My parents went to Mardi Gras and wrote about it in a newspaper for senior citizens

Avid readers of Senior Perspective, Prairie Edition (and who isn’t!) will recognize a version of this story from the April issue. Avid readers of anything I’ve ever written will know I get a lot of entertainment out of my parents. My mom (the one person who falls into both those categories) has given me permission to share this here, and I’m doing so because everyone needs to know what my dad is like on an airplane. Also, because my parents went to Mardi Gras then got a story about it in a newspaper aimed at Midwestern senior citizens. Words are all my mother’s – even the ones about mardi gras beads – but I added a few pictures.

Vacation Postcard

by Tish Peterson

The back story:

For the first time (ever!) Pete and I took a week-long vacation in search of warm weather. We flew to Dallas, rented a car, and drove down to the gulf coast of Mississippi, with stops in Louisiana along the way. I had every good intention of sending postcards (even went to the post office for stamps ahead of time, but the PO only had post card stamps in rolls of 100.  Yeah, right, like that’s gonna happen). But vacation postcards usually arrive after the vacation’s over anyway, so now that we’re home, I thought I’d take a few minutes to send out this version of our postcards.

To clarify right off:  We had fun!!!

It was like we were in our own version of reality shows, starting with:

ICE ROAD TRUCKER:

It took us 3 hours to drive from home to Minneapolis, and highway 494 had more turbulence than any airplane ride I’ve ever been on.  We were in the truck and Pete did an excellent job of driving.  I’m sure if it had been me behind the wheel I’d have gone through all the underwear in my suitcase by the time we got to the hotel.

Pete hadn’t flown in over 30 years, but all went well.  It was weird for ME to be the calm one on the flight, though!  I had a crossword puzzle to keep me distracted, but all he had was the window and the wing to look at.  I gave him my iPod when I realized I had it handy, which helped a bit.  Once he adjusted the volume to a level where he could hear it, however, he tended to yell everything he wanted to say (and you know how his voice carries anyway!).  Every so often he’d boom out, “NO SNOW DOWN THERE”  or  “WE MUST BE OVER OMAHA NOW” ~ which caused a murmur among the passengers, who probably thought we were getting updates from the pilot, as they peeked outside for a glimpse of non-snow or Nebraska.

To clarify, this is my pops - exactly the kind of person you want yelling on an airplane

To clarify, this is my pops – exactly the kind of person you want yelling on an airplane

MASTERPIECE MYSTERY:

When Rachel and I were in Ireland we nicknamed our rental car “The Trusty Steed.”  On this trip, the most frequent reference to the car was “What Does The Car Look Like?” and/or “Where Did We Park?”

SWAMP PEOPLE:

We drove from Dallas to West Monroe, Louisiana, and as we entered the elevator at the Holiday Inn, a young couple got on behind us.  I could hardly believe my eyes, but the guy had a live squirrel on his shoulder.  With a heavy drawl and a shucks-ma’am delivery he explained how he’d found it as a baby when he was hunting, and now it was his pet.  If I could have gotten off the elevator I would have, but instead I just smiled politely and hoped the squirrel wouldn’t look at me, or my underwear would once again be in jeopardy.

The vacation was off to a great start.

The vacation was off to a great start.

We ate at a local restaurant, with service by a darling young girl with a huge smile, but when she asked, “Yallslldoongdeeyah?” without actually moving her lips, it took me three deer-in-the-headlights “Excuse me?”s before I realized she was asking if we all were still doing good here.  Once I had cracked the code and interpreted the question, my joyous and explosive, “yes, Yes, oh YES!”  had other people looking around to see if Harry had just met Sally.

DUCK DYNASTY:

Okay, this was the highlight of the vacation for me, and actually my whole reason for going:  getting a photo op in front of the Duck Commander warehouse, and ambling throughout the gift shop for souvenirs.  I’m easily amused.  The warehouse is actually where the duck calls are still made, and where the show is filmed.  Didn’t see any Robertsons, but enjoyed myself anyway.

PGA GOLF TOUR:

We drove down to the gulf coast, staying for 3 nights in Ocean Springs, MS.  Our first mission was to locate a golf course for Pete.  That was probably the highlight of the vacation for him, coupled with the fact that there was that 7-ft alligator near the tee box on hole #10.  I was the first to spot it and could barely believe my eyes.  Come to find out (later) that there are many alligators on the course (we spotted 7), but the real danger is the SNAKES ~ which I’d been happily unaware of when I was helping Pete locate a lost ball.  Yikes!

