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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mo betta luau

Mo betta luau

When Anna and I went to Maui on our honeymoon in 1996 we had a continuous good time. That was the only way I could describe it, one good experience after another.  Our hotel, the Aston Kaanapali Shores, was incredible! Everyone was especially friendly and nice and went out of their way to make us feel welcome, even the janitors and groundskeepers.

Our room was on the 7th floor and from it you could see the gardens, one of the swimming pools, and the Ocean beyond. We had wonderful cool breezes every night and the sound of the waves to lull you to sleep. The hotel restaurant was our choice of places to eat, most of the time.  Maui has excellent dining available; the hotel restaurant was just that much better.

We did the usual tourist things; went shopping in Lahaina every day, went out on a diving boat, went on picture taking expeditions of our own design, and even drove the Road to Hana. We tried to see Volcano National Park, on the Big Island, but that is another story, for another time.

One of the many things that were considered almost "mandatory" when you go to Hawaii is going to a Luau. We wanted to go to one while we were on Maui and asked around for opinions about which was the best one to see. Everyone said, “Go see the luau at the Ritz-Carlton." The man selling Hawaiian crafts in the lobby said, "It's de bes one brudda!" Who could argue with that?

Everyone who comes to Hawaii with money in their pockets (and isn't rude to the locals) is called “cuz” or cousin by the native Hawaiians. If you buy something from a local, then you have graduated to "brudda or sista." You have become close family by helping them support theirs. Tipping well works the same way, and we did both. I think we were related to most of Maui by the time that we left.

The Maui Ritz-Carlton puts on a luau every night and is famous throughout the islands for putting on a good show, with good food to go along with it. It sounded like the ideal one for us and we planned our schedule around it and called the phone number to purchase the tickets.

Culture shock (or cash flow shock) may be the way to describe how our down-home Fallon sensibilities reacted to the price they wanted. They wanted $110.00 each! I told the woman on the phone that I didn’t want a room; I just wanted to watch one show.

In the end I paid the price they wanted; they didn't really care if we did or not, they sell out every show. I told myself, “Break out the plastic and just do it.” We were only doing this special trip once and it was more important to enjoy the time than worry about every penny spent.

When we went to pick up the tickets (and locate where the show was, and where to park, etc.) we found out that we weren't very far from our hotel at all. That was good; a short drive to and from the venue with us having to navigate in the dark was appreciated. New adventures were fun; being lost, not so much.

We turned off of the main road at the Ritz-Carlton sign and on to their "driveway," which we drove on for about a mile before we even got to the hotel itself. What a magnificent place! You could smell the money.

We parked the car and walked up to the entrance, where they had a host of valets and doormen, all eagerly looking for something to do. Since we had already parked, the only thing left to do was to open the door for us, which two of them did at the same time. I think that they wanted us to go in… and leave our money there when we left.

Inside of the main entrance room, was an atrium and display hall with a ceiling that was five stories high. There were walkways ringing the room from the second floor up. I assume that you could get a room facing the atrium at a better price than the ones facing the Ocean, but I didn't check. The art displays were of unbelievable quality and extensive in number.

We gawked our way through (like the tourists we were) to the front desk and asked about picking up our tickets. In our turn we were redirected to another office around the corner by a very beautiful, but harried looking woman. She had people coming at her from all sides and telephones ringing off the hook. I was sure glad that I wasn't working that desk -- it was a madhouse!

The ticket office was just around the corner and was quite busy too. As a matter of fact they were already sold out for that night's show. The lady at the counter was trying to explain to an obnoxious and obviously wealthy older woman that “No More Tickets” means, No More Tickets!

We stood by quietly and waited for it to be our turn, and tried not to butt in, or laugh, at the scene going on in front of us. That was really hard. I wanted to say, "Hey stupid, what part of NO don't you understand?" But I didn't, and Anna wouldn't anyway (she's too nice.)

The woman behind the counter was just about to reach critical mass and finally told the older woman to please step aside. She smiled and asked me what I needed, whereupon I gave our names and confirmation number. A quick glance at her list and she said, "Yes, Mr. & Mrs. Wright, I have them right here" and handed me our two tickets for the show.

That set the old biddy off all over again as she started yelling that the woman had lied to her about not having any tickets left. We smiled and shook our heads in sympathy with the ticket counter lady with the utmost patience. I thanked her and we beat a hasty retreat before the old gal in her diamonds, furs, and way too much perfume launched an attack on us for buying “her” tickets. 

