Lester Murphy meets Music City

                                                                                                                              



It had been awhile since we’d last been down to see my sister in Nashville, TN, so with the Leafs making their regularly
scheduled visit to Music City on Thursday night (once every five years, like clockwork - you can set your watch to it),
we figured that this was as good a time as any to head south.

This roaddie began like just about every other, with me heading to the car rental joint and signing the contract which
explicitly states that I will NOT, under any circumstances, allow the automobile to leave the Province of Ontario, nor will
I allow any persons other than myself to operate the vehicle, conceding that the former will void the “unlimited
kilometres” clause, and that the latter will probably make it impossible for me to ever obtain car insurance again. But
really, what are the chances of being caught doing either of these? 1 in 5? 1 in 3, tops? Odds I somehow convinced
myself I could live with. I handed over the credit card without batting a lash, and when the dude asked me where I was
headed for the weekend, I answered without hesitation: “Wawa. Ice fishing.”

Unlike most other road trips, however, this particular venture happened to commence on a Wednesday night, which
meant that we couldn’t actually take off until both Ronnie and I finished our weekly athletic endeavours (we lost to
Skeeter’s team in OT; Ronnie’s boys beat up on the hapless Habs), which meant that Sandra and Sully had to sit up in
the bar and watch the humiliating display of quasi-athleticism that The Old-Time Hockey League attempts to pass itself
off as. I’m pretty sure Sandra spent most of the time playing video games, and I couldn’t be certain of what Sully was
up to (ignorance is such sweet, sweet bliss), but he borrowed the car keys at some point because he claimed he needed
to go home to 'pick something up', and by the time I got up to the bar after my game, he was downing a pint of
Canadian and chasing it with two shots of Jack. You got the feeling it was gonna be that kind of a weekend.

We didn’t actually leave the rink until close to midnight, and we’d managed to drive a grand total of 3 kms before Sully
began his usual antics, forcing us to make the first pit stop – at the house which he’d just come from – because he
realized there was no way in hell he could handle a twelve hour drive without a bottle of wine to suck back en route.
After grabbing a 1 litre bottle of white and undoubtedly taking a couple of hits off of crazy Emmett’s wacky tabacky, we
were at long last on our way, with Sandra and Sully giving us the ol’ Davie-Walsh-in-the-back-seat-of-the-Hunter-mobile
treatment, alternately hacking lung darts at the rate of one for every five minutes travel time; in the smoke-free rental, no
less, rolling their windows down the absolute minimal half-inch each time because the weather was so God damned cold
(-25, in no one’s defence), as Ronnie and I succumbed to our inevitable fate of twelve-hours-worth of black boogers.
Good times all around. Every time Sully pulled out a cancer stick, he’d just look back at Ronnie and laugh, saying
something to the effect of: “Hey, you can’t get mad. You invited me. You knew what you were getting.” Did I mention
that he was pretty well shit-canned by this point?

We made pretty decent time on the highway because we managed to miss the morning rush hour by about 4 hours. By
the time we got to the border it was three-thirty in the morning, but the great thing about three-thirty in the morning at
the border is that it doesn’t matter what time it is at the duty-free shop because you can buy dirt-cheap booze, in bulk, at
any hour of the day or night, and apparently it doesn’t even matter if you’re half in the bag while you do so, either.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sully, let me give you a brief description of the man because, in a lot of ways,
he is the star of this tale. A few months back I was watching Rounders with my dad and my brother; an absolutely
essential flick, but one that I hadn’t seen in a few years. After about fifteen minutes, just about the time Ed Norton’s
character makes his first appearance on screen, it dawned us that, holy fuck, that’s SULLY!!! And I don’t just mean,
‘hey, we have this buddy, totally the best guy in the world, known him forever, he’ll take a bullet for you if that’s what
it takes but he tends to run his mouth a little and has a propensity for getting you into a fuck load more trouble than you
might like, but what the hell are you gonna do, right? It’s Sully. That’s who he is.’ It isn't enough that Sully resembles
Worm in that capacity; our boy actually looks like the mid-nineties Norton, and the present day Sully just happens to
wear the same long, thin leather jacket that Mikey Mc D’s foil sports in the 1998 classic. I shit you not, Sully is an ace-
up his-sleeve-tatter away from becoming the world's first Lester Murphy impersonator. By the time we were finished
watching that movie a few months back, we were saying things like: ‘Sully isn’t like Worm; he actually is Worm’.