Here let's all look at the alligator on the golf course and NOT make jokes about lost balls okay

Here let’s all look at the alligator on the golf course and NOT make jokes about my dad’s lost ball okay

GATOR BOYS: 

Not content to simply see 7 gators on the golf course, we headed over to the Gulf Shores Gator Farm, where Pete got to actually hold a live alligator and we took an air boat ride through their swamp.  We met an alligator in the swamp that came to the boat when called by the guide.  Tidbit:  alligators like marshmallows.  Who knew?

THE HISTORY CHANNEL:

A cool/rainy/dreary day on the coast, so we took in a tour of Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis.  It was very enlightening to me.  I had no idea what a deeply committed patriot Jefferson Davis had been, active in the government in DC prior to the civil war. (My Civil War history knowledge consists mostly of what I learned from Gone With The Wind.)  All the doors in the house were literally 12 feet tall, but the bath tub was the size of a coffee cup.  (What did these people look like????)  We really learned a lot, and had a good time in the process.

THE AMAZING RACE: 

Almost every time we had to get from point A to point B, in spite of having written directions, a map, and a GPS, we inevitably spent time and again doubling-back and driving around in at least one circle.  Sometimes we could actually SEE where we wanted to be, but couldn’t actually see how to get there.  the GPS ~ which is named Gertrude ~ has a bit of a devious nature or warped sense of humor.  “When possible, make a U-Turn” or “Proceed to the nearest road.”  You can just about hear her wanting to add, “……Dummy.”

THE BIG EASY:

Although we didn’t spend the night in New Orleans, we stopped on our way through to take the bus tour, and I’m so glad we did.  It gave us the chance to see some of the sights of the city that we wouldn’t have otherwise.  (Passed close to Sandra Bullock’s house/mansion, but I’m thinking she was away for the weekend getting ready for the Oscars.)  I think we rode along a Mardi Gras parade route ~ there were chairs and stands set up along the way, and already tons of beads hanging in the trees from earlier parades.  I actually won some beads on the bus tour, by being able to correctly pronounce the name of one of the streets we passed.  I can’t remember what it was, although it sounded something like Oompa-Loompa……..   anyway, I walked away with 2 strings of green beads, and I didn’t even have to take off my shirt!!!  It was actually so cool on the tour that I had on two shirts, a fleece jacket and a windbreaker, so taking anything off wasn’t even a option!

THE MAN SHOW:

I’m not sure there really is a Man Show (there was, but I’m really glad you’ve never seen it, mom – R), but if there is I’ll bet it includes a 2-hour browse throughout Bass Pro Shop, followed by lunch at Hooters, and a guided tour of the Shreveport Water Works Museum, which was how My Man and I spent Friday, up until the time of………(wait for it)……..

MARDI GRAS PARADE!!!  Although not as expansive as New Orleans, Shreveport has a very respectable parade, with about 50 huge floats, and three marching bands, which lasted about 1 1/2 hours.  Unbelievable to me that we were actually there for a parade, but I have a significant collection of beads (and photos) to prove it.  (Again, no removal of shirts were involved; it’s a family-friendly event)  Almost as amazing as being there, is the fact that I was able to catch some of the beads when they were thrown from the floats ~ I’m so terribly non-athletic, my first instinct was to duck for cover when the beads headed my way.    Ended up with a bunch of them anyway, thanks to Pete.

Mardi Gras MADNESS

Mardi Gras MADNESS

Almost forgot to mention the favorite reality show!  THE FOOD NETWORK!!!  the BEST Mexican food, chicken gumbo, crab po-boy, shrimp creole, fried catfish, alligator bites (deep-fried mush, in my opinion), crab cakes, and some of the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had.

STORM CHASERS:

Leaving Shreveport, the temp was in the 60s, and by the time we reached the outskirts of Dallas it was down to about 28 degrees.  I was behind the wheel ~ saying my prayers through wind, sleet, ice, slush, and rain ~ just hoping we’d be able to return “WDTCLL?”  to Avis in one piece.  God is good, and we made it, but once at the airport the weather only got worse, and we watched the announcement boards as three flights to Minneapolis were cancelled………

Ours was only 45 minutes late, and we made it back to our hotel in the cities by 10 p.m., feeling great that our part in SURVIVOR was over!

Arrived home.
Cold and snowy.
Two suitcases full of laundry.
Nothing in the fridge.
But nonetheless:
We had a wonderful time, but it’s good to be home!

