Thursday, July 28, 2011

MeetingZ - Part Two

I’ve become so used to expressing myself through written words, that I think my basic communication skills have changed somewhat.

I’ve never really been the best communicator to begin with – I’m easily frustrated with people and weighing my words before I say them is not something I’ve ever been in the habit of doing. I’ve always been rather impetuous, foot permanently wedged in my loud, open mouth, not really caring how I come across to others. But with writing it’s different. I’m deliberate - I think very hard about what I want to say, every word is placed just so, and then I go over it again.

You would think that my life would influence my writing, but in fact I believe it’s the other way around. I’ve become considerably calmer, more thoughtful – I’m not the same person that started this blog six-ish years ago. In fact, I’m not even the same person that was writing here two years ago. We could argue that I’m simply “growing up”, and I’m sure that plays a part in these personality changes, but I think writing is at the heart of it.

Mostly it’s a good thing, and I’m not saying it’s all that drastic (I’m still essentially the same person), but every now and then I’ll think it’s made me less fun and spontaneous...too controlled, especially when I meet new people. And, it seems that what I’m thinking translates better from my head to my fingers, than from my head to my mouth. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation and think, “I could have explained that better in writing” or “That would’ve made sense had I typed it”.

In the early hours of my road trip to Kansas City with Jerrod, I had those thoughts. I got nervous because the last thing I wanted was for him to think I was boring in person. And when I get nervous I do one of two things – make inappropriate jokes or say nothing at all. Being, at that moment, all up in my head, I went with the latter, which did nothing to help the situation and only served to make it seem more awkward. At least that’s what I was (overly) thinking.

“Why aren’t you talking”, he asked me, possibly more than once. I had no idea how to answer – first, because I wasn’t going to admit that I was having some sort of blogging induced social anxiety and second, because I honestly wasn’t sure what the fuck I was supposed to say. We’d spent years discussing every topic, having “favorite thing” battles, arguing points and giving advice – I was drawing a complete blank on something we hadn’t talked about yet. And so, in the periods of silence between tentative conversations...I sang. A lot.

We’d agreed to have a playlist battle of sorts before I arrived, but true to form, I left my iPod behind. I didn’t think our taste in music was remotely similar (he’s a Coldplay fanatic, I’m an Afroman aficionado), but he surprised me. With the exception of two or three songs, I knew them all.

There was a good bit of country music and when I sang along, it was his turn to be surprised.

“I thought you hated country music”, he said.

I smiled. “I never said that.”

He’d apparently stocked up on the country with the sole purpose of irritating me, but I forgave him because not only did he not succeed, he also added rap songs because he knew they were my favorite. And the one Ludo song I’d convinced him to listen to in a long ago conversation, after weeks of harassment.

I was thawing out, becoming more relaxed. I realized that a five hour drive was nothing; we’d talked on the phone that long plenty of times, everything was fine. He knew me already – he wouldn’t find me boring. And so what if we revisited a few topics? It would be like a refresher course since his memory is, remarkably, even more riddled with holes than my own. “I didn’t say that” or “I don’t remember” are two of his favorite phrases.

I insisted that he join me in car karaoke, but except for a few mumbled verses and some guitar noises he remained tight lipped. Until the song he thought to shock me with came on and I squealed, delighted, launching right into the lyrics.

“Man! You know this!?” Foiled again, he was.

It was the Tenacious D song “Fuck her gently” and my excitement must have been catching because he forgot about his previously adamant refusal to sing and shouted the good parts along with me.

The rest of the trip was easy – we talked about writing and about the night before with Jimmy...which I found I could laugh at a lot sooner than anticipated, simply because he was so nice about it. He made fun of my lunch order at the drive through and my excitement over the herds of cattle. But, in my defense, baby cows are cute. Plus there isn’t much in the way of scenery between OKC and KC, and he refused to play the “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” game, so I had to get my visual kicks where I could.

As we drove into Kansas City, over the little interstate bridges, I was glued to the view out my window. It was gorgeous. Our major cities back home aren’t very major at all, so when I see a skyline filled with tall buildings I’m always a little in awe.

We both immediately noticed our hotel, standing tall amongst the other buildings but set apart by the round dome at the very top – which I knew from prior research, was a revolving restaurant called Skies. I was excited about the whole weekend in general, but especially about the hotel.

