Western Washington ... July 29 - August 1, 1994
In the summer of 1994, a group of people who spent a lot of time together online in Compuserve's Legal Forum (LAWSIG) got together in western Washington for an event to be known as "Slugfest." The headquarters and central staging location for the festivities would be Laurie's house, which was allegedly surrounded on moist days (of which there are many in western Washington) by many, many slimy little slugs.
This event was another in a series of LAWSIG "fests." Because Alf did a good job of snapping photos of these events for posterity ("posterity," as it turns out, being us, now), we have been able to share some of these ancient meetings with you, dear readers. The first of these time travels occurred last September, on the tenth anniversary of our Buffalo Fest. Subsequently, we brought you Skifest '93. A small collection of photos also documented a short trip some of us made to Wilmington in January 1994.
About five weeks ago, Alf emailed me his photos from 1994's Slugfest. During the ensuing time period, I've been looking at them occasionally and trying to dredge up full memories of that event. It has not been easy. The original retrospective, Buffalo Fest, came together for me in a day or two. Skifest memories turned out to be somewhat less detailed, and somewhat less quick to return. With Slugfest, however, I remembered far less and found myself unable to do it justice. (This might have been due in part to my having secretly arrived in Washington several days ahead of the other visitors. During that period, I resided in a hotel in Bellevue, and on July 26-28, I took the Washington Bar Exam. I actually remember quite a bit from those pre-Slugfest days, but I think my brain took a vacation starting on July 29 ... which was the very day Slugfest began.)
Last night, a project spread across the nation, from Washington to New Jersey to Maryland. Laurie recalled that Slugfester Judy had written up a full report of the event right after it occurred. She had done this in order to report to the LAWSIG people who could not be present exactly what it was that they missed. Judy couldn't find her original report. I couldn't find it. Mary Beth, who had been helpful in the past with nuggets such as Cherbo's Guide to Eating Crackers, had no luck either.
But then ... success! Laurie herself found Judy's full report on her Mac, preserved in an email from a few years after the event. Here are the original LAWSIG "Bar Room" messages, posted for the world's enlightenment in early August, 1994. The full story of Slugfest, July 29 - August 1, 1994, can again be told ...
#: 597024 S14/"BAR ROOM" [LAWSIG] 02-Aug-94 20:42:38 Sb: Slugfest Rpt, Ch I Fm: J. Russell [CARS/CRISIS] To: All
(I have been ordered by Laurie not to wait until I finish the full report to begin posting).
First of all, I've been in and out of the BarRoom lately so I haven't been following all the threads as carefully as I should. So my first introduction to Gabby Nelson was at her birthday CO where she claimed to be 53. What do I know? That the person who showed up at my door Friday morning to take me to the airport was either NOT 53 or very well-preserved. (I discover en route that she has a six year old boy and a three year old girl. I conclude she is either not 53 or VERY well-preserved.) In either event, Lie No. 1 has been recorded.
We have a two-stage flight. The flight to Detroit is unremarkable. Detroit to Seattle is even more unremarkable since a strange little oriental man sat in the middle seat and wouldn't move. I mean would not move even to let Gabby get to her window seat. I mean we weren't sure if we were travelling with the oriental version of The Mummy.
We finally reach Seattle, get off the plane, look around, and there are no friendly faces. Laurie later CLAIMS she was there on time and it's not her fault that the flight arrived early. We discover that the progressively larger meeting group (first Lasurie, then Laurie and Paul, then Laurie and Paul and Beth etc.) used the same excuse first with Beth then with Perry and Harriet and... We have our doubts. Lie No. 2. (I'll probably stop giving them numbers soon because I don't think Tapcis can handle 7 or 8-digit numbers...)
Gabby wants a cigarette so badly she won't stay by the gate so we wander around the south concourse. Laurie finally finds us and smiles. At which point I have to look away because if I keep looking I'm going to laugh and give it away. Very very convincing set of gawdawful false front teeth. A donkey would be envious. Gabby is excruciatingly polite and tries not to stare. I suppose that's Lie No. 3...