And just in case you’re wondering what my dad had to say about the first vacation he’s had in years, here’s his summary:

"keeping up on face" means "we saw that you made a joke about us on Facebook," as if that was going to stop me

“keeping up on face” means “we saw that you made a joke about us on Facebook,” as if that will ever stop me from making jokes about my parents on Facebook.

I LOVE MY WEIRD FUNNY PARENTS. Next time let’s send them to Vegas.

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First Time Was a Great Time. Second Time Was A Blast.

I really didn’t think it was going to happen this time.

At first, all I got from my so-called friends were excuses. “My brother is on leave from the Marines.” “I’m having minor surgery.” What, like those things are more important than seeing three separate 90s boy bands in one evening?

Because, you see, The Package – a combination tour of Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, and most importantly New Kids on the Block – was coming to Minneapolis. And I wanted to see The Package and shutupIknowwhatthatsoundsliketheynamedthetourthatonpurpose. And really, with tickets as low as $9 a pop the Monday before, who could resist?

Almost everyone I know, it turns out. I’d almost given up hope when I opened up to my friends Joe, Mike, Ben, and Aimee after a pint or two of Fulton’s Sweet Child of Vine on Friday night.  Three regarded me with disdain, but the fourth told me about choreographing elementary school dances to “Cover Girl.” And as much as I’d like to say it was Joe because he is a seven foot tall ex-college football player, it was in fact Aimee.

At first I thought she would be too cool for something so innately dorky. Then I realized she goes out with Ben, so nothing is too dorky for her (apply ice to burned area, Ben). And after a few more IPAs, I was pretty sure I had her.

The next day, I made sure:

aimeetext

And at 9:21 a.m., she proved herself worthy.

So I bought tickets – for about $20, not $9, but still a steal – and went to work for the day.  The only thing I remember about it is that I may have admitted to 100 strangers (including two bachelorette parties) what I was doing for fun that Saturday night, and they were not impressed.

I also engaged in some trash-talking.

I also engaged in some light, unnecessary trash-talking.

Aimee proved she was game from the start, buying a sweet NKOTB t-shirt without hesitation (I, of course, was wearing this precious gem again). We grabbed the traditional concert drinks (overpriced and under-hopped), musing that even my t-shirt was old enough to drink, and got our seats.

First up: Boyz II Men!

Look, when you buy tickets for $20 ten hours before a show, this is the quality of seat you get.

Look, when you buy tickets for $20 ten hours before a show, this is the quality of seat you get.

The first thing we noticed was that the Boyz were wearing all white. The second thing was that there were only three of them.

I have watched this video three four several times in a row now, and I’m still not positive which one of these Boyz wasn’t there. I think it’s the one in the yellow shirt. Our seats were not great, and they’ve aged, okay? They might even be Men now. Their short set was great, even if the first song took about ten minutes because of all the breaks for screaming.

Then it was time for 98 Degrees, a band I can definitely say I remember existing. I did not remember a single song of theirs, though. And I certainly did not remember the man they call Jeff.

Jeff arrived, along with the Lacheys and the other one who used to have the peroxide blond hair, and this conversation happened:

Rachel: “What did they sing aga-”
Aimee: “MAYBE HE’LL TAKE HIS SHIRT OFF.”

So began Shirt Watch 2013. It began with a focus on Nick, and then we learned Jeff was a thing and didn’t really know what to think. Things said included: “They are playing the video where his shirt is off!” “He’s lowering his suspenders!” “He’s taking his shirt off! Wait, he’s wearing another shirt underneath? YOU ARE WEARING TOO MANY SHIRTS!”

So, needless to say, I still don’t know any 98 Degrees songs.

THEN it was time for the main event. Two solid hours of Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, and (as Ross Raihala so splendidly put it) “whatever it is Danny Wood is supposed to be.” Everything was over the top. The opening music was reminiscent of the Olympics. The costumes were changed multiple times. The word “MINNEAPOLIIIIIIS!” was, frankly, abused by Donnie Wahlberg. And the staging was legitimately spectacular. Aimee and I stopped communicating in full sentences – partly because it was impossible to hear over the screams of thousands and thousands of women – and just started announcing things we saw: “Lasers!” “Confetti!” “Fireworks!”

Because it had all of these things and more.

Those are balloons, not camera flares. Giant balloons.

Not that I didn’t find time to add some constructive criticism to the event. The place was loud, and we were very far away, but I still felt it necessary to shout:

“ST. PAUL IS ALSO BEING REPRESENTED AT THIS ARENA,” to every Wahlbergian cry of “Minneapoliiiiis!”

“I FEEL LIKE YOUR PRESENCE IS UNNECESSARY,” to Danny Wood’s breakdancing.

