Thursday, September 30, 2010

When I die...

scatter my ashes in Tiger Stadium.

I realized my flaw with travel writing is that so much insanely funny, awesome, ridiculous stuff happens and I don’t record EVERY second of it so what I end up blogging when I get home is just a litany of “we went here, we did this.” That’s not very interesting. Especially when the best part of writing is the introspective part. There are a couple of solutions to this: 1) Bring a film crew (which was thrown out there, as Kathryn and I are hysterical together), 2) Take pauses to write while traveling (maybe plausible when traveling solo, but usually when traveling I’m out, ya know, DOING stuff), or 3) write epically long pieces. Which is what is going to happen now. I’ll even figure out how to use a cut just so you can break this up. You’re welcome.

Every time I go to Louisiana I think I HAVE to be the only native San Franciscan who prefers being in South Louisiana to the culturally deep city of my birth. I leave again, heart broken.

Yeah. Okay. Fine. That’s some overwrought bullshit. But I leave…a little sad. And that’s fair. I know y’all think I’m ridiculous but there is NOTHING better, nothing that makes my heart skip a beat, that gets my blood pumping the way an LSU football game does. NOTHING. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. I can’t even begin to describe it. The lights of Tiger Stadium. 93,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs. The announcer telling you to remove your hat for the National Anthem. That the chance of rain is always "Never", even if it is currently dumping on you. The thump of the drums as the band marches out onto the field, led by the drum major all in white with sparkles all over him. Those perfect purple and gold uniforms. And then those magical chords. DUN DUN DU DUN. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The trip was not without it’s turbulence. There always is at least some. We drank too much. We partied to hard (is that even possible?). We didn’t see the cultural sites one is supposed to see on a vacation. But generally? There were no major flaws in my decision-making. The booze and bad decisions tour was without any bad decisions. And because of that you get the full run down.

Through a fortunate series of events, I ended up getting a ride with my Aunt Linda to the airport because she was on the same flight to Denver, but was headed to Kansas City. That meant I connected with Kathryn in Denver to MSY and was never alone on my flights. I was groggy and am not a morning person so arriving at the airport at 5 a.m. was difficult for me. No, I do not want to engage in conversation with you, thanks. Kathryn and I drank Corona’s with my free Southwest coupons on our flight and made friends with our flight attendant who told us to have a fantastic trip. We had the middle seat empty so no strangers to harsh our vibe.

We arrived Wednesday, without Lex, who for reasons I’m still not in complete understanding of didn’t make her flight. Shoulder shrug. Checked into our fantastic hotel. The room was big and gorgeous, with a huge vanity area outside the bathroom. How’d they know we’d want to do our makeup? When the adorable bellman arrived with our bags, he asked us if we wanted an “orientation”? I said, “What is this? College?” We then joked with him for five more minutes. I asked what the locked cabinet next to the mini bar was. He said it’s a “pee trap”. We asked other random questions. Like where to pick up more beer. He said we were highly amusing and he can’t wait to tell his boss about us.

Waited for the rain to abate and swam in the pool, cleaned ourselves up, and, in casual clothes, headed to Port of Call, as has become tradition on the night we arrive in New Orleans. Had a couple beers there and a usual fantastic burger. (Kathryn ate salad, dressing on the side, no meat or cheese. Natch.) I will now spend 'til the next time I go to N.O. dreaming of Port of Call burgers and giant tiki drinks. Le sigh.

After that we headed to Pat O’s to check it out, and use the bathroom because the women’s restroom is easily the nicest in the Quarter. I order a hurricane there because that’s what you are supposed to do. Note to self: the hurricanes at Pat O’Briens are awful swill and I don’t know how I ever drank those. A real hurricane, one made with actual fruit juice? Far superior. We left Pat O’s after one drink, walked down Bourbon Street, where I yelled at some guy who tried to grab Kathryn’s arm. Dear men, because a pretty girl walks by you, you do not have ANY right to touch her. Kathryn got stared at a lot. I would begrudge her this but she’s mostly oblivious to it and I mostly feel bad for the guys because…well, they don’t have a shot in hell. And, when we’re together, they have to deal with me first. Good luck!

We skipped the debauchery of Bourbon Street and headed straight back to our hotel. I guess the sort of ludicrousness that is Bourbon Street has lost its appeal. I don’t want to hang out in Cat’s Meow watching bad karaoke and 20 years old make out with each other. We actually didn’t hang out in any Bourbon Street bars the entire trip and I think that’s actually really cool, that we headed elsewhere, off the beaten path. More genuine N.O. than tourist.