So this is what we were faced with as we stepped into the duty-free shop at the Windsor-Detroit border at 3:30 in the
morning: a drunk, high, sleep-deprived version of Worm.

As soon as we stepped inside immediately went in for the kill, wanting to get in and out as soon as possible, it being 3:30
in the morning and all. I grabbed a big boy bottle of Jack Daniel’s (essential sipping for any trip to the volunteer state),
and Ronnie grabbed a case of Bullets. Sully deliberated at length before finally deciding on three bottles of vodka, but at
the checkout line he realized that if he purchased 3 bottles of Crown Royal, we’d get a pass that would allow us to cross
the Ambassador Bridge without having to pay the $4 toll. Sully, in his inebriated state, somehow misconstrued this
coupon to save on the toll as, buy three bottles of Crown Royal and you have a free pass through customs, no questions
asked. I still have no idea how this happened. He insisted on buying all six bottles, even as the girl (who Ronnie and Sully
were hitting on incessantly) was telling us that we were exceeding our limit and that the customs agent would have to
pull us over and charge us for every extra bottle. Didn’t matter to Sully. Making matters even more interesting was the
fact that, as Ronnie and Sully were hitting on our cashier, the white trash dude wearing a Syracuse jacket in line behind
us became irrationally impatient and said something to the effect of, ‘hey, I’m in a bit of a rush here, so why don’t you
let me go first so you can have your social hour later’. Sully obviously couldn’t let this snide little remark go, so with the
tension building faster than in the final thirty seconds of any given hour in Jack Bauer's life, Sully, not even looking at the
guy, comes back with: “Sorry my friend. We’re in more of a rush than you are. We have to drive all the way to
Nashville tonight, so why don’t you just cool your jets, there, Syracuse…” A manager came running from out of
nowhere to help the guy at another register, and Sully and Ronnie to go back to the game of trying to guess where our
cashier was from (after much speculation, it was determined that she originally hailed from St. Catherines. Fascinating, I
know). We were fucking dying on our way out the door, pointing out how only Sully could cause a near Donnybrook in
the Duty Free checkout.

Ten minutes later we were sitting at the customs booth, waiting for the border patrol guy to get back to his hut (we
figured his was dropping a deuce, and having us rush him didn't exactly leave him in the best mood). As we sat there, I
realized that I didn’t have my passport on me, and that I’d taken my birth certificate out of my wallet about a year ago
when I was down in South America because I didn’t want to lose it if my wallet got pooched. Big F-up. Anyway, when
the ultra-pissed off customs dude finally got back, he started hammering away with inane questions, asking me what my
citizenship was (I told him Canadian), and then following it up by condescendingly asking if he was supposed to guess
where I was born because I didn’t have a birth certificate on me. I told him he could guess if he wanted to, so of course
he came back with ‘Russian?’. Cocksucker. We’d pretty much managed to get through the inquisition until he asked:
‘Bringing any tobacco or alcohol across the border?’ I said, yeah, we had a couple of duty free bottles. When he asked,
‘how many is a couple’, I reluctantly responded: ‘Seven”. Ronnie then added from the backseat, ‘and a case of beer’. It
was at this point that Sully tried to hand the guy the free pass he was under the impression would permit us to proceed
through customs without any further questioning. The customs agent just shook his head with a big, shit-eating grin, and
then told us, in no uncertain terms, to pull the fuck over.