The big question then became, “What to wear to the luau?” A Hawaiian flowered shirt, shorts, and dress flip-flops seemed appropriate to me. Anna wasn't sure what she wanted to wear and that brought us to the only logical choice; go shopping!

Away we went to the Lahaina shopping district and wandered the streets looking for something that would jump out at Anna and beg to be worn by her to a luau (but, not just any luau; to a Ritz-Carlton luau.)  The search was on for something that shouted, “Pick Meeee!”

We went into a very cluttered and closely packed little store on the main street and worked our way towards the back, looking at everything. As we turned, twisted, and side-stepped our way all the way to the back wall we spotted something. There it was-- a maroon Hawaiian flower print dress, exactly the same color and pattern as a shirt that I had with us; that was the one!

The problem was, there was only that one. And in a size that would fit an anorexic ten year old midget, and nobody else. Disappointment rained down upon our heads. As we were about to give up and drag our tails back out into the street a large (OK, huge) Hawaiian woman stepped out from behind a curtain that hid a backroom from view. She looked me up and down and said, "Waas amatta brudda, your woman no like dis dress?"

I had been on the island long enough that her manner of speech made perfect sense to me. In fact if I were there any longer, I would start talking just like her. I told the nice lady that, yes, my wife did like the dress, but it was too small and there was no other one like it on the rack.

She said, "Wait one mo minute brudda, an I find you one." With that she pulled the curtain aside and in the back room there were more racks along one wall. The woman looked at Anna and pulled a dress off of the rack and handed it to her. It was a perfect fit. The problem was solved; we had luau clothes!

We had taken so much time shopping that we had just enough time to shower and get dressed before it was time to leave for the Ritz. We pulled out from our hotel driveway and had a momentary bit of panic as the traffic on that main road was horrendous! Fortunately it was going the opposite direction from us and we made good time to the hotel. That time we took pity on the bored employees and used the valet parking.

It was still a little while until the scheduled start time so we wandered around a bit looking at the swans in the pond, and the stream that went right through the buildings. The architectural design features were fabulous; the place had an incredible palate of both color and texture. 

I thought, “It could be fun to stay here some time.” So, I walked over to the desk and asked the neatly dressed, but seriously grumpy looking man behind it, if I might see the room rates. He looked me up and down and with a sneer on his lips said, "Sir, the rooms start at $400.00 per night and we are booked up until April."

He got a little tight-jawed when I started laughing and said, "Yeah, right!" back at him; and then walked off, still laughing. The guy wasn't kidding, I checked through my hotel later and the old buzzard was correct on the price and the bookings. No wonder he looked like that when I laughed in his face. It was too rich for my blood. A week in that joint would cost you $2800.00 plus taxes and fees; by then you wouldn't be able to afford to eat!

To eat; that was where we were heading when I got sidetracked. We followed the crowd out a door near the ticket office into a beautiful patio and courtyard setting. It was a great spot, but the crowd was still on the move. We kept on through the courtyard and onto a walkway along the beach just shore-side of the palm trees. The tour was pretty, but what about the food?

We came to a halt, in line with everyone else, at a "checkpoint," where photographers were snapping away. You didn't have to buy the pictures, but you did have to let them take the photos before you could get through to the food and show area. What the Hell, we looked Mah-vel-ous in our matching outfits and we had puka shell necklaces being draped around our necks. So we did our photo-duty and we did buy the pictures after the show and I'm glad that we did.

While we were standing in line waiting for our turn in front of the camera, the wind came up from off of the ocean and being raised along the Florida coast, it felt and smelled like rain coming to me. When I said as much out loud to Anna, one of the "panic control squad" in native garb quickly stepped up and said, "Oh no, it's not going to rain. But if it does, it won't last long."

He then swiftly moved to the next crisis location where I could hear him saying, "No Sir, we will never run out of Mai-Tai's. There will be plenty when you get there." Then off he went again down the line, calming the tourist's nerves. They didn’t want anyone to take their money and run away before spending it all; after that, no problem.

We entered yet another courtyard, this one had long rows of tables set at a 90 degree angle to the stage where the show was to be performed. It looked like it could seat about 100 people in each of these long rows and there were at least ten rows. A little quick math showed that there was an enormous amount of money being made from each of these shows; what a racket!

The conch was sounded, (a shell from the ocean, about the size of a football, when blown into just right sounds like a deep toned horn), and the narration began. The monologue told about the customs of the celebration we know as the luau, and what everything meant. By that time the wind was blowing a little bit harder. They guys in their native garb had a devil of a time lighting the torches around the area and they too, kept looking towards the ocean.

