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Paris Served Up Ice Cold

The Boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to be able to travel to Germany and France just after Thanksgiving, returning the first week of December. This idea came about because sometime around October, I had the thought that if I didn’t get out of the state of Georgia soon, I might just start constructing the Seven Wonders of the World in my condo. Which would, of course, require me to open up a putt-putt golf course and…let’s face it….the world really doesn’t need another one of those. In short – – I get a little twitchy when I haven’t traveled abroad in a while, and so I informed Chris one wild-eyed night that “we have to get out of here”. Thinking it best not to agitate the insane woman in his house, he cautiously agreed – – while quickly glancing at my hands to ensure I wasn’t holding any sharp objects.

We went and saw my cousin Sean and his new wife, Lizzie, at their home in Stuttgart, Germany, and then took the train from there to Paris. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Germany, Chris and I were like two jetlagged slugs who’d had about a pound of salt poured on us before being run over by a tractor. So while we went out to some pubs and a FANTASTIC German restaurant complete with some rockin’ beers, we didn’t get to see as much of Germany as we would have liked. This was vastly made-up for by the fact that Lizzie and Sean are wonderful to just hang out with and were so kind to let us take in some much-needed relaxation with them in their beautiful home that overlooks the German countryside.

The train ride into Paris was a groggy one as we’d had to get up early that morning while already in the aforementioned jet-lagged sluggish state, watching the German, and then the French countryside whiz by in muted winter pastels. The difference between the German and the French people was palpable as we made different stops between the two countries. We left the dark, buttoned-up garb, with expressions to match, of the German people, to be greeted by the brightly colored, casually chic fashions of the Parisians. And smiles – – many more smiles in France

Our taxi took us on a quick view of the sights of Paris en route to our hotel. PARIS – – the city that defies all effusive description that I can possibly muster with the English language. In the winter, Paris is stark in its beauty – – if it were a drink, it would be a chilled, white chocolate martini – – exquisitely decadent while intoxicating you with its beauty with each sip. Oh, and I did want to drink this city in – – savoring each drop as I went.

Chris and I said “merci” and “bon” and “oui” like parrots who have sadly been taught only three words by a very lazy owner with a bad sense of humor. I was desperate to say more and grew slightly depressed during our 3 night stay that I could not form my mouth in the same way as the elegantly tongued beings around me. Chris inexplicably adopted a “French Accent” which consisted of ordering “Ze Quiche” and “Zis wine” while waving one hand to the side ever-so-slightly. At first I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. It alternately annoyed me and delighted me – – – he alternately admitted and denied that the accent existed as it grew like a barnacle onto his everyday speech as we walked up and down the streets of Paris.

Luckily, we had many kind, forgiving waiters assist us at Cafes. Waiters who efficiently brought us our food despite us speaking to them like we were two year old French children stricken with a mild speech impediment.

One notable evening, we’d been out to dinner and had a few too many drinks. Afterward, we took a cab to one of the cafes near our hotel. I proceeded to spill my coffee in my saucer and onto the table while attempting to drink it when tipsy and then tried to soak up the offending, excess liquid with two small cocktail napkins. The result was two soggy pieces of paper glaring out at the world from our table vulgarly. A young French couple engrossed in each others’ eyes and wrapped up in a sensual embrace at a table next to us turned during my commotion and openly stared at my sad little display with both curiosity and disdain. The napkins might as well, instead, have been a neon sign reading: “WE’RE AMERICANS WHO CAN’T HOLD OUR LIQUOR. NEXT THING YOU KNOW WE’RE GOING TO PURCHASE BERETS LIKE THE GRISWALDS AND THROW OUR PET DOG OFF THE EIFFEL TOWER.” The waiter came out to mop up the table and glanced at me, then smiled wryly at Chris and said, with a heavy accent: “Does she do this at home?”…

Smart Derriere.

Yeah don’t ever say the French aren’t friendly – – because trust me, they exercise much patience and professionalism in the face of the uncouth. There might be a little sass to their responses at times, but I’ve always been a girl who can appreciate some good-humored sass.

We returned home tired but satiated after our whirlwind tour, having been dazzled by the city of lights fully and completely. I’m hoping that the next time I visit France’s fair city, I will have learned at least six words in French.

Oh Hell – – I’ll really challenge myself and say I might even be able to learn…..seven.