We were only stuck in the holding room for about fifteen minutes, sharing our disgust at the situation with a trio of
obscenity slinging, Bush-and-Homeland-Security-bashing Michigan grad students who claimed they get pulled over every
time they venture over to Casino Windsor because one of the guys happens to have been born in England. The border
guys half-heartedly searched the car for awhile (I was shitting myself, considering the possibility of their tearing the
panels off the doors, which in turn would have made it rather difficult to convince the rental car company that we hadn’t
crossed the border), the only casualties being their confiscation of our box of mandarins and Sully’s having to pay $22
worth of duty. I found it strange how Sully was nervously watching the border patrol going through our trunk the entire
time and overcompensating with the customs people buy chattering incessantly, but I just chalked it up to his
accumulated inebriation. It wasn’t until we’d been released and had pulled away from the border (and handed the toll
booth lady our free pass, saving a grand total of $4), that Sully said something to the effect of: ‘Holy Shit! I was fucking
shitting myself back there! WOO-HOO!!! Those motherfuckers ain’t gettin my weed!!’ I nearly drove off the fucking
road. At first I thought he was kidding, and then he implored me to pull over, saying that his nerves were so jittery that
he needed to smoke a little one-pape to calm him down. When I eventually pulled over, sure enough, he dug a little
baggie from out of his duffle bag. I was absolutely floored.

I not sure that this requires any further comment, but just for future reference, if you’re going to be smuggling
marijuana over the border, my recommendation would be not to exceed your duty-free limit, an act which guarantees
that you will be pulled over by customs officials so they can search your car while levying your fine. Unbelievable. To
his credit though (if you can call it that), Sully didn’t tell me about his muling operation beforehand, probably because he
knew that our border crossing would have gone something like this:

Border Patrol: “Citizenship?”
Me: “…..Uh… I think…. Oh my God! We have POT IN THE CAR!!! Please have mercy on us….”

For the next three hours we drove with Ronnie and Sandra sleeping in the backseat, their windows being slowly covered
with a thin layer of ice on the inside while Sully fiddled with the radio and tried to tell me how to drive. It eventually got
to the point where he was badgering me to let him get behind the wheel, telling me he’d have us there in half the time,
using the fact that he’d tossed his wine bottle out the window less than twenty minutes earlier to actually confirm how
good a decision it would be, stressing that he’s a better drunk driver than I am a sober one (‘Fuck, Sean. Crank it up to
160. Let’s see what this baby can DO!’ as we passed the eighth speed trap in the past hour). I could only shake my head
and call him a planet murderer every time he tossed another smoldering cigarette butt out the window.

We stopped for gas somewhere in Ohio at 7 in the morning, and with Ronnie and Sandra still crashed out in the back
seat, Sully and I headed inside to pay for the fuel. When I got back into the car, Sully was nowhere to be found. Ten
minutes later I was leaning on the horn, pissing off every single person gassing up their SUV on their way to work,
wondering aloud just what the fuck Sully was doing. He eventually emerged from the gas station carrying a box. Inside
the box? Nine bottles of wine. Nine fucking bottles of wine from a gas station in Ohio. It sounds like a bad Tom Waits
track. Our road trip was exactly 7 hours old, and he’d already purchased 15 bottles of booze. ‘This is unbelievable’ he
said, piling into the car. ‘These bottles are like, fifteen bucks back home. Look at this! $5.99 for a fucking Woodbridge
Cabernet Sauvignon? I had to clean them out. Bought every bottle on the shelf.’ Again, there were simply no words.