“WHY DID YOU THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA,” to the request for even more deafening screams.

On the other hand, I responded to every ridiculous gyration or piece of clothing removed by simply agreeing.

“CORRECT,” I announced to Donnie as he ripped his tank top in half.

“THIS IS ACCURATE,” to Jordan Knight’s cover of Prince’s “Kiss” while doing his best shirtless “Magic Mike” dance.  “I AGREE WITH THIS.”

And all too soon, it was over. Just kidding, it was a four hour long show and I was getting tired and they had played all of their hits anyway.

From this entire magical evening, I learned three things:

1) All I want for Christmas is for someone to change my cell phone ring to the part of Step By Step where Danny Wood sings/says “We could have lots of fun;”

2) The next time (and I’m not even going to pretend there won’t be a next time), I’m springing for the seats that are within Donnie-frenching distance because that is a thing that happened to someone who was not me; and

3) The day you decide to throw all sense of adulthood and coolness out the window, announce your excitement over boy bands, change your profile picture to the one of you in the 21-year-old shirt and serious purple eyeshadow and a side pony – that, my friends, is the day your entire high school class will find you on Facebook and invite you to your 10-year-reunion.

Fashionista Flashback: Normal American Girl Edition

Happy Independence Day!

Later today, I’ll be going to a Twins vs. Yankees game, enjoying a dinner of pizza and beer, and watching fireworks. What could be more American than that, you ask?

How about…THIS?

Sugar Beet days

It’s possible that you would like some context.

I am from a small town in southwestern Minnesota, and like all small towns in southwestern Minnesota, mine celebrates its heritage every summer. We have a parade, a street dance, flea markets and games. We used to have a Junior Miss pageant that was exactly like the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous, minus the murdering, but sadly no longer.

In DDG, the theme of the pageant always incorporates America (“Amer-I CAN! Proud to be an American! Buy American!”). In my hometown, the theme of the entire celebration incorporates our town’s key crop: the Sugar Beet.

Look, anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it, including a week of celebrating beets, okay?

The pageant was always my favorite part as a kid.  But my second favorite part was the kiddie parade.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: all the kids in town are woken up early, dressed in costumes made by their aunts or mothers, and encouraged to walk down Main Street carrying signs incorporating puns on the word beet. Then they turn around and walk back up Main Street because it’s only about a block long. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes and is a general confusion of cuteness and tantrums.

Pictured above: the “prize winners” of the Sugar Beet Days kiddie parade in about 1989. My brother and I are on the far right, dressed as Polyester Captain America and a Precious Moments figurine. No, actually, according to our sign, which we must have ditched at the end of the street, we were “Uncle Sam and the Pioneer Spirit.”

It actually just occurred to me this morning that the Pioneer Spirit might not be a real character. Google seems to think the Pioneer Spirit is a bunch of buffaloes, not a four-year-old in an over-sized bonnet and what appear to be tap shoes.  My mom made it up just to give me a reason to walk down the street with my brother.  Again – anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it.

Anyway, I think we came in second that year, between Mr. and Mrs. Sugar Beet (who still haunt my dreams) and the three little pigs (who were the other kids who showed up).

The kiddie parade still goes on when there are enough kids to participate. The Uncle Sam costume (made by my aunt) actually made its third appearance a few years ago on another generation of my family and once again took home a prize.

What I’m trying to say is that my hometown is weird in the way that all small American towns are weird. Nothing ever really changes, and that’s comforting. I biked every street within that one-square mile. I swam in that town pool a thousand times, then walked to the Malt Shoppe or the pharmacy to spend my twenty-five cents on candy. I didn’t worry about politics, or war, or whether or not I’d be allowed back in to school in the fall because I was a girl. And of course my school would still be there, and no one would stop me from going to church every week, and there would always be food in the fridge and I’d always be safe and happy and free.

Anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it.

Happy birthday, America. You are weird and flawed and my home. Thank you for my happy childhood.

Well, mostly happy childhood. I think I was pretty over the parade scene by this point.

I will end you

Asthmatic Jedi For Life

In January, I got a cough. This week, I got a diagnosis: asthma.

Asthma makes me think of two things. First, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. Remember that scene? Or any part of that movie? I do, because I was too young to be watching it, and my mind will forever associate “asthma” with “psychotic nannies.”

Second, and more prominently, I think of awkward, nerdy children with huge glasses, usually portrayed on TV by the likes of Martin Starr and Josh Saviano.  And then I think, “wait, that was me as a child. That’s sort of me now. Of course I have asthma.”

