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Everybody's Home

June 20, 2005

When I write these megacolumns about trips, I tend to put waaaay too much detail into the beginning part, which leaves me either having to write a novella (see the Vegas 2003 column for that) or having to end up truncating the middle-to-end to get the thing finished. Or it takes me a week to get it posted. So this time, I'll try to hit the high spots and avoid this turning into a 10-thousand word extravaganza.

Friday morning I woke up to the sound of my cell phone ringing. I have a special ring for Bubba, but this was my regular ringtone (the Knight Rider theme song). Nevertheless, it was enough to wake me up. I saw it was my friend Joe calling, and I made a mental note to chastise him for calling me at 7:30 AM.

At about 8, as I ate a bowl of cereal and listened to the Howard Stern show, I heard a loud knock at my door. I figured it was maintenance or something, but it was Joe. He and his girlfriend had been arguing all night, and he was in dire straights. No car, no cash, no place to stay, and he had been up literally all night long. The last of his money he had used to get a taxi to his friend Tate's house, but Tate wasn't answering the door. He then walked here from Tate's place, which is about a 2-3 mile walk. In Tampa in June, mind you. Bad times. So I let him crash out on my couch while I was at work. Keep in mind that I had a 4:55 PM flight booked for Nashville.

I had to cut out from work earlier than planned to come over here and pick up Joe at 3. I lent him some cash and dropped him off at Tate's place, then went back to work and got a ride over to the airport. It took some planning to get it to all work out, especially giving enough lead time for Tampa traffic on a Friday. But everything worked out alright.

Sleep was on my side (thanks to caution on the caffeine tip), so I snoozed on the flight to Nashville. Once in town, I was able to spend some time with Mom and my sister Mary Beth, which was great. My Dad was still in Haiti, and Matt was en route from Pigeon Forge, where he had been working.

Flying Saucer group picture
From left to right: Patrick, Two Dogs, Christine, and Glenn relaxed at the Flying Saucer.

Matt made it back safely, and after dinner Richard Karg came over, and he, Matt and I headed over to the Flying Saucer to meet up with Glenn and his crew. I've mentioned the Flying Saucer on here before, and in fact that evening also involved Glenn. Unfortunately on Friday night they were out of Woodpecker Cider, but such is life.

Patrick Cody vs. Lou Pickney
I felt a little uncomfortably close posing for this picture.

It was a "Greatest Hits" of sorts of Glenn's friends. You had Mike Miller and I representing the Father Ryan High School days, Two Dogs (Jason) who was Glenn's fraternity brother during his short-lived fraternity days at Case Western in Cleveland, and then several people from his California Connection out in Berkley. I knew all of them from my March 2004 trip to San Fran/Oakland. Unfortunately, as you might notice from that commentary, I wore my Manning jersey during that trip. One of the first things I heard was someone (maybe Christine, of New Jersey beer pong infamy) say, "Didn't he wear that last time?" How do people remember things like that from so far back? Obviously I didn't particularly remember, myself, not that I'd care. I'll wear my Peyton Manning jersey whenever I goddamn please.

It was great getting to catch up with everyone, and in the case of Two Dogs getting to meet him. I don't drink all that much anymore; to point, Matt finished his Guinness before I finished my Pauliner (a great German pilsner). Matt is the same guy who took longer than my grandparents to finish lunch on Father's Day at Applebee's, mind you. But anyway, it was great fun getting to share stories and even get goaded into a few debates. Patrick Cody and I had a very spirited debate about who should've been the NBA MVP; he contended that Steve Nash was the proper choice, while I contested that Shaquille O'Neal was clearly the deserving Most Valuable Player. For you women (or wimpy men) who don't understand sports, one of the great things it provides is a way for guys to shout and argue about something that, in reality, really doesn't matter at all. Patrick and I even posed for a re-enactment argument photo, though I was stupid and started actually mouthing off for the photo, so I came out of it looking like I had been smoking a Rob Van Dam cigarette, if you get my drift.

Matt Pickney & Rich Karg at The Stage in Nashville
Matt Pickney and Richard Karg posed for this pic at The Stage. Notice Rich's boldness in wearing a t-shirt out to the bars, and Heineken co-opting Nashville culture with the guitar neon sign in the background.

