Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MeetingZ - Part One

Explaining relationships formed through blogging, to people that don’t blog, can be touchy. Many don’t get it – they don’t understand how a complete stranger can become a dear friend.

Even with the boom in online dating and social networking sites, there’s still a stigma attached to internet-born relationships – especially, for some reason, in relation to blogs. It’s oddly more acceptable to jet off to meet a friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook, than it is to spend time with a person whose life you’ve been reading and commenting on for years. Blogging, for me, is far more personal than a daily status update and a handful of pouty faced photos.

I’ve trusted a few close friends, that I knew would understand or at least be accepting, with the truth about my online dealings. Some read my blog and some only know about it, but what they all have in common is that they realize the relationships I’ve made here are no less valid than ours. Different, but no less valid. The ones that read it see it first hand – in how comfortable I am being honest and in the way people respond in the comments: relating to my current situation, being compassionate whether they understand or not, laughing with me or simply letting me know they stopped by. The ones that don’t read it simply know that it makes me happy, and that’s good enough for them.

I’ve been writing here for over six years and I’ve made a lot of friends, but up until two weeks ago I’d never physically met any of them. I’d made plans on several occasions, but for one reason or another they always fell apart. This year I was determined to make it happen and with some long overdue luck, a no nonsense attitude and the help of my completely oblivious father’s yearly gift of a plane ticket...I met three amazing people.

The first was Jerrod, who writes the blog Breaking Awkward (some of you may be more familiar with his old blog title, The Yellow Factor).

We’ve been friends for a little over two and a half years now – talking so frequently that he became one of those people I contact immediately when something notably good or bad happens. I don’t remember who found who first, but we began good-naturedly insulting each other and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jerrod just so happens to live in Oklahoma a half hour away from my stepfamily, who I visit every summer. After weeks of planning it was decided that we’d not only hang out while I was in town, but we’d also take a weekend trip to Kansas City to visit another blogger, Paige.

However, just because the plans seemed to make themselves and everything was already arranged, from the hotel to the road trip play list, doesn’t mean the execution was entirely easy.

See, the only person that knew I hadn’t actually met Jerrod was my sister...and she was sworn to secrecy in order to avoid rioting. I knew that none of them, especially dad, would understand or approve. All they were told, before I got there, was that I’d be spending a weekend in Kansas City with friends and bumming around Oklahoma City with them too. And, before I got there, dad was completely fine with it. He didn’t press me for details.

We went straight to sleep when we arrived at their house around 1am Thursday morning. I was supposed to meet Jerrod Thursday night and had arranged for my stepsister to drop me off in the city. But that afternoon my dad suddenly decided that I was 12, not 26, and I wouldn’t be going off for the weekend with someone he didn’t know...especially a man.

We were sitting on the patio glaring and occasionally shouting at each other, neither of us willing to concede defeat, until he pointed out the obvious.

“I’ll be taking you into the city to meet this motherfucker and if you don’t like it, you can stay your ass here...where he’ll have to come get you and then I still meet him. Period.”

Poor Jerrod was going to meet the infamous Jimmy, whether either of us liked it or not.

I was terrified and, knowing Jerrod, I was positive he would be too. I’d long since gathered that he isn’t used to people like Jimmy.

I’ve only ever introduced three men to my dad, with embarrassing results, and though Jerrod wasn’t a boyfriend the scenario actually seemed worse to me because we’d never met before. I didn’t picture my first blogger meeting including my drunk, obnoxious father telling stories about his dick.

But that’s exactly how it went down.

He rushed me out the door that evening, interrupting my makeup routine every few minutes and making me furious in the process, because he had to drop off some air conditioners (don’t ask, I don’t know) at his “brother’s” house. I made my sister come along because she’s usually a calming influence, but he’d been hitting The Crown all afternoon and there was no controlling him.

He spent the ride to his “brother’s” deliberately scaring the shit out of me by telling me the horrible things he was going to ask Jerrod and by insisting that he wouldn’t meet him anywhere but at a biker bar called VictimZ. Yeah, Victims with a fucking Z.

