Disclaimer: All names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved, however they may not have been changed nearly enough.
I recently had the chance to spend a weekend in Raleigh, NC. I lived in Raleigh for the first half of the “Two Double O’s” and I welcome any chance I get to go back down there and hang out with some of my best friends, including Lyle Mead, Milo Nicks (who could not make this trip), Farrah and Josephine Davids, Mr. Belvedere, Ryan Liter and Robin Van Dam. This was going to be a fast and furious trip (not even 48 hours) because like Vegas, New Orleans (pre-Katrina) and Teaneck, Raleigh is a party town and being there too long is just too much, even for a beast like me.
I flew into RDU International right after work on Friday afternoon and landed about 8:00pm. Lyle picked me up in his monster truck and we went to a quiet dinner (not like that!). After a chicken sandwich, a vegetable “medley” consisting of only asparagus and a half gallon of sweet tea we decided it was time to hit the town and meet up with Farrah Davids, Robin Van Dam and some of their friends. We get to a country bar called “City Limits” and the place is off the chains, packed with “country people” rocking tight jeans, cowboy boots, vests, NASCAR shirts and western hats of various gallons (I realize most people refer to them as “10 Gallon Hats,” but some of the ones I saw looked a little light and I don’t like to give credit where it is undeserved). As we approach the door it becomes obvious it is not just any night at the Road House, Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish was performing! I am not much of a country fan, but dude blew the roof off the dump. He did all his new songs, country versions of the Hootie hits and old school favorites like “Family Tradition.” This would have been a good show if I was prepared for it, but because it was a total surprise it was that much better. Once the show was over and the DJ started playing “Cotton Eyed Joe” to entice drunk country chicks in matching denim pants and vest ensembles to dance on the bar, Lyle and I called it a night and rolled to his house. Side Note: I don’t care what Farrah Davids says, Gym Class Heroes IS the new Hootie and the Blowfish! A non-threatening black guy, surrounded by even less threatening white guys, mixing genres and making harmless party music, clearly I am right about this. In 10 years when Travis McCoy makes a country record and tours NC, I’ll be at that show too!
Lyle purchased a beautiful townhouse in palatial North Raleigh since the last time I was down in the Dirty South, after a tour of the place we embarked on an epic conversation that spanned the entire length of “Rocky Balboa”...twice. We covered topics including all kinds of music, movies and Tucker Max. Just after 4:00 am he drops “We gotta be on the road by 7:30 to get some stuff done for the tail gate.” Awesome, 3 hours of sleep before an 8 hour debacle of mingling in the sun with people I see once a year, this should go well.
I get up, shower and am sitting shotgun in the truck by 7:30 am, we go to Walmart for a cooler and then an ABC Store for...the only thing you can buy at an ABC Store. While in the state-run liquor store I get a call from Farrah Davids and proceed to say the following into my phone at a volume audible to every employee in the store: “Hey, what did you say you wanted again? I couldn’t remember if it was supposed to be Watermelon or Sour Apple Pucker. I know you told me last night, but it was hard to concentrate because you were trying on prom dresses.” I thought that would make it obvious we were buying alcohol for minors (which we weren’t), but nobody in the store had any reaction at all. We paid for the booze and went back to Lyle’s house, but the fact that we accomplished all the errands with ninja-like efficiency meant we had about 3 hours to kill before we left for the game, which wasn’t starting for like 9 hours at this point.
We finally get to the parking spot at about 2:30, it’s pretty much Me, Lyle, a few decrepit old people in Winnebago’s and security guards, not exactly Fun City...yet. Over the course of the next hour all of my NC people filtered in the lot and made their way to Lyle’s parking spot (literally 50 feet from the field). The afternoon progressed with obscene amounts of beer, sweat tea flavored vodka and scotch (we even tailgate like gentlemen) consumed by just about everyone.
After about 6 hours of parking lot fun we decide to actually go to the game, on the way in Lyle stops to buy a pretzel and gets into a verbal altercation with an elderly man. It is currently unclear whether this altercation was the result of the elderly man suggesting Lyle should count his change faster and clear the pretzel cart for other customers or if he made a disparaging remark about diabetics. It should be noted that Lyle does not suffer from diabeties or even know anyone that does, he simply has taken it upon himself to defend people stricken with this horrible disease.
The first half of the game was not that entertaining, South Florida was crushing State. Right before half-time the sky opened up rain drops the size of Jolly Ranchers began to pelt the crowd. A mass exodus of the stadium started immediately and in the confusion I began running back to Lyle’s truck. I get about 50 feet away from our tailgate area and I realize I am running by myself. In the midst of the confusion of tens of thousands of people rushing for shelter I look back and see Lyle with a derranged look on his face, searching the crowd and moving side to side like Shawn Merriman in the throws of a ‘roid rage. He was seriously looking for the old man that upset him on the way into the game, when I walked over to him I could hear him mumble about a “Curbside Smile.” Luckily he never found the guy and we all went back to the tailgate, the rain eventually calmed down and we hung out until about the end of the 3rd quarter and then called it a night.
We returned to Lyle’s house and talked about old times for a few hours. The best part of this whole thing is that every time Mr. Belvedere’s sidekick Pat Billiards opened his mouth everybody told him to shut the hell up, I’m not sure why this kid is such a whipping boy, but it’s pretty clear his “friends “ hate him like Lyle hates people that don’t respect diabetes. At one point he tilted his chin up and barely opened his mouth attempting to say something and Josaphine Davids smacked the living shit out of him, I’m pretty sure she knocked his jaw loose, I hope he ends up being alright. We eventually all went to sleep, but because we were all sopping wet from the monsoon at Carter-Finley Stadium, Lyle let us borrow clothes to sleep in. These outfits were comprised entirely of athletic gear from NC State and Florida State, putting any combination of people together for a picture resulted in a photo that looked like an advertisement for Dick’s from the Sunday pull-out section of the newspaper.
Sunday was cool and relaxing, we hung out and watched The Departed. They literally could not have included any more celebrities in that movie and while it was a little hard to think of Leonardo DiCaprio as a bad ass, it was pretty good. I went to the airport Sunday afternoon and while my flight was delayed several hours I ran into some guy I haven’t seen in years and the following conversation took place:
Him: You should have told me you were coming to town.
Me: I decided to come down at the last minute, and by last minute I mean early August.
I finally made it home late Sunday night and then returned to Dirty Jerz life on Monday morning.