Sweet Yellow Cardigan

Tell me that kid doesn’t have an inhaler.

But I didn’t have asthma in junior high or high school or college. The nerds let me hang with them anyway, presumably because of the glasses. And the braces. And the love of sci fi and hatred for physical activity and the inability to talk to boys and…who are we kidding. Asthma or not, I was the queen of the nerds.

My doctor actually suggested asthma about a month ago, after my fourth visit to her and second request for codeine.  She referred me to a specialist, who was finally able to see me this week and confirm the diagnosis – kind of. “I really want to say you have asthma, but let’s do some tests first,” he said. “Because once I give you this diagnosis you will have it for life.”

Yeah, well. I also have poor vision for life. I’m left handed for life. I’m a bit freckly for life but especially in the summer. I get why the specialist was cautious, but I also get that it’ll be okay. Still, I agreed to do the test.

“Have you had any coffee, pop, or chocolate today?” he asked. “We can’t do the test if so.”

I’d had all three within the last hour.  We scheduled the test for first thing Monday morning.

So this is how I came to wake up an hour and a half early to drive across the cities in rush hour traffic on zero caffeine and zero allergy meds. This is also how I came to be in the worst mood of my life. I am not the type who can wake up with boundless energy, spend a long time in a car, not eat chocolate, and then happily interact with strangers. Only golden retrievers and my friend Mike do that. No, I’ve purposely plotted my life so I can sleep until the latest possible moment before “commuting” to work by walking half a block, stopping at one of two coffee shops on the way, and sitting at my desk and avoiding human interaction for at least an hour.

So, unshowered and wearing what I’d found at the top of the laundry pile (pink dress and oversized hoodie), the crabbiest, coughiest, but least coffee’d version of myself checked in for her methacholine challenge. Or at least she was supposed to. What I actually said was, “I’m here for a midi-chlorian test.

It was unintentional. Nerd for life.

The premise of the methacholine challenge is to test for asthma by inducing asthma, because it only works in people who already are susceptible to asthma (or something). This strikes me as a little insane. Do we test for other things like this? “We think you have a broken leg, but we can’t be sure until we smash your knee cap with a hammer to make sure your leg is susceptible to breaking.”

Anyway.

I spent an hour slowly finding it harder and harder to breathe, which counts as a “positive” test. Then I was given a huge, fast dose of meds to bring me back to “normal.” And because I’d been complaining (imagine that!), I was brought a black coffee to sip while I waited for everything to take effect. And like every time I mix coffee and medicine, I wound up shaking and talking nonsense and basically tweaking out.

And then I was declared “normal.”

“I should go back to work,” I thought as I walked out. “Or to a movie! Or maybe a quick car nap. Or a shoe store. Or maybe I’ll take a nap in my car in front of a shoe store. COMIC BOOKS! I want a sandwich. Or an Icee! I’m going to have an Icee for lunch! Where are my keys? Did I park in this lot? I need to download Return of the Mack right now. Where’s my car? How do I get home? Wow, I feel amazing! I love having asthma!”

Needless to say, I crashed pretty quickly. I almost couldn’t finish my Icee.  And to think, my Adventures With Asthma are only just beginning. Please feel free to buy me this shirt as I make this adjustment.

Then I can finally be cool, like this guy.

#Winterfest Dos and Don’ts (From Me to Future Me)

I am a lucky girl. I love great beer – and I happen to live in the Twin Cities, where the craft brew culture is booming. I also love great events – and this past weekend, I got to go to one of the year’s best: Winterfest.

This was actually my second year at the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild event, and both years have been great. And, well, learning experiences. I am already hoping to go again next year, so this is basically a list for Future Rachel. Still, you may as well reap the benefits of my beer-tasting wisdom, internet strangers.

So it begins.

So it begins.

Do obsessively hit “page refresh” for ten minutes before the tickets go on sale. The event is capped at 750 people, and sells out in seconds. I’ve managed to get tickets for two years in a row using this highly scientific method, and also dark magic.

Do eat before you go. Yes, they have food at the event, and it’s included in the price. I bet it’s pretty great, too. Last year I think I ate some cheese; this year I completely missed out on all of it. Whatever you do, don’t go to a 3-hour all-you-can-drink craft beer event on an empty stomach. Rookie mistake (that you only make once).

Do gloat about this event taking place in St. Paul, the right side of the river.