By the time 8:30 rolled around, we were somewhere in the wilds of Kentucky and I was completely spent, gladly
handing the reigns over to Ronnie who took us the remaining four hours without incident (Sully was sleeping like a baby
by that point). We arrived in Antioch, TN at 11:30 am on Thursday, having completed the drive in just over 12 hours
(we picked up an extra hour when we crossed into the central time zone). All things considered, we made pretty damn
good time. We met Lisa, Blake, and The Money Shot at the local IHOP because we were bloody well ravenous,
hammering back massive plates of chicken fried steak, piles of pancakes and big steak omelettes, and jugs of coffee. By
the time we checked in to the Money Shot’s place, we were all ready for a sweet afternoon nap, but not before pounding
back a celebratory beverage, as is the usual custom upon our arrival.

My sister is a singer songwriter in Nashville, and she lives with Ronnie’s college roommate; a legend in his own right
affectionately nicknamed The Money Shot for semi-obvious reasons that don’t necessarily need to be delved into at this
point in time; and his wonderful new bride, Steph. I’m not sure how accepting she’d be of the Mrs. Money Shot
moniker, but we’re working on it. Steph’s friend Reggie also lives in the house, and I managed to inadvertently offend
him with every second word I uttered, but that’s something that didn’t come until later. My sister’s boyfriend Blake was
also down for the week, and he is an absolute legend who can bevy with the best of them. Oh yeah, and Steph’s
parents, who I’d previously never met, were also down for a few days. Ken is a big fan of Tennessee’s finest export, so
we were obviously getting along famously. Everyone woke up from their nap around 5, and we immediately started in
with the bourbon, washing it down with countless silver bullets and Miller Lites as we paraded around in our respective
Garry Valk jerseys and Canadian flags. The whole gathering had a kind of Griswalds-go-to-the-hockey-game kind of
feel, and by all accounts was looking like the recipe for a drunken perfect storm.

A few of us piled into Lisa’s pimped out ’89 Toyota Corolla, a White Lightning Road-Rocket express with Blake at the
helm, and with everyone else cramming into Pam and Ken’s SUV, we cruised the twenty-five minutes into downtown
Nashville, eventually finding ourselves outside the Gaylord Entertainment Center (has to be the best name for a rink in the
league). There were a tonne of Leaf fans representing, and it didn’t take long to get the ol’ “Go Leafs Go” chant going,
due in large part to the mass quantities of alcohol already consumed. We eventually had a CBC cameraman film our
drunken antics, which was pretty cool I guess, except that the game wasn’t even on CBC. We eventually made it to our
seats, settling in just as it came time to belt out the Canadian anthem. And as everyone knows, nothing gets the patriotic
blood boiling quite like that age-old combination of hockey and beer.

The differences between attending a game at the Gay Center and the ACC? First of all, we were sitting about fifteen
rows up, in the corner, and our tickets were $43. In Toronto, those seats would have set you back at least $130 a pop.
There are cheerleaders in the stands at the Gay Centre, and they have country music bands performing live between
every period. And they play Tim McGraw’s I like it, I love it, I want some more of it! after every goal. But the biggest
difference between catching a game at the Gay Centre and the ACC is that at the Gay Centre (how many times can a
person write ‘Gay Centre’ in one paragraph?) on Thursday nights, you can buy a draft beer for $2. I almost had a tear in
my eye when I ordered 4 large beers and got two bucks back from my ten. Of course, this deal only lasts until the end
of the first intermission, but if you manage to stockpile 6 Bud Lights at the foot of your seat by the beginning of the
second, you’re pretty well good to go for under twenty bucks.

As you might well imagine, most of the game was pretty well a blur. I remember that the Leaf’s two go-to snipers; the
architect behind www.Poni23.com and Chad “The most skilled player on the Toronto Maple Leafs” Kilger; each
managed to fill the net, and that Kris Newbury won a fight that directly led to his having his brain leak out on the ice two
nights later. At some point, Sandra “accidentally” spilt most of her beer on me because the cheerleaders just happened to
be walking through my field of vision at the exact moment she was watching me, and that as I was returning from about
my fifth trip to the urinal, Steph and Reggie, walking behind me, called out ‘Go Preds’. Without even looking (or
thinking, evidently), I shot back: ‘That’s Gay’... Did I mention that Reggie is a homosexual? Well, he is. As gay as a
french horn. Nice enough guy, but not exactly forgiving of any minor foot-in-mouth slip-ups. Very sensitive. And very
gay.

