Quote of the Day “You got to listen to me!” TB, circa April, 2000
I was asked some time ago to tell some old stories on this blog and someone else specifically mentioned Key West since TB had featured it in some posts. So here goes. What follows is true. The names and places have not been changed to protect the idiotic, well other than I’m using my alter ego occasionally in the third person.
TB, Ed and Stone were road warriors back at the turn of the century and among our airline rewards were numerous free Air Tran flights. As Fort Lauderdale is the best place Air Tran flies from Gulfport and as driving from there to Key West and drinking for a few days is a helluva lot of fun, we decided to take a few days and do just that.
TB at the time was the only single guy of our triumvirate and as such was always expected to be ready to drink a beer any time one of the married dudes was. So while Stone drove us down the A1A (he was low on the totem pole), TB settled in to the back seat of our Mustang convertible and removed his shirt for some gut tanning over the next 4 hours or so. But just as we left the mainland and before even hitting Largo, Ed pulled out two beers, turned around and showed me one and simply raised his eyebrows. I’d been out the night before and was slightly hungover, so I hesitated, even balked, but Ed persisted with his patented blank stare in my direction. Eventually (perhaps 3 seconds elapsed) I grudgingly accepted the beer. Ed gave a self satisfied and slightly sinister chuckle “I knew I could count on you”, and we toasted our freedom.
And away we merrily rolled.
We killed 8-10 beers apiece before arriving in Key West a couple of hours before sunset where Stone was finally able to partake in the festivities. It was about this time TB’s body told him he should get a little sleep–a power nap at least–but sadly, it was not to be. We threw our bags in the suite and rushed out to the hotel bar. TB only had time to snag a bottle of 2-way from the shaving kit. For the uninitiated, 2-way is (or was–it may be banned now) an ephedra pill popularized by truckers who had to stay awake for, like, 88 hours in a row. Anyway, TB popped two, chased them with some beer and barreled out the door in pursuit of my compatriots.
For the sake of brevity, but in an effort to not compromise the true nature of the evening, I’ll now summarize the side stories that occurred that night, some of which have been referenced on the blog before. For purposes of the principal story, be reminded that beer was continually consumed over the next 6-7 hours and an additional 2-way, or two was ingested each hour, something TB had never done before and has never done since.
Stone meets and rejects a Polish heiress, Ed gets us kicked out of 3 bars…well two unless you count Irish Kevin’s twice, Ed gives his watch to Stone for safe keeping then attempts to buy a coke from a machine with a hundred dollar bill, Stone intervenes to save TB from being arrested for being falsely accused of dumping a trash can directly in front of a cop, Stone and TB eat late night pizza at one place, then breakfast at another before stumbling back to the Hilton safely.
Stay with me.
TB’s body was whipped, but my ephedra addled brain was still a whirlwind of activity. It alerted me shortly after falling asleep that I should get up and relieve myself, but then lost the train of thought that would’ve led me to the loo. Instead of heading there, TB somehow stepped outside the room. If you have ever stayed in a hotel, you may be aware of the fact that the door locks when it’s closed so you must always carry your room key. Seeing as how TB did not intend to leave the room, I did not carry said key with me. Still mostly asleep, I realized I was in the wrong place and turned to try and open the door from which I’d come, but as you may have predicted, it was locked. Nonplussed, I headed down the hallway where I apparently spied a door I thought I should go through.
Well, as luck would have it, when you leave some hotels after midnight, and this Hilton in particular, their public access doors automatically lock. I remember staring at the door as if it may magically open. The stare may have lasted a millisecond or ten minutes–I can’t recall. What I do recall is thinking to myself, “I’m locked out.” Then looking around and realizing, “I’m outside.” Then squinting in the distance and remembering, “I can’t see squat without my glasses.” Then looking down and finding “I’m in my underwear.” It only took a few more moments to combine those four thoughts, innocuous in their own right, but devastating upon being combined.
I knew there had to be a way back in, and it needed to be fast because I still had to pee. And I just knew those cops from earlier in the evening would be looking for another chance to run me in. Of course I couldn’t see more than ten feet away so my only option was to walk the perimeter of the building. Being that I was in my underwear, I decided to sprint. Being that I was barefooted and didn’t want to stub a toe I was high stepping. (Pause here for mental image to coalesce). Several sprints led me to doors that would not open. One sprint sent me spiralling off course down a pier full of docked yachts and charter boats. One sprint led me through an active sprinkler system. And a final sprint led me behind some tropical foliage from which I could see the lobby. Seeing no other choice as I peered around a banana leaf, I bucked up, determined to tell the girl at the front desk the truth so far as I could piece it together and headed for the front door of the Key West Hilton in all my glory.
As I walked through the automatic doors, I saw the girl go to the back room, so I went to the desk and awaited my fate. When she didn’t come for a few seconds I looked around and noticed some stairs and this is where my luck kicked in. My speed addled brain managed to send the message that up those stairs could be meeting rooms and that meeting rooms often featured house phones.
So up I went.
There was indeed a house phone and I sat down, wiped the water out of my eyes, crossed my legs and picked it up. The girl downstairs answered and I asked her to ring my room. She asked what number and I had to confess I did not know. So I gave her my name, but the room wasn’t registered to me. And not to Ed. But finally, to Stone. She rang the room. After about 88 rings, Stone answered. Our conversation follows:
TB–Stone, you got to come get me.
Stone–Dude, you’re in bed.
TB–No, man you got to come get me.
Stone–I put you to bed myself.
TB–Stone, you got to listen to me. I’m locked outside, in my underwear, I can’t see, I’m wet, I got to pee and I’m lost. You got to come get me.
Stone–Go back to sleep.
TB–(interrupting and louder)–Stone, you got to listen to me! You got to come get me!
Stone–Ok, ok, where are you?
TB–I don’t know.
Stone–(after several moments of silence–I suspect he blank stared into the receiver) Well, describe your surroundings.
TB–(describes surroundings, evidently pretty well).
Stone–Ok, I think I can find you. Don’t move.
TB–You got to come get me.
Denoument–Stone did, in fact, come get me. And I don’t believe anybody ever even saw those mad dashes around the complex, up the pier and through the lobby. Well, nobody other than those bastard late night security guards that sicced the sprinklers on me.