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peak:

Four in a row. Oh, yes. That... and I've started reading a new book. It's Stephen King's "On Writing" and I highly recommend it to you writing types out there.


valley:

Well, the sleep pattern is still screwed up. Of course, I will be blaming Jonathan for most of this since he blew my once chance at normal sleep Tuesday.


noise:

My roomie snoring.


sustenance:

A Coke and some Pringles. In a few moments, I'm going to down some more allergy pills.


thoughts:

Would you believe that my mind is blank? Okay, so it's not. But I'm nothing thinking about anything profound... Just how I want to wash my face, take some drugs and catch an hour or two of sleep.


365:

(Oct. 26, 2000)
From greatness to damn near disaster: A night at the symphony with S.D.


friday, october 26th

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Quote Du Jour:
"Look at yourselves. Go on, look at you. People of Sherwood Forest, you've been had. Hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Run amuck. We didn't land on Sherwood Forest, Sherwood Forest landed on us! - (Blinkin in "Robin Hood: Men in Tights")

I'd make a drink if I had the booze.

Maybe it'd be a screwdriver... or maybe it'd be a little Sprite and vodka. Regardless, it would be in the name of nostalgia.


It was sometime after midnight on the second or third night of my 1999 trip to the Associated Collegiate Press convention in Atlanta. I walked into our dark downtown hotel room on the 40-something-eth floor and looked out at the city. The room was the highest place I'd ever laid my head down in and the view was simply amazing.

My roommate was already sound asleep when I arrived, but the city below -- like any major city, I'm sure -- was still alive. Until that night, I'd never taken a drink alone. The thought of doing so always seemed lonesome and depressing. But I was anything but lonesome or depressed... So, I mixed a screwdriver sweet enough to drink without wincing the entire time but strong enough to spread warmth throughout my body.

The Peachtree Plaza Hotel is a round building with each of the rooms placed on the outside edge like pieces of a pie. The entire outer wall of each room is glass from floor to ceiling with a single handrail hung about four foot above the carpet. I pulled a desk chair up close to the window. I grabbed my CD player and headphones. I moved my drink to a nearby desk. I propped my feet up on the railing, played a few tunes by Alabama and drank my screwdriver. For a few moments, the city of Atlanta and I were one. For a boy from a land dominated by three-floor Best Westerns, I was getting a taste of the good life and I didn't want to let that sneak by. I sat there, opened my soul and soaked it up. Damn near two years to the day, that night is still crystal clear in my mind. I can go back anytime I want. I love that.

Almost exactly a year after that night in Atlanta and nearly a year ago from today, I was in Washington, D.C. for the 2000 ACP convention. Instead of staring out at skyscrapers on the second night of the journey, I found myself standing near the corner of H and 14th streets as Jonathan and Amy smoked cigarettes outside our hotel. It was fairly cool in D.C. that night -- much like it is here tonight. And, like tonight, I was probably underdressed for the occasion.

At the moment, it's jeans and a t-shirt in 43 degree weather. On that day, it was scrub pants that I'd planned on sleeping in and a dark blue, untucked, button-down shirt. I remember the wind cutting through the scrubs with ease, but not being as cold as I should have been. The poison for that night was Spring and vodka. I'm sure that it provided just a bit of warmth.

We stood there near the street for a while. They smoked while I gave extemporaneous speeches and sermons on the problems of America's youth in my best Malcom X / Blinkin style of delivery. They laughed and they let me repeat many times a line from "Robin Hood: Men In Tights."

"Look at yourselves. Go on, look at you. People of Sherwood Forest, you've been had. Hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Run amuck. We didn't land on Sherwood Forest, Sherwood Forest landed on us!"

I really liked saying the word bamboozled. I probably incorporated it in entirely too much of what was said on the sidewalk that night.

Unlike Atlanta, with the image of her night sky burned into my mind, I'd forgotten about my bamboozled speeches on 14th Street... that is, until today. I saw the word in a link in some forum at Three Way Action and I couldn't get it out of my head. I knew it was familiar. I knew it had significance. I knew how to say it exactly how Blinkin had said it in the movie. But I didn't even know whether or not it had come from a movie.

Then, out of nowhere, it all came back to me. I remembered the movie, the speeches and the scrubs on the cool night in the District of Columbia. I remembered that those speeches came on the Friday of the ACP convention. My memory suggested to me that the night in front of the window in Atlanta had been a Friday, too.

Today is Friday.

Right now, in the city of New Orleans, they're having another one of those ACP conventions. This one, however, is happening without Thomas Fletcher. I have been replaced on the school's roster of attendees by younger students that have taken over the leadership roles at our paper.

I've been to New Orleans before and for that reason alone, I thought I wouldn't miss being a part of the ACP trip. I was right. I didn't miss it... at first. And then I saw bamboozled on ThreeWayAction. And I recalled my preaching outside the Hilton Garden Inn. And I brought back to the front of my brain the images of the Atlanta skyline and the taste of a well-mixed screwdriver.

Tonight, all I've had to drink is Coca-Cola. The view from my window is of the opposite wing of my three-story dorm. There have been no speeches. I've inhaled little second-hand smoke. The only thing that comes close to resembling either of those nights is that my roomie is sound a sleep in bed nearby. I'd really like to be sad about it all. In fact, I've been pretty sad the entire time I've been writing this... but I think that's about to come to an end.

I wonder about the wonderful things that could have happened to me in New Orleans tonight -- on my Friday night. Perhaps I missed out on something big... or maybe, because I was sitting here alone in my dorm room, I've gained something a bit bigger. Not being in the Big Easy tonight doesn't make me special. Let's face it -- lots of people aren't there tonight. But lots of people weren't 40+ floors up in downtown Atlanta or preaching in the cold on D.C.'s 14th Street, either... I was.

I'd make a drink if I had the booze.

Maybe it'd be a screwdriver... or maybe it'd be a little Sprite and vodka. Regardless, it would be for the appreciation of good memories that we too often take for granted. We're all a little better off than we sometimes think. We must remind ourselves that from time to time.

copyright © 2001, Thomas Fletcher. all rights reserved.