The pig was pulled up out of the pit and ceremoniously carried through the tables to the back, where Chefs were waiting to carve him up. They serve the roasted pork along with regular old salad and cafeteria looking food. I was glad that they did have some purple sweet potatoes native to Hawaii and some poi for the adventurous souls.

The "panic squad" guy didn't lie about the Mai-Tai’s; they were being handed out like flyers in a grocery store parking lot. Many of the folks around us had one in each hand and would still ask for another one when a waitress came by with a tray full. The customers were sucking it up, trying to get their money's worth I guess. I believe that they would all die of alcohol poisoning long before they could ever get to the “break even” point of that venture. Quite a few were giving it that old "tourist" try!

We got some food and sat back down and without realizing it had fallen into a Hawaiian Tourist stereo-type trap. The gentleman who was the Master of Ceremonies, and professed to be a chief in one of the tribes of the South Pacific, was chuckling into the microphone as he looked at the crowd.

He said, "OK, all of you lovely people out there who are wearing matching clothing, pay attention now. How many of you are celebrating your anniversaries tonight, raise your hands" and many did so. Then he said, "And how many of you are here on your honeymoon?" and a few of us raised our hands.

He looks around the crowd and spotted one very young looking couple giggling near the stage. The MC came right out to the front of the stage and says to them, "How long have you been married?" and holds the microphone down to them. The girl said, "We just got married this afternoon" and giggled some more.

The MC looks around the crowd again and says to the groom, "I just got one more question... What the Hell are you doing here?" The crowd roared with laughter and the young groom looked like he wanted to crawl under the table. The new bride just sat there like she didn’t understand the question, which caused more laughter. Most of the people were in the fifty to seventy age range which put us on the younger end of the group (for once.)

The show was just getting underway as the last row of people sat down with their plates of food and we were about half way done with ours when it started to sprinkle. The MC said, "Don't worry, it won't last long. These things always blow over in a couple of minutes.”

As we looked around I noticed the performers were moving costumes and equipment under cover. They weren’t taking any chances with their gear. The show continued along with no delays as we all sat there in the sprinkles that were gradually getting harder. I told Anna that we were going to get really wet.

Five minutes went by, then ten and fifteen, the storm not only hadn't blown over, it was raining harder with each passing minute; we were soaked. The customers were all sitting there with water running out of their plates and onto the table as it overflowed. I think that the final straw was when the performers changed out of their costumes and into their jeans.

The management of the Ritz-Carlton finally made an executive decision and told everybody to move inside and that the show would continue in the main ballroom. People were carrying their plates and glasses with them. That cracked me up as the dishes were filled with water. It was probably because they weren't willing to give up something that they had paid for. People are funny that way.

We finally got seated at a table and we were so far away from the stage that the people all looked small, and I could hardly hear any of what they were saying. It was very different than what we had been watching at the outdoor setting. One of the performers explained to us after the show that the physical set up of the Ballroom stage and backstage were so much smaller and different that they had to modify what they did in the show to accommodate the changes.

The air conditioning in the Ballroom was running at a "wind tunnel" setting. We were all soaking wet and chilled to start with from sitting in the rain that "wouldn't last long," so we were freezing. And I knew that if I was freezing, Anna was turning blue.

Mercifully, the show ended just as we were about to get up and leave. When I stood up and looked around I could see that a lot of the audience had already gone. Some of the older people had walked off when the first rain drops started falling; they would be the warm & dry ones.

We were directed out an exit that led us to the picture salesmen, how surprising (not.) The herding maneuver was OK with us because we wanted our pictures anyway. Some of the crowd didn’t feel that way and were vocal about it, making a big fuss.

There were a lot of tables set up with a sales person at each one. It was surprising how easily we found the correct table and they pulled our picture right out of the pile as if by magic. We paid for it and moved on so quickly it was amazing. You would think that they had done this before… like, every single day of the year. The luau operators were efficient at getting every last dollar available.

We walked through the halls of that glorious testament to being filthy rich and able to buy anything that you wanted. You couldn’t help but marvel at the Ming Dynasty vases and priceless jade Emperor's Dragons, and countless other pieces that any museum would love to have. Money was their god and their altar was glorious, I will give them that much.