We're to be taken on a trip to a microbrewery inside the airport where the others are waiting. Laurie says it's a short trip. Defined as: it takes about 5 minutes less than a cross country flight. Lie No. 4. Laurie says she knows where it is. What lie number are we up to now? After we wander around aimlessly for a while, we make her ask.
We finally arrive at brewery, Perry, Harriet, Beth and Paul are in, still awaiting Alf and Jean. So yours truly gets rowdy in the bar and starts entertaining patrons. I try to pick up cute boy who looks about 14 and carries a legal pad and almost cried with indignation when I accuse him of being a lawyer. He keeps telling us he's married; we keep telling him it doesn't matter. We later realize why he was emphasizing that fact when his wife shows up to collect him. Oh well.
Paul and Beth leave to retrieve Alf and Jean, return after having poured Alf off plane, Jean is nowhere in sight. It isn't just the fact that Alf shamelessly left her behind to bring their humongous suitcases suitable for months of travel (this is a weekend trip, remember) but Paul and Beth come back with Alf. Jean has no directions to the brewery. Jean proves smarter than they give her credit for, though, because she finally does show. It is the same woman who posed as Jean at DisneyFest so she's either for real or he pays well.
Once we are all properly swizzled, we decide to eat before trying to convince a rental car company we were safe. Dollar bet on us. (We won.) Off to Bremerton -- a "short ride" from the airport. This is the one lie told repeatedly during the weekend to everyone who'll listen. It is not the last.
We all go to Laurie's house. Paul is riding in the rental car. Which ends up arriving well after they should have been there. They say something about a customs check en route. We meet birds, fish, dogs, rats, but not the bunny or the snake. The bunny is at Dad's with Maggie. We later hear half of phone conversation which includes the line "I don't think you should let the baby bunny outside with the dogs..." pause "No I'd rather not go through several rabbits." The snake stays at Dad's. Most of us are very grateful.
At some point thereafter hotel crowd leaves for hotel, being told it is 8.3 minutes. This is the next lie. If you are flying a supersonic aircraft it may be 8.3 minutes. Regular people take a half hour to get there. Everybody finally beds down for the night, Beth and I staying at Laurie's with said birds, fish, dogs and rats. One dog is sweetheart; other dog is not only ugly as sin but mean and tries to hump anything it(?) can including Beth's leg. I spend first 20 minutes trying to sleep listening to Beth get progressively louder in saying "NO, Ralph!!! NO!!!!!"
Night passes essentially unremarkably provided you're not the one in the basement of Laurie's house when the only working bathroom can be reached only via several flights of stairs and about eight turns without a light switch to be found plus a network cable on the stairs so she can run her big Quadra from her living room. So far no litigation. Kohane still promising to show up Saturday for a couple of hours.
CONTINUED IN PART II -- Saturday's child cannot tell the truth
#: 598598 S14/"BAR ROOM" [LAWSIG] 04-Aug-94 20:44:50 Sb: Slugfest, Ch II Fm: J. Russell [CARS/CRISIS] To: ALL
I have to have a correction about part I. It's the Newark-Detroit flight with the Oriental Mummy. From Detroit to Seattle it's the blue-hair on-to-Anchorage crowd with Dean and Ida from Macon, MO, sitting directly behind us calling every passing cloud bank snow-capped mountains and the clear view of the Cascades merely clouds.
Okay, it's now Saturday morning. I indulge myself mightily by lying in bed til my body says it's 9:45 EDT and the clock says it's 6:45 PDT. I get up, leisurely figure out how to log on, take a leisurely shower, figure I have lots of time since the last thing I heard was that Laurie's ex was to have the kids there at 11:30 a.m. for trip to microbrewery.
I am later given to understand that various hotel types engage in typical Pacific Northwest tradition of parade-watching, seeing a host of politicians and some skinny cheerleaders go down the main (and probably only) street of the town where they're staying. Just down the road of course. (Ahahahahahaha!)