And its amazing because you never really realize just how ingrained the terms gay and fag and queer are in the modern
lexicon, but sure enough, there I was massively offending Reggie at just about every turn… and I LOVE gay people. I
mean, I have the utmost reverence and respect for anyone gutsy enough to be exactly who they are, regardless of what
others think; especially in a place like the deep south; and here I was coming off sounding like Tim Hardaway after
accidentally stumbling onto Church Street in late June and finding himself being soaked by a watergun-toting Dick
Simmons. At one point, on Saturday afternoon, I asked Sandra if she wanted to go for a walk around the neighbourhood
with me because if she didn’t, it would just be Blake and I and that would be totally gay. And of course poor Reg is
sitting right there on the couch, and all he can do is dramatically throw his hands up in the air and huff in offended
disgust as Blake goes running upstairs in utter mortification while I realize what I’ve done and walk outside to repeatedly
ram my face into the curb. Of course I was to blame for being an idiot, but I never meant it in that way. It's just
something you say without thinking about. Is this my way of apologizing? Maybe. But I guess some people are just more
sensitive than others, as is evidenced by Reggie’s boyfriend Heath, who’d probably be the first one to call me a fag if he
found out that Blake and I went for a walk together.

Anyway, the Leafs ended up losing 4-2 and Ronnie and I somehow got split up from everyone else and ended up at a bar
across the street with about 30 other displaced Torontonians, and when the band on stage realized that we were a bunch
of Canucks dressed in hoser gear, they immediately kicked into The Band’s The Weight, and before I knew what was
happening, some guy from Newmarket was tugging on my G-Valk special, imploring me to get to the front of the stage
because the house band was playing a “Canadian Folk Song”. Funny, I never thought of it that way, but sure enough,
everyone in blue and white rushed the stage and sang along to “Take a load off Fanny”, nailing the harmonies and
coming in at the appropriate staggered intervals the way you’re supposed to… It was all very touching. My
quintessential Canadian moment for the weekend. We eventually got a call from The Money Shot to let us know that
they were still at a bar inside the rink, so Ronnie and I ventured back into the Gay Center for a few pints and a photo-op
with some guy in a suit who may or may not have been a member of the Preds squad (to be honest, I haven’t really
watched hockey since the strike ruined the NHL for me and I found other, more important things to do with my free
time… you know, like writing excessively long, impossible to read blog entries and watching the Raps). And Sandra and
I somehow stopped fighting about her pouring her beer in my lap. Still not sure how that one got cleared up.

We eventually left the Gay Center and headed to Printer’s Alley, a famous alley full of raucous bars just north of the
Nashville strip, and ended up at a place called Lonnie’s Western Room and Karaoke Bar. Enough said. We managed to
score a VIP-like booth at the side of the stage, and then proceeded to annihilate the buckets of beer ($15 for a bucket of
7) which seemed to be arriving two at a time, every ten minutes. Lisa blew everyone away with a song who’s title has
escaped me, Sandra brought the house down with You’re So Vain, and Sully managed to get over his chronic shyness
by pulling off a commendable version of the above-mentioned Canadian folk song. There is a rumour that Ronnie and
Sully did a drunken duet of Sinatra’s New York, New York later on, but I was long gone by then. Also, the ridiculous
level of debauchery led to a first in the annals of McCallum barroom shenanigans. Many a lucky lady has had the fortune
of being the meat inside the world renowned McCallum Sandwich (with Ronnie and I acting the part of the bread, of
course); but this evening saw the first all-male McCallum Sandwich, with our good friend Reggie playing the part of
both salami and cheese. What can I say? We’re an equal opportunity bunch of dick-heads.