With the out-of-towers there, the decision was made to show them something uniquely and distinctively Nashville: a country bar. We went to The Stage, which is about as spot-on authentic as it gets. Right on Broadway, it features live country music and has murals of country music greats painted on one of the walls. My Manning jersey earned me some heckles from Titans fans, but there was this cute girl who grabbed my arm and said, "Nice jersey!" in one of those kind of voices. Could've been the perfect "in" for me, if not for the tool who she was sitting there with. Her loss. Also, at one point Matt, Rich and I went up to the front, and then we went to slide through the crowd. Some random skank girl tried to hand me a glass filled with what appeared to be whisky. But I wasn't sure if she mistook me for someone else, if she intended it as a gift, if she spotted me from afar and was trying to ply me with liquor, if she was trying to give me a drugged drink, or what. So I declined.

Two of the California Crew ended up buying cowboy hats, which was hilarious. Unfortunately my camera's batteries died on me, so I was unable to capture that hilarity. I cautioned Patrick about wearing that cowboy hat in San Fran, as it might have a different meaning there. Especially in, say, the Castro district.

The evening wrapped up with Matt, Rich and I swinging by Jack in the Box (or "Jack in the Crack" as they called it) for a shake, and then Rich dropped us off at the house. I should have gone right to bed, but remember that I had slept some on the plane, so by the time I got to bed it was 4 AM CDT.

I woke up Saturday morning at 11 AMish. The water from the shower was audibly running, and I figured Mary Beth was taking a shower. I decided to just lay there in bed for a minute and relax. Any guess what happened next?

The next thing I knew, it was 1:15 PM. Glenn's wedding was scheduled for a 2 PM start time at St. Stephen's Church, which is east of Nashville, near Mt. Juliet. Meanwhile, I was on the southside of town. The brain cells that hadn't "gone country" and that were awake kicked into motion, and I quickly determined how much time I had to shave and shower. I figured that if I could be gone by 1:35, I could make it.

I was out of the shower and dressed by 1:32. Rushing into the kitchen, Mom started to say something, but I cut her off. "I need you to get Mary Beth to print out directions to St. Stephen's from Glenn's wedding website, and I need transportation. The wedding is at 2!" To Mary Beth's credit, she got those directions cranked out quickly. Mom told me to drive safe, and I said I would. If it was a movie, the next scene you would see would be me peeling out of the driveway onto Timberdale, tires squeeling.

As if it was my own hour on the show 24, I raced through traffic and onto I-40. Guess what I found? Road construction. I swear, I-40 has been under construction for the past 10 years. It makes the I-4/I-275 interchange here in Tampa look like a minor project in comparison. At one point on I-40, there's a spot where the concrete barrier actually juts out a bit, as if it's a barrier in a PS2 racing video game. That was neither expected nor amusing.

I took the prescribed exit, 221B... but the directions neglected to tell me which was to turn onto Old Hickory Blvd. My instincts told me to go left, and luckily they were correct. I turned onto Andrew Jackson, as it told me to do. Only problem: it was the wrong Andrew Jackson. There were 3, maybe 4 roads in the same general area all called Andrew Jackson (Road, Pike, Court, etc.) Now my shortcut AJ met up with the "real" one, which normally would've seemed like a smart, albeit accidental, shortcut. But there was a wreck right after that, so you had two lanes of traffic merging into one right in front of the place where I needed to make a right turn. Luckily people were courteous enough to let me in (I didn't give them much of a choice, though), and I was on my way.

The car clock read 2:05 when I pulled into the St. Stephen's parking lot. Then I found yet another problem: there were THREE buildings there. Nothing was easy. I went to building #1, which of course was the wrong one. I went back around and spotted an older woman, but she didn't know where the church was, either. I saw a sign in Spanish about some Spanish language mass, but finally we found the entrance.