But alas for me, Warren and Patty have to be retrieved from airport (Just a "short ride" away -- ahahahahaha) and Slegel children must be separated. So we stop at John's to get Maggie where I endear myself forever to Laurie by looking at deer heads on walls and launching into the refrain from that Beauty and the Beast song "Gaston" about using antlers in all of his decorating. I don't think John heard me.
Now you have to understand that Maggie Slegel is seven years old and a clone of her mother. So it's only natural that I get a "short ride's" worth of lessons in whining from Maggie. She's very good at it. I learn a lot. Like just how high a register a seven-year-old can hit and still remain within the range of human hearing.
Get to airport, late as usual, round up Patty and Warren, Laurie wants to round up the false teeth she thinks she left there. Off for another micro-tour of the airport. Maggie gets bored and decides to lie down on floor. Patty, Warren and I begin to chant about child for sale. After 10-20 totally disinterested tourists pass by, we begin offering Maggie free. By the time Laurie gets back from micro-brewery after having tried to explain to staff there what it was she had lost and was looking for, we have upped the offer to "We give you $5 if you take the kid." Kids must be in fresh supply in Seattle because she rides back with us anyhow.
We are all to meet at (yup you guessed it) another brewery. By the time the newcomers arrive, everyone has both eaten (we haven't) and drunken (we caught up fast), Bucky is throwing rocks at anything his parents didn't specifically tell him he couldn't (people, cars, the fence) and Maggie starts to whine at Bucky. We move table including umbrella to get party together but everybody too drunk to be together. Maggie discovers gears by turning umbrella one and watching it turn umbrella two. Alf then moves umbrella three in tandem, Maggie stops whining. Warren looking dazed. Starts talking about ovens and children again. Patty stops Maggie from sitting between them. Warren's disposition improves steadily.
We can't forget (no matter how hard we try) the entertainment at the brewery. A homeless Vietnam vet who sings nothing more recent than 1970 songs and keeps telling us this isn't a fast food joint. We realize that when we have to go back to grill three times to get my cheeseburger. Then Laurie dumps all extra food onto Warren's plate. His disposition is getting better all the time. Then kids leave and Warren smiles.
We all met Val, Laurie's former secretary, who had had the stroke and lots of Lawsig folks sent cards to her. She didn't believe the cards. She didn't want to believe us.
Weather remains good all the time. Everybody casts around for something else to blame me for.
In the meantime, Laurie has *outrageously* lied to Kohane about the short ride to her house and begins to panic at the thought that we might not meet his ferry. So Nortons and I pile in Laurie's car and go to meet ferry. Arrive hours early (okay, Kohane is hours late). We decide he's going to be annoyed at lies about short ride and will need quick disposition improvement. So we line the roadway every 50 feet from ferry to parking lot cheering their arrival. At least he smiles and doesn't even knock Laurie off her feet when he punches her...
Four sullen child faces in back of van, lone male looks up briefly from gameboy and asks pitifully, "Are there any boys at your house?" Laurie promises to deliver one after just a short ride. (That was a lie too... not the boy, the ride -- there are NO short rides in Washington State except between Laurie's girl house and her ex's boy house -- this is a bit hard to explain but I'll try. Outside of Laurie's house is a blue so bright it's hard to look at directly. Outside of John's house is plain wood. Inside of Laurie's house are usual rumpus of kids, pets and collection of 3 kazillion hippos. Inside John's house is not even a single speck of dust and he uses antlers in all of his decorating ... Ooops, sorry, said that before ...)
Impromptu pizza and beer party in Laurie's backyard attended by, among others, Laurie's ex-boss (who fired her) and Laurie's ex- husband (who divorced her). Laurie shrugs and says, "Just because I can't live or work with them doesn't mean I don't like them." The rest of us shrug. This is weird. More beer helps.