At some point in the night, CBC’s own Elliotte Friedman stumbled into Lonnie’s and almost immediately joined us up in
our section. Ronnie instantly went into business mode, dropping a card before you could say, ‘I’m Elliotte
Friedman…The Score’. He filled us in on why all of the CBC cameras were at the game (they were filming a special on
U.S. small market teams), and I managed to ask him if he was still friendly with a particular sports television personality.
When he said that he hadn’t seen her in years, I said something to the effect of: ‘Yeah, I figured that. It’s funny though,
because even though you probably don’t remember this, the last time I saw you out was at the Cloak and Dagger a few
years back and you and the young lady seemed to be getting along mighty fine that night…’ His face went eighteen
sheets of red and he conceded that yeah, that probably was the last time he’d seen her. What a legend. But I have to say,
Friedman is a class act all the way, one of the most genuine guys you could ever meet, and he managed to put up with
our drunken fawning for longer than most others would have before finally saying something about needing to find his
camera man and B-lining it for the door. Good times all around.

I have no idea what time we left Lonnie’s, but it was evidently before Ronnie and Sully and Lisa and Blake did because
there is video evidence currently circulating documenting perhaps the finest display of air-guitaring in the history of rock
and roll as Ronnie rocks it with a spastic’s reeling perfection, windmilling it Pete Townshend style to Aerosmith’s Dream
On in front of a group of horrified girls before ultimately ending the performance like Nirvana on SNL by knocking a
metal beer sign off the ceiling with a climactic thrashing riff… It really has to be seen to be believed. I will do everything
in my power to get a link up.

I ended up in the trunk of Pam and Ken’s SUV, along with Sandra, Steph and The Money Shot in the middle seat. We
made the obligatory stop at Krystal Burger and picked up a sack of Krystal Chicks and a six pack of Krystal Burgers
which I managed to inhale before we’d even gotten back to the house. I have no idea what happened after that, but I
think that in the middle of one of Ronnie and Sully’s slap-fights, Ronnie proclaimed: ‘You’re a fuckin’ queer, Sullivan!’
Reggie was not impressed.

I had to get up at a ridiculously early hour the next day in order to meet a co-worker for lunch, car-pooling it over to O’
Charley’s with Lisa and Blake so they could take the rental into Nashville to pick up Lisa’s ride that we’d left behind the
night before. The only thing I can tell you about my 3 hour business lunch is that I was in a world of hurt for the
duration, and made numerous visits to the facilities. Krystal Burger + 8 hours of $2 beers = not the most pleasant dining
experience the following morning. When I got back to the Money Shot’s place, everybody was completely green from
the night before and lounging around while watching The Devil Wears Prada, which meant that it was time for me to
shut’er down for a few hours.

Friday night, Sandra, Pam and Ken prepared a massive feast for us, and after a few beverages we headed back into
Nashville to see Lisa performing at a bar called The Commodore Lounge. By request, she did the ultra-awkward-to-listen-
to-while-sitting-next-to-her-boyfriend, Late for Work, at Ronnie’s request, along with Chasing Whiskey and a new one
that I’d never heard but totally dug. We sat around the Commodore (Vandy’s local haunt) for quite some time, listening
to the singer-songwriters, all of whom are massively talented. The music scene in Nashville, as you might well-imagine,
is a little bit like the actress scene in L.A., and it reminds me of that great scene in Swingers where Mikey’s talking to
Peter from Office Space and he says that ‘the hottest one percent from around the world migrate to this gene pool…’
Well, Nashville kind of has the same thing going with singer-songwriters. It's like manifest destiny for musicians, which
means if you wanna make it, you gotta go to Music City. It's gotta be a tough grind for anyone trying to make it, but it
sure as hell makes for some serious listening in a sports bar on a Friday night.