Silent blogging of late aside, I would assume that all who have happened upon my little corner of the Internet World have prrrooobably deduced that I’m a bit of an extrovert. I CAN spend alone time – – and do – – but if I’m honest with myself, even a lot of that alone-time is spent e-mailing people, creative writing, talking on the phone, texting or thinking up some hairbrained craziness to put up on Facebook. I enjoy connecting. Thrive on it. And though I have spent the last decade or so learning how to become more Zen in my approach to life, I’ve also spent a lot of time TALKING about my new Zen approach to life. Which isn’t being very Zen, is it?

And let’s face it. Taking pictures of oneself wearing a Viking hat in various poses and settings, while entertaining and ridiculously creative, isn’t exactly…..introspective. In short – – I’m a bit of a handful. Hopefully an insanely AWESOME (and, of course, modest) handful – – but a handful.

My boyfriend – – God bless him – – is an introvert. He’s a sneaky introvert, though, because he can be quite social. People often comment on how well he fits in with any group – – how personable and easy-going he is. He can fit in just as well with a group of Hells Angels as he could a group of Circus Clowns – – would just put on that leather jacket or that face paint….and chill. We share this talent and it’s one of our commonalities – – the ability to be a camelion in any setting and our sincere enjoyment of different life experiences. We both get a kick out of being thrust out of our familiar surroundings and thrown into a pool of the unfamiliar and told to “Swim!”.

But there is a difference – – and this really is the key difference between the introvert and the extrovert: his energy slowly depletes from social engagements and being around people or a person for long periods of time, while mine gets filled to the brim. My energy feeds off of others’ energy while his energy is slowly sucked out by people as they become unknowing vampires of his very Life Force. Oh sure – – I get tired and need a little “down time” after a series of events. But down time for me could just be doing something more lowkey with the one I love, or with friends. For HIM, downtime means complete solitude. Solitude and introspection and zoning out. It is an absolute necessity for him and it’s taken me a while to begin to understand it so that I won’t get offended when he needs it.

The thing is, he’s so GOOD at seeming like an extrovert at times that I forget about the fact that he’s an introvert, and so it’s stunned me at times in the past when he suddenly seems to flip off like a switch. But I’ve gotten to where I can see it start to happen. See him begin to shut down. I used to wonder why he would suddenly say really ODD things at inappropriate junctures in a conversation. Like, for example, after a couple of days of social events and spending ALL of our time together, I would say something like: “These pancakes are really good”. And he (after about a 5 minute zone-out session with methodical chewing) would say “Yes. Beavers have large teeth.”

It’s like watching HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey” get powered down and start singing “Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy, all for the love of….you.” The eyes glaze over and……nothin. He’s done. And all the while, he’s got a dancing, enthusiastic, blond Golden Retriever puppy dog leaping around him saying “I know…let’s go to the MALLL! Let’s go get some CANDY and then take photos of me balancing gummy bears on my HEAD!” And I honestly think that, quite literally, at that moment, if he could be swallowed up by a rabid hippopotamus where he could hibernate within the belly of this beast for a few days, having bits and pieces of other humans and wild animals being chewed up and swallowed on top of him, he would opt for that over going anywhere that involved me possibly injesting more sugar, and balancing any multi-colored jelly-candy on body parts. And sometimes, it doesn’t even have anything to do with what activity I’m wanting to do, it’s just the presence of another body near him that sends him to Zone-Out World – – I could be sitting across a room from him, stone cold, like a statue – – – but my breathing and the sound of my eyelids opening and closing would be too much to take.

It’s taken a while for me to not get so unnerved when it happens; to understand just how deeply it helps him. And to realize that a day to a few days away is good for me too – – it seems I’ve got a little introversion in me as well. And this restoration that is derived from a place of inner peace is often a lot more authentic and solid than that gained from the external. I KNOW this philosophically – – but it’s another thing to make yourself do it.

One of the most frightening things we all have to do in life, after all, is looking inside, and facing ourselves. But it’s so worth it when you do – – because that’s where you find the gold.

Yes, sports fans. It is moi – – The Blog Slackinator. I will refrain from excuses of why I have not been writing in the blog of late and just say this instead: I haven’t felt like it. I don’t really know WHY I haven’t felt like it but felt like it, I have not. For me, writing involves ideas that I always have cooking on the stove that is my brain – – and there are times when these ideas are at full boil and I have to get them out of my head before they begin to screech of their own volition similar to a lobster that has been chosen for dinner out of that big murky tank found at a Red Lobster near you, and put into a big pot of scalding hot water. Then there are times when the ideas are simmering just below the surface of me – – not in any hurry what-so-ever to be put out there into the world for people to see, judge, and once again conclude that I need to be committed to a cute little mental institution down the street, to lead the pack of patients in pill popping games similar to drinking games but without as much puking (When watching “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, every time Nurse Ratched gives a scary, icey glare, EVERYONE POP A VALIUIM!!!)