At the hotel's Polo Lounge, we had a couple of glasses of Prosecco, while listening to jazz standards, sitting on extremely comfortable couches, and I realize that this is the kind of bar that Michael has always wanted to open. And that I would frequent. Even if spending $54 on 4 drinks at the hotel bar is a bit much.

We woke up late the next morning (this will be a theme). I need to eat, even if Kathryn doesn’t, at all, ever. I had heard of a place called Stanley! on Jackson Square that was good, so we headed there. And it was good. Incredibly cute diner style place with fantastic food, related to Stella! restaurant, a place my mom likes. (OMG, I JUST understood the names. Clever. Also: I am slow.)

We then walked along the river, through the River Walk buildings, winding our way to the WWII museum, because this couldn’t just be a drinking trip. Except that the girl at the front desk told us that at 3 p.m. there was happy hour at the American Sector, the restaurant connected with the museum and run by John Besh, had half off cocktails and $.75 pulled pork sliders. We pretty much counted down the minutes ‘til then. Because lemme tell ya, the mostly still D-Day museum is flipping depressing. By the time we got all through the Allied storming of Normandy, we were over it. I don’t want to hear anymore about how Johnny from Knoxville got his arm shot off landing on the beach, k? We zipped through the D-day in the Pacific theater section and headed to the bar. Where, because Kathryn won’t ever flipping eat, I decided we weren’t working out then, too. And if I got her drunk enough, and the time on the clock clicked down, we’d get to avoid that. So pretty much the only thing left clean in my bag are my work out clothes. I was successful in this mission with $3 glasses of champagne from 3-6. We left the WWII museum pretty tipsy.

It was Thursday night and the night was young. We got dressed and tried to figure out what to do next. Where did we want to go? What did we want to see? Cute clothes were donned. We also had to get a rental car from the concierge to get to Baton Rouge, as I hadn’t booked one in advance, because for reasons that mystify me and that I didn’t want to deal with on vacation, the free wireless internet did not want to work in our hotel rooms. Considering how much the rental car ended up costing me, I wish I’d been a little more picky and used some of those fancy apps on my smart phone. This was a major bump on the road for me, but whattayagonnado?

I asked the concierge a series of questions including where he would eat (Dick and Jenny’s), where he would hang out (Frenchman Street), plantations he would view, etc. We started picking our way to Frenchman Street. This route led us right past Napoleon House, a place that I went to my first time in New Orleans where my father introduced me to the Pimm’s Cup. I rarely order them anywhere else, but when in New Orleans, I do here. A Pimm’s Cup is made with Pimm’s, a gin based British potion and tastes decidedly like pink lemonade. On a hot day I find it incredibly refreshing. Kathryn did eat the cucumber garnish, so, ya know, small victories.

We left Napoleon House with me needing to eat, but still no clear idea of what the hell we were doing. The bartender at Napoleon House had also suggested Frenchman Street. You will find we freely chatted with LOTS of people. The South is more conducive to random chats to begin with, Kathryn is fairly outgoing, and we were on vacation. Our continued path through the quarter led us straight by Irene’s, where our meal the previous March was delicious. Eh, why not? We got a table right away (it was, like, 9:30 p.m.), had an excellent meal served by a precious and adorable waiter named Seth. As we’ve been pretty much drinking non-stop since 3, we’re pretty toasty. And this means that Kathryn gets all flirty with the waiter. “So, where you guys going after you get off work?” she says, as we’re the last ones in the restaurant. Again. Like last time. He directs us right up the street to MRB. Where we sit dutifully and wait for him to arrive. He does, we have drinks, Kathryn starts doing shots. Men, I have developed some rules on this trip. And this is the first one: When a girl is obviously interested in you, is on vacation in New Orleans, and has waited for you in a bar, do not discuss the girl you are currently "kinda" seeing. Pretend she does not exist.

