How I Spent My New Year's Eve
My old traveling companion, Gaston Broyles suggested that he and I drive to Ft. Worth the morning of December 31 to take in a football game that was starting at 11:00 a.m. He reasoned that the game would be over by 3:00 and we would be with our respective spouses to ring in the new year by 6:00p.m.. Allowing for game traffic and uncalled for optimism on Broyles’ part, I figured that we’d be home no later than 7:00.I told Gaston to be at my house at 6:30 and I would make breakfast for him using my new waffle maker which my daughter had presented me for Christmas.
This is no ordinary waffle maker. For a couple of years now I have admired the professional waffle makers that you see at your nicer budget motels, the ones who throw in the free breakfast. This is one cool appliance. You pour in the waffle mix (usually ready for you in a standard sized cup) close the iron, and (this is the cool part) flip it over. Then you walk away and when the maker starts beeping at you, you come back and reflip the iron and pull out a perfect waffle. Every time. After hearing me rave about these machines for a couple of years, Stacey took the hint and bought one for me for Christmas, and folks, she’s a peach ! (the waffle iron and the daughter).
Well Gaston pulled up right on time. The bacon was ready and the iron fired up. We had one great breakfast until I noticed that Gaston had driven over in his Mini Cooper. This was a passive aggressive move on Gaston’s part. If you drive over in a Mini Cooper and the guy you have invited to the game is 6’3’’, the big guy is obviously going to volunteer to drive a real adult sized car, right ? Well not if the big guy’s car has a dead battery.
Why does Gaston (or anyone not a resident of Munchkin Land) have a Mini Cooper ? If you were worried about gas mileage, you’d get a Prius. If you wanted to zip around town like a race car driver, you’d get a sports car. The only conceivable reason for buying a Mini Cooper is if your feet don’t reach the pedals of an adult car or a 26” bicycle. Well, there’s one other reason. They are purchased by “Gimmicky Guys”. Gaston is a Gimmicky guy. A Gimmicky guy is the kind of guy who wears a watch that also functions as a thermometer, telescope, microphone, am/fm receiver , laser pointer, compass, washer/dryer and flare launcher.Gastons’ does all of those things and works as a microwave oven. If you want to know if someone is a Gimmicky Guy, look at his wrist. If he is wearing something on it that weighs over 80 pounds he is “gimmicky”.
There are other ways of telling Gimmicky Guys. If you ask them for change for a Ten dollar bill and they offer you Three two dollar bills and four Presidential gold dollar coins in exchange, you are dealing with a “Gimmicky guy”. If he wears a bow tie and he is not walking down the aisle getting married, he is gimmicky. People are generally divided into three categories. You can see each best on a flight. There is the guy who has half a dozen bags because he has to take every conceivable item he may need to survive a weekend in Little Rock. This kind of guy gets into arguments with the gate ticket taker over what counts as a “carryon bag” vs. a “personal item”. Then there are guys like me. I carry on one bag because I would rather walk around Little Rock for three days in the very same clothes without brushing my teeth than pack a second bag. Finally, there are guys like Gaston. His bag is the same size as mine, but he has spent a lifetime shopping for handy items that all fit in one small bag and can be pulled out in any emergency. Gaston never runs into an emergency anywhere in the world which requires a tool which he does not have in his fanny pack. These are the kinds of guys who buy Mini Coopers. Gimmicky Guys.
After folding myself into three pieces, I was slipped into the shotgun seat of the Mini Coop which for some reason began to list starboard. I had my new GPS with me so that we could find Ft. Worth. I also had directions printed out in case I did not understand how to use the GPS which I had found out the night before does not work all that well if you punch in the wrong address. Now let me say this, unless you are as myopic Mr. Magoo, you can’t fail to find the T.C.U. campus, our destination. You get on the only interstate in Austin and go North until you see a huge sign that says Ft. Worth, you drive in that direction until you see a huge sign which says T.C.U. That is all you have to know. But I wanted to be sure.
It turns out that once you enter the interstate for a trip of 180 miles, the GPS is not all that helpful. Basically, it tells you every minute or so not to get off the interstate, no matter how tempted you may be. After awhile this becomes unnerving. Especially, if you are like Broyles and I and can easily go a couple of hours without saying a word to each other. On this trip, we had not spoken until about the time we got to Temple. At which point the following conversation took place.
Wade: I’m thinking of raising the setting on the waffle maker to 6 from 5 to make the waffles a little more crispy.
Gaston: They could be a little more crispy
GPS: In 300 yards, stay left.
Gaston: But the bacon was perfect, don’t change the bacon.
GPS: In 200 yards, stay left.
Wade: I think the bacon is O.K., but I like a crispier waffle, not a lot crispier, but a little crispier.
Gaston: You could go to a 6 setting, but don’t think that you have to do it on my account.
GPS: In 100 yards, stay le….”
Wade: God damn it (yanking the GPS plug out of the cigarette lighter and throwing it in the backseat).
GPS: (muffled voice) Stay left ….. stay left
Gaston: Those things have a battery, it is still working.
It turned out that it also had an off switch which is how I finally killed the obnoxious lady, at least for the balance of the trip.
The second hurdle to our seeing the game was buying tickets. We did not have a lot of time, so I began yelling at scalpers on the street as we drove by. One guy came over and offered us two at face value ($40 each), seemed fair. I gave him $70 and asked Gaston if he had a ten on him. While Gaston was fumbling through presidential dollar coins our traffic light turned green and the Mini Coop took off, at a pretty good clip, with one mad scalper running behind us, yelling something that I could not quite understand (especially as we pulled away) block after block in an heroic attempt to collect his last ten dollars. After about half a mile, our consciences got the better of us and we pulled over and paid the guy ten shiny new John Quincy Adams dollars. The scalper had the last laugh though, they always do.
On a sunny day, with the temperature about 50 degrees, he had sold us tickets in the only part of the stadium which would be covered by shadows the entire game. Shrewd purchase. For a few plays we stood up, stomping our feet to keep warm until we spotted some empty seats in the sun.
A doctor once laughed at me and said “with that Nordic skin, they will be burning stuff off of your face your entire life.” Funny stuff, nothing gets a laugh like skin cancer. Well, he was right. I do have to get stuff burned off my face. Mostly because I go and sit in the sun for a four hour game about half a dozen times a year and forget sun screen. I once came home from a baseball series in Mexico disguised as “Ketchup Man”. When we finally got home from this game, I was rolled out of the Mini Coop and unfolded like the red carpet at the Oscars. The fact that only half of my face was bright red was not helpful in my usual argument with Rayda over a subject which has already been well debated through the history of our marriage. Debated is not the best word. It is hard to argue with someone when half of your face looks like a cherry tomato. You mostly sit there and listen and hope that Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve party is about ready to start ( I think he died of melanoma).Anyway, that’s how I spent my New Year’s Eve, with Rayda proposing that my face was going to be dropped like a red ball at midnight.5…4…3…2…