But I digress.

Given that I PROMISED to give you the Halloween story back….you know…during HALLOWEEN…and I didn’t pay up, then I figured I should make good on the promise, despite the fact that I should really be making dirty elf jokes right now instead. And who doesn’t like a good dirty elf joke? But you’ll have to wait until Valentine’s Day for those, folks.

The Halloween story of festive embarrassment that I have to relay took place about 7 or 8 years ago. I’d just started dating my now ex-boyfriend, Luis, at the time – – and he’d been tasked with finding a Halloween party for us and other mutual friends to attend since none of us had heard of any going on that year. He called me up a few days before Halloween and – SCORE – one of his clients had invited him (and any other guests he might want to bring along) to what was advertised to Luis as a “Killer Halloween Party”. It was rather short notice but we called up our friends and everyone was game for the party.

I hadn’t really considered a costume until that moment because it had looked like we weren’t going to be able to find a party to attend – – so the day before Halloween, I went out scouting for a costume at various Party Outlet stores. The result of this trip was realizing that all of the good costumes had been snatched up already, and I was left with things like a “Shaggy” costume from Scooby Doo or a tattered, gold pimp costume with a rip in the leg. I finally found a little Alpine Girl get-up that was called….get this….”Heidi the Ho” on the outside of the bag in which it came. I estimated that the “Ho Factor” was pretty minimal when I looked at all the pieces that came with it – – skirt, bodice, white stockings – – so I don’t know where the manufacturers came up with the idea that Heidi was luring in wayward mountaineers with Come-Hither looks in THIS outfit.

The night of the party, I happened to ask Luis exactly who it was throwing the “Killer Halloween Party” and he said it was a “Software Geek” client of his who gives this party every year and apparently goes all out with the decoration and spook effect. We were even going to have to park in a different location from the house because there were too many cars and there wouldn’t be enough room. The guy had hired a limo service and a limo would pick us up at this satellite location and drive us to the party. This all sounded good to me and I excitedly relayed this information to my friends who were going with us, hoping to get everyone pumped up.

We all met up for dinner before-hand and I quietly surveyed the costumes around the table as we ate: Zorro, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, A Dominatrix, Naughty Nurse and Heidi the Ho. Not a bad little crew there, all told. A proud addition to any Halloween party.

Later, as we made our way to the party in the limo provided, as planned, Zorro popped out a bottle of champagne and we all shared it en route, laughing, and carrying on as people are want to do when wearing costumes and heading to a “Killer Halloween Party” in a limo. We exited the limo in front of a spookily decked out house complete with fog machines, scary sound effects and eerie lighting. The Dominatrix was whipping us all playfully as we made our way up the walk toward the house and we were generally being quite raucous as we entered the house and headed down the hallway into where it appeared that the “life of the party” was supposed to be as we could see movement in there.

What happened next is difficult to fully articulate through written word and completely express the scene. It was like we were characters in a movie, and as we walked into the room, the needle on the record scratched and everything came to a screeching halt.

No one was dressed up. Well…I take that back. A couple of people were wearing jeans and appeared to have painted their faces like characters from some sort of Dungeons and Dragons computer-type games. And there were two kids there who were dressed as vampires. But what we mainly saw were people against the wall, nervously holding paper cups, not wearing a stitch of anything resembling a costume – – gawking at us.

We gazed into the kitchen and the first thing we saw were about 30 bottles of soda, standing side-by-side on the counter like a Battalion of the Un-Fun. Oh God. There wasn’t even any alcohol to take the edge off of the pain of this moment. The only music was that of silent befuddlement at what spaceship had dropped off this rowdy group of historic figures and sexual deviants into what could only be described as a “First Middle School Dance”…..for adults.

The Dominatrix and the Naughty Nurse grabbed my arm and not-so-subtly herded me toward the bathroom and shut the door on the horror. “What are we going to DO??”, the Dominatrix hissed out of mahogany lips as she widened her silver eye-lashed eyes. “We have to get OUT OF HERE”, she continued with a glare that fully expressed the urgency of the situation. A glare that indicated there was nothing…NOTHING…as dyer as a lame Halloween Party where no one else was dressed up, but where she was currently wearing a black vinyl dress, fishnet stockings, purple wig, and wielding a riding crop.