Kathryn buys all the staff from Irene shots. I do not do shots. Or maybe I do. But the larger group of them are sitting at the other end of the bar thoroughly ignoring us. So I go over and say something cheeky. I can always say its Kathryn that’s interested, mainly because she is. Several of them leave. They are friendly, in the way Southerners are. We still have not made it to Frenchman Street. But one of the remaining guys offers to show us the way there. We head that way, duck into one venue where we drink some more. Kathryn sits next to a guy she thinks is cute but he doesn’t make a move. She chats with another guy who I immediately insult for having gone to Harvard. What can I say? It’s still me. And me and her together? Pretty damn unstoppable. We move down the street to a different bar. I even danced. With a boy. Like dance danced. Made an ass out of myself but, eh, it’s vacation! I chat up a couple of guys, no idea what their names are or what their deal is or why the one in the Cubs hat leaves without making out with me but that’s the way of it. I see the guy who doesn’t make a move on Kathryn in the last bar on my way to the restroom in the second bar and I say, “Hey. My stepsister thinks you’re hot. Go talk to her.” He’s like, “Who?” The girl in the backless grey shirt. I point her out when I come out. They end up making out. He ends up being 20. He gets her phone number and ends up texting her Sunday to meet up for a drink. She does not return his text.

The only thing I would classify as a remotely bad decision is when we decide to go meet Josh at his place. One of my only remaining college friends, I figure why not. But we end up all the way fucking out in Metairie or something. And we’re both pretty drunk at this point. I have no idea what happens when we are there. Or how late it is. Or why we left where we are. As soon as we get there I immediately want to leave. But I manage to embarrass Josh so it might have been worth the price of admission. His friend’s ask, “So how do you know him?” And I respond honestly, “We used to sleep together.” “Lisa!” “What?! It’s TRUE!” Whatever. We head back to our place and pass out. But not before I throw up. Yeah. That kinda night.

Friday we wake up, get a late check out, pick up our rental car and head West to Baton Rouge on I-10, after stopping for coffee and Dr Pepper. We skip going to plantations, as was the plan, as it is raining out. And we don’t really care. I mean, I would like to see Oak Alley next time (and there WILL be a next time), but I just wanna make it to Baton Rouge. We make it to our hotel, which is on Constitution, right off College, a couple miles from campus. It’s a gorgeous, seemingly new hotel. I picked well this time. We get settled and head to campus and walk around, checking things out.

I flipping love that place. LOVE THAT PLACE. It’s warm, and sunny, and there are football people already setting up their tailgates. There are a bunch of frat guys on the parade grounds setting up HUGE tents. We go to the bookstore and buy some clothes and continue walking around. So much has changed. My dorm building is gone, imploded and replaced by fancier apartment style dorms. Down Nicholson, which used to be ghetto, are now nice condos. Old Alex Box is a giant hole in the ground and New Alex Box is, well, new. There is new Tiger Park, where softball plays. Campus is more closed to cars than it used to be. But a lot is the same. The quad is the quad. Allen Hall looks the same. Squirrels still eat French fries. We didn’t go in the Union but I’m okay with that. It’s just…I dunno. I could wax poetic about what it all means to me forever, why it all feels so different, why I feel so different when I’m there but…I also like keeping it to myself. I am who I am who I am when I am in Baton Rouge. It’s MY place. I’m not treading on my brother or Dad’s coattails. It’s where after four years of being completely and totally invisible in high school, I discovered my own voice. And I love every oppressively humid second of it. I can show you benches where I made out with boys. I can tell you about the time I broke into Tiger Stadium at night with Little Mike and smoked a cigarette on the 50 yard line. The “whore door” in Kirby Smith, to sneak girls in and out. Giggling so hard I almost peed my pants as we jumped around on the stage at the Greek Theater. Brian A. Damien breaking my heart. Our apartment in Tigerland being robbed. My still pissed that I don’t have it LSU football player’s sweatshirt. My bike being stolen. And even as so much about it has changed, what it means to me, and who I am in it, remains the same.

After we went to campus we went to Wal-Mart. I can’t even tell you how giddy I was to be in a Louisiana Wal-Mart. The amount of LSU stuff? It was everywhere! Stuff for tailgating. Stuff for BBQing. Every necessity I normally buy about $2 less than in San Francisco. It’s a giant play land of cheap stuff. Big cans of Tony’s? $1.50 each! I got six. And Zatarain’s mix. I would have bought a ton more but we were limited by having to get it all in our luggage. We bought beer for tailgating; to put in the amazing cooler backpack my mom bought me. As the option of good stuff in cans is limited, we settled on Bud Light. In limited edition LSU purple and gold cans. We take this shit seriously, yo.