We see Maggie only long enough to be introduced to bunny, but only Gabby (who owns one) and Jean (the wildlife refuge expert) are allowed to hold her. Dogs look at bunny longingly. They seem appeased by crusts, especially ugly Ralph who ingests his scraps repeatedly. Oh yes, she also announced in that quiet tone she has that their next door neighbor is "the wicked witch." Then she must have other girls see rats, fish, birds etc. and departs. Bucky finds two or three snails and launches them off the toe of his shoe into said neighbor's yard with a cry of "BUCKY AIRLINES!" We can't tell if neighbor is not home or simply too afraid to deal with group. Jacob then grabs Bucky and they disappear to the point where search party must be launched when Kohane is ready to leave for (yeah, you guessed it) short ride to airport. It is 8:30 p.m. when he leaves. Flight home at 11:30 p.m. At 10:50, a call comes in to answering machine. It is Kohane asking pitifully, "WHERE did you say this airport is?" We hope he is kidding but decide discretion dictates not to answer the call.
Even ingestion of fantastic amounts of beer and champagne do not ward off evening chill and we eventually move the party back inside the house, John takes kids back to his house, east coasters start wilting (though the beer and champagne may have had a bit to do with that), hotel crowd gets back to hotel with totally soused Laurie leading the way and refusing to have anyone ride with her for the "short trip" (ahahahahahaha) back. Must have autopilot because arrives back in time to get phone call from Brian. It is something after 11 p.m. (2 a.m. EDT) and he can't figure out why party isn't just beginning. THINK Laurie may have said something about getting a life but not sure since, having checked bed for birds, fish, rats, dogs, bunny and snake, I am off to dreamland awaiting the next SHORT TRIP (ahahahahahahahaha), which comprises the subject of (yup, you guessed it) the next installment.
#: 600290 S14/"BAR ROOM" [LAWSIG] 07-Aug-94 09:38:35 Sb: Slugfest Ch 3 Fm: J. Russell [CARS/CRISIS] To: All
So it's now Sunday morning, some ridiculous hour PDT, and I know that Laurie blamed me for being late at the airport Saturday because I was online and she didn't tell me we had to leave, so I'm determined to be showered, dressed, offline and all in plenty of time to get to the hotel by 8:30 when we've promised to join up with the hotel crowd for the next round. I'm ready in plenty of time. Laurie isn't. And the weather is spectacular, so I can't be blamed for that. Laurie decides it's my fault she didn't remember to stop for gas the night before and that's why we're late. Her morning is now a happy one.
We meet up at the hotel (Perry pacing back and forth with that "you're late" look on his face) and we're off for yet another "short ride." (You can take the "ahahahahaha's" as assumed at this point. This time we are going to take the Bainbridge Ferry over to Seattle. That's all well and good but Laurie (the native guide, remember) has some difficulty in picking a place to park. I assume this is my fault since I'm in her car. We get the cars parked, we get to the footpath to the ferry, we get on board, we get to Seattle, no-one has started drinking. Yet.
Laurie then announces it's a "short walk" from the pier where the ferry came in to the pier where we are to have a brunch cruise. She even gets specific. "Less than a mile," she proclaims. They apparently have much longer miles in Washington State than anywhere else. But there are lots of shops along the way, Warren buys some milk to settle his stomach from the night before (delicate lad), Perry buys a hat because the sun is shining (and this is the man who's moving to Tucson???), Patty covets a sweatshirt that's ONLY $66 before tax and I walk away from a table of rather nice t-shirts because they're being sold for a good cause. I hate good causes. (I also make rude noises at the Greenpeace ship at a nearby pier...)
After walking forever, hungry, footsore and (of course) dry, we arrive at the dock where this brunch cruise boat is. Most of us are ready to chew on the woodwork but they won't let us on board without the obligatory group photo. (See group photo being uploaded along with this report.) After the obligatory group photo, they let us on, take us to our tables and we are somewhat annoyed to see that they have us at two tables so we can't pick indiscriminately on everyone in the group throughout the cruise. Steward Randy decides to remedy problem. Moves tables together. We smile; he smiles. He figures tip has just doubled. (Boy is HE in for a surprise.)