I said “Look…we can’t just leave…this is one of Luis’s customers and it’s really bad business if we turn around and leave, basically indicating quite plainly that the party is LAME”. They both looked defeated at that point because they knew I was right. I asked that we just make the best of it for about an hour or so and then make a quiet, polite exit. They begrudgingly agreed but not before the Dominatrix hissed again, “Ok…but you owe me BIG TIME”.

When we exited the bathroom, Cleopatra, Zorro and Mark Antony were hanging out in the kitchen drinking some Orange Shasta. They had good news. It was rumored that somewhere in the basement, there was a keg of beer. Zorro and I ventured out on an exploratory mission to locate said keg. We headed down a labrynth of dark stairs and hallways into the bowels of the garage where a small, frightened, shivering keg of beer stood uncertainly in the corner, like someone was holding it there at gunpoint. We filled up six small cups – – rationing carefully since it would appear that there wasn’t much to go around and we wanted to make sure that all of us had the same amount of medicinal assistance to deal with the situation.

When we returned, Mark Antony, Cleopatra, the Dominatrix and The Naughty Nurse had all formed a desperate Conga Line in the kitchen. Like they had suddenly gotten sauced on the Shasta and were overcome with the party spirit. Unfortunately, the party spirit still had not overtaken the other half of the room as they stared at our group quietly, sipping from their cups like it was an afternoon cup of tea and they were on the lawn playing a rousing game of checkers while watching a group of Vagrant “Artists” roll around in the grass doing some sort of vulgar performance art. They were frightened….but fascinated by us.

Zorro and I joined in the Conga line – – trying to willfully manufacture the fun amongst the bottles of soda, boxes of pizza, and plastic platters of grocery store cookies. We eventually stopped, though, when one of the vampire children ventured into the kitchen with an injury. I have no idea where she would have sustained an injury since I had yet to find any activity going on anywhere in the house that didn’t involve just feet shuffling and sipping soda from a cup, but the vampire flung her arm up on the counter in front of the Naughty Nurse with an angry gash staring up from the skin.

It would appear the the vampire child thought that the Naughty Nurse actually had some sort of real, medical know-how because she clearly was seeking HER assistance – – not the rest of ours. One of the more bizarre scenes I remember from that night was looking over at the vampire child being bandaged up by the Naughty Nurse – – whose black, lacy bra was peeking out vulgarly from the inside of her white coat – – as the vampire child gazed down in earnest watching the cut be tended to.

We were finally able to gracefully exit the “Killer Halloween Party” after about an hour, 16 minutes and 22 seconds from when we entered the party. A few of the guys dressed as Dungeons and Dragons characters took a shine to the Dominatrix and the Naughty Nurse and asked to have their pictures taken with them at varying times during the night – -like they were characters at an adult theme park or something. Later on that week, Luis received a montage of photographs taken that night from his customer who’d thrown the party and, sure enough, the Dominatrix and Naughty Nurse were in many of them – – standing beside several different geeky looking guys who were all wearing varying renditions of the same, goofy grin. I’m sure that it had made their night.

All of us never forgot that party – – after all, you never forget the really great parties – – and apparently, you never forget the really lame ones either.

And everytime I see a 2 liter bottle of Shasta, a little shiver is involuntarily released up and down my spine.

amy2glow

Ok…so once Sunday rolled around and I was lying on the couch moaning due to a bliiiinnding headache, parched throat and generally feeling like death run over by a steam train (and then trampled by rabid elk…just for good measure)….due to…(wait for it)….my first official hangover of my LIFE….then it became abundantly clear to me that I wasn’t going to make my Sunday deadline. It was for a good cause, though, folks because we went to a ROCKIN’ Halloween party that got us home via cab at 3:00am. My mistake was drinking whiskey – – and not even that MUCH whiskey (comparatively speaking to the Ghosts and Goblins partying around me, that is). But apparently Whiskey and Amy go together like Sarah Palin and a sentence that makes sense (that was said to piss off my Dad ;)).

So…ANYWAY…I’m currently writing about another Halloween party that I went to several years ago that WASN’T so rockin’ – – but I need more time to finish it. Therefore, this post is to show good faith to my five readers out there who are still holding out for a Mental Attic Come-Back. My book report might be late, but I think it’ll be worth it.

(By the way – – the above photo was taken at the beginning of the night before I had dipped into the Sauce. I pulled off the brunette wig surprisingly well for my rendition of Helen of Troy if I do say so myself. I even considered going brunette for REALS, but then realized that after a week, I’d want my blond hair back which would cause my hair stylist to roll his eyes back into his head and say “I TOLD you so…”)

truckstuckinmud

…My writing mojo, that is.