We eventually ended up at a Rockabilly bar on Broadway called Robert’s, drinking $2 cans of Busch and Pabst Blue
Ribbon. The band was pretty killer, and Ronnie was merrily flip-flopping between two ladies, one of which decided she
didn’t much like the idea of sharing, deciding to pull a suck by text-messaging her ex-boyfriend for the rest of the night
until eventually driving to his house while half in the bag. Major party foul. Pam, Ken, and Steph left the bar relatively
early because Steph had to work in the morning, and because Pam and Ken, although totally up for givin’er hell, are still
Grandparents when it comes right down to it, which meant that their going home at 12:30 wasn’t completely
unacceptable. Sandra was on a mission to get totally obliterated and kept buying shots of tequila for whoever would do
one with her. Blake and I were drinking some pretty fantastic Gentleman Jack, and I managed to pick up a couple of
dudes who were in town for the septic tank convention. At about 1 in the morning, Sully announced to the entire bar that
he was officially over the previous night’s hangover.

We eventually stumbled out the back door of Robert’s into the alley that runs behind Broadway, stopping for pics of
Sully locked behind the gates of the Ryman Auditorium (featuring Buster Hyman and the Penetrators), where he happily
posed with a homeless guy sleeping on the steps. Class acts, all around. As soon as we fell out of the alleyway, a Taxi
Van serendipitously came to rest right where we stood. Our lucky day. All seven of us piled into the van, which we
quickly realized was unlike any other cab we’d ever been in. There were Mardi Gras beads everywhere (which Sully
began playing with immediately, pissing the driver off to no end – the driver ended up giving Sully a set of beads to keep
him quiet, and they instantly became friends for life), and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. As soon as the cabbie
started driving, he hit “play” on his CD player, and the strip-joint MC’s voice belted out: “ARE YOU READY??!!!!??”,
before kicking into Technotronic’s Pump Up The Jam, setting a strobe light into hyper-speed and almost causing Sandra
to have a seizure. It was the wildest thing I’ve ever seen, and the seven of us were dancing like a bunch of epileptic kids
on rohypnol. Again, there is video evidence, and I will do my best to get it linked. Halfway through Starship’s We Built
This City, I yelled out ‘If this guy plays Ice Ice Baby I think I might bust a fuckin nut!!’. Sure enough, the next track
kicked in and it was Shay playin’ on the fade, slicin’ like a ninja and cuttin’ like a razor blade. Greatest request fulfillment
of all-time.

I vaguely remember the cabbie playing Kanye West’s Gold Digger, but by that point my brain was completely fried from
the half-hour of strobe light abuse. Ronnie managed to uncover a case of beer buried in the back of the van, and even
though it probably belonged to the cabbie, we commandeered a few just to pass ourselves. We got the dude to go
through the Krystal Burger drive-thru for us so we could order $53 worth of Krystal Burgers (I was doing everything in
my power to get the drive-thru girl to repeat the phrase “sack-full”, to no avail). While waiting for our 60 burgers to
arrive, Sully got out of the Disco Party Cab (actual name) to give the cars behind us a striptease, and Sandra found
herself a cozy little place on the curb to vomit for awhile. Fantastic.

By the time we got back to the casa-Money Shot, we were pounding back Krystals like Harold and Kumar at the 24-hour
Cherry Hill Castle, and Sully had The Highwaymen’s Highwayman on perpetual repeat in the kitchen. Ronnie and Sully,
right on cue, began playfighting like a couple of ADD-riddled kids in the schoolyard, oblivious to the fact that Pam and
Ken were sleeping upstairs, and that Steph, who had to be up for work at 6am, was sleeping downstairs. When I
eventually went to bed, The Shot knocked on my door and informed my that Sully and my brother were currently
engaged in a fistfight on the front lawn. The only think I could say was that it was not my concern, and began snoring
immediately.

