(Authors note... while this post was written in 2009, this particular paragraph is written on 10/3/14... I'm working on the blog itself, weeding through posts, deleting some things that don't make any sense, and so on. At this point, I've gotten rid of about 35 posts--I was at 996 before today. That means that even though this is declared at Post 500... if you do the math, it's actually somewhere around 460 or so. But at the time, it was 500... so just go along with it =)
Not too long ago, I found a website that would print your blog. You can upload it, and within a few seconds, you'd get your blog in a book form that you can print! For a small fee, of course.
Anyway, I did the necessary steps to see what it would look like. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. I flew to NYC, saw a Broadway play, flew back, drove to Gadsden, had a nice Waffle House breakfast with NYCJenni, on the way back, stopped and played some gin rummy with KT, found Hurricane Rhett broken down on the side of the road, so I gave him a lift to Tupelo, Mississippi, came back, had dinner with The Lovely Steph Leann while conferencing Erin the Marine Wife on her new book, "Semper Wife", played tennis with Mikey and Jim Courier, then had a six movie marathon starring Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with. And I waited some more.
FINALLY, it came up. And for the low, low price of only $606.45, YOU can order your own copy of Clouds in My Coffee's Blog Book, and enjoy all 1709 pages of it. None of that was a typo.
Whether I'm any good or not is subjective--I'm sure there are some that would never visit this page other than to mock me, and there are others that visit every day... I know that at least 130 people have this page bookmarked in their browser, and many of you have this site linked on your own webpage (though Amy Mc, you don't. And we're going to have to change that somehow). None of that is trying to be all braggadocious, its just a pride of after four years of work, this page has some legs, and keeps growing.
I thought long and hard about what to do for this particular posting... I mean, you don't do your 500th blog every day, and it will be another 3 to 4 years before I get to 1,000, so I wanted to mark the occasion with something a little extra special. I went back and forth on ideas, thinking about actually introducting a website, then thinking I'd do a page of my favorite columns or maybe your favorite columns and then I thought of doing pictures, or music or something... but a few days ago, when The Lovely Steph Leann and I were driving through Vestavia Hills, it hit me. I'd tell a story.
I'd tell a story that hasn't been told online. I'd tell a story that several people know, but perhaps had forgotten... or had heard in second or third hand. I'd tell a story that The Lovely Steph Leann has told me her parents don't even know. Yet, anyway.
Its April 2003. I started at Starbucks on February 1 of that same year, and had been at the brand new Vestavia store for two months. The reasons for working at Starbucks were two fold... first, I had a girlfriend that I really liked a whole heckuva lot. So much so that I wanted to buy this chick a ring. Second, I had debt. I mean, we've covered this in previous blogs here and here, but anyone who knows me knows that in my younger day, I didn't do so very good with money.
Starbucks, at the time, was paying me a nice $6.55 per hour to hustle lattes, sling coffee, grind some beans and truly have a good time. And Starbucks is a good time, don't let anyone ever tell you differently.
Part of my debt was credit cards, part of my debt was personal loans, the majority was student loans, another big chunk was the car payment, and another chunk was the car insurance that I had gotten, finally. (June 2000 was when they mandated that all Alabama drivers have car insurance... guess who just got some?). But, at Starbucks, I was starting to make some headway. I was close to having my first card paid off, my AT&T Universal, and was saving some money up for this ring idea that I had.
The Deuce Guys were happier, especially Mikey, cause suddenly, instead of getting my rent and utility checks up last, or a few days late, I was plopping my power bill check on the bulletin board a good ten days before it was due. I mean, I was pulling at least $300 extra per month, after taxes and it was glorious.
So, its a Friday night. I pull out of The Deuce Parking Lot and onto Southland Drive. Its probably around 515ish or so, I have to be at work at 530ish, and I'm wearing my red Starbucks shirt, apron in my front seat. I leave behind Wookiee on the couch, Mikey on the other couch, Tom in his room and Shawn-Fu on the computer.
Being a Friday, traffic seems a little heavier that normal, and I pull to a stop behind another car at a red light. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, or have been gone so long from it that you barely remember this, Southland Drive is a little road that spills into Highway 31.
Highway 31 is one of the major highways in Birmingham, and if you turn right onto 31, you'll head towards the main Hoover area of the Galleria Mall and towards the towns of Pelham and Alabaster. If you turn left, which I was going to do, you'll pass turn lanes to Interstate 65, you'll go under the 65 overpass, and head into Vestavia Hills.
As I sit on Southland Drive, to my right is a small shopping center that contains Ellis Piano, the Purple Onion (to this day still a fave eatery of myself and The Lovely Steph Leann), David's Bridal (which in the years has since moved down 31) and a few other shops. To my left is a hotel that has gone through several name changes, only being a "brand name