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July 3rd, 2006

Holiday Weekend in Wilmington -- Day 4

After breakfast, we called the front desk to ask for a noon checkout.

Robert helped me pack up the room, even though he was leaving shortly, as he had to head back to Raleigh today, since he's working tomorrow.



At noon, I went to check out of 109, and request a new room with two double beds, a fridge, and microwave for tonight for Joe and me. She first moved us to Room 240, which was almost directly upstairs from Joe's room 138.

When we opened the door, Robert, thankfully, immediately noticed that there was no fridge or microwave in the room. We were moved next door, to 242.

Robert helped me transfer my stuff, and in the process we noticed that the blow-dryer in this new room was ripped off the wall, and nowhere to be found. Fortunately, this wasn't a show stopper.

We said our goodbyes to Robert, and he got on the road, driving my car back to Raleigh.



Joe and I rode out to the Port City Java off Oleander, where a total hunk sat on the couch across the room from us, until three women took a table that broke our line of view.

These three women, who we came to know as "the two wedding planners" and "the bride," went on and on and on about the wedding minutiae that people get so consumed in, and in retrospect often become, a "Who noticed?" or a "Who cared?"

One of the planners had one of those lazy eyes, and at one point, she had one finger on a drawing of the wedding reception venue floor plan, one eye on the bride, and her other eye on me, as she said, presumably to the bride, "I can tell you that there is no way, with the DJ sitting here, that people will be able to..." We were very glad when their "meeting" ended.

Before leaving, I ordered a croissant with only mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion on it. Back at the room, I went to slice the chicken breast I'd brought with me to put on it, and it occurred to me that I'd left my two steak knives wrapped in a hand towel on the sink in room 109 when Robert and I checked out.

I called the front desk to alert them, and in turn the housekeeping staff, in hopes that no one would grab them and cut him- or herself.

Joe and I ended up sitting out by the pool the rest of the afternoon. At the beginning, I was in this,"alley" (maybe four feet wide) of shade along one side of the pool area, keeping the first degree burns -- mostly on my shoulders -- out of the sun.

There was this really hot guy laying out across from us, face down, who we both thought might be Mark Zumbach when we first saw him. He looked so much like him from the back that when I went to the office to retrieve my steak knives, I asked the lady behind the counter, "Has Mark Zumbach checked in yet?" just to see if it was him. She said, "No."

I received some interesting looks when I returned to the pool with two sharp knives in my hand. Shortly after that, "Mark" turned over, and as soon as we saw his face, we knew it wasn't him.  Since we didn't know him, Joe started his little game of making up a history of someone he doesn' know.

Judging from the trucks in the parking lot, there were several truck drivers staying at the end of the hotel we were in, and in Joe's story of this man, he, this man, was one of them.

After about an hour out by the pool, Joe went back to the room and returned with a cooler that was, essentially, a stocked bar -- with his Miller Lites, and my flask of Maker's Mark, along with some Diet Rite Colas.

The sun moved such that my alley of shade diminished to a strip so small as to not even have covered Calista Flockhart, and to keep me from going inside, Joe thought to throw my beach towel up on top of the table umbrella, which was only mesh that didn't block the rays. I situated my chair under the rectangular block of shade it casted, and continued to enjoy my cocktails and a few more podcasts on my iPod.

I really like the juxtaposition of the word "alley" and the name "Calista Flockhart" at the beginning of the previous paragraph.

A lady in the pool was very impressed with Joe's shade invention, said as much, and added, "I'm going to copy that idea." And she did, with the added touch of dousing her towel in the water before throwing it up on the umbrella at her table.



Back in the room, about an hour later, Joe squealed as he looked out our window.

"What?" I said, looking out to see none other than his fantasy man sitting inside the cab to his 18-wheeler. Chickie-chickie boing boing. <-- Music at beginning of a porno movie.




We had dinner at Baja 38, which is a place Robert introduced me to, and we had passed on the way back from Port City Java.

We shared an appetizer of "Con Queso Blanco," (white melted spicy Jack cheese with tri-colored chips), and then each had one of the quesadilla appetizers for our meal. Loved it all.



