Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Homeward Bound

A couple of weekends ago, my friend G. and I went out of town for a few days. We did it last year and it was such a success, at least in terms of liquor consumption, that we decided to do it again.

"What time are you getting back tomorrow?" the Lovely Bride asked me the Friday we were leaving.

"I'm not. We're coming back Sunday."


"Sunday. I told you that."

"You're going to G.'s house for three days?"

"No. We're going to Madison."


"Madison. I told you that too."

The Lovely Bride gave me a flat stare. "When did you tell me this?"

"I don't know. A few weeks ago."

"Was I asleep?"

"No. I don't know. Maybe."

There was a pause while she mentally ran through her options. "Do the boys need to be anywhere this weekend?" she finally asked.

"No, and G.'s driving so our oldest can use my car in a pinch."

"I guess we won't miss you, then," she said.

"I'll miss you, snookums," I said, trying to smooch the side of her face.

"Isn't it time for you to leave?" she asked, pushing me away.

G. soon arrived and I threw my stuff in his car. It took us less than ten minutes to start bickering over music.

"We're not going to listen to that singer-songwriter crap the whole way there, are we?" I asked.

"What's wrong with it?"

"I didn't have my estrogen shot this week," I said.

"It's better than your stuff," said G. "Just because music's free doesn't mean it's good."

"That's an anti-Semitic remark," I told him.

"Your heritage is fine. It's your taste in music that's questionable."

After a bit more squabbling we compromised on Frightened Rabbit.

"This is really a boring drive," I said.

"True, but there's whiskey at the end of it," G. reminded me.

"Hey look, a game farm!" I said, pointing at a billboard.

"We don't hunt," G. reminded me.

"I do, sometimes."


"Okay, it's been a few years."

"We don't have any guns with us anyway," G. said.

"Maybe they'd let us kick a bird instead," I said.

We stopped twice, once for lunch in Eau Claire. There's nothing like a beer before noon to confirm I'm on vacation. The second time we stopped was at a gas station near Tomah.

"I'm hungry," I whined, poking through the snacks near the cash register.

"Jesus, you just had chili and a sandwich an hour ago," G. said.

"I have a high metabolism."

"Yeah, and you're big boned," said G.

"Screw you," I suggested.

"Anyway, you're not eating landjäger in my car."

"It's Wisconsin," I reminded him. "We're required to have sausage on us at all times."

Soon enough we arrived in Madison. We parked, checked in at our hotel near the statehouse, and went exploring. That is, drinking.

After a while the landjäger wore off and I insisted on dinner. With my superior sense of direction it only took forty-five minutes of aimless wandering through residential neighborhoods to find a restaurant located three blocks from our hotel.

There are a lot of bars in Madison, many of them within walking distance of the place we stayed. At one point we ended up back at our hotel on the way to somewhere else.

"Can you call us a cab?" G. asked the concierge.

"Where do you want to go?" he asked.

"I don't know," said G.

"A cab can't take you there," the concierge said.

"What the hell," said G., throwing up his hands and stalking away.

"Sorry, he's been drinking," I apologized.

I wouldn't have guessed," said the concierge.

Saturday was perhaps understandably slow to get going. Eventually we made our way toward the campus, walking through blocks of interesting old houses.

"What kind of stupid city gets built on hills?" I panted at one point.

"Rome," said G. "Seattle."

"I hate them both," I said.

"Stop complaining."

"Screw you," I reminded him.

The campus was as nice as I remembered. Pretty much what you'd want a Midwestern land grant university to be.

"I wish I could go back to college," I told G.

"I wish I could go back to elementary school," he replied.

After some more walking it was time for lunch. We settled on a Laotian place. One in a long line of decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time.

"You're awfully pale. Are you going to make it?" G. asked.

"I hope not," I said, guzzling a glass of water and poking dispiritedly at the gray chicken on my plate.

Fortunately, we were right around the corner from the Plaza Tavern, with its charming ambiance and medicinal ales. After a few minutes of watching a college football game on TV, G. challenged me to a game of Big Buck Safari.

"You shot a cow!" the machine announced when I pulled the trigger a little quickly, canceling the rest of my round.

"Screw you too," I told it.

By midafternoon we had seen all the bookstores we wanted and arrived at the convention center. My mother and a friend who'd served on the Dane County planning staff had both recommended we visit. After confirming it was indeed a Frank Lloyd Wright slab of concrete, we started looking around for a place to have dinner.

"How about here?" I suggested as we passed a steakhouse.

"Alright," said G. He made reservations for later that night and we continued down the block.

"Hey, a New Orleans bar!" he said. "I'm thirsty!"

We went in and sat down, the only ones there. The waitress came over.

"What can I get you?" she asked.

"I'll have an Abita," I said.

"Do you have anything brown and kind of textured?" asked G.

She looked at him blankly and shook her head.

"What the hell's wrong with you?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said defensively. "Fine, I'll just have an Abita too."

Before long we'd talked ourselves into Hurricanes, the perfect drink for a nice cold day. Before too much longer, G. had talked himself into bourbon.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" asked the waitress, who had gotten past her initial suspicion we were creepy old men and had come to view us as vaguely entertaining, in a sad way.

"Bourbon's always a good idea," said G.

"He's very conscientious about his health," I said. "He used to be a firefighter. Bring us some shrimp and jambalaya too, please. And I'll have another Abita."

The waitress left to place our order.

"We're not going to the steakhouse, are we?" asked G.

"It seems like a lot of work," I said. "Let's just stay here."

Which we did. The shrimp was good and the jambalaya even better. Night came and the bar filled up. We ended up talking to the bartender, who'd just been dumped by her boyfriend. She made a couple of batches of some sour apple drink, drank some of it herself and snuck the rest to us, and from there on out things are a little hazy.

The drive home on Sunday seemed to take a lot longer than the drive there. Even so, I was home well before dinner. The Lovely Bride was working at the kitchen table.

"I missed you," I said, giving her a smooch on the top of her head.

"We missed you too," she said.

"No we didn't," said my oldest.

"I did," said the Lovely Bride.

"That's all that matters," I said.


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I felt a disturbance in the Force.

Probably best you didn't alert the Zombies of your proximity though. I understand.

Jennifer said...

I'll ignore the estrogen shot comment...

That stretch of 94 is eternal.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

That's for sure, Jennifer.

I had a couple of post-college interviews in Eau Claire, and was amazed at the Nebraska-esque drive. At least there are trees, I guess.

Stopping in Tomah is your only choice.

Vonnie said...

I love Madison though. So pretty. I spent many weekends there the summer I worked at a camp in East Troy.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

"It's Wisconsin," I reminded him. "We're required to have sausage on us at all times."

Tell it to Ed Gein.

btw, Snaggo, what do you tell the spawn when the encounter your digital personae, and the motely crue such has attracted?

Jennifer said...

It's bad form to wear a lampshade on your head when in WI.

As for the spawn, I think they've been told to be afraid of us... very afraid.

Brando said...

Tickle lived in Madison for a couple of years, but I only made it up there once to see him, and we wound up watching football all day.

Hilarious as usual, Snag. You should call these Snagelogues.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

It's bad form to wear a lampshade on your head when in WI.

But MAKING a lampshade from a head, well....

Substance McGravitas said...

"I wish I could go back to elementary school," he replied.

Totally. I can do every piece of work my daughter brings home. I mean, what's the deal there?

Jennifer said...

But MAKING a lampshade from a head, well....



Kathleen said...

did you have to wear pants?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

"Sorry, he's been drinking," I apologized.

Shut up he explained

Very good, snag.