The sky was finally clear and as we looked out into the night we decided to just pick up our keys and walk over to our rental car. There was no sense in waiting for the valets who were scattered all over the place. Those guys were rounding up cars for people who were waiting inside, not realizing that it had quit raining and was beautiful outside, now that the show was over.

We have great memories of our honeymoon on Maui. Thinking about that luau, in the rain that wouldn't last long, never fails to make us laugh. A lot of people (who didn’t read the fine print) cried the blues wanting their money back because of the rain. To us it was funny and fun, and that's the way I prefer to remember it. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Candy from strangers

Candy from strangers

1969 was a very passionate and confused year in America. It was the time of "do-your-own-thing" individualism and the Viet Nam war draft. There other mind-boggling events like the moon landing and riots taking place to keep your world stirred up. I was living in south Florida and that place was beyond crazy on a good day. For teenagers, life seemed uncertain at best.

A small group of enthusiastic teens formed an organization that we called the "Davie Rodeo Club" which was not affiliated with any school (like they are now.) I belonged to a close knit group of bull riders, consisting of myself, Stan, Dubby, and Pollard (he had a first name, but we never used it.)

The four of us were close and always watched each other's back. If one had trouble, the others were there... if you needed money, the others were digging in their pockets. In a time that stressed individuality, we had unity. And we were glad of it.

There were other bull riders in the club as well as bronc riders, bulldoggers, and ropers who hung around with us, but had their own cliques too. The kid whose dad owned the property that we built our arena on was a team roper, but he spent more time with us than the other ropers. It was obvious that we were a team and that was attractive to others who were used to being alone.

We did all the normal teenager stuff; if you can call anything a teenager does "normal." There was the usual dating, dances and school and we did have our own interests outside of rodeo. Bull riding was the common bond between us and it was strong brotherhood. To outsiders it was probably considered an insane passion, but to us it was life.

Pollard was a year older than the rest of us, but in the same grade. A little trouble (probably not so little really) along the way had interrupted his school career and he repeated a year, thus ending up with us. He was never rude or disruptive in class but he was treated like a troublemaker by every teacher in classes that we had together.

We all thought that being underage and drinking beer was OK, with the typical misconception that drinking beer made us cool. The need to seem older and more sophisticated than our peers at school made us do stupid things like that. Some members of our group had more trouble than others with growing out of that bad choice.

Our teenage years are difficult at best, and can be devastating at the worst. Successfully navigating those years was often dictated by who you had around you. If you had someone to either look up to for an example, or listen to for guidance, it made a world of difference. Some of us figured out how we were being “extra stupid” on our own.

It wasn't really apparent to us at first that Pollard had a drinking problem. We were after all still teenagers and a year younger than him. The guy always had a beer on him when he was away from school, but he never seemed to get drunk when we were around him. He started skipping school and going to work instead, more and more all the time. He said it was because he "needed" more money.

Pollard lived by himself in a small three room cottage apartment in Davie. His father had run off when he was young, his brother died in Viet Nam during the early years when we were just there as "advisors," and his mother had problems with alcohol and other substances of her own. His mother being a substance abuser was the one reason why we didn't think that Pollard would get "that way." We were wrong.

If he couldn't get beer or hard liquor, he would drink cough syrup or anything with alcohol in it. Stan caught him straining Sterno through a cloth to drink because he was out of booze and money and needed a fix just like a junkie. We decided right then and there that we were going to put a stop to this before it killed him and/or us (he often drove the car with us in it.)

Pollard wasn't left alone after the Sterno incident, and we wouldn't allow him to take a drink of anything with alcohol in it. It was pretty tense for a long time. There were several fights and we didn't fight fair, we'd gang up on him. We were determined to save our amigo and beat the booze.

After a few weeks it appeared that Pollard was over his craving for alcohol. We were elated, sure that we had won the battle. He told us that he was OK and didn’t feel the need for alcohol any more. It seemed like everything had worked according to our plans.

He had switched addictions and was chewing Redman and dipping Copenhagen or Skoal a lot more, but we figured that was a good trade off. No one thought about cancer much back then... well, the rest didn't. I had lost my grandfather and an aunt to cancer in the previous ten years and the idea of getting cancer bothered me. We thought we had it all fixed, but we were wrong.

Somehow Pollard had hidden a bottle of vodka where we couldn’t find it and was "spiking" his tobacco products with it to get his fix. He repeatedly said that he really wanted to quit and knew that we loved him like a brother and only wanted to help him. He felt the same about us and wouldn't intentionally do anything to hurt us. But alcohol was still ruling his life, in spite of what he wanted... until we found out about the vodka in his tobacco.