Folks – – I’ve been busy. And when I haven’t been busy, other things have been grabbing my attention. Things like glitter nail polish, and Halloween Costumes and COOKING – – YES. COOKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <—- No amount of exclamation points are enough on that last point….

So, if anyone has known me during my lifetime, then they would understand that I have OBVIOUSLY been going through some Earthquake-like life changes or mafia-style emotional shoot-out to somehow induce a COOKING (!!!!!) gene to suddenly sprout inside of my non-domesticated body and start wielding a frying pan around in there. I don't know what's happened to me and, frankly, it's a little frightening.

Anyway, my friend Alison (hi Alison!) has basically volunteered to kick my ass if I don't put up a new blog post. I have given myself the deadline of Sunday.

Yep…I’m giving this old truck the heave – ho. You have been warned.

Unsticking the Stuck

My life has changed so much in the last several months that sometimes it feels like my brain cannot catch up with it. And though so many of the changes are good, my body and mind seem to still be coming to grips with the transition. I find myself alternately elated and…..off kilter. Like the spinning top that is the essence of me suddenly and abruptly changed direction and began spinning another way, and I am still trying to steady myself into an appropriate rhythm with it all. I had grown so used to the super-duper extra-confident me – – the me who had it all figured out. And thinking you have it all figured out is always the first sign that you’re about to get kicked quite soundly and succinctly in the ass. So discovering that there are these other facets to me – – not all of them necessarily flattering – – is both humbling and slightly tiresome. However, I feel myself weathering the storm, and moving down the path toward a steady me again.

All this melodramatic prose is to say that I have felt stuck of late with my writing and creativity. It’s in there – – I can feel it – – and I have much to say. But it feels like it’s behind a wall of introspection that is only just beginning to ease. I have hit places like this before, and I know they will pass – – but it does unsettle me when it happens. Transition is a good thing, but it is not always comfortable to go through – – we all like to feel we are in control, and when we begin to feel out of control, well…that’s when sense of self can get a little Wonky.

“Wonky” is a widely accepted, clinical term within the Psychological Community, by the way. You heard it here first. Not to be confused with “Crazy” – – – or in the case of Britney Spears when she shaved her head and starting beating a Paparazzi’s car with her umbrella in a frenzy of four letter expletives – – “Crazy Lady from Crazyville on Planet Crazydom”. No, contrary to what one might think when reading through all my past blog posts, I don’t live there. I sometimes drive by there, yes, but I don’t take the exit ramp.

So – – all this to say – – if I don’t put up many posts in August, you now know why. But September? I’m thinking September’s just GOT to be the month when I’m bringing Zany back.

fpdayfoundscooter

Over the July Fourth weekend, my boyfriend Chris and I decided that we wanted to get out of town for a few days – and naturally, I thought of the beach. I don’t know what it is about Panama City Beach this year, but after a 20 year boycott, I have found myself gracing the Redneck Riviera’s beaches twice in three months. Why in the world would I want to do that to myself, you might ask? Well…part of it was that the area closer to Destin didn’t have nearly the kinds of last minute deals that you could get closer to PCB – – and the other part of it was that I’d always heard that PCB on July 4th was something to behold and thought it might be interesting to see. And boy did that assessment ring true.

So before we went, Chris and I discussed the fact that we knew it was going to be Certifiably Insane down there – – as in, the distinct possibility that we would witness more than one naked, drunk redneck, peeing out the back of a pick-up truck that may or may not have been owned by him and may or may not have been stolen…. while screaming obscenities at the moon – or a street lamp if he was too drunk to know any better. But we both decided that this would be an “Experience” and we would treat it as such. We would blend in as best we could and much like undercover reporters, find ways to infiltrate their camp in order to understand the Redneck Species a bit better. In preparation to do so, Chris brought his fake mullet leftover from a costume party where he went as Billy Ray Cyrus and there was talk of purchasing an airbrushed t-shirt with a rebel flag (that did not happen – – thank God). While I, on the other hand, practiced my profane hand gestures so that I would be ready for the moment that a redneck decided to inform me that he had a sizable present for me in his pants.

galastnightchrismulletwinkedit

Another key part of this plan to blend in was to rent a scooter. We’d latched onto the idea and wouldn’t let go. Who needs a Harley or a Chopper when you can climb aboard a Yamaha scooter? Coolness personified right there.