We parked in the attached garage and made our way through the side entrance into the lobby. It was huge and open, busy but not overly crowded. My suitcase wheels squealed and clacked behind me as we approached the desk, seeming to announce to the entire room that, yes...I was a little out of place. Everything was marble, chrome, glass and plush furniture. Escalators led up to open balcony-like walkways filled with cafes and coffee shops. A mammoth piece of modern art hung from the center, hovering over an empty grand piano, not providing any light but still giving off the impression of a chandelier with varying lengths of silver wire tipped with silver balls.

Room keys in hand, we headed for the elevators. There were two sets – the first only going up to floor 28 and the second for floors 29 and up. I didn’t notice the difference at first and stood in front of the closest bank of elevators, which for some reason really amused Jerrod.

An older man, clearly another guest, was waiting at the second bank and as we approached he said, “These are only for the 29th floor and up.” I thought for a moment that I detected a note of snobbery in his voice, but I couldn’t really be sure and I was too happy to be rude. Besides, I was wearing a t-shirt proclaiming that “awkward mornings beat boring nights” – who was I to judge?

“Yes, I know. We’re staying on the 29th floor”, I replied with a smile. And, as it turned out, he was perfectly nice on the ride up.

There was a floor to ceiling window in the elevator bank of our level and the view was absolutely breathtaking. Not only have I never stayed in a hotel that nice, I’ve never been that high up in a building before either. There were some “wows” and then both of us reached for our phones, snapping pictures like dutiful tourists, before heading up the hallway.

The room was lovely, done in blue, green and beige, modern and comfortable but not extravagant, with dark wood and granite furniture. And it came complete with the same amazing view as the hallway, albeit from a slightly smaller window. More pictures were taken, Jerrod let Paige know we’d arrived and I called first dibs on the bathroom.

Poor Jerrod got a little crash course in just how high maintenance women can sometimes be but, being in a giving mood, I interrupted my (perhaps excessive) routine so he could have a quick 10 minutes to get ready.

I was nearly finished, halfway through applying mascara, when there was a knock on the door.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Paige. She and I had talked a good bit through Twitter, Facebook and email. We read each other’s blogs. I knew her basics, that she was friendly and fun to goof off with (she was, after all, my Twitter wife) and I wasn’t exactly nervous to meet her, but it’s rare that I get along with other moms. Inevitably, they go on and on about their children and, inevitably, I want to vomit all over their mom jeans.

I knew for a fact that Jerrod was going to be a quiet, dry humored guy that would probably need a bit of loosening up. But then, I’d already had years to figure him out. Paige was still part mystery.

And an attractive one at that. I opened the door to find a slightly edgier version of the Paige I’d seen in pictures – one sporting several tattoos, big hoop earrings and fantastic heels. She smiled and we both said hello with just a bit of a squeal, as girls are wont to do, and hugged. I stepped back and let her in, retreating to the bathroom for final touches as she marched into the room, calling to Jerrod.

When I joined them a few minutes later to decide where we’d be going for dinner, I saw that she’d casually draped herself across the foot of the bed and I couldn’t help but smile. There was no way you could be uncomfortable around a person like that, so obviously at ease with themselves.

She decided to take us to the Country Club Plaza so we could walk around and choose a place to eat. On the way there she played rap music and weaved through traffic like a demon. Her opinions on children, even her own, were scarily similar to mine and she definitely wasn't wearing mom jeans. I decided it might be love.

The plaza was beautiful – with a big fountain in the center, statues and flowers everywhere. Shops I was salivating to go into lined the streets and though Paige said we could, I said no so as not to subject poor, manly Jerrod to anymore feminine torture than was strictly necessary. I figured he was in for it anyway once we both started drinking.

It was sunny and breezy so we found a bar and grill with a patio, intending to have a few pre-cocktail cocktails and eat before moving on to somewhere more dynamic.

Jerrod had the nerve to make fun of me for ordering a BLT, then order fish tacos for himself. His plate may have been more aesthetically pleasing, but I had the last laugh because mine was better than his – as evidenced by the thickest, most heavenly seasoned bacon known to man.

It wasn’t quite six o’clock and we were done eating - Jerrod and I were tossing back double Jack and cokes, though I’m actually ashamed to admit he was a little more adept at it that I, and Paige was drinking whatever new concoction struck her fancy. Pretty soon our table was littered with glasses and we were making lesbianish remarks for the benefit of our rather thick (not in the good sense, I wouldn’t know) waiter, who most definitely wanted Paige’s vagina. I was also positive that, even in my rapidly advancing state of inebriation, he was looking at Jerrod with envy.

