Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ramblings - Memories, Summer, and a Touch of Patriotism

With Memorial Day Weekend upcoming, I've been getting in a better and better mood. The unofficial start of summer is upon us, and that makes me extremely happy. I always joke that I live in the wrong state because I hate winter, nothing about it makes me happy anymore. I will fully admit that I think every kid should grow up in a state that has bountiful snowfall. There is nothing more fun than bundling up, meeting your friends at the biggest hill you can find, and sledding all day, getting into snowball fights, and building snow forts. In fact, winter created some of my fondest recess memories.

First there was playing tackle football in the snow. Tackle football was not allowed, but, we would always play until we got yelled at, play touch for a while, then go back to tackle. I remember in about 6 inches of snow having my boot pulled off, then running the entire distance of the field scoring a touchdown and in turn getting one wet sock which made for an uncomfortable rest of the day.

Then there was the sledding, who could go the fastest, the farthest, stand up the longest, etc...I thank god that I grew up in the hilly part of the state (The Driftless Area), for hills were aplenty.

We always would tunnel the parking lot snow pile. Why, I don't know, but it was fun. Though seems kind of dangerous now as us elementary kids were no engineers, and I suppose a collapse was always possible.

Then, there were the snow forts. In 2nd grade, we wanted to make the biggest snow fort possible, we would spend all recess hour rolling one or two balls to make up the wall, it would take 3 or 4 of us to eventually roll the behemoth into place. After a week or so, we had our gigantic snow fort. It was, of course, boys only. Then a classmate, Megan, claimed she was kicked out of the girl's fort and wanted in to ours. Well, just as grown men are, even 2nd grade boys are susceptible to 'women tricks'. We trusted her, gave her the secret password, she played along for a day or two, but then told all the other girls what the password was. Before long, all the girls knew the password and then we had to attack to defend our turf with a good old fashioned snow ball fight.

BUT, that was the past. These days, I would rather not deal with the cold. I can have fun still, sure, but would much rather be out on a lake drinking a brewski or two. In fact, chillin' with nature on a hot summer day is definitely one of my favorite things to do.

I am doing a lot of fun stuff this summer. Going to Cleveland and Denver, many Brewer games...but what I am most looking forward to is heading up north camping in July. Last year we got a little wet, so this year, we went with a cabin right off of a lake in Eagle River. Should be a blast. To me, sitting around a campfire at night, telling stories with your friends under the stars and over drinks is pretty much heaven.

Speaking of sitting on lakes and nature, I just realized it has been a long time since I have seen the ocean. At my old job, I was at least once a month sitting on a beach watching the waves. This sort of saddens me as it was always a relaxing experience. In fact, the last time I saw the ocean was last summer in Maine....and with no ocean trips planned this year, likely won't be until next year...sad face.

To finish this rambling, I just want to say that while we often in this country bicker about things such as politics, we are all striving for the same things. While though it might seem we are divided on how we want to obtain what we all want to achieve, we always come together, be it for a time of crisis or just to share a laugh during a barbecue on Memorial Day....this ability to come together is certainly, uniquely, American. Now, as I was driving to work today, a song I have been listening to a lot lately came on my iPod, and since I was taking in the sights and smells of the back roads with the now green scenery, I literally had a big smile, filled to the brim with patriotism, the video is posted below, and while it is a country song, it fits this Great Nation, especially for an upcoming Memorial Day Holiday. So I want to leave you with this thought...please, while celebrating your holiday, be it barbecuing, tailgating, camping, or just relaxing at home...take a second to think of the purpose of Memorial Day, to honor those who have fallen, past and present, to help defend this Nation, so we can have the freedom to enjoy the activities that we choose to do in our lives.

Friday, May 15, 2009

#6. My Collegiate Life - Learning how to Party WW Style

After the initial excitement of the first week of class and the meeting of new friends, I began to settle down into a bit of a routine. It is amazing how even after one or two weeks, you feel comfortable and it was as if you have been living the collegiate life for years. As mentioned, I can not tell you where the first party was I attended, how crazy things may or may not have gotten. I can tell you though, that the first few weeks, getting to a party was always an adventure.

Come "Thirsty Thursday", right after dinner time, the dorms would begin to buzz. We would all go door to door down our hall to see where the party was. We didn't know the hot spots or have the connections yet. There were always the open invitations by the frat guys who would come wandering the halls letting everyone know they were having a free party with strippers, or some other gimmick, but for most of the guys I hung out with including myself, the frat life was something none of us were interested in, and didn't even want to associate with. Paying for friends, bah! Though I appreciated the Vegas style magnet for my fridge.

