Sunday, May 05, 2013

Boots on the Ground

So the past two days I left the house forgetting to put on a belt, and since jeans fresh out of the dryer are always pretty snug, I didn't notice until I got out of the car and realized that I needed to keep one hand on a belt loop or it was gonna be a pants-on-the-ground kind of day.  And it's a real pain in the ass to walk around all day pulling up your drawers.

Yesterday morning, I actually had to go into the office for a half-day, and I was fed up with my inability to remember to put a belt on.  So I told myself that I'd just hop over to Opry Mills mall after work, stop at Bass Pro Shop, and get a new leather belt. On days that I actually remember to wear one, I'm still sporting my black leather belt from my Vegas days that I keep punching holes in and reaches around me one-and-a-half times, but it's getting to be a pain in the ass to keep the end from touching the floor in public bathrooms whenever I stop to take a piss.  Yeah, it's that long.

But when I left my office park to go the 'back' way into the mall, traffic was backed up like I'd never seen.  Complete gridlock on a Saturday afternoon.  So I flipped a yooey and got onto the freeway instead.  And the line for the exit a mile and a half away was backed up to my on-ramp.  Seriously, WTF?  You'd think it was the day after Thanksgiving or something, but no, it was just everybody in Nashville heading to the IMAX to see Iron Man 3.  At least that's the only reason I could come up with.

So I was denied on the whole new-belt thing and squared myself with the realization that I'd just have to walk around with my hands in my pockets all afternoon.  I had a full day planned, too.  Reverend Dave was in town for the weekend, and we had plans to meet for lunch and then some sort of free-form buffoonery for the rest of the evening.

I met up with him and his friend Jennifer down at Judge Bean's BBQ down in Brentwood, and we got a table in the bar and ordered a round (beer for them, Diet Coke for me...) while we waited for Scottie to show up.  Judge Bean's has been a favorite of ours for a few years now.  Me, Reverend Dave, Scottie, and Tim used to meet there on Tuesdays for all-you-can-eat brisket tacos (which are Oh My God good!) back in the day, and this past Christmas, we had a 'Brothas At the Bean' gathering for all the guys in the family while all the women-folk were doing their ornament party at Amy's.

Of course, we don't even look at the menu anymore.  It's just brisket tacos every time.  We've tried everything else, but the tacos are the Old Reliable as far as we're concerned.  Oh yeah, we'll usually get a piece of Texas Sushi or Shrimp Diablo to start with to get our spicy fix, but the brisket is out-fricking-standing.

Speaking of the menu, if you look closely you'll see something called the Dr. Steven Ball Quintuple Bypass burger.  Dr. Steven Ball is a supremely talented cardiac surgeon at Vanderbilt Medical Center, and he's the guy who actually saved my bacon and kept me out of the grave on my worst day ever.  He's a big fan of the place, too!  Like all other famous people at NY deli's, he has a sandwich named after him.  Not because he was the first one to eat it, but because it keeps him in business...

Anyhow, lunch was awesome, as usual, and afterwards we headed over to the hippies' house to visit for a bit and play with the pugs.  But we couldn't stay long. Amy, Scottie, Cory and the rest of my usual cast of characters were heading out that evening to see Widespread Panic (bong hits and armpits!) at Fontanel Woods.  Since the only song of theirs that I'm remotely familiar with is their cover of Traffic's Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys, it wasn't on my concert calendar.

So we took off and headed back to Brentwood to pick up my car.  About a mile from the Bean is one of our favorite retail outlets, REI.  Dave's dividend was burning a hole in his pocket, and I really needed to have one of their shoe experts look at my boots and find out why my feet hurt so damn bad on that backpacking trip two weeks ago.  (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I'm still a hunnert pounds too heavy...)

A couple months ago, when I attended that Backpacking 101 class they put on, their main footwear expert gave a short presentation and I tucked her name and face into my memory bank.  Luckily she was working that day, and saw me heading back to the shoe section carrying a pair of gently-used Oboz and aftermarket insoles.

She accompanied me to the back corner of the store and listened to my tale of woe.  I'd never gotten cramps across the TOP of my foot before, but it happened on that trip a couple of weeks ago.  Not to mention that huge blister that felt like I'd squished a grape inside my shoe about three miles into the second day's hike.

So she looked at my feet, my boots, and my insoles, and then had me just stand on the ground on top of the insoles just to make sure they were right for me.  The first thing she told me to do was to bake them at 200 degrees for ten minutes, then put them into my boots, and stand on 'em for about ten minutes after I got home. 

Ok, not exactly the advice I was expecting, but hey, she's the expert. 

