Thursday, September 4, 2003
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quote du jour:
"Those who don't know the mistakes of the past won't be able to enjoy it when they make them again in the future." -- Diane Elizabeth Duane
        
Atlas? Check.

Full tank of gas? Check.

Four changes of clothes? Check.

All lights and air conditioner turned off? Check.

Appropriate amount of socks & underwear? Check.

Variety of burned CDs for new six-disc changer? Check.

Canned beverages & sandwiches for lunch on the road? Check.

I was exactly one-hour behind schedule, but feeling quite proud of myself when I left my apartment for Baton Rouge last Friday morning. After all, I'd thought of everything I would need for the 450-mile trip to south Louisiana. I deemed myself "road trip ready." I'd even grabbed a sleeping bag in case the weekend's accommodations were too crowded.

Of course, I was forgetting one thing... The envelope with the LSU game tickets for me and my 10 friends. I'll let you guess how long it took me to discover them missing:

(a) One block.
(b) Three miles.
(c) 19 miles.
(d) 38 miles.
(e) 57 miles.

If you answered "e" you are correct... And you've successfully reinforced my new status as the Supreme King Dumbass of All Creation.

It's one of those areas where the two sides of the interstate spread apart and a big patch of trees is allowed to grow in between. There's a big florescent orange sign posted by the highway department in honor of a recently completed project. It's eight friggin' miles before the next exit. The echoes of my profanity still linger in the air above. The tripometer on my truck said 57. Yeah, I can tell you exactly when I found out my road trip was going to get longer.

I don't know how one forgets such things. I had nail clippers. I packed my swim trunks. I had contacts and cleaner and the case for my glasses. I threw some Q-tips into my shaving kit. I had extra razors. How is it possible that I packed every single thing I could have bought easily and forgot the $396 in football tickets that couldn't be replaced? I have no clue... But last week (and today), it doesn't really matter. They weren't there and I had to trek back to get them.

Other than the Great Brain Fart of '03 and a small tropical depression in the Gulf that kept things wet, the trip went well. That's quite an accomplishment considering that we brought together 11 people from eight cities in three states. Of course, it didn't start that way.

This summer, I decided to go down and visit Zoë and her fiance down near New Orleans. I noticed that LSU was playing a home game that weekend and thought the three of us would go. That's simple, right? Three friends. One football game. Ahhhh. That would have been nice.

But then I mentioned the idea while on the phone to Doc one night. She decided that she wanted to go, too. That was cool, though, because it evened things up to four people. Of course, it didn't stay that way. Zoë mentioned it to a couple of friends and then it came up in conversation with a couple more. Soon, we found ourselves with eight people. Doc pointed out that we hadn't invited Amanda and her fiance, so I did that and we had 10 folks. Tack Jessie onto the list and, poof, we have 11.

Although I only officially invited a small percentage of the party, I was somehow put in charge of the weekend. Needless to say, we didn't have a lot of strategic planning. Those that require such were remained quite nervous. I'm good on deadline pressure, but give me time to make a decision and I'm pretty wishy washy. Yet, everyone made it to Baton Rouge in one piece and everything we wanted to happen happened. You can't ask for much more.

The one really strange aspect of the weekend was Doc.

I don't even remember how it began, but we've become quite friendly over the last month or so. Granted, we've always been friends... But with her busy in medical school 200 miles away, we just didn't communicate a lot. Now, it seems that we talk at least once a week and have what appear to be meaningful conversations. And so when, in one of those many conversations, she suggested I take a two-hour detour to pick her up on my way to Baton Rouge... I agreed.

I'm not really sure how Jessie felt about it all. I think she really wanted her and I to ride together. Yet, Doc and I only see each other during special occasions (birthdays, graduations, etc.) and Jessie sees me all the damn time. Besides, it allowed me to see places I'd never seen before. Granted, most of those places are little more than interstate exits without gas stations or bathrooms... But it was worth it to learn that information by experience.

Doc and I have a habit of acting like seven-year-olds when we're around each other... Not in a bad way, but in a "I really like you, so I think I'll insult you" sort of way. I was worried that the entire trip would be like that. As it turns out, we can actually act like adults once in a while. That's a refreshing discovery.

Doc and I were the only ones of the 11 actually staying in Baton Rouge Friday night and we crashed at her aunt & uncle's house. Driving down together. Spending the night together -- sort of. Being assigned together to bring stuff for our cook-out Saturday. Being Doc & I on a team together... Well, it was an odd feeling -- good odd -- but odd, nevertheless. It was something I wasn't used to, but something I enjoyed. We worked well together and, hopefully, the Baton Rouge trip won't be the only chance we get to do so.

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Copyright © 2003, Thomas Fletcher. All Rights Reserved.