But it’s now 6 p.m., I’m starving because we literally haven’t eaten all day, and it’s time to go have some fun. Kathryn and I change and get ready to go to Ninfa’s, the Mexican restaurant down the street from our hotel. I know, I know, Mexican food in Louisiana. But when I was in college, most Friday night’s started at Ninfa’s with raspberry swirled margaritas. We do call ahead seating, cuz we’re smart. And walk along the side of the road to get there. Because Louisiana lacks sidewalks. Because no one ever walks anywhere. Seated at our table, we start giggling hysterically. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard as I did in the week I was with Kathryn. I think people thought we were crazy. We laughed walking into and out of our hotel almost every single time. We make fun of our decidedly humorless and totally ignoring us waiter. We laugh at the table of frat boys across from us. The interior of Ninfa’s has been upgraded since I was college. The food has not. I guess when I lived in Louisiana and it was my only access to Mexican food I didn’t notice how mediocre it was.

This mean woman sits at the table vacated by the frat boys and leans over to her daughter and makes some snarky comment about Kathryn’s backless shirt. SERIOUSLY? We don’t know what she said, but it didn’t seem friendly. This is the same table that the 20-year-old daughter makes a big show about ordering a beer. Because here’s the rule: In Louisiana, if out to dinner with your parents, you can order a drink no matter what your age, as long as they vouch for you. I know, right?! But Ninfa’s has abandoned that policy and the manager has to come over and give permission. Flipping ridiculous.

We leave Ninfa’s, go back to our hotel to grab the car, change our shoes, and head out to Tigerland. As we’re leaving I see a lady out of the corner of my eye and think, “Ah, leopard print. I love you, Louisiana!” As we’re walking the parking lots and grass areas to get back to our hotel, Kathryn stops and says, “That’s someone’s phone!” and she picks up an iPhone laying in the grass. We start messing with it, calling the favorited numbers, trying to locate the owner. We’re almost back to our hotel when someone calls it. Kathryn answers and speaks to the owner. We walk back in the direction of the restaurant and meet them. It’s leopard print lady’s husband’s phone. He is thrilled to get it back. He’s like, “Here, let me give you some money!” We tell him that's unnecessary, “Are you kidding? We did what we’re supposed to. But thanks.” I do add that Kathryn needs a game ticket. He says he’d love to help us if he could.

OH, about the ticket. I am NEVER allowed to use ebay to purchase tickets EVER again. I looked for game tickets on ebay before the game. I found 2 for $80, which I thought was totally reasonable. So I win the auction and get them. Guy is having them sent to my hotel so I don’t have to wait around wondering if they’ll get to my house on time. I open the envelope when I get to the hotel. Yeah. Apparently some idiot doesn’t read ebay auctions close enough. What I thought was two tickets that I purchased was actually 1. Grumble. I’m a moron. This is about the 3rd stupid ticket thing I’ve done on ebay. No more.

So we’re short a ticket 24 hours before kickoff. But I have faith in us and am not worried.

Where was I? Oh yeah, after dinner and returning the phone, we head back to the hotel, change our shoes, freshen our makeup, wait a bit so we’re not first at the bars, and head out to Tigerland. Um, that being first thing? Needn’t have worried. This is not a Wednesday in March. This is a Friday before a major game. Parking lots are packed. There is a GIANT tent in front of Fred’s. People are obviously already drunk.

Oh! Wait! Before we got to Tigerland I drove Kathryn through campus to show her what it looks like on Friday before a big game. Tents are up everywhere. People are tailgating, with couches and TV’s and food. 24 hours before kickoff. She says to me, “THEY HAVE COUCHES!” Um. Yeah. What else are you going to sit on? “I dunno. I thought they’d just have like folding chairs. This is AWESOME! I love this place!”

We find a parking spot and head to JL’s place, hoping to run into the bartender we ran into the previous March. He’s not there. Kathryn has a couple Abita’s, I have one. I’m starting to realize I am exhausted after the events of Thursday night and knowing that Saturday is going to be a long day. But I’m trying to be a trooper. There was a cute guy who obviously wanted to talk to Kathryn but didn’t have the cajones. Chuck will remember JL’s place, we went there the previous March. He now needs to imagine it PACKED. I thought about just staying at JL’s place, I was fine there, but I thought, “I have to go to Fred’s. Fred’s is where the magic happens!” (No, seriously, that's what I thought.)

We eventually traverse the street and make it to a packed Fred’s. The big giant tent is for a band. People are dancing and carrying on. Alcohol is available for purchase under the tent. Inside it is sweltering hot. Boys everywhere. 3 bars. We head to my favorite spot on the raised platform and order a drink from the bartender that Kathryn takes an immediate interest in. But it’s hot inside. So I direct us to the outdoor patio overlooking the golf course, with it’s own separate bar. No one has really approached us thus far in the evening. Are we scary Californians? Kathryn wants to go back inside so she can see the hot bartender again. She takes a shot of jager. *cringe* We head back outside, where I sit at one of the picnic tables, leaning against the table part. A guy asks to take our pictures for the BR nightlife page. He is not used to our sarcasm. “You can take our pictures but I don’t want to see it.”