Do your research. Look through the program and have a top ten list of brews you do not want to miss, and find those first. Things do run out, plus you want to try the snobbiest stuff (technical term) before your tongue goes numb. Also, if I hadn’t looked over the program, I might have totally missed the Sugar Shack Maple Stout from Third Street Brewhouse. It’s made with Saint John’s Maple Syrup from the Arboretum where I used to work. I really like it, but with a pedigree like that, how could I not?

This has nothing to do with beer, but any time I bring up my time at the Arb I like to remind people I did this once.

Look, I know this has nothing to do with beer, but this is the most badass picture of me in existence and it was taken at the Arboretum, so I’m sharing it again.

Do bring your ID, a pen, and your tallest friend. The ID is obvious. The pen is for taking notes and/or writing your phone number on strangers’ hands. And the tall friend is easy to find in a crowd, and can also find you if/when you wander off.

Do dress appropriately. For some that means warm boots and gloves. For others an outfit you can easily sleep in on your friend’s couch. For me that means both.

Do find the Excelsior Brewing Company booth and take pictures of the staff; when you find them on your camera the next morning, understand that you will be left with more questions than answers:

They just posed like this, without any direction. Naturals.

Probably this was towards the end of the night.

Don’t be embarrassed when you spot someone you met and talked to for half an hour at a past a beer event and you can’t remember her name. She doesn’t remember your name, either.

Don’t force yourself to finish anything you don’t like. Give it to your tall friend who seems to like all the things you don’t (another reason you brought him), and find something you like better.

Don’t be afraid to not love the things everyone else loves. There may be a time and a place for me to drink Barley John’s award-winning Dark Knight Returns; that time was not two hours into the event, after an uncertain number of other pours, when I knew it was a really heavy hitter. Some other night, DKR.

Don’t live-tweet the event.

livetweet

MNBeer.com knows what I’m talking about, or wants me to shut up.

Do make an active effort to find and drink water.

Don’t get upset when one of your brewer friends makes fun of you for drinking water. He’s working and therefore sober, and definitely laughing at your slightly slurry, indignant response.

Do make friends. It’s fine if you don’t pay attention to her last name. You’ll think of something.

Legit beer friends.

The truest form of friendship.

Do have a safe drive lined up. Even if you cancel on your original safe drive to catch a ride with your new friend, Stephanie Beer and her boyfriend, Sober Dan.

Don’t go to the Onion afterwards. Just don’t. You hate that place. It never ends well for you there.

....Best laid plans...

….Best laid plans…

Do expect your best friend to text back: “UGH, RACHEL, you hate that place!” because she knows you.

Don’t be surprised if you wake up the next morning and think, “I’ve felt better.” But since you remembered to eat before the event, and drank plenty of water, you’re actually in pretty good shape and will be up as soon as you have some coffee.

So there you have it. That’s how you semi-sensibly enjoy one of the best beer events in the Twin Cities.

(But seriously, don’t go to the Onion next year.)

Fashionista Flashback: The Ninth Day of Christmas Edition

Uh, hello. Have you seen eight other ladies dressed exactly like me, maybe dancing around a pear tree? I got distracted by some lords a-leaping.

Rachel as a dancer

My friend Ben calls this my “Palestinian Ambassador of Dance” look.

This Christmas, laugh, be merry, give thanks for all that is good in your life, and make sure your jaunty cap coordinates with your sash.

And dance.

The Minnesota Vikings, My Pops, and Me

I wrote this last year, but I’m updating and re-posting it in light of yesterday’s huge Vikings win.  I got to experience it in person, at MOA Field, with my pops. It was great – I am still hoarse from cheering, Pops almost clapped once, and the whole day was pretty much everything I love about being a Vikings fan.

I once theorized that my relationship with the Minnesota Vikings is not unlike my relationship with men (why yes, this theory was developed in a bar!): 1) I care very strongly for them; they are basically unaware I exist. 2) I am always looking for a good tight end; they are always looking for a horny blonde.

Vikings Fan

Like that.

3) Eventually I’m going to have to stop pinning all my hopes and dreams on men who wear purple and tight pants and chase each other. 4) And finally, it’s all my father’s fault.

From age 2-6, Bonding With Pops meant watching whatever action movie was on television while falling asleep on the couch. They have fused in my memory into one long action movie I like to call Crocodile Die Hard Jones and the Hunt for the Lethal Weapons Under Siege 2. From ages 7-12, Bonding With Pops meant getting outdoorsy and going camping and fishing. Sadly, this camping tradition ended about when my dad woke up to me burning an entire deck of cards, one at a time. I wish I was kidding; that is super creepy. Ever since, Bonding With Pops has simply involved sports, and it started with the Vikings.