There always seemed to be one guy though who claimed to know where the parties were; he lived in the room directly next to me, name was Steve. Steve lived with Chad and they had went to Marquette High School together. They both were extremely outgoing and liked to have a good time, so him saying he knew where there was a party was good enough for us as we were desperate for the cheap tap beer and the women who would drink too much of it.

The masses in the dorm would hear about the party, and for some reason we thought it would be a good idea to just all go together. It didn't seem weird that we would all head towards a party, and by all, I mean 10-15 of us. We didn't think much about how such a large group of freshmen was a dead giveaway to the police as to where the party was. Thankfully for us, our party leader, Steve, never seemed to actually know where there was a party. I swear, he would just start knocking on random houses then ask them if a) they were having a party b) if they knew where one was. We usually ended up finding a party though. Not because Steve knew where he was going, but when you walk around the entire campus housing area you will at some point hear the loud music and loud voices. Needless to say, we learned to quit following Steve after a little bit and began to gain some contacts of our own to find where the kegs were aplenty.

I quickly learned that a party in a crowded Whitewater basement is a whole different ballgame compared to a party in the middle of a field in Highland. The obvious difference is the space. The sheer amount of people that would cram into a cramped dirty basement is mind boggling. The kegs were always surrounded by a mass of people with no rhyme or reason, often radiating out in a semi-circle. Getting through just to fill up seemed to burn off more alcohol than a filled cup would provide. There had to be a better way. There was!

At first, I was too nice, waiting in line patiently hoping, like at Six Flags, my turn would eventually come. After I quit being naive, and learned that this was basically a no-holds barred "line", I began squeezing my shoulder in whatever crease would be given to me. I would also notice that many people would have a full cup, but just stood conveniently in line waiting for the next round. These people were normally pretty good about scooting back to let you in. This helped some, but I also learned that there were enemies of the keg line who weren't as nice.

Enemy #1 - The House Cup/Pitcher - Nothing can be done about this, everyone honored this code. These are the people risking a police record for our fun (or to pay their bills). They were usually playing drinking games at a table in a separate room and that meant pitchers had to be filled to keep the game moving.

Enemy #2 - The Cup Passer/Multiple Cup Filler - This was most often utilized by the women, and reason, the tapper won't say no to a good looking girl (myself included) who just wants to get her and her friends drunk. But, the masses, men and women alike get stuck waiting an extra 15 minutes just to fill up a 2nd cup.

Enemy #3 - The Over The Shoulder Reacher - Buddy, settle, two things, first you are annoying everyone, secondly, the hose doesn't reach that far anyways.

Enemy #4 - The Line Budger - Once again, usually a good looking girl.

Enemy #5 - The "I Was Next" Complainer - Maybe you were, maybe you weren't, but do you think anyone really cares. Shut your mouth, you'll get filled.

Enemy #6 - The Pusher - Usually a larger guy who is able to shove his weight around. Only a few people are going to stand up to it, mostly because it just creates an argument not worth arguing over. I noted I would shove a shoulder in a crease...that has to happen, but plain pushing people aside is rude.

Ok, I've been guilty of having people grab my cup to fill it up while they are up front, but when someone asks, you can't say no. It really wasn't all that effective anyways as the tapper usually would spot this and move on to other people anyhow. Which of course brings me to the lessons I learned on how to keep the beer continually flowing in the cup.

Tip #1 - Make friends while in line. This is useful for a few reasons. One, if you or that person gets filled, then whoever is getting filled usually will tell the tapper that the other person is/was next. This is extremely effective (and awesome for other reasons) if the friend is a good looking girl. This new found "friend" could also become a pumper while in line, and the tapper usually respects whoever is pumping for them. Best case scenario, this "friend" becomes the tapper. Which leads to....

Tip #2 - Make friends with the tapper. The best way to do this, is complain about all the rude people in line. The tapper gets yelled at constantly, so hearing someone understand is a welcoming voice. The best idea is to maybe hang back by the tapper then, become a barrel monkey (usually along a wall now) until you've thrown a few down.

Tip #3 - Take over the tapper duties. This, comes with many responsibilities, and, as mentioned, much criticism. Who cares, you can now fill yourself and friends up as needed.

All of these were things I picked up on pretty quick. The other thing I learned, and a big difference from what I was used to, is the beer does not flow all night. The house that is throwing a party isn't looking to keep 200 people in their basement until 4 am. There are usually only 2-4 barrels at a party, so you had to work quick. Those of you who know about, 'working quick' when in terms of drinking know that it often leads to some pretty drunk times (and also a large reason I feel the drinking age should be lowered - more on that in a separate blog). It was always a rush to drink as much as you can as quick as you can. A two hour party ends up feeling like an all nighter and at 11 or 12 at night, the group would assemble and begin the always fun walk home to the dorms.

UP NEXT - Dorm Life