As luck would have it, there was a scooter rental place right beside our hotel – – so on the first day of our vacation, we walked over there determined to get one. Upon entering the establishment, the first thing I saw was a shirtless guy with a shaved head whose entire torso was covered in skull tattoos. I’m talking skulls with fire coming out of their mouths – – skulls with knives – – skulls on a mountain top – – skulls with beady, jeweled eyes. And if that wasn’t enough, he was also wearing a jaunty, fashionable skull belt to hold up his ratty cargo shorts. For a touch of subtle class, obviously.

“Wow.”, I thought, “I wonder if he likes skulls?”

We both walked up to the counter and informed Skull Man of our intention to rent a scooter. He reviewed our various options and finally after discussing the matter in serious, muttered tones to one another (as one does when it comes to serious matters such as a scooter rental), Chris opted for a two day rental in order to maximize our PCB Redneck Camp Infiltration experience. We signed a bunch of legal documentation – – promised we wouldn’t ride on the shoulder – – and off we went. No, we didn’t go over 45 mph, but still – – it was enough to put some wind in our hair and we were now part of the PCB Scooter Club. Being in the Scooter Club means that everyone on a scooter who passes you by honks at you and waves, and you’re supposed to do the same. A way of saying: “I see you on that pansy-ass scooter, dude – – but that’s ok. Because I’m on one too. RESPECK!”

After hanging out at the beach all afternoon, we decided we wanted to play Putt-Putt golf that night – – so we climbed aboard the scooter at sunset and headed down the strip in search for the cheesiest Putt-Putt golf place we could find. However, we did not get far on our journey before we came to a screeching halt due to the traffic being at a complete stand-still. It turns out that Friday night, July 3rd, in PCB, is THE night. Yes, THAT night. The night of the hollering. The night of shirtless men in lawn chairs on the side of the road yelling at women. The night of the rebel flags with a large TROUT in the middle flying proudly above the bed of a jacked up truck containing such stereotypical rednecks that I had to pinch myself to remind myself that we were not on the set of a movie. The night of men not caring one iota that I was obviously on the back of a scooter with my boyfriend as they proceeded to show me their various tongue contortions which were, apparently, a redneck salutation to women they take a shine to.

All told, it took us an hour to travel about 3 miles – – and it was a wild ride. I was at once dazzled and repulsed with seeing that level of over-the-top behavior – – everything one could possibly imagine would be seen and heard in what was essentially a Redneck parade, we saw and heard. I actually heard one very memorable statement when a man wearing only shorts and flip-flops who was chugging a beer said “Yeah, when I come to Panama City, I never have enough money for food – – – just for beer, man.”

Priorities, people. Priorities.

We played a fun game of Putt-putt, then came back to the hotel, parked the scooter, and went across the street to the outdoor beach bar to have some dinner and drinks. Afterward, we walked back to the hotel and, after a long day of sand, sun and a crazy scene, we were exhausted and hit the hay.

We woke up the next morning with a craving for some Waffle House. Chris is an admitted Waffle House addict, and I gotta admit – – that day, the All Star breakfast was calling my name. So he went off in search of the scooter keys while I went to get ready.

Now….before I relay this next bit of information, I have to qualify something for the record: Chris is a smart man. One of the smartest I’ve known. He is an Engineer. With a Mechanical Engineering degree. His favorite current application on his i-phone is one that quizzes you on all the bones of the human body which he plays with an annoying level of accuracy. He would choose a documentary over most any other type of movie, and loves learning new things on a constant basis. It is, frankly, somewhat annoying when I’m just wanting to immerse myself in a tiny bit of Lindsey Lohan gossip from my rag mag and Chris is all “What’s the capital of Bolivia?” I like learning and trivia a lot too but, Honey, seriously – – PUT A CORK IN IT RIGHT NOW!

But……….but………….he forgets things. Like an absent-minded professor forgets things. As in….forgets Very Important Objects. Nine times out of ten, just before we’re about to go somewhere, we end up looking for his keys. Or his wallet. Or his phone. Or his shirt. And if it wasn’t sewn onto the back of his body? His ass. And I’ve been getting used to this more and more and doing some preemptive steps to make sure that I note where he is putting his keys or his wallet right when he puts it down so I can then help out when we are in a rush and are looking for the Very Important Object. But I don’t always catch it…

So it wasn’t a huge concern to me when he said he couldn’t find the scooter keys – – I was used to this firedrill. But a half hour later, when he still couldn’t find them, I became more concerned. At that point, he said he was going to go across the street to the restaurant and look for them there, and if he couldn’t find them, head over to the scooter place and ask Skull Man if we could get another set. He got a head start on me because I was still getting ready, and said he would call me when he got it all taken care of.