There are cooks etc. standing behind brunch buffet, we are all starving, we grab our plates and make a foray. Laurie stays behind long enough to order drinks. (Laurie's priorities are quite clear.) Turkey, ham, salads, blintzes, eggs O'Brien, hash browns, not a bad spread. Most of us figure we can eat $30 worth of food and make the cruise lose money on the group (we don't calculate in the bar bill at that point, but hey it was a nice thought.)
So by the time the cruise ship starts pulling away from the pier, all of us have had firsts, some of us have had seconds, and some of us are even working on seconds on the mimosas (champagne and orange juice... well, you're SUPPOSED to have orange juice with breakfast, right???). And while we're sitting there, contemplating thirds of some of the better stuff, the cruise staff does this whole song and dance (literally) about welcoming us, and then starts lining up tables to go to the buffet. (Ooooooops! Well, then, geez, man, why did they have servers there if we weren't supposed to be chowing down???)
Meanwhile the steward has quietly told Laurie there has to be a single bar bill for the group. She looks around quietly, sees that Alf is not only not looking her way but is all the way at the other end of the table and says give the bill to him. The rest of us smile and nod. And beat a hasty retreat for topside.
I gotta admit: it's a gorgeous day for a cruise and a gorgeous cruise. Mt. Rainier actually looks real instead of like something painted to give Seattle a background. The sound is smooth and filled with jellyfish (surprising those of us who think jellyfish should be warm water critters). Laurie decides instead of t-shirts for SlugFest we'll all get sailors' hats. They don't have 11 in the right size. Score another one for Laurie...
But then again we DOES have the right idea about the mimosas ... rather than pay $4 a whack, we orders a bottle of champagne and LOTS of individual glasses of orange juice. We figure it cuts at least 50 cents off everybody's bar bill. And the glasses are bigger so we don't have to make as many trips down from topside. Which is good after three or four mimosas...
I believe I can accurately report that some members of the group actually stayed and watched the floor show that the staff put on. All I know for sure is I go down for another mimosa, hear loud and somewhat off-key noises coming from a large group dancing around the center of the boat, grab drink and head topside full steam ahead.
Airplane towing banner passes by, Laurie says it reads "I'm not paying the bill, Love, Alf." Speedboat comes close to cruise ship, we figure it's Alf making his getaway... Cruise comes to an end and I am completely ignored as I ask crew if they'd mind if I left from top deck via top of entry way... Somebody says they've probably heard it before... my feelings are hurt (I am at least trying to be original).
Now we're back on the pier and this group of sadists decides to walk to the Space Needle, a Seattle landmark. It's straight uphill about 47 miles at a 50% incline. I decide to use the whining lessons I got from Maggie the day before. I find it very amusing. Everyone else tries to lose me, shove me into traffic, etc. By the time we get up to the Space Needle, nobody wants to actually go up the damn thing (a line of 30 mins plus to get tickets then 30 mins plus to go up *may* have affected decision). So Paul and I begin t-shirt browse, think we may have hit on some decent ones, Laurie yells for us to get back with the program. (Program?) I start to whine, she makes me get on monorail anyway. We get off somewhere down the line in some kind of a mall. I see computer type t-shirts and stop to buy. (That reminds me, I forgot all about our trip to Poulsbo on Saturday afternoon; a memorable little Scandinavian town where we try to make Paul and Alf buy and wear Viking helmets but both say they already have all those models in their collections... got to see at least a corner of the town and one t-shirt shop before Laurie whisks us off to meet Dan... it's the t-shirts that reminded me; my train of thought hasn't completely jumped the tracks.)
I turn around, everyone is gone. But there's Alf at the top of an escalator waving me on, and Perry is at the bottom and... Right into a bookstore. BIG trouble. Getting this group out of a bookstore with the promise that we're going to go look at a farmer's market is NOT an easy chore. Somehow Laurie manages it, and walks us (yes, walks us, my feet hurt, I tell everybody in Seattle about it, I'm amused, rest of group keeps trying to push me in front of traffic). We get to walk through a walk-through fountain where we can cool off. I wave through the water. Nobody takes my picture. Oh well.