“Tell him to get his ass in there and have me a beer waitin’.”

Of course I didn’t. It was bad enough I actually had to type out the name to that ridiculous biker bar and have Jerrod reply with, “I put VictimZ in and Google maps laughed at me.” I was mortified.

When we pulled up to drop off the stupid air conditioners, he made us get out of the truck to meet the guy. He was about seven feet tall, wearing overalls with no shirt and had a bandana wrapped around his long hair. After unloading the cargo, they immediately started laughing and punching each other in the sides like children.

“C’mon man”, dad said while jabbing at him repeatedly. “Ride with us! My daughter comes down here to visit me, then thinks she’s going to take the off to Kansas City with some motherfucker I haven’t met! Oh hell no. I told her to have him meet us at VictimZ.”

His brother stared at him for a moment and then, to my absolute horror, they both burst out laughing. “Oh shit”, the guy said, looking at me with a mix of pity and amusement.

“Aw, I’m not going to help embarrass your daughter, Jimbo”, he said.

But dad talked him into getting in the truck anyway. I sat in the backseat with my sister, silently panicking.

When we pulled into the parking lot fifteen minutes later, I saw Jerrod’s car across the street. Dad didn’t even look around – when I hopped out he locked my things in the car so I couldn’t leave until he allowed it, and they immediately disappeared around back into the “beer garden”.

I waved at Jerrod, who was still hiding in his car across the street (not that I blame him), and he drove over. I walked around to the driver’s side, he got out and that’s how we first set eyes on each other. In the parking lot of a rundown biker bar with my father waiting for him in a beer garden, which was actually nothing more than a dirt-packed backyard with big wooden spool tables and rusted chairs made of scrap metal.

He looked worried, but accepted my apology for the oddness of our first meeting and followed me around the corner. Dad’s brother had parked himself at a table a respectable distance away with my sister, who wasn’t allowed in the bar.

“Where’s dad”, I asked.

“He went in for beer.”

A moment later he came wandering out the door with an evil grin on his face, clutching a bucket of beer. I introduced them, watching as my 5’7 father looked up at Jerrod and shook his hand...and it was apparent by the flash of tendons that he was squeezing the shit out of him.

“Drink a beer with me”, he said, shoving one into his hands.

I reached for one myself, twisted off the top and turned it straight up.

Then other than a few “motherfuckers” (in reference to other people this time, not Jerrod), a few embarrassing remarks and a demand to know if Jerrod could “fight”, they proceeded to have a relatively normal conversation. They talked about what they did for a living and where they lived and how long they’d been there. But even so, I knew my dad and I was going to be keyed up until we got out of there.

Jerrod, who was apparently no longer worried, laughed at me for being so visibly nervous, sucking down the beer and lighting a cigarette when I’d planned on not smoking at all. “Relax”, he said.

And I’d just about managed it because we’d finished our beers and I felt as though escape was just around the corner.

But no – dad insisted that we weren’t going anywhere until we went inside and met his other “brothers”. Apparently they’re all in the same biker gang or something – they wear one spur on one boot or some such nonsense so they recognize that they’re “related”.

As we both trailed reluctantly behind dad Jerrod said, “I thought you said we didn’t have to go in...”

“Sorry”, I mumbled, “I didn’t think we would.”

The ceiling was completely covered in bras, except for a small square of removable tile where a stripper pole was shoved inexpertly through a jagged hole.

“I put the pole in”, dad told Jerrod proudly. I shook my head and sighed.

He tried to call over a long haired old man that was absorbed in some sort of game, but the guy was taking his time. There were a few tables of degenerates (mostly really ugly women) that were giving us the stink eye. I wasn’t sure if they were simply unfriendly or plotting to kill me and take off with my Coach bag.

While we waited for the old guy to grace us with his presence, dad decided to tell Jerrod a lovely little story.

“This is my hangout, man. One time I got so drunk that this woman drew a smiley face on the head of my dick and I didn’t even know it. She called my wife and told her she did it, so when I got home she said, ‘You’re not getting in this bed like that with a smiley face on your dick!’ I woke up the next morning and was like, shit, man!”

