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Something From The Bar

November 8, 2004

With the election now past, this past weekend was the first in quite awhile that I had unencumbered. And, as luck would have it, my ex-girlfriend Andrea (who I'm still friends with) invited me to a birthday party she was having at the Hyde Park Cafe.

"Call me Saturday & I'll let you know just what time I'll be at the bar. Bring friends!!!"

I suppose I should've taken that second line a bit more seriously. Since Andrea and I broke up several months back, we've still been friends, but she's not been the best at keeping plans. But I figured with this one, with it being her party and all, it would be something relatively stable.

I called her a couple of times on Saturday afternoon/evening, but kept going to voice mail. Finally I decided screw it, I'm going to head over there and check it out.

Parking at the Hyde Park Cafe is a sketchy thing typically, as you usually have to find your own spot across the street (unless your want to valet park, but that costs $$$). The area where I normally park was full, and the area beyond that had someone being actually somewhat savvy about things and charging for parking. However, I didn't want any of that business, so I traveled down one block further and found a spot.

The bar was packed, albeit with beautiful women. If you want hot Tampa women (and plenty of fake tits), then Hyde Park Cafe is for you. I think of the Rodney Dangerfield "This is a classy place" line... but it really is. HPC is a little bit of everything. Separated in the middle by an outdoor patio area, there's a large dance floor area on one end (though it mostly serves as a "mingle section"), while the other side (which can be blocked off for private parties) is a tighter fit, but often spawns an impromptu dance area. But after seeing plenty of the Ybor City "thug life", Hyde Park Cafe is a nice, more upscale change.

Unfortunately, Andrea was nowhere to be found. I tried again on the cell phone... nada. The next day she called me saying that she was sick and wasn't able to answer the phone etc. Which may be legit and all, but this isn't the first time that this sort of last minute thing has happened with her. But whatever, it was a good excuse to get out there.

The evening was dying down a bit, with some people heading out... it was maybe 12:30 AM at this point. I was sitting on this circular bench that wrapped around a tree in the patio area. I'd been sipping on the Heineken that I was drinking. Since I was driving, I had to keep it under control, and I ended up having only one beer. A waitress came up and asked if I needed anything, and I said no. Then maybe a minute later, she returned. For a split second I thought she might've been one of the overly aggressive shot girls from the New Orleans 3/2003 trip (Read that commentary if you haven't before, as that was a classic weekend). But no, the waitress said, "A guy at the bar wants to buy you a beer." I looked at her quizzically, sure that I had misunderstood her. "What was that?" I asked over the music playing. "The guy at the bar in the black shirt, he wants to buy you another beer, another Heineken." I gave a cursory glance over, but I didn't see anyone I knew. Immediately my internal alarm went off -- uh oh. "No, that's alright, I'd rather not," I said as neutrally as possible.

Now I want to make it clear that I'm not homophobic. But by the same token, I felt very uncomfortable with that situation. At that point I was just about finished with my beer, so I had the last sip and headed for the exit (which isn't the easiest thing to find at the Cafe). From there I headed home.

Somehow that night I got snookered into watching most of the movie Soul Plane. All I can say is that must be the biggest jet ever built to have a club-sized dance floor on the inside. The cameo by Lil' Jon (Whaaaaaat?!?) was a nice touch. But still, I was magnanimous enough to go along with that versus demanding that the group I hung out with back at the apartment complex change the channel to the USC/Oregon State game (which was 14-13 in the fog in Corvallis, OR at the point when I got home). We did get to see the end of the game, though.

In some ways, I'm very lucky with my Hustlers fantasy football team. I started Darrell Jackson, who was DOUBTFUL for the game on Saturday, and he ended up scoring two TDs and going over 100 yards receiving yesterday. However, the reason I had to start him is that my two rookie WRs had byes, and my other three non-starting WRs are all out for the year with injuries (Steve Smith, Terry Glenn and now Peter Warrick). My league is one where you can't pick up or drop guys during the season, which some people question, but that's the way it's been since it started in 1992, and the fact that we've remained intact from a high school league through college (with the exception of Jon Gardiner, who is younger than the rest of us and now an undergrad at Michigan) is proof that the system works, at least for us. It's worked for 13 years, so we're sticking with it. Certainly from a keeper league perspective, it allows long-term planning to pay off (versus whomever can be quickest to the waiver wire).

The NFL has signed a contract extension with CBS and Fox to allow both networks to continue carrying the league's games through 2011. Hopefully this will help things in the negotiations between the players and owners in their latest attempt to extend the collective bargaining agreement. But what I hope even more is that the extension included a stipulation that allows cable to pick up the NFL's Direct Ticket package when the NFL's current exclusive deal with DirecTV expires. Please, please let that be the case...

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