We got to Costello's at a little after ten, and it was a fun night again, though not as much fun as last night.

Those three guys who harmonized on the gospel song last night came in at one point, and I said as they walked by me, "Oh good, the Statler Brothers are back."

After a while Ralph, who we'd met last night and was sweet on Joe, came in and spent most of the time standing next to him talking. I excused myself to the other side of the bar.

At one point in the evening, Kurt, the bartender, did his rendition of Miss Celie's Blues, which he'd also done last night (I forgot to mention it), and was most excellent. He really is an "entertainer."

Later in the evening, the "Statler Brothers" came up and introduced themselves to Joe and me. Two of them were partners of 15 years, Rocky and Robin, (a little too close to Rockin' Robin for my taste), and the other one's name was Brian, which, of course, may be spelled Bryan. Brian seemed to be sweet on Joe.

After much coaxing by Brian and me, and eventually Donna (the piano player) coming to get his hand and leading him to the piano, we got Joe to sing his signature song, At This Moment.

At the piano, Donna leaned over to him, and said, "What key, honey?"

Joe said, "Key? I just do this song at karaoke, in whatever key it's in."

They worked it out, and Joe sang it beautifully. A lot of the song, I watched Brian watch Joe sing.



Ralph kept trying to get Joe and me to go to Ibiza, but we kept saying no, and he eventually went by himself.

When Donna quit playing, she stopped and talked to Joe and me for a few minutes, and she told us how she'd been "pre-empted" from being on Good Morning America, or one of those morning programs, when she was fired from Pine Valley Baptist Church. Turns out that the morning she was supposed to be on, that DC sniper incident "pre-empted all regularly scheduled programs."

I also found out that I had misunderstood her last night; she doesn't own any shoe stores.



We settled our bar tab at about ten minutes until two, and, with Joe in absolutely no condition to drive, I took the wheel.

Wanting something to absorb the alcohol, we were on the lookout for a place to eat. We thought of the IHOP. Closed.

We saw an open Waffle House, and pulled in.

Pulling in just after us, a big-ass SUV swerved right into a handicap parking spot. That set Joe off, and he wanted to say something to them, but didn't. I was thankful.

There were only two dirty tables open, and we took one of them. The handicapped parker party, who came in right after us, of course, took the other one, which meant they were in the booth to my back.

After sitting at the dirty table for about 5 minutes without being waited on, one of the workers, who was told by one of the other workers to "stop wrapping that silverware and go wait on those people," walked right by our table, and started clearing off the n'er-do-parkers' table to serve them next.

"This isn't working for me, Joe. Let's go."



We pulled up to a convenience store attached to a gas station to find an elderly clerk putting the "CLOSED" sign in the window of the door.

We saw a 24-hour Wal-Mart, and in spite of its high cost of low prices, we ventured in, since it was a "Super Store," meaning it had food, too.

We found some 12-inch hoagies, and each grabbed one, and Joe slung his over his shoulder, and walked like a construction worker hauling sheetrock, or something, and I laughed and laughed in spite of the tragedy of it all.


Joe grabbed a pint container of Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream, and we headed to the checkout counters.

Here, we found only two lines open. One had a line of people with carts full of crap. Who does their weekly grocery shopping at 2:30 in the morning?"

We got in the other line, which was held up by a couple, of which the women was in a tirade with one of the managers.

Behind them in line were two customers with only one or two items each, and next, the people directly in front of us -- two girls and a guy together, the guy on his cell phone the entire time -- who had a cart full of stuff, including sheets and pillow cases for a double size bed. Who chit chats on the phone at 2:30 in the morning? Who goes shopping for sheets and pillowcases at 2:30 in the morning?

Our mission, on the other hand was clear. Drunk people on a munchie run at 2:30 in the morning makes perfect sense.



We eventually got out of there, and back to the hotel without incident.

Joe ate his sandwich and the pint of ice cream. I ate half of my sandwich, and put the other half in the fridge.

We both drifted off with our laptops on in bed.

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