We get to market (Pike's Peak or some such, no, that's in Colorado... maybe we've walked to Colorado? My feet think so) and... NOBODY WANTS TO STAY. I'd whine again except I'm laughing too hard. So we find our way down a kazillion steps to the pier level again and barely make the next ferry back to Bainbridge. LOTS of cold beer on the ferry makes the trip interesting. Makes disembarking even more interesting. No-one falls off ferry. A great disappointment.
We stagger back to cars (except for Beth who stays disgustingly sober, probably so as to be able to laugh at all the rest of us who aren't) and the initial game plan is, they'll take hotel crowd to hotel for afternoon drinks, me to Laurie's for a nap (my whining is having a salutary effect) and Alf, Jean and Laurie to John's so Alf can talk antler decorating with John and Jean can meet the snake. By the time we get to hotel, I'm ready to curl up in lounge chair, so we disembark, leaving Alf, Jean and Laurie to make their trek and rejoin us in time for dinner.
Right. Dinner. Uh huh. That's the next installment. Just remember, folks, fake huevos.
#: 602248 S14/"BAR ROOM" [LAWSIG] 09-Aug-94 20:13:08 Sb: SLUGFEST Ch 4 Fm: J. Russell [CARS/CRISIS] To: All
(N.B. I'll bet when you saw installments 1, 2 and 3 go up, you thought 4 would follow in a reasonable amount of time, didn't you? Didn't you? But - ahahahaha - in the tradition of SlugFest, I lied.)
Okay, it's now Sunday about 5 p.m., remember, and all of us except Alf (visiting John's antlers), Jean (visiting Bucky's snake) and Laurie (playing taxi driver) are all cheerfully ensconced in lounge chairs down by the end of the patio at the hotel. Nice place, it seems, though $4 a pop for beer is a little bit on the high side. The sun is still warm, the skies still blue, the view rather nice and Warren is getting more mellow (and thus more entertaining) by the moment. (Wait til Paul uploads HIS SlugFest pictures, including the one of Warren and Patty making out on the chaise lounge...)
Warren, being my brother, can be excused for a great deal. After all, he can't control his heredity nor, being younger, even his environment while growing up. So he begins with the Monty Python routines. Now there are not a whole lot of people who can do the entire MEANING OF LIFE *and* the entire HOLY GRAIL from memory. Warren however is one of them. Whether this skill has ever gotten him more than an appalled laugh is questionable. ("Bettuh... Bettuh, suh? Bettuh get a bucket...")
At some point in this entertainment it dawns on us that we haven't eaten since before the cruise ship left the dock that morning (yeah yeah but how were WE supposed to know we were supposed to wait??) and everybody's a little hungry. Of Alf, Jean and Laurie, there is no sign whatsoever.
Gabby disappears briefly and reappears, to our enormous delight, with bags of munchies, dips and (best of all) a cold 12-pack so we can stop paying $4 a pop for beer. We sit ourselves down at this nice little table just inside a tiny, almost inconspicuous two- inch-high white cable fence and begin to indulge. Gorge might be a better word but this is a family forum... We begin to allow as how this fine establishment might even be the place to have dinner, since we haven't seen Alf, Jean and Laurie in hours and are not sure we ever will again. (Bucky's snake is some kind of constrictor... we figured John and Alf got tired of the antler-decorating comments and fed Jean and Laurie to the snake.)
But -- as can be expected when there's food involved -- we haven't even made a serious dent in the munchies when the laggards show up. They plunk themselves down, grab beers, grab munchies... and Laurie decides SHE has to have champagne.
Now I've never understood why people drink champagne. At least by itself. I mean, it's like alcoholic ginger ale only it doesn't taste as good. But heaven forfend Laurie should be seen swizzling a beer like the rest of the riff-raff so she goes to the window where you can buy drinks and orders a small bottle of champagne. Had that single event not happened, the course of the entire evening would have been changed. But, you know Laurie... champagne.