Therefore, I was surprised to get a call from him about ten minutes later and his words were: “Um….do you remember where we parked the scooter?”

Did I remember? Of course I did. We parked it right out front of the lobby and even asked the hotel personnel if that was a safe place to park it. After their affirmative reply, then we’d parked it there and thought nothing of it.

Chris said “Yeah, that’s what I thought. And….uh. It’s not there.”

I blinked. “It’s not there???”, I said.

“Nope”, he said.

He’d already asked the hotel personnel if maybe someone from their staff had moved it, and they’d indicated that no one had. Things were looking bleak.

I met him downstairs and we discussed the options. Should we call Skull Man first? Or should we call the cops? We opted for the cops because we were afraid that Skull Man and his cronies would immediately try to charge Chris’s credit card for the WHOLE scooter before we had a chance to try to search it. We also discussed the possibility that maybe we’d dropped the key somewhere between the restaurant and the hotel – – I even went back to the hotel to check to no avail. But eventually we came to the obvious, dismal conclusion: Chris had left the key IN the scooter. Like a big, gold-leafed invitation to “PLEASE STEAL ME”.

I would like to give MYSELF huge kudos for the way that I held my tongue and didn’t yell at him these words repeatedly “ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? IN THE SCOOTER??? YOU LEFT THEM IN THE SCOOTER????” But digging from the trenches of my Zen center of being, I managed to refrain from saying these things since he obviously felt horrible enough about it already, and my frustration would just add an argument ON TOP of our current miserable situation. So, you know…..GO AMY!!!!

We had the front desk call the cops and then sat out on the bench like two school children who were about to be reprimanded by the principal. And when the cop in his big police SUV pulled up and parked in front of the lobby, we got up to walk over to greet him. He was a tall, beefy looking cop with piercing blue eyes – – like what Rosco Pico Train from The Dukes of Hazzard would look like if he was a Viking.

“Are you the two with the missing scooter?”, he said.

We both nodded tiredly.

Chris and I began telling our tale in tag-team fashion – – filling in bits and pieces that one of us remembered and the other one didn’t. Rosco was dutifully writing it all down, then off-handedly asked the question, “so, where’s the key?”

Chris and I both said “we don’t know..”

His hand stilled and the piercing blue eyes looked up from his pen and paper. “You don’t know where it is?”, he said.

Chris and I began relaying that unless we’d dropped the key somewhere and someone had found it and just HAPPENED to find our scooter out front of the hotel and decided to see if the key would work, then we were pretty sure that (gulp) we’d left the key in the scooter.

Rosco stared at us and chewed on his lip for a moment, then said “I have to be honest and tell you that something about this story doesn’t jive with me. I mean…how does the key just…. disappear? And I find it hard to believe you’d left it in the scooter.”

Um….had the man never looked for his keys in his house like I and everyone else in the world had after they “disappear”? Ripping off couch cushions, looking under every piece of furniture in the home, and then, finally, in desperation, checking the refrigerator and finding them there? KEYS GO MISSING ALL THE TIME!!! And as for failing to believe that we’d left it in the scooter – – he obviously hadn’t dealt with an absent minded professor type. I mean, I’ve picked up Chris’s i-phone that he’d somehow set down on the pavement of a parking lot before. He was VERY capable of leaving the key in the scooter.

My mouth fell open and I looked at Chris whose face remained calm and impassive. It slowly began to dawn on me that Rosco didn’t believe us. We were being wrongfully accused. WRONGFULLY ACCUSED OF STEALING A NEON GREEN SCOOTER IN PANAMA CITY BEACH!!!

I found myself very slowly relaying the facts again, trying to somehow convince him of our honesty through carefully enunciated words. I wanted to tell him that really, truly, WE WOULD MUCH RATHER BE AT THE BEACH RIGHT NOW than trying to track down a freaking scooter. Did he think we had it hidden in the bushes and were going to drive it all the way back to Atlanta? Did he think we were running a Scooter Ring?

Though he still looked unconvinced of our story, he said he was giving us the benefit of the doubt and would walk with us over to the scooter rental place to get the scooter rental information and make the report. I was in the pit of despair. Not only were we going to have to tell Skull Man and his cronies that one of their scooters had been stolen, but WE WERE BASICALLY BEING ACCUSED OF STEALING IT.