Another guy, typical frat boy, obviously drunk, sits next to Kathryn and starts chatting. He’s got the ‘Bama bangs going on, the cargo shorts. A little bit doughy. And Kathryn’s nice and engaging him. I see a big group of guys to my right sort of watching the goings on. A cuter guy comes over but he’s wearing a sparkly belt and whispers something to Kathryn, which makes her bust out laughing. One of the guys in the big group of guys to my right comes over and sits at the table, but behind me. I can see him out of the corner of my eye and feel him, but he makes no move. And then he walks away. I, in my observant way, and totally sober, watch all this unfold. I make eye contact with one of the guys in the big group, wearing a green LSU hat, and shrug my shoulders. He definitely gets my meaning, shrugs back. A couple more minutes pass, Kathryn talking to frat boy, me not paying attention, playing with my phone, thinking I’m way too old for this shit, sort of over this whole thing. Incredibly cute guy from big group comes over to me and says, “Will you take a picture of me and my friends?” Me? Sure. I suck with cameras but whatever. It gets me out of watching all this. This will be the most serendipitous thing that happens at all ever. I take the pictures and start chatting with these guys. They are probably the only other adults in this place of people in their early 20’s, if not younger. They are mostly from Chicago, having attended grad school in various forms at LSU. They are hysterically funny and take immediately to my level of sarcasm. We had noticed one of their friends earlier and I had commented to Kathryn that he looked like he got lost on his way to Venice Beach. I say this TO HIS FACE and they are not insulted by it but think it’s hysterical. Oh, I’m SO in.

As an aside, I'm thinking I should move to Chicago (faint sarcasm). Everyone I have ever met from there I like almost instantly. From the guys that amused me last year at a spring training game with their banter to the guy I had a crush on in the Paris program, to these guys. The one time I visited that fair city, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It's a major city with a small town feel where they love to eat steak and watch baseball but still have major cultural events. If only the winters wouldn't absolutely kill me...

I finally find an opening to call Kathryn over, saving her from drunken frat boy. The sparkle belt guy had leaned over and said, “You know you’re talking to a man grenade right now?” Apparently this is a Jersey Shore reference that is hysterical. I do not watch Jersey Shore.

Now we have been indoctrinated into the group of Chicago guys. One of whom I find out (the one who sat behind me at the picnic table, named Jimbo) just got told he was “Old, disgusting, and shouldn’t be here.” We both laugh at this. They buy us drinks. Kathryn continues to go inside to get shots from hot bartender. I haven’t spent a dime since I paid the cover to get in. But like I said, I’m thoroughly over it at 12:15 a.m. Kathryn is sorta obnoxiously drunk and talking about hot bartender about which she is going to do absolutely nothing. I put on my serious face and am like, “I want to leave. Now. I’m exhausted. Tomorrow is long. We’ve barely eaten all day. Need. Sleep.” She doesn’t think I’m serious. I’m having a minor meltdown. Finally she gets my meaning. “Okay, we can go…” I am surrounded by her and three of the Chicago guys. I seriously call timeout. Like raise my hands Zack Morris timeout style. I take a deep breath and think, “Ya know what? This is the only Friday night I have in Baton Rouge. Suck it up and have some fun.” My faux stepmom’s words ringing in my ear, “You are not responsible for her, you should have your own fun.” So I look at green hat guy (Patrick) and say, “I need you to go to the bar and get me 5 shots of something girly.” He says, “And why should I do that?” I respond, “If you don’t want me to go home right now, you’ll do it.” Sold! God, I love my quick wit sometimes. Patrick also owes me for molesting me all night with his ABG’s or accidental boob grabs, when you happen to graze a woman’s breasts as you reach for something, which is not accidental at all. We have banter going on. But Patrick is also rocking a wedding ring, which is a line I won’t (knowingly) cross. And I don’t really want to hook up with him. It’s all just good-natured fun. I do tell him to stop it with the ABG's and say, "Sadly, if I try to reciprocate with my own AB (ball) G, you’ll just find it to be a turn on.” They tell me ridiculous things, expecting me to balk, I guess, and I just don’t. At one point I’m describing a friend back home to them, I say, “Ya know, nouveau riche douchebag type.” Patrick looks at me and says, “Did you just say nouvea riche? I’m pretty sure that’s the first time anyone used the phrase nouveau riche at Fred’s. Ever. In the history of time. Well done.”