Then she put them back into my boots and I put the boots on.  She then sat down in front of me and retied one boot differently, eliminating the criss-cross on the highest part of my foot.  Talk about an amazing difference.  It was like night and day.  So she fixed the second one and I pretended to climb on the 'rockpile' in the corner, stretching my feet and ankles. 

I was cured!  Instead of changing back into my regular shoes, I just wore the boots the rest of the day and into the evening. I thought I was gonna have to cough up at least a hundred bucks for upgraded footwear, but I got out without spending a dime.  Reverend Dave, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky.  He found a Mountain Hardware puffy jacket on the clearance rack for just a hundred bucks, and wanted a flask like my new one.  But he had his dividend credit to offset most of the cost, so the damage was minimal.

After our shopping excursion to REI, we headed back over to the hotel for a couple of hours.  Jennifer went upstairs to take a nap, while Reverend Dave and I hung out in the lobby watching the Cardinals game on the TV. 

We made plans to go bar-hopping that night down on Broadway, and our friend Lisa decided to join us.  So we piled into the car that evening, drove back out to the west side to pick her up, then headed back downtown.

It was pouring down rain, and parking in downtown Nashville can be almost as frustrating at parking in downtown San Francisco, but luckily the valet guys at Merchant's Restaurant know my car and love to keep it parked right in front, so even though they say that they're full, they always make room for my sweet ride. 

Merchant's is probably my favorite restaurant in Nashville, and my go-to place before every show at the Ryman.  We didn't have reservations, but managed to get seats at the bar in between a couple of bachelorette parties.

One of my favorite things on the menu is the duck fat tater tots, although I can only eat about five of them.  But they are damn tasty.  I think Lisa was the one who actually turned me on to them about a year ago, and I"m pretty sure a pile of them lands on the table every time we go.  On the other hand, the Alabama contingent didn't like them at all.  Dave said he had a bad experience with duck in the past, and after a few bites, he felt like he was getting sick.  Jennifer said she wasn't a fan, either, which was hard to understand--I though everybody would love 'em.  I guess not...

For dinner I attempted to eat a bacon cheeseburger with smoked Gouda, while Lisa ate a wedge salad.  Jennifer had the dry-rub wings and Dave had a French dip.  What I could eat, I thought was excellent, but the reviews from our neighbors to the south were mixed.  Oh well, they're heathens from Alabama, so unless it's fried or run over, they don't usually eat it... They did, however, like the cocktail selection, and a few offbeat ones made it to the counter in front of us (I stuck with a glass of Oregon Pinot, however)

After we settled the dinner bill, it was time to start the pub crawl.  We went around the corner to a bar on Second Avenue to see a cover band that we'd heard so much about.  They were pretty damn good at first--they had a great set list and when they went on break, the drummer seriously did a 20 minute solo.  The place went nuts!

We were diggin' it, but then they started playing Smashing Pumpkins and other 90s shit, so we left.  Lisa bailed around that point, a better offer came across her cell phone, so it was just the three of us after that.  We dashed into doorways up and down Broadway, trying to avoid the rain, and ended up in some touristy gift shop, browsing at trinkets and t-shirts for awhile.  I almost bought a mint-chocolate Moon Pie, because I needed to break a twenty for the valet, but I held off. 

After that, we found ourselves in one of the dozens of cowboy-boot shops down there in the tourist Mecca because Jennifer thought about getting some new hillbilly shoes.  Of course, this place jacks the prices way up and says everything is buy-one-pair, get-two-free, so a pair of boots is like $389.  But they were doing a surprisingly brisk business that night, considering the prices and the bad weather.  Dave even tried on a pair and actually thought about getting them, but between the two of them, they couldn't find three pairs of boots that they wanted, and I certainly wasn't going to cough up a hundred and change to get a pair of shit-kickers.  So we left empty-handed, save for a few iPhone pics. 

Dave and Jennifer were trying to impress their friends back home at Delta House (that's what they call his apartment building) with their mad pub crawling mojo, so we ducked into damn near every bar and restaurant we passed, tagging ourselves on Facebook, documenting an awesome night of drinking, worthy of a beer commercial at the very least.  The truth is, some places we only stopped in to take a piss.

We ended the night at Broadway Brewhouse, sipping on Bushwhackers and poking at a plate of potato skins.  I think we ran out of gas around 11:15, said our goodbyes, and I was home in bed by midnight. 

Sunday morning came much too early, and I was grouchy as hell to see that I woke up at 6:40.  I tried to stay in bed, but two attention-starved house cats made sure that I wasn't going to.  So I got up and made a pot of coffee instead.

It's still pretty cold and rainy out, and the Cardinals game is on at 1:00, so I have no plans except to do some reading and watching the game.  I may do a little writing and/or editing, but I'm just not feeling it today.


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