“Dad! That’s enough! Don’t ever talk about your dick in front of me again. Ever.”

They both laughed and I glared at Jerrod. “Don’t encourage him.”

The old guy chose that moment to make his way over and we were introduced, though I can’t remember his name, and he hugged me uninvited...as all dad’s weirdo friends seem to do.

“This is my daughter’s boyfriend”, dad said, launching into his complaint about me taking off for the weekend again.

“He’s not my boyfriend”, I interjected, feeling a fresh wave of embarrassment.

They all ignored me and dad launched into his dick story again for the benefit of our new companion. “Hey remember the time...”

“Yep”, old guy said, “it was my old lady that did it.”

I was close to hyperventilating at that point and, thankfully, none of dad’s other friends seemed to be there so he was ready to go. We were finally off the hook.

We said our goodbyes at the truck, with Leigha sitting unhappily in the driver’s seat ready to cart dad and his friend off to “church”, which is what his biker group calls sitting around drinking and talking about their penises.

As I climbed in the passenger side of Jerrod’s car, dad may have said something to him like “take care of my girl”, but I was so relieved to be getting away that I wasn’t really paying attention.

He got in a moment later, looked at me and smiled. “It’s ok”, I think he said. My nerves were still jangling a bit as we drove away, sure that any moment he would turn around and take me back, wondering what in the hell he was doing taking off with a relative stranger whose father was a drunken biker not above breaking his kneecaps just for lifting an eyebrow the wrong way.

Instead he seemed amused by how unsettled the whole thing had made me. “I think that helped make it less awkward, don’t you?”

I couldn’t help but laugh a little. “Yeah, I guess it did.”

I wasn’t entirely sure if I felt that way or not, but later, when I could laugh about it, I realized he was right. It had.

What I was sure about at that moment, though, was that there had never been a first blogger meeting even remotely similar to ours.

But maybe that was a good thing because, after all, our friendship began unconventionally. And there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.

27 comments:

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Jesus, dude. :) I'm laughing out loud imagining it all but I'm sure for you it was excruciating. Still, at least for Jerrod it will be unforgettable. Plus, sounds like they got along! And anyway, it made a great blog entry, so hello? Winning?

Danger Boy said...

Do you know how hard it is to not guffaw in the middle of the office while reading this? I think I sprained my brain!
Awesome story, well told as always. I almost wish I'd been there...almost. :)

Resaca Rose said...

You made me laugh. You're so funny. Keep up the good work.

The Wannabe Housewife said...

This was great! I'm still relatively new to your blog and am making my way through your old posts and I'm sorry to say but your Dad makes mine seem just slightly better after reading this (which I doubted was even possible until just now).

I'm glad your meeting went well. Unconventional friendships are usually the best ones!

Not the Hero said...

I think dealing with biker dad would be easier than dealing with my religious nut job mother I have.

Very funny story. I hope the rest of the weekend went well.

The Simple Dude said...

What a great story. There are a few bloggers I follow and who follow me that live here in the Minneapolis area but I am not sure I'd be up for meeting them.

Although if I do, I'll now know not to bring my father!

SD

TheSimpleDude.com

Balanced Idjit said...

I cannot be the only person reading this who instantly got that tight-chested anxiety-panicky feeling as soon as you said your dad was gonna be involved. LOL! I think I'm just really glad he let you leave at all. I'm almost afraid to find out how the rest of the meeting(s) turned out!

Happy Frog and I said...

I've met a few bloggers this year with a few more in the pipeline but I have never had an experience like that. You are such an incredible writer. When you write I get completely lost in the story you are telling. I'm already looking forward to the next in this series.

Unknown said...

Laughed out loud at work while reading this. Brought back some sweet memories. A friend and I went on a road trip one summer, and ended up in a strange city at a biker bar. A night I won't ever forget!

I also work with a group of guys who go to 'church' every Friday after work. Which is just a bar in the hood. Can't wait for part two!

JJadziaDax said...