Oh, and Keith takes a picture with Kathryn and I. Exposing his balls. Wait, clarification: ball, singular. They point this out to me MUCH later. I look at Kathryn and say, "Well, it's just not a trip to Louisiana until a stranger exposes their balls to us..." reference to an incident we had last time we were there.

We hang out with them for the remainder of the night, carrying on. Kathryn gets mildly distracted by a guy who sees her and leans over to shake her hand with, “You look familiar…” I start laughing hysterically. “Really, dude, she’s from California. That’s the BEST you can do?” He shrugs. “She’s not familiar at all. I’m from Delaware.” Her and him chat for a while. I find him obnoxious and douchey. (The Chicago guys tell me I wasn't supposed to call him out on this, it's not fair. When I relayed the story to Angela she says, "Of course you're gonna call him out on his shit!") Also, he’s a West Virginia fan. And he’s friends with sparkle belt “man grenade”comment guy. She thinks he’s hot. She's also drunk. He gets her number. She wants to tailgate with him tomorrow. I want no part of tailgating with the enemy. Finally, Chicago guys are about to incite a fight and call on their big Samoan friend to break it up, quell the situation. It’s 1:45 and I want to get out of Tigerland ahead of the masses, the cops, and the inevitable frat boy fights. We pick our way through the gravel parking lot back to the car where I immediately eat it. Me, heels, gravel. ROCKSTAR! I manage to not injure myself though, so score.

I drive us back to the hotel. I need to rinse off, smelling of sweat, booze, and cigarettes (not from smoking them, but because you can still smoke inside in Louisiana). Kathryn passes out on the couch in our room. Sitting upright. I rinse off. She’s in the same position. I leave her there. I get changed. I say, “Kathryn! Get into your pajamas and come to bed. Kathryn!” I have to shake her, making sure the person who runs and doesn’t eat, but drinks like a fish, isn’t dead. And this is LITERALLY the conversation that ensues, Kathryn looking right at me, glassy eyed says, “A numma num a nommma nummmm mum,” finger over her lips trying to form the right words, “AWESOME a num a num.” Me, “What? What are you saying?” Kathryn, “AWESOME!” I say, “I’m going to bed. I’m turning the lights off. You should come to bed too.” I go get in bed. Hear some shuffling around and then nothing. I think, “What is she doing?” I go back out to the couch. She is laying on it. A towel covering her, including her head, as a blanket. I’m like, “Knucklehead! What are you doing?” No response. I grab the comfort cover off the bed and throw it on her. I go back for a pillow, tell her to lift up her head, which she doesn’t do, and place it on top of her. I get one last, “AWESOME!” before she passes out.

I hear her move in the middle of the night. She went and grabbed the oversized LSU shirt she bought to put on as pajamas. Which she threw on over her clothes and without taking the tag off. Clearly this is all AWESOME.

We wake up the next morning, watch ESPN’s college game day. I make her go downstairs to get breakfast because lord knows when the next meal is coming. I haven’t heard from any of my college friends, which is mildly disappointing but it’s been a lot of years too, so oh well. We (and by we I mean Kathryn) have Chicago guy’s number (Keith). We get ready to head out to tailgate. I figure we’ll just wander around and make friends. I forget that this requires liquid courage. We head to campus about 1:30. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. And we still need a ticket.

We get to campus and Kathryn is just in awe of all the tailgating. We are also both in awe of the dumping down rain. It wasn’t bad by our hotel, but in the center of campus it is. Raining so hard you can’t see three feet in front of you. I have little worry though, it’ll clear up, as I am versed in the Southern rainstorm. (In fairness, they used to scare the shit out of me in undergrad, the sudden down pour, the lightening you can SEE hitting the ground.)

Kathryn is texting with Keith, as to their location. There is some general miscommunication as to their RV’s whereabouts. “We’re next to the vet school.” Me, “There are no RV’s NEXT to the vet school. They’re across from the vet school.” Keith’s brother, Jimbo, apparently was saying, “We’re next to the vet school ANNEX.” Letting the two non-LSU alums sort this out was amusing. But we have a backpack full of beer and don’t really care. However, it is sweltering hot with high humidity, now that it’s stopped raining. So glad I took the time to put on face makeup, as it drips down me on to my purple shirt. I’ve checked my photos and I don’t think there are any of me in gameday gear but lemme tell you, I looked awesome. I also loved that I looked not at all crazy when blended with all the other LSU fans. Oh no. Bright yellow shorts, a purple v-neck, purple and gold Nike’s with LSU on the back of one and Tigers on the back of the other, and purple mismatched socks (one with purple and gold stars, one with stripes), looks totally sane in Baton Rouge on a game day Saturday. Along with sparkly glitter purple makeup. I flipping love game day.