Since Glenn and Heather were having a Catholic Mass style wedding, that meant a long wedding, which worked to my advantage. Some weddings would've been over by then, but in this case they were just on the opening prayer. I tried my best to sneak in, and I think I did so pretty well, all things considered. The church itself is beautiful, with wooden ceilings leading to a skylight at the top. The floor is a copy of my parents' driveway, with a cobblestone looking layout with an orangish look. My description does it no justice, but it looks nice. It's as close to feeling outside as you'll get inside (with air conditioning!) When the opening prayer ended, I spotted Mike Miller (who was the best man) and made a bee-line to sit next to him, as opposed to sitting by myself. Unfortunately, with my Italian leather shoes going click click click, I couldn't exactly run over there (plus a 6'2" guy with a shaved head running through a church suddenly loses the "invisible shirt"). But I made it work.

After the service, I helped move some of the pews around to how they normally are positioned in there, along with some of the other guys. By the time we left for the reception, it was 3:30. Catholic weddings are not quick events.

The reception was at Glenn's house. We had a convoy of cars going over there, but as luck would have it, I ended up parking behind Liz, this girl I knew through both Heather and more through Katherine Knight (a girl I dated off and on in high school). I hadn't seen Liz in probably 8 years, so it was cool to be able to catch up on things with her.

When I initially heard about an outdoor reception in Nashville in June, I winced. But good fortune was on our side (and I was due for some after the way the day had begun), as the weather was picturesque. Mr. and Mrs. Brown had a large tent set up over several tables with chairs, and wow did they have some delicious food. Keep in mind that the last food I had eaten was the 3 AM shake at Jack in the Box, so that made it all the better. They had an amazing layout of hors' dourves, which gave me a chance to use the Chris Berman "some spread!" line a few times. Someone actually used that phrase (more or less) in talking with me, and it was all I could do to not crack up, since I was sure they had never seen Chris Berman's Two Minute Drill on ESPN.

I talked with Two Dogs for awhile, and I found him to be a really cool guy. He had a radio show in college, and he works in internet technology, so as you could imagine we had plenty to discuss.

On Saturday night, Matt, Rich and I ended up over at Nathan Fay's parents' house. Nathan (or Nayfo, as he's also known) has just bought a house, but it's on a road named, of all things, Gaywood. I couldn't make that up if I tried. But he's still in the closing stages of the purchase, so we met up at his parents' place. From there it was out to the eastside once again, first to rendez-vous with a couple of girls Nathan knew, and then to a karaoke bar named Shooters.

After showing my ID and walking inside, the smell of the place reminded me of my late Grandpa Pickney's old restaurant out on River Road in Nashville. Matt was too young to remember the place, but not me. So to that end, I felt a bit of nostalgia right off the bat.

The place was billed to me as a karaoke bar, but it was in reality a pool hall that happened to have karaoke. Plenty of rednecks were in attendance, but then there were people like a guy who looked like a possible stunt double for Cheech (of Cheech & Chong fame) who was playing pool at the table closest to us by himself and shooting one-handed.

I really, really wish I'd had my camera with me so I could show you pictures of two people who had us laughing hard the whole night. One was a guy who looked like Lyle Lovett who Matt nicknamed "Coif" because of his awful haircut. I'd pay $10 for a DVD of when Coif got up to do karaoke; the unintentional comedy was off the charts. The second was a woman in an orange shirt who had a Barry Bonds looking arm brace/armor thing on her right arm. We then began joking that she had that because she was trying to break a ribald world record (use your imagination) and didn't want to blow out her arm. After several beers, I assure you it was very funny.

In a very unexpected turn of events, I ran into two FRHS Class of '95 friends who hadn't been at the reunion: Randy Hite and Chris Stagner. We threw back a few and caught up on things. It turns out that Chris about to go over to England early next week and then begin his third tour of duty with the Air Force in Iraq at the first of next year.

Sunday was much more calm, particularly compared with the go go go speed of Saturday. I had the chance to catch up on everything with my Dad, who thankfully made it back safely from his humanitarian mission to Haiti. After lunch at Applebee's, we came back and watched the U.S Open on NBC. My Mom, interestingly enough, has become a fan of pro golf, and she actually knew more about what was going on than I did, particularly about the obscure people who were up toward the top of the leaderboard.

I went down into the basement later in the day and found a bunch of Rubbermade containers that had all sorts of things belonging to me in them. Some of them included items that I should be able to sell on eBay (and thus make space for Mom & Dad), so it's win win on that end.

Overall it was a wonderful trip, though it ended far too soon for my liking. But it was great to have that time with my family and with my friends back in my old hometown...

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