The bartenderperson asks Laurie if (god forbid) that group at the table is (gasp) drinking (ready for this?) beer. And Laurie, being oblivious to any warning signals whatsoever, of course says we are. At which point we find ourselves disinvited from the hotel's hospitality at that particular table. It seems that the great State of Washington has an overriding state interest in the consumption of alcohol on the hotel premises WITHIN THE LITTLE BITTY TINY INCONSPICUOUS TWO-INCH WHITE CABLE FENCE. Once OUTSIDE those confines, a distance of some roughly six feet or so, and still well within the actual hotel premises, the great State of Washington could care less if we all died of alcohol poisoning. My vote is that there are more of us than there are of them and besides we were there first so we shouldn't move. Laurie wimps out and gets everybody to move to the it's-okay-to-drink-here table six feet away. Some weasel from hotel management comes out to ask us if we'd like to have dinner there. My reply, "Well, we WOULD have if we hadn't been chased away from out table." Six or seven people try to shut me up all at once. They have minimal success. And we decide we don't want to eat there anyhow, we're going to go to a Mexican restaurant Gabby saw on her travels.
Where, you may ask, is this restaurant? "A short walk away." (Gabby learns fast, or there's something in the air in Washington, or something.) A four lane divided highway and the lengths of several shopping malls later, a distance Laurie will probably claim can be covered in 8.3 minutes, we actually find a Mexican restaurant.
We get seated in the room farthest away from other human beings, some almost undoubtedly illegal alien takes our drink order, the drinks arrive, things are looking up. Now bear with me here because I'm not entirely sure of the sequence of events from this point.
I know there is a lovely young woman (her name is Wendy) making all kinds of neat things out of balloons for the children in the restaurant. I know I make it clear to her that she probably won't get out of the room alive if I don't get some balloons to play with. What I don't remember is whether we ordered before or after the balloons began to appear. So let me break these into separate subparts (they're really not related... I don't think) and talk first about Laurie and the huevos.
The restaurant where we are eating is part of a chain called Azteca. Laurie has apparently been to another Azteca some time earlier. She ordered huevos rancheros. (For those of you who don't speak Spanish, huevos are eggs. They come from pollos, which are chickens. Even in Spanish, there is no answer to the question of which came first. Moreover, huevos rancheros are served with the huevos cooked in some fashion -- poached, fried, whatever -- so as to preserve both the whites and the yolks.)
Laurie had ordered huevos rancheros at the other Azteca. The huevos had turned out not at all to her liking... a little black on the bottom with hard yolks. She explains to us all that the staff at the other Azteca told her they were using a cholesterol-free egg substitute that they weren't really familiar with yet and that's why the huevos weren't so good. Clearly, Laurie has believed every word of this, because she insists to the waiter that she wants the huevos only if they are REAL huevos and not fake huevos. Somewhat bemused, this illegal alien says he's never seen fake huevos. Laurie insists on speaking with the chef. We are told he is off duty. (So who's cooking our dinners, huh, huh??? We never DID find THAT out.) But the manager will come out.
Now it seems to me that the balloon lady had to have been underway in her grand design because it seems to me that it might have been something more than just Laurie's persistent questioning as to whether the huevos in the huevos rancheros came from pollos that had the "I do NOT believe this" look on the man's face. But then again... fake huevos? He reassures Laurie they only use real huevos from pollos. Sigh. The order is complete.
Laurie explains to us that she has to be sure because when she was a kid her father used to bring home an egg substitute consisting of fake eggs in shells that weren't real. I do believe among us at the table we have seen every available egg substitute product on the market since perhaps 1940, and not one of us has ever seen fake eggs in shells. Patty (perhaps taking pity on Laurie or perhaps having had too much to drink) chimes in as how she remembers something in shells too. We conclude they're both total loons, but hey... dinner has been ordered.
