I remember like it was my last 7-11 beer run, because, it was on 7/11 that decided that it was time for the Mission Viejo Patch bloggers to be granted an audience with him.
17:00 hours (that's 5 o'clock for those of you clueless about the metric system) was the appointed time.
"Be there," he said, "Or, don't be there!" bellowing a rather original tautology.
OK, I'll be there, I said to myself, and subconsciously I accepted. Yeah, that RSVP thing.
July 11th could not come early enough, and the nervous apprehension that usually precedes a trip to a barber, pizza place or the DMV ensued. I was almost a nervous wreck, till the Godfather of bloggers, yes, the guy, suggested we meet earlier so that we can plan a total takeover.
Using in the parking lot of Oggi's at 16:15 hours (that's 4:15 for the same those of you). After skillfully navigating past the "no sports field" and "no masjid" parking signs, I made an entrance.
Now, I am not a Corey Hart fan, and I never wear sunglasses inside, let alone at night, but I should have worn a pair.
A shirt was staring at me.
No, not just any shirt, but a shirt that said "HEY YOU, LOOK AT ME, I'M A SHIRT!"
The shirt had taken a hostage: Avery. He waved, I wanted to escape, but it was too late. I had already made eye-contact, so I was forced to sit down and guzzle the beers he had lined up for me. At least I think they were for me. Then it began. Sensing that I was missing something, Avery obliged with a most fascinating yarn of the Minnesota yak-milking contests in subzero weather.
It provided just the right amount of sorrow to drown in the beers.
As we indulged in "small talk", I almost felt a tap on my shoulder. This is how Death had tapped me a few months earlier, so I tried not to make sudden moves. As I slowly turned around, there she was, a nine-month old angel being held hosta.. oh wait, The Dictator is her dad.
So Pete had arrived. The carousel was about to start, so we adjourned outside. Yes, we had reservations at a table next to a bunch of regulars. Regulars who chain-smoked. That reminds me, did that proposition to tax cigarettes pass? [No. --Ed.]
Still, free food, you know.
Two more bloggers, and , showed up, fashionably late, and I kicked myself for not thinking of it. At least I think that's who I kicked; pretty sure that the howls from Avery were pure coincidence. That, or it was Pete insisting on discipline.
I do not remember much after that, except Pete gave us a pep talk, and Avery chimed in like he belonged, the rest nodded and pizza arrived. The talk went something like YAP, YAP, YAP, YAP, Patch, YAP, here are thirty-seven 'Blog on Patch' cards in case someone is stupid enough to want to blog, YAP, YAP, Minnesota, YAP, YAP, YAP, I want to be mayor, YAP, YAP, WE'RE NUMBER 1, YAP, and then YAP, YAP, YAP, activities committee YAP, YAP, so that's how you solved the Middle East crisis, YAP, beer, YAP, YAP, YAP, ... pause.
Tom and I each received a largesse from Pete. Yes, our very own Starbucks franchises! I have my eye set on the one at Alicia and Jeronimo, but first I am going to vote for it on the Patch contest. Yes, this is how I roll, folks!
Then Pete's better half arrives, a gentle lady in stark contrast to the strong and silent persona of The Dictator, and we get back to the YAP, YAP, YAP, radical left, YAP, YAP, YAP, beer, more pizza anyone, YAP, YAP, fossil in Mission Viejo, YAP, ignore apathy, YAP, YAP, YAP, beer, YAP, I really want to be mayor, YAP, YAP, we have pizza left, who wants some, and suddenly, just like that the place clears.
Just when we were beginning to have some fun!
I am left with the chain-smokers, and the Shirt. The trapped Avery is waiting for some order he put in, and apparently it is all paid for.
Oh, in that case, I think that I could take some leftovers home, and Avery says "Yes, go ahead, but do not forget to blog [or something equally unintelligible/unintelligent]!"
It was a "Leave the gun, take the cannoli" moment. I did exactly that, and never looked back.
Think how much more fun it could be, if y'all could join the next time. All you have to do is blog.
But remember to bring sunglasses.