I’m not drunk enough to be daring enough to just wander up to random tailgates, and I’m sweating like a pig. We eventually figure out where the hell all of them are (in a car, getting more beer), and end up hanging with them. And never stop. They have PLENTY of booze, if not enough food. Kathryn plays football. We generally smartass, with amazing one-liners, like when I relate the story of Kathryn passing out last night she says, “Awesome. It’s what’s happening now.” This becomes a refrain. We have so, so, so much fun. We watch other games on other TV’s, drink our weight in beer, but also walk what has to be five miles, so as to never reach peak intoxication. Up to the bookstore, back to the RV, back up to the stadium.

At one point Keith grabs my shoulders and gives me a massage. I say, “Really? That’s what you call a massage? I’m being manhandled here.” He says, “If you’re such an expert…” People: I have three natural, god given talents: I can cook a good meal, I can turn a phrase, and I can give a massage. My mother still would have preferred I went to massage therapy school instead of law school. As I grab Keith’s shoulder’s he says, “Ohmygod. You’re like a professional at this. Seriously, this is good.” Yeah, I know. Keith is flirting with both Kathryn and I, he's wearing a "One Man Wolfpack" shirt. In fact, here's Keith:
This picture is appropriately unflattering. And he's holding my pink flask which makes it all the more epic.

He accidentally somehow spills beer all on her shorts. Like I said, this is all good-natured. Until one point he says something and I just look at him and say, “Seriously dude. PICK. A. SISTER.” Everyone busts out laughing. So many hysterical things were said and relayed in the course of the day I can barely remember them all but know that a good time was definitely had by all. Next time: camera crew.

As game time approaches I am getting GIDDY. Like I am literally jumping up and down giddy. I am so excited. Except for the ticket problem. Which Jimbo expertly takes care of. He gets rid of my ticket and gets us two tickets in a much better location. Without me paying a dime. It was so amazingly generous and just, well, awesome. We get into the stadium and Kathryn and I end up standing right along the fence at the South end zone as the band marches out and prepares to play pre-game. I can’t tell you how loud it was because I was too busy screaming at the top of my lungs. We have trouble finding our seats. We race ALL the way up the ramps. After a day of drinking beer and not eating, this seemed like a good idea. The ramps are large and high. Take the upper view level at AT&T park and multiply by 2. I’m also trying to make sure my amazing pink Tommy Bahama flask doesn’t fall out of my pants. We race the ramps to the top, only to find out we’re in the totally wrong spot. We get an elevator back down. We finally make our way to our seats, which are in the middle of the row, annoying everyone we have to climb over. Oh, and we’re in the wrong row, a row up. Oops. Sorry all.

And the game. Sigh. The game. I can tell you about how our offense sucks. How our quarterback is routinely throwing the ball 2 yards behind or ahead of the receiver. I can tell you about our secondary being amazing and how Patrick Peterson is the second coming of the lord geebus our savior as a defensive player. But really? I just had pure unadulterated joy at being in the stadium, at the lights, at Mike’s cage parked at the visitor’s entrance to the field, at doing the cheers at the different downs. At 93000 people dressed in purple and gold. I have 100 pictures from gameday, I’d estimate 85 are random shots inside the stadium that no one but me will ever care about. And I really need to figure out the video function on my camera. #techidiot

Like I said, I could wax poetic about it forever. But these. These are my people. As cultured and snobby and princess like as I can be, sitting in a parking lot, drinking beer, watching football, then heading to a packed game with passionate fans is about the pinnacle of all my life experiences. I love being able to TALK about it. By California standards, I’m a college football savant. By Southern standards? I know just as much as any other girl.

We also managed to insult the guys behind us. Several times. One was a doctor and one was a lawyer. Lawyer wanted to take us (Kathryn) out for Indian food on Sunday. Um, dude, we’re from CALIFORNIA. We don’t want to eat Indian food in Louisiana. The doctor told us he was specializing in obstetrics because, “There is just nothing like delivering a baby.” This line may work fabulously in the married by 23, baby crazy state of Louisiana. Kathryn and I both felt our uteruses cringe. Oh, and they both looked 12. Which I pointed out to them. Which they did not take kindly to. As Kathryn said later, “I don’t want some 12 year old looking up my cooch. Thanks.” He made fun of my flask too. A flask that everyone on the way out of the game loved. A flask that a guy told the (literal) 8 year old he was sitting next to on our way out, “It’s to hold her…soda.” I said, “She’s from Louisiana. Pretty sure she knows what liquor is.”

