My arrival at KCI -- greetings from Erin!
My temporary blog for today when I first started this was "Friday was a day of flashers. Mel first. RJ's pearly whites. Then Shawn had to flash his tats. Then Harriet. Oh lord, who's next?" Guess I should start from the beginning and provide some context -- and explain the photos!
I landed at Kansas City around noon. KCI has to be one of the easiest airports I have ever been through! I got off the plane, took about 30 steps and was outside into the main terminal -- where Erin, Melanie, RJ and James were waiting to pick me up. I recognized Erin immediately from her photos and gave her a big hug.
James (pearcetoyou), Erin and me.
I totally flubbed it with Melanie. I hugged her and said 'so nice to meet you Joy!' Oops. Maybe it was to get even with Mel for complaining about the restaurant reviews that I had done without food photos. I was introduced to a true TB Meet Up ritual right away -- the cameras were whipped out and flashes started popping immediately. We headed outside the terminal and off to James' car -- only to find that in the excitement of meeting everyone, I completely forgot that I had a bag to collect back at baggage claim. Oh well, off to a good start!
The ride into the City gave Melanie and Erin a chance to show off another TB Meet Up Tradition -- pics in the car. We were barely 30 minutes into the meet up and already my jaws were starting to ache from all the smiles for 5 different cameras.
Lunch group at Raglan Irish Pub
Little did I know . . .
We went directly to the Westin Crown Center to check into our rooms. When we got there, Eric (Yehcoh), Yadi (Yadillita), Will (), and Sal (Sincitytraveller) were all there in the lobby to greet us. I got up to the desk clerk to check in, only to find out that I did not have a reservation there. Kansas City is very confusing to me -- there are two hotels called Crown Center (Westin and Hyatt) and another one called Crown Plaza (downtown -- and not on the Plaza -- another confusing thing). I had booked through Priceline -- and thought I was staying at the same place everyone else was -- something with the word 'Crown' in it. Turns out I was at the Crown Plaza downtown.
Queen CW and her Royal Consort go for the Grey Goose! (first of many shots, btw)
James was a great guy to ferry me up there from the Crown Center and drop me off. I got checked in to the Crown Plaza just fine -- had a room on the 23rd floor with a good view. From there it was just a short walk over to our first meet up location -- the Raglan Street Pub in the Power and Light District. I tried to ring Shawn to see if he was in yet, as I thought he was staying in the same hotel. They had no record of him, so I figured he was at yet another 'Crown' something hotel.
Ragland Street Pub is an Irish Pub in the heart of KC's entertainment area. Mark (Travelman727) had reserved a private room for us there and was holding court when I arrived. We got introductions out of the way, and then Mark had each of us tell some humorous story about ourselves.
At the College Basketball Experience -- flying the flag for UT!
I have to say that Mark's story is one of the more unusual stories I have ever heard -- and will stick with me for a long time. You'll have to get that information from him at a meet up one day soon. Some of the meet up folks were here just to drink, some -- like me -- were starving and needed to eat some lunch (it was now 3pm). RJ and Eric appeared to have ordered the winner -- both had shepherd's pie -- and it looked delicious. I did not want to eat something too heavy, as Mark and James had dinner planned for around 730 -- so I stuck with soup (carrot and coriander) and a sandwich (roast beast on foccacia). I was drinking diet cokes while others had French Martinis (Yadi and Eric) and shots of Grey Goose (Melanie and James).
RJ is elated to have made his first dunk!
I could already tell it was going to be a bumpy night based on early consumption patterns.
We headed across Grand Avenue to the College Basketball Experience for the next outing. I had to have my picture with a University of Texas at Austin pennant. Felt sacreligious not too! The basketball experience provided a way for some to burn off some of their alcohol intake, some to burn off excess energy, and some to just clown around. We had free throw contests, one on one games, two on two and three ways! All the mathematical possibilities were mindboggling. Some highlights for me included RJ hanging off the basket after a slam dunk; Eric on defense with Melanie with very suggestive uses of his own body; and comparing shoe sizes with Kareem Abdul Jabbar's size 23's.
Eric has a very unique style of defense. Mel seems to enjoy it though. :P
We crossed back over Grand Avenue to return to the Power and Light District -- where Shawn was waiting for us. He had drove down from Nebraska to attend his first Meet Up. We grabbed a drink at Raglan Pub's outdoor bar and checked out the PNL area before heading into the next venue, Howl at the Moon. I introduced Sal to one of my favorite summer drinks -- Mandarin Absolut Vodka and tonic -- and all I can tell you is to beware of doubles in KC. Wow -- can they pour. :)
The gang really kicked it into high gear once we got to Howl at the Moon. It's a chain bar -- although its the first time I have experienced one. They had dueling pianos -- with a woman from Houston as one of the pianists.
Yes, Melanie was the first in the bar to flash her . . . ahem, breasts. Well, actually just one. Call it a wardrobe malfunction, Ms. Jackson.