There was never a lull in conversation, never a dull moment, which is I suppose why we looked up hours later, realized night had fallen and that we wouldn’t be going anywhere else. The patio that had been relatively empty in the daylight was now packed full of girls in tight dresses and guys in button ups and Sperrys.

“Douchy”, Paige called it, and I had to agree. Nevertheless, it was fun – a veritable smorgasbord of hilarity.

Like the girl at a table, filled with people, that was kissing some guy. He got up suddenly, walked away and, not a moment later, she was puking silently onto the patio between her feet, her friends across the table taking no notice. Paige, adding to our amusement, wryly informed the waiter that there was a cleanup necessary in the corner. the table full of lesbians behind us, their group growing larger as the night wore on. I’m still unclear about how we knew they were lesbians in the first place, though I’ve no doubt Jerrod, even with his notoriously spotty memory, could clear that one up. Especially since I think he’s the one that somehow discovered their eating habits in the first place. the most amusing subject of our attention that evening, beating out even the silent vomiter: Tyler.

Tyler was a deep young man with a burning desire to connect with someone, anyone, so long as they didn’t document it on film.

He asked to join us, we of course said yes, and then he told us all about himself. He claimed to be 23 years old and the heir to a wealthy farming business. I highly suspected that he was chock full of bullshit, but it didn’t matter because he was rather nice to look at and Jerrod seemed to find him highly amusing. He was very...earnest, Tyler.

Unfortunately our time with him came to an abrupt halt when Paige pulled out her camera to take his picture. He may have said no, I don’t rightly remember, but one second he was there...and the next all we saw was his back disappearing into the crowd. We all stared after him openmouthed for a moment before the laughing started. Speculation began about why Tyler didn’t want his picture taken – most of it having to do with witness protection, the mob, or being an ex con. When a girl approached us a few minutes later and said he’d randomly sat down with too, I decided that he must have been working some kind of scam. It’s always the pretty ones.

We stumbled from the bar and out onto the sidewalk shortly after that, all in good spirits. Probably having made as lasting an impression on others there, most notably our waiter, as Tyler did with us.

The night hadn’t turned out at all how I’d expected it to – it was better. The nervousness I’d felt in the car on the way there hadn’t returned at all and, though I knew I’d likely be dealing with a wicked hangover the next morning, I couldn’t wait to do it again Saturday night.


Library girl said...

Biker bars, smiley penises, silent vomiters, wealthy scammers ... man, what an adventurous first meeting! And you worried Jerrod would think you boring :)

Steve Bailey said...

Im having a jack and coke right now reading your post..... so cheers! Thanks for the entertainment.

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

this is exactly how i imagine BlogHer will go. only with less VictimZ and more mom jeans. (just kidding. i'm going to be the only one in mom jeans and i don't even have any kids.)

ps: i LOoOOoOoove Sperrys. we don't see nearly enough of those in CA. and it's clearly NOT bc we have fewer douchebags.

David Henderson said...

Let's see....."Tenacious D song “Fuck her gently”, a t-shirt that reads, “awkward mornings beat boring nights”, "fish tacos", two women and a dude (who's never met before) sleeping in the same hotel room, etc, etc.

That would totally explain Jerrod's hang-dog-facial-expression on the video explaining that he had to sleep on the floor! Ha-ha

David Henderson said...

Karaoke anyone? Feel free to sign along.

Somewhere Circus said...

Coming out of lurker-dom is difficult. But the sheer wit of your posts eggs me on considerably. Awkward mornings beat boring nights. Hell yes.

Thug in a Cocktail Dress said...

the part about blogging induced social phobia/anxiety...
i think it's legit, for real.
or maybe we blog because we have a social anxiety?

Eric said...

The people you all met sound at least as interesting as the ones you hear at 2am in Denny's / Jim's diner on a Saturday night / Sunday morning... :)

Scott Pending said...

Having been to KC, I can tell you there are much better cities out there to explore. Anyway, it sounds like you had quite the adventure, I'm jealous!

RIW - 50 States said...

Excellent post. Like you I've never been the greatest communicator. I tend to flub things up from time to time. I find I am better at communicating in writing - but even that I flub up occasionally.