The next day we woke up, hungover to all hell, and went out to fulfill one of Sandra’s lifelong dreams by posing for a
picture in front of Dolly Parton’s house. After the obligatory photo-op, it was into Nashville to once again retrieve a car
that we’d left in town the night before, and then onto a place called The Noshville New York Delicatessen for a pretty
killer breakfast, although it was definitely lacking the biscuits and gravy, grits, and southern charm of a place like Dotson’
s in Franklin. Our waitress was taking some extra special care of us and took an immediate liking to Sully, who, along
with Ronnie, ended up sitting around and doing shots with her for most of the afternoon while I raided The Great Escape
for some serious vinyl (Curits Mayfield and the Impressions, The Isley Brothers, Al Green, etc…), and then hit up Katy-
K’s to shop like Jack White. On our way back to pick up Ronnie and Sully from the Deli, we re-enacted a childhood visit
to Dorney Park by taking the tour of the Murrah Music Studio’s parking lot. Murrah Music is the publishing house that
recently signed my sister, and the story of spending an entire afternoon looking at licence plates in the Dorney Park
parking lot while listening to the laughter and excited screams of the other kids fortunate enough to be inside the park
will be rectified with the help of years of therapy.

That night, everyone was completely green because we had been punishing our bodies for 72 consecutive hours, but not
so green that we couldn’t hit up the local liquor store for some liquid provisions. Sully, already with 15 bottles of booze
to his name, found a decent bottle of Lindemans that was to his liking, and decided to clean them out of stock, bringing
his total to a staggering 24 bottles of booze. We were no longer at the ‘hey, it’s pretty funny how many bottles we’re
bringing back’ stage; it was now a matter of illicit smuggling. Throw in the three pairs of cowboy boots that he’d
bought earlier that day, and we were pretty well looking at a thousand dollars worth of taxes and fines, as well as a ten-
year prison term. But he assured us that he’d take care of it, and we took his word for it because, hey, it’s Sully.

We did our best to drink our way through our insipid greenness, ordering some pretty solid BBQ from Bar-B-Cuties and
hammering back as many Rolling Rocks as possible while watching in disbelief as Blake tore an entire phone book in half
with his bare hands. Jocks rule. Sully lost $20 on the deal, and with nobody in any kind of condition to drive back into
Nashville for a third consecutive night (a 25 minute jaunt at least), we ended up at a local joint where Sully managed to
get himself cut off within the first ten minutes. We managed to slip him a few drinks without the staff really minding all
that much, which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t such a great idea seeing how it directly contributed to Sully and Ronnie’
s game of Golden Tee becoming a little heated, eventually resulting in a near barroom brawl that saw everyone being
thrown out all at once and Blake coming within an inch of knocking the four remaining teeth out of the mouth of a
mentally handicapped dude wearing a pair of overalls who happened to put his hands on the big man at the most
inopportune moment. A fitting end to the evening.

The following day involved a drive that was only slightly less painful than an eternity in hell, but I managed to sleep all
the way to Cincinnati, which made taking the reigns at the Ohio Tim Horton’s no problem whatsoever. I stayed behind
the wheel all the way to within a mile of the border, at which point I handed the show over to Sully, figuring that if we
were going to get busted for smuggling, I’d rather have him behind the wheel doing the lying. Of course, the customs
guy didn’t even ask us for our IDs at the border, and we were through in less than 20 seconds. But what else would you
expect with Sully? No matter how much trouble you think he’s gotten you into, he almost always seems to bail you out,
inevitably leaving you with more stories than you know what to do with. It was impossible not to love him.

Gary and Steph, thanks so much for having us. Hopefully we weren’t an excessively intolerable burden (granted, we
were an intolerable burden). You guys should try to get up to Toronto so maybe you can trash my place next time. It
really is the least we could do. And Lis, thanks for showing us your newly adopted town. We couldn’t be more proud of
all that you’ve accomplished. Until we see you,

Road Trip Recaps
         
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Original Piece appeared in the
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