That discovery caused a blowout of huge proportions. As always we were “plotting against him," (as he saw it) so he told us all “where to go and how to get there.” We had finally had enough of spending all of our time on him and angrily stormed out of his place and went to Stan's house to discuss what to do next. It was decided to do nothing; the next move was Pollard's.

A week went by and we hadn't seen or heard from Pollard and we were getting worried; the “what if” scenarios kept playing out in our minds. Then on Saturday morning about 11:00 a.m. Stan got a call from Broward General Hospital. He in turn called Dubby and I and we sped to town.

Pollard had gone fishing on the sea wall by the jetties near Dania Beach. When he went to stand up he reached back over his head to grab the handrail that went all along the wall, missed, and fell over backwards. The drop was about ten feet.

He landed on his head on some great big rocks that were jumbled up all along the dry side of the sea wall. The one-point landing split his head open and knocked him completely out. The witnesses said that he didn’t move after he hit.

Fortunately for him there were several other people out there that day and one of them ran to a phone to call for an ambulance. The response was very quick as there was a beach substation less than two miles away. The crew had to climb down into the rocks to get to him and check him over.

Keep in mind that this was 1969 and procedures were not anything like what you see today when a Paramedic or EMT arrives. They picked Pollard up, sat him upright, and put a bandage against his head wound to stop the bleeding. While checking his vital signs they noticed that he had a kind of green pallor about his face.

He just didn't look right to them so they hauled him up the seawall bodily and manually carried him to the parking lot. There they strapped him onto a gurney, loaded him into the ambulance and hit the lights and siren. They didn’t have a clue why he would be green, but they were sure that it wasn’t right and that they had to get him to the ER, ASAP!

What they didn't know (and Pollard was a little too unconscious to tell them) was that he had about half a pack of Redman Chewing tobacco (non-alcoholic version) in his mouth when he fell. He swallowed it all, and I promise you, that will give you a green color!

The call Stan got was from Pollard himself, wanting more chew (or at least some snuff to dip) and he sounded clear and alert. We met at Stan's and then got into Dubby's Oldsmobile and went to the hospital. They indeed did have him registered there, but no, we couldn't see him until after 5:00 p.m. They were running tests on him and would be all day.

So, we went over to Leroy's Coffee shop and drank coffee until we thought the tide had come in and we were about to drown. Then we took a road trip to Boca Raton to see the new Horse Track and finally, we thought we had burned up enough time and drove back to Broward General.

It was only 4:30 p.m. and that grumpy Charge Nurse would rip our heads off if we bugged her again asking to get in early. So, we sat in the car and listened to Dubby's tapes. He was called "Dubby" because he had a speech impediment and could not say the letter "W" correctly. It always came out sounding like "Dubby" and that was a bummer since his first, middle, and last names all started with "W.”

We waited out our time and it seemed like forever because Dubby only had country music tapes in his car. He always claimed that it was because nobody would steal them like they did rock music. I would have gladly given them away to anyone who wanted them, especially when Dubby decided to sing along. The guy was tone deaf and didn’t care what he sounded like.

While we waited we had been watching two little boys, around six and eight years old, playing in their car while the adults went inside. They were obviously brothers and had been fighting most of the time. All of the windows were rolled all the way down in a failed attempt to keep them cool.

The boys had been repeatedly jumping from the front to the back seat and back again. They played with everything in the car; especially anything that they weren't supposed to touch. The cigarette lighter, the ashtrays, the horn, everything was fair game to them.

Before too long they were even bored of fighting with each other. The young boys were just kind of lying across the backs of the seats with that," been there, done that, too bored to bother" look on their kissers. The only thing that they didn’t even consider was getting out of the car; that would have brought the wrath of mom down on them.

Dubby said that it was time to go in and Stan and I gave a cheer. It was less because we now got to go see Pollard, and mostly because it meant that Dubby would quit that infernal noise. He said, "What? Don't you like my singing?" I told him the sounds he made would give a Barn Owl hot flashes and he chased me around some cars. That boy just couldn't take a little friendly critique.

While we were running around cars, Stan had been talking with the two little boys that we had been watching. They wanted to know if we were real cowboys, and Stan said, "Yep," which was cowboy talk for, “Uh huh.” Then they asked him what that was that he was putting in his mouth.