Together, we watched the 1998-1999 season with as much pride (and then overwhelming despair) as the rest of the state, and despite that famous miss, I was hooked. In 2000, Pops took me to the Vikings training camp to watch a scrimmage. The facts say that I was fifteen at the time, but the memories suggest I was closer to seven. I was giddy to be there, with Pops, watching Cris Carter! Robert Smith! JOHN RANDLE! And we were in the front row, somehow; probably because Pops is early for everything (I did not inherit this trait), but at the time I was pretty sure it was because my dad was magic and/or secretly important. I thought this might be the case when he perked up at some announcement and said, “I think that’s my cousin Rod doing the announcing.”

Before I could say, “You have a cousin Rod and why aren’t we using this relationship to get VIP treatment?” The announcer said, “and here comes the quarterback, Cunningham. Uh, I mean Culpepper…” To which the crowd gave a little boo and Pops said, “Yep. That’s Rod alright.” I decided not to follow this lead after all.

Despite needing to be the first person in his seat that day, Pops couldn’t stay in it for long. He got us a bag of popcorn that (again, in my memory) was as big as me, and I was not a small kid. He also ran off and bought me a Cris Carter jersey. Again, I was not a small kid, but Pops overshot it a bit — to this day, we call that my “Cris Carter dress.” I loved it immediately.

After the scrimmage, we went to the autograph line. Pops plopped me next to the gate with my camera and my notebook and disappeared while I gawked, star-struck, as all the pros walked past me and the rookies stopped to sign autographs.

If you’re wondering what kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in a crowd like that, so was I. I finally brought this part of the memory up to my dad last week. “Where did you go?” I asked, thinking he ran away from the crowd to smoke. He stared at me. “I was right behind you,” he said. “I had a hand on each of your shoulders! Don’t you remember? You were the same height as Denny Green!” What kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in that crowd? Not mine. You’d think I’d remember being held in place by a large man, but no. There is no large man in my memory other than John Randle. I may be a terrible daughter with a foggy memory of one of the best days of my young life but eh! John Randle!

John Randle

Actual picture that I actually took of the actual John Randle. I am that bad of a photographer, and I was that excited. I’m still proud of this.

That was the last time my dad and I went to a scrimmage. Until yesterday, he did not even own any Vikings apparel (I bought him a purple hat – he’s actually lucky I didn’t buy him one of the helmets with horns), whereas I’ve upped the ante with a “cousin” Adrian Peterson jersey, Robert Smith jersey, Vikings sweatshirt, two or three purple pride t-shirts, and one of those sweet blonde-with-horns hats (I will fool you yet, men). I was banned from The Boys’ apartment after Favre threw the last interception of 2010 and I let out a guttural scream that scared the cats. I went to three games at the Dome last year (all losses). And I once picked a fight in New Orleans, with a Priest, because he was wearing a Drew Brees jersey.

To be a Vikings fan is to be stubborn and proud without reason.  I’m a HUGE Vikings fan, and it’s definitely all my father’s fault.

Love you, Pops.

SKOL VIKINGS!

Rachel and Pops

From The Archives: My Birthday Is Served

(A true story from just before my 22nd birthday.)

This doesn’t happen every day, and it doesn’t happen to everybody.  It only happens to me.

My birthday buddy and I went out for ice cream and exchanged gifts yesterday evening.  My present included silly putty, bouncy balls, a hacky sack, play dough and – my favorite – a koosh ball.  Hers is a “Happy Hour” sign and some champagne-shaped chocolates.  Guess which one of us is older.

When I got to my house, my mom was home.  I showed her my present and started playing with my koosh ball when she told me a man had been by to see me just then.

Oh?

Yes, he’d been by to see me and he’d dropped off some papers.

And what do these papers say?

Oh, just that I’m being sued for fifty thousand dollars.

...Well.

Clearly this problem cannot be solved by koosh.

Apparently, someone with my name is having some legal issues over a three-year-old car accident, and I was served her summons to appear in court.  Our legal system at work.  I read the papers and started to laugh, then said, “This isn’t funny!”  My mom laughed back and said “No, it’s not!”  Then we both laughed some more.

So tomorrow morning I have to call some lawyers and explain that I did not, in fact, cause an accident in the cities in 2002 (when I was barely able to drive out of my driveway, by the way), and I will be paying no one $50,000.  Then I will ask him how difficult the legal process is to change my name to something slightly less common.  I’m thinking Shaquana, Decadence, or Bob.  Not a lot of girl Bobs out there.  The world needs more.