(This won't fit in 10000 characters, or so CompuServe just told me, so look for Ch 4 pt 2)
#: 602249 S14/"BAR ROOM" [LAWSIG] 09-Aug-94 20:13:17 Sb: Slugfest Ch 4 Pt 2 Fm: J. Russell [CARS/CRISIS] To: All
Somewhere along the line (hey I am drinking too y'know) the balloon lady makes it over to our table. And decides that she has to make a truly grand design for this truly grand occasion. She is going to make us hats. Or, perhaps more accurately, a hat. A single piece of construction linking each and every of the 11 heads at the table together with balloons. (You don't have to believe me, I *think* Paul got the balloon lady to take a picture.) This takes a bit of time (probably to divert Laurie from thinking about fake huevos) and is completed just as the waiter shows up with 11 sizzling platters. He finds it somewhat hard to serve through, in and around the balloons, but somehow manages.
Then it starts. A few moments of silence while we start eating and then Laurie shouts, "ALF! You stop thinking that right now!" Alf replies that she should keep her thoughts to herself cause they're not so clean themselves. And so it goes. There is one remaining table of people within 100 feet of us in the restaurant. They seem amused... less so when we inform them there is an entertainment tax. At least one comment about what someone else is thinking emerges from everyone, except maybe Harriet, but I wouldn't bet on that. None of the comments are suitable to be repeated in front of small children (i.e., anyone under the age of majority). The various staff people from the restaurant keep coming to the railing overlooking our table, bursting out into hysterical laughter and leaving. They do not however seat anyone else near us.
Finally dinner is done (Laurie still didn't like the huevos, real or not) and people begin to ponder the deep questions of life like, how are we going to get out of the restaurant with one hat connecting 11 heads... So Alf begins the process of disassembling the hat. I believe he may have had the courtesy to use a knife. Many of the others (mostly women) took the balloons into their mouths and bit down, hard. There were a rather large number of comments about that too, but I'm too genteel to repeat them. This is, after all, a family forum. (But does the name Bobbitt mean anything to you??)
Having at last ensured that there is one more place in her necks of the woods where Laurie will never again be welcome, we depart, walking back the length of several shopping malls and a four lane divided highway to get back to the hotel. Some of us (like me) still have our own individual portions of the hat. The people at the hotel are somewhat, shall we say, incredulous. I offer mine to some nice gentleman who is headed for his room with his wife in tow. He declines. I don't understand why...
Finally, the hotel crowd gets separated from the Blue House crowd, farewells are said to Alf and Jean who are staying in Washington to visit his daughter and are bloody unlikely to be up at 5 a.m. when the rest of us have to leave for the airport because my brother chose a ridiculously early flight back to Denver, and the Blue House crowd gets back to the Blue House.
The next thing I am sure of is that it's 4:19 a.m. and Laurie is advising me than I have 3.5 minutes to shower, dress, pack and get my stuff in the car or we'll be late meeting the crew over at the hotel. I shrug. She's been trying to blame me for SOMETHING all weekend. Of course we get to the hotel late, we set off for "a short ride" to the airport, we finally get within spitting distance of it, round a corner and Gabby blows the horn in the rental car.
And do I mean BLOWS it. It won't stop. They pull over as we frantically try to figure out what the hell could be wrong, and Beth is about to yank wires under the hood when the horn decides to STOP blowing. We are now all wide awake at any rate. Arrive at the airport, party starts breaking up to go to different gates, Gabby survives not having a cigarette 'til Newark, we board the bus to long-term parking and the driver hops off saying, "I'll be right back." And you KNOW what that was, right? A LIE!!!!!!! I figure it's a potty break until he comes back with a Pepsi and some tacos in his hand. (And doesn't share.) (Most inconsiderate.)
But best of all -- you remember that this was called SLUGFEST? You remember it was called SLUGFEST because Laurie's yard is infested with slugs and we're all going to have roast slug hors d'oeuvres and slugs in our beds and slugs between our toes etc. etc. etc.
Here is the real truth: not one single solitary one of us ever saw a single solitary slug the entire time we were there. Laurie says I scared them away. I think Laurie has imaginary friends.
But it was a fun weekend anyhow.