
For the record, one of the NY Crew -- the one with the kid -- was The Worst this day/night.'
Monday -- Labor Day
Ugh. Mondays are bad enough. 8:00 a.m. flights on Mondays are several degrees worse. 8:00 a.m. flights on Mondays after a weekend of essentially non-stop boozing and 4-5 hours of sleep per night for three days? B-R-U-T-A-L.
Yet that's what one of the NY Crew and I faced. Luckily there were no shenanigans or problems getting to the airport. I hopped my puddle jumper, this time to Tampa and settled in for a 2-hour layover, complete with free Wi-Fi (again, woo-hoo!) and a pretty hearty breakfast at Sam Snead's Tavern.
Flight from Tampa to DCA remedied the DirectTV problem from going down but at that time of the day, nothing was on. Instead, watched some Season One Castle's I had put on the ol' laptop and read some of Meg's book [Note- If you want to go but it, use the Amazon search bar on the side. K-Thanks].
Landed. Swung by home to get a few more clothes. Drove up to Bethesda. Reunited with both Miss X and Fry.
Happy and Exhausted.