I love your posts but I couldn't read this one. I had father similar to yours though not quite as controlling and out of respect to you I won't voice the level of anger I had toward how he treated you. I hope your trip was fantastic. On a side note I haven't spoken to my parents in the better part of a decade and the stress level in my life has dropped immeasurably. I know that isn't an option for most but anyway glad you are back posting :)

Michon said...

That is about the most perfect story ever!

Eric said...

And here I had Jimbo pegged for a Harley Davidson weekend warrior type of biker...

T. Roger Thomas said...

Very well told!

bluzdude said...

I've been able to visit with a number of blogger friends from my hometown of Pittsburgh, when I get out there to visit. Luckily, nothing that dramatic ever happened, and I got to meet some fantastic people.

At least with yours, you knew there was nowhere for the meeting to go but up...

Nice Girls In Coffee Shops said...

I haven't posted to you before, but I found your blog at just about the same time I found Jarrod's. Both of you write very honestly, and from what I've read of your dad I would have expected nothing less from the encounter. I'm sure, since Jerrod reads what you write, that he was completely prepared for whatever may have happened. I can't wait to read what happens with the rest of your meeting. I come from a long line of alcoholic/drug addicts, so a moment like this is not atypical for me. That's why I love reading your writing so much, I think. I always think, "This is going to be a great story, later", and then I don't always remember all of the details like you do. Bravo.

You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... said...

this is SUCH a funny story. i wish i could have been there to see all the awkwardness. but just hearing about your dad makes me think he would break me in half and that makes me nervous just thinking about it.

location of first official Sprocket Ink meet up: your dad's house! keep me updated on the date and time.

David Henderson said...

Wow, great writing, very unpredictable.

It's going to take me a while to process this.

Who cares what I think. I could never in a million years.

I'm very much looking forward to reading part 2.

Shruthi said...

Wow!

That's pretty much all I can think of saying at this point.

As always, so brilliantly written :)

Anthony Hodgson said...

Holy crap what an intorduction. I joke about winding my daughters boyfriends up when I first meet them but that was a whole new level. I hope your blogging trip went better than the start. You're right as well, people who don't blog don't get it, as far as Im concerned that's their problem not ours.

Justlittlecajunme said...

Wow, what a meeting. Not commenting on the father thing because its outrageous and I would write a book LOL. However, It tells you alot about Jerrod.

I've met and dated men who I met online. You are right in people frowning upon them. My mom used to be scared out of her wits the few times I mentioned I was meeting somone online. I also had an intense relationship with an online lover. It was complicated but the emotions felt unreal. I have true friends I may never meet.

But I did meet MyLove online so it works. I am happy that you made it through and was able to meet a few of your friends. Sorry this was long!

Bwhen I would tell her I

O.o said...

It's always comforting to know that I'm not the only one who wishes there was some form of father day care centre where we could just get rid of them for a few hours.
At least Jerrod took it well!
Hope you guys had fun and the rest of the weekend went well :D

Sara said...

Yay! You're posting again!

I know I say this all the time, but I really think your writing is amazing. It doesn't matter how long it is or what it's about, I'm always completely into it from beginning to end.

If I had been in your situation, I would have LOST MY SHIT. I remember how embarrassing it was to have boys meet my parents when I was in high school, and I can't even imagine having to do that now! Especially having never met the person before!

The dick story is interesting. Mainly because I'm curious as to what kind of a woman pulls a guy's dick out at a bar and draws on it?

Also, does the smile get bigger when.....

Ahem.

nova said...

Whoa, you met Jerrod in real life!

Mad Woman behind the Blog said...

My first blogger meeting: a LOT of bouncy and I believe our naked butts touched each other.

Your meeting however sounds 1. Just like Oklahoma and 2. reminds me why I left the midwest.

But I would jump on a plane to KC anyday, especially if it means meeting you.

Yeah girl, I've missed ya.

Sarah P said...

This is the worst erotic story ever.

Maryx said...

Awesome! Excruciating yes, but awesome! Glad to have you back to posting again

Storycollector said...

I haven't read your blog for ages, but so glad I picked it up again now. You write really well, believe it. Pxx