I failed to mention that Stan had a broad mischievous streak. He said, "Candy, do you want some?" The little brother of course said, "Yeah" (which was little kid talk for “Yep.”) Stan gave him a big wad of Redman chewing tobacco, which he quickly jammed into his mouth so his brother couldn't have any of it. I had been the target of his practical jokes in the past myself, so I felt sorry for the kid.

We were almost to the front door when we heard the sound of the involuntary expulsion of foreign matter. The little guy was being dangled out the window held by the ankles by his big brother. He lost his wad of chew and probably his lunch too. I could hear the older one saying, "Don't you get any of that on Momma's car, I ain't getting a beating for you."

We slapped Stan in the back of the head and called him bad names for doing that to that little guy. He said that he just wanted to teach them the lesson not to take things from strangers. I told him that he just convinced those two that all that bad things being said about cowboys were true.

Pollard was wearing one of those silly open-down-the-back hospital gowns and every time he got out of bed his entire butt would hang out. The nurse thought it was cute, which really worried him. She looked like a Marine drill sergeant, and she told him that she was going to give him a sponge bath later. He wanted out of there!

We had smuggled in his chew (which he wasn’t supposed to have) and he promptly loaded up his jaw and eventually had to spit. He looked around for anything convenient to spit in, (that the nurse wouldn't see right away anyway) and settled on the bedpan. It was stainless steel and held quite a bit.

Even though he was able to get up and go to the bathroom just fine, they still put the bedpan next to his bed. It freaked him out that the nurse asked him if he needed help using it every time that she came in to check on him. We of course, picked up on his aversion to her attention and teased him every way that we could think of about their “romance.”

We asked our amigo how he was feeling, really. What we wanted to know more than anything was if alcohol was involved in his accident, but none of us would ask. Pollard said that he was fine, just a cut on his head and they had sewed that up and he was as good as new. He stressed over and over that he couldn't wait to get released... before “Nursey” came calling again.

In a moment of rising bravado I finally asked about his drinking and was he having any trouble needing a drink in there? He told us that after we left him on the day of the big argument, he sat down and took stock of his situation. That day he had come to the conclusion that he had to either quit drinking or die. Pollard said that he thought long and hard about which one he wanted.

He reached the decision that life was worth living and it was up to him to make it work. No one else should have to be responsible for his actions, and he hadn't touched a drop since. He was afraid that he would backslide and was embarrassed about how he had acted. So he wanted to wait until he had a week of sobriety under his belt and knew for himself that he could do it.

According to him he had gone out to the jetties to fish and think about what to say to us, and then fell off the wall. There was a long silence where we thought about what he said and stared at this guy that we cared about, wanting to believe him. It was fair to say that there was a lot of doubt in that room.

Dubby said, "Pretty speech, but if you don't mean it, we're all through with you." Stan and I stared him in the eyes and nodded our agreement.... he got the message.

It was past visiting hours by then, so we were about to leave when Dubby said that he had to go dump the bedpan somewhere, so Pollard wouldn't get caught. The little monster took it to the Godzilla nurse and told her that Pollard had a bowel movement and it didn't look right to him.

When the nurse looked in that bedpan and saw the chew spit and chunks of tobacco leaf all chewed and mashed (it did look awful) she nearly screamed. Dubby had said, "Get out of here quick" but didn’t say why. From the panicked look on his face we knew better than to delay.

She was heading for his room when we took off down the hall, at a very fast, I-wish-I-could-run-now speed. Pollard got to stay an additional night while they analyzed his "sample." He not only got the sponge bath, Nursey gave him an enema as well to "clean him out."

The next day, Sunday, he got "out" all right... when the sample turned out to be chewing tobacco spit they practically threw him out the front door. We were there waiting to pick him up, and give him more chewing tobacco. We knew it was a filthy habit, but still indulged in it anyway.

The good news was that Pollard got off the alcohol completely and the rest of us didn't want much to do with it either. We had seen enough with his struggle to convince us to not let anything get grip on our lives like that. There was a funny (to us) side effect from Pollard’s hospital experience; he said that whenever he took a chew after that it gave him the weirdest feeling, like he had to go to the bathroom.

My family and I moved to Georgia the next year and I lost track of my friends. It is true that all of us have to go our separate ways in life. I like to think that we learned enough from those hard lessons to make better decisions.

I am sure that those other guys are still out there somewhere having fun; and probably at each other's expense if I know them.


Pollard and Stan are gone now, but Dubby is a wealthy business owner with a stack of kids and grandkids. I would bet that he is still playing that crappy music and singing along with it while he plays tricks on his friends.