They delight in playing songs from the 80's, 90's etc that you can sing along with as you revel in your past. They also love the double entendre and suggestive banter. You get the drift. Our group fired right up -- more drinks (including more Goose Shots for Mel and James), singing and dancing. Harriet (AfricanCrab) joined us about this time and lost no time in jumping right in with us for the party singing, drinking and dancing. Poor Mel (right) evidently had a wardrobe malfunction while dancing and one the girls popped out right as one of our intrepid photographer's snapped her pic. I think that one was deleted right away on orders of Queen CW. The piano players called out for bar patrons to write messages on the backs of a napkin and to hand them in for publication on the mirrors behind them.
This is an example of how the infamous wardrobe malfunction occurred. Blame gravity!
The first message you post was free, others cost money to post. I had been holding back a bit until then -- but decided to jump in with both feet. I wrote the first message posted about Melanie's mishap and Eric tipped the pianist to be sure it got attention. Sure enough, it was the first message posted (see my pic -- message No. 1). As the pianist started writing the message on the mirror our group just started howling. Guess that's where the bar got its name? I was not sure immediately how Melanie was going to take it -- but she seemed to revel in the attention. Go figure!!
The second message published on the mirrors came from a table of guys a couple of rows over. It read "Cameron wants to meet Melanie" -- and I thought Melanie was going to die of embarrrassment -- that is until she decided Cameron was hot as hell.
Cameron from the next table (not a TB guy . . . yet) wants to meet Melanie!
The pianists had Cameron and Melanie come up on stage to meet -- and then played a spin the wheel kind of game to get them to interact. The wheel dictated that they had to act out a scene from a movie -- and the scene chosen for them was the Big Orgasm scene from 'When Harry Met Sally.' Mel was a bit shy and embarrassed at first (or a fine actress), but finally steeled herself for a great performance. It was not quite the same as Meg Ryan's scene, as it was more interactive with Cameron. Nevertheless, it was memorable. Evidently James thought it deserved another Goose, as more shotglasses appeared.
I had a great time dancing with Erin and Harriet to lots of great tunes from the 80's. Eric, Yadi, Sal, RJ, Mark, Will and Shawn all got out there and strutted their stuff too -- and of course Mel and James.
Pianist introduces Mel to Cameron!
It was pretty crazy. At some point the waitress started bringing us Howl at the Moon bumperstickers -- and they magically appeared on the derriere's of Harriet, RJ and Yadi. Wonder how that happened? Just as we were heading out of Howl at the Moon, I was stopped by a guy who asked me if I was part of the TB group. I told him that I was -- and I thought he was either from Cameron's table or was one of the random guys in the bar that Eric had trying to recruit to TB. He introduced himself as Bill, and I introduced myself and told him that his name would be easy to remember as it was the same as my brother's. I then turned to head out and he followed -- explaining that he had driven down from Minnesota for the meet up and had been a TBer for awhile! I felt so stupid! He's Bill (wjries) and was looking for our group -- not just some random guy in the bar.
Dancing with Erin
He was a real gentleman and did not give me too hard a time!
The Goose caught up to Mel and James -- and Erin, Will and Sal spent some time with them to be sure they were OK. We were heading down to dinner at Vinnino, a nice Italian Bistro right in the PNL District. Will was a real champ and took them back to the hotel while the rest of us went ahead with our meal. I had tortellini and a good glass of wine. Helped to get me back on track.
We headed back over to the Raglan Street Pub and had a few more drinks and laughs -- and of course, lots of pictures. RJ showed off his Riverdance skills -- and wowed some of the bar patrons there with his high stepping. Guess he has a back up career should the architecture thing get old!
As things ran down at the pub, Eric invited us back to the Westin for an impromptu hospitality suite at the room he and James shared.
Tim, Harriet, RJ (going for the bite) and Melanie at Howl at the Moon.
Sal offered to give some of us a ride, and we packed 7 into his vehicle. Poor RJ and Shawn were stuffed in the back and got the name 'trunk monkeys' -- they were so cramped back there. Eric pulled out his box of alcohol left over from a party in Sioux City -- a couple of bottles of vodka, some rum and lots of brandy. There were no mixers so Sal and Shawn headed out to remedy that. Erin, Yadi and Harriet returned to the room in their jammies, and that's when the next flashing episode happened. Not sure it was a wardrobe malfunction, but I am sure it would get CBS fined bigger than Janet Jackson's episode. Shawn missed out as he was on the great tonic search -- and still laments his loss today. He did, however, take the chance to flash himself when he returned giving us all a view of his dragon tattoo.
Shawn flashing his tats as Bill looks on in disbelief!
Nice artwork Shawn! Somehow that led to him showing off the label of his underwear -- then Eric, then RJ, and then I got talked into showing the Ginch Gonch label as Erin and Harriet had never heard of that brand. Erin assures me that she erased the evidence, but I can't be sure . . . .
Shawn and I headed out about 2am to return by taxi to the Crown Plaza. I just kept wondering what I had gotten myself into with this whole TB thing . . . :)