But hey, I’m not bitter.  Not everyone can say, “Remember that time I went out for ice cream and got sued for fifty thousand dollars?”

This doesn’t happen every day, and it doesn’t happen to everybody.  It only happens to Bob.

One of the Guys

There was a time in my life when basically all of my friends were gay men.  I call this time “college.”  During that experience, I wrote this in my journal:

So I found myself at a party last night, sitting on a loveseat between two gay guys.  The optimistic side of me thought, Isn’t it fun to be talking to some really great people, no worries?  The cynical side of me, the side that is slowly but surely killing the optimistic side, thought, Yep.  This is my lot in life.

It’s not like I set out to collect them.  I don’t buy into that Sex in the City, every-girl-needs-a-gay thing (you know, where they exist solely to snap out one-liners/take a woman shopping/wear interesting hats).  I just met a lot of great dudes who happened to be into other great dudes.  Perhaps it had to do with working for the theater department for four years, perhaps I have a magic gift.  We’ll never know.

The point is, for the first 25.5 years of my life, I had exactly one (1) consistent straight guy friend.  He’s The Original, the guy who knew me when I dressed like this AND like this, and has stuck with me anyway.  I sort of imagined it would go on like this, me with my boys, my girls (of course I have great girl friends, too), and my one guy forever.

But you know what they say: life is what happens when you’re busy making plans with gay men.

2011 might go down in history as the year I learned to talk to anyone. I can talk to straight men as if they are actual humans, and I am one too. It turns out we have common interests: beer, action movies, football, making fun of one another, nachos…

The Notebook

Also, every one of them loves Ryan Gosling and "The Notebook" more than any girl I've ever met.

And although I still have some wonderful, fabulous boys, there are now a whole lot more guys joining The Original in my corner. Sometimes even they wonder why it has happened; my buddy Mike (editor’s note: I was going to make up a better pseudonym, but when I asked Lacy for help she strongly advocated for “Long Duck Dong” before announcing “I feel like you should know that I’m tipsy.” I’m sticking with “Mike“) recently told me, “Rachel, I spend more time with you than I do with girls.” I frakking love this. Being “one of the guys” is one of the funniest experiences of my life thus far, and I am enjoying every (occasionally smelly) second of it. In fact, I really only want my guys to remember I’m a girl when I need someone to carry heavy objects or intimidate someone for me.

So how has my life changed since that journal entry? A couple of weeks ago, I found myself at my usual table at my local bar surrounded by a bunch of my new guys, when one of them said: “Rachel is better at being one of the guys than I am.”

Yep. If this is my new lot in life, I think I’ll take it.

Sick days and life lessons

I am sick. My self-diagnosis is allergies + cough + whatever it is that makes me unable to stay awake for 3 consecutive hours.  It doesn’t matter, whatever it is it has kept me on the couch for the better part of today with nothing to do but watch cartoons and action movies and talk to my friends in a whiny manner.

I’ve had a few variations of this conversation today:

Me – I’m sick.

Friend – Oh, I’m sorry. Do you need anything?

Me – No, but thanks.

It’s very nice of them to offer, although of course what they mean is “please don’t breathe on me.”  And of course what I mean is “Yes, I need an immune system. And ice cream. And a puppy.”  I cannot ask for these things, though, because I am an adult.  Except around my mother, and she wouldn’t bring me a puppy anyway.

I think I was still holding out hope for a visit from the ice cream fairy when a few hours later, this conversation happened:

Me: I should probably go get ice cream.

Lacy: I have wine.

Me: So you support this decision, then?

Lacy: I support every decision.

Yep.  That’s ten years of friendship summed up in four beautiful sentences.

So with Lacy’s blessing and the addition of a pair of pants, I went out and got some ice cream (and some ibuprofen, because I am not against conventional medicine, I just prefer desserts).  I brought it back to my apartment and cracked open my freezer, and what do you suppose I found?

A half-empty tub of ice cream.

ice cream tub

Right in front. Not even hidden behind the vodka or anything.

I’m sure there’s a lesson for us all here somewhere.  Sometimes what you’re looking for is right where you left it? No, that’s the tagline to Sweet Home Alabama.  Hmmm, be less ridiculous? No, that’s the opposite of what my life is about.  How about next time you start jonesing for sweets, maybe check your immediate surroundings first before driving off in a feverish state to the pharmacy, only then remembering that your car is threatening to die and you might be stranded with the local hobos and hooligans who populate the parking lot at night, and they might expect you to share your ice cream.

It may seem specific to you but I’m 80% certain this is something I’ll need to learn at least once more in my life.