We walked in with The Law, and sure enough, there Skull Man sat, clad in nothing but his tattoos and skull belted cargo shorts. He stood up quickly when he saw the cop, likely concerned about the pile of bongs that he sells under the counter out back of the scooter shop. As we relayed the story, he began pulling out all the paperwork, looking both relieved that the cop wasn’t after HIM this time, and concerned about the scooter. Management was called, and as they asked questions, I just wanted to be swallowed up into the concrete floor in one gulp. And of course, when they got to the “where’s the key” question, and heard our answer, then looked at each other like they were talking to the King and Queen of Moronville, I pretty much wanted someone to annihilate me from the face of the planet. I mean SKULL MAN was looking at us in a superior way – – like his IQ was higher than ours. Which made me want to remind him of all the brain cells he’d likely lost when he smoked his last fat one – – – I mean, NOT SO FAST BUDDY. Yeah, we’d lost a whole scooter, but *I* didn’t have the mouth of a skull emblazoned across my left nipple.

At one point, the cop asks Chris to step outside, and I remain inside and listen to the chit-chat of PCB party-goers who were renting scooters left and right – – looking longingly at the people who were turning in scooters like it was no big deal. After about five minutes, though, I became curious when Chris hadn’t returned, and I walked out right in time to hear the cop saying to Chris…“And I want you to understand that I need you to sign this statement but I still have a problem with your story, and I also want you to understand that we’ve put out an APB on this scooter and WHOEVER stole it *meaningful look at Chris*, is going to be taken down at gunpoint and arrested.”

Hold on. Stop the press. Because all I heard was the cop speaking in an accusatory way and appear to be trying to scare Chris into “confessing” to taking the scooter so that he wouldn’t have to take him down at gunpoint.

I know I shouldn’t have, but I got scrappy. And what does Amy say in her moment of scrappy-ness? In her moment of defying the law? I said these words: “Officer….we were just trying to go to WAFFLE HOUSE this morning.” And what did that have to do with ANYTHING? Well I DON’T KNOW, but I felt like somehow, people who were just trying to go get their hash browns scattered, smothered and covered weren’t two people who had pre-meditated notions to steal a scooter this morning.

Chris looked at me like he wanted to shoot me with a stun gun, and the cop didn’t even glance my way. To this day, I still quote line that to be funny when I’m getting worked up and Chris and I need a laugh. “We were just trying to go to WAFFLE house!!!!” – – it always elicits a guffaw or two from us.

We finally skulked away from the scooter shop after we’d made our statement and got a few more gazillion menacing, suspicious glances thrown our way. Since we were starving at that point due to no food on high levels of drama, we DID end up going to Waffle House. And while sitting there over our greasy breakfasts, we finally started to calm down and see the humor in the situation. I mean – – we were in Panama City Beach being accused of stealing a scooter. How freaking awesome was THAT? We were in trouble with the LAW! Two professional thirty-somethings from Atlanta with mortgages and sensible cars and corporate jobs were being accused of STEALING. ROCK. ON!!!!

When we were done with our meal, we meandered back to the hotel, discussing our options should they not find the scooter – – we were still discussing the costs, our rights, the chances of them finding it and other cheerful subjects such as that when we started driving up the long, winding parking deck of our hotel – – as we got to one of the top levels, we swung the car into one of the vacant spots and hopped out en route to the elevator. Suddenly, we both looked over at the corner of the parking garage almost at the same time.

There sat a neon green scooter. With the key in it.

We walked over to it, barely daring to hope – – – and then realized – – IT WAS TOTALLY OUR MISSING SCOOTER!!!! Our excitement and relief could barely be contained – – someone had obviously found it with the key still in it and took it for a joy ride. Who could blame them, really? Not saying it’s right but, come one – – it’s PCB, on the fourth of July – – and a scooter was sitting there with the key in it. Helllooooo. Of course it was going to be taken for a joy ride.

We called the scooter rental place and they told us to bring it back, of course. We were nervous doing this, even though it was a short distance away, because there was an APB out on it and, you know, WE COULD BE TAKEN DOWN AT GUNPOINT for being in possession of it.

Skull Man was happy to see the scooter, obviously. And as Chris took care of all the paperwork and legalities and we waited for management to show up to check the scooter, and call the cops to tell them the scooter was back safe and sound, then I feigned significant interest over Skull Man’s tattoos. He was more than happy to give me his reasoning for having them (“I really like skulls”) and do a veritable show and tell of when and why he’d gotten each one. Fascinating stuff.

We finished off our time at PCB with fireworks, drinks and bad bar food – – – pretty much what one would have expected and there was no more drama to be had. So as we rode off out of town at the culmination of our trip, en route back to our more sensible existence – – we decided to give up our lives as pseudo-scooter thieves. It’d been real. And it’d been fun.

But it hadn’t been real fun.

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