So the game is over. It’s 11:30 at night. We have to go back to the RV because our backpack with the keys to the car is in it. D’oh. As we’re walking back to the RV, Kathryn hears from Keith that they are at Walk-Ons, an establishment not far from the stadium, but far enough in the opposite direction of where we are walking to be annoying. And like a mile. And it’s still 90 degrees out. Really? Grumble. But as we’re walking we run into two of their group to make it more pleasurable, one of whom Kathryn has her eye on. We make it to Walk-Ons and I have to say, as much as I lament how male dominated my life can be, surrounded by frat boy like cops, being 2 girls at a table of 12 (educated) guys is infinitely entertaining. Especially when they say things like, “I covered all my bets today except for the 3 LSU ones.” And I trot out, “That’s why you don’t bet on games you are invested in.” And guy says, “That is an excellent betting philosophy.” Same guy (Patrick, of the ABG) shouts across the table, “I thought Kathryn liked Jason. Why is she sitting next to Keith?” This was actually my fault, as I forgot who was into who and sat Kathryn at the wrong place, I was actually next to Jason. But way to make it totally subtle, jackass. (We had previously decided that Louisiana was not subtle, as even Kathryn started catching on to all the guys checking her out. Blatantly and obviously. I missed Chuck for the sheer fact that he would have kept the creepers away.) I, at one point start just teasing Patrick, as I have been for about 24 hours now. I throw a piece of ice at him. He throws one back trying to get it down the front of my shirt. I throw another one at him. It's 12:30 a.m. after a football game in Baton Rouge. Who cares? Well, creepy friend that I forgot Jimbo had told me was someone they really hesitated to invite and who had been a totally disdainful creep about my antics all night, tells me to knock it off. Nothing throws me off my game like scolding me. Nothing. It's flashbacks of my mother. It's grade school. It's that perpetual fear of being in trouble. I don't even take him on about it. Which someone mentions later they were surprised I didn't do. But mostly I'm being my usual acerbic self. At one point, I know I'm being sort of mean and I say, "I'm sorry...I doesn't have an off switch!" J-Mac says, "You're just too quick!"

After some serious confusion about who is picking up whom in what cars, we get in the van taking all them to the casino, which drops us at the RV, where Kathryn and Jason break into it, and we get the keys to our car and head to the casino as well. Once we get there I make clear to Kenneth, who is also with us, that him and I should go to the casino, Kathryn and Jason need to take the cooler of beer to the room. The casino is sad and awful. I've never actually been in it before, although I know of it. The firm I worked for in college in Baton Rouge represented it. The guys are at a table playing paigoi poker, which I don't understand at all, and as I'm making clear to them that I KNOW she won't sleep with Jason, and they are doubting me (I'm placing bets on this with guys next time. I would clean the eff up), fatigue fully and completely sets in. I am EXHAUSTED. It's 2:15 a.m., I'm tired, disgustingly dirty, and ready for bed. Which is of course when Patrick makes his move and says, "Let's go back to the room." I say, "If you want to hold hands and talk about your feelings, yes. Otherwise? No." I also need to go back to figure out where Kathryn is, as I'm ready to leave. Under normal Lisa circumstances, Patrick's blatant forwardness might have been amusing and I might have acquiesced. (Shut up, you.) But now?

I don’t know, I realize I want more. That a random one night stand in Baton Rouge with a way too forward New Orleanian just isn’t going to do it for me. So I turned him down. Flat. In every way possible. Which probably considering how flirty I had been wasn’t exactly fair. But in fairness to me, I was under the impression that he was married (he's not. Or is separated. Or something. I'm still not clear on this.) and thus all flirting was good-natured fun and completely innocent. I was sort of annoyed at having to explain myself. Why won’t I do X? Because I don’t want to. What further explanation is needed? This is me, calling the shots. After a hysterical, wouldn't have been believed if I wrote it, scenario happens when his roommate, another guy I'd been talking to for the previous 24 hours walks in, I realize it's time to leave. I find Kathryn and we head back to the hotel where, after showering, I finally pass out.

There are still two more days to tell you all about but I figure this is a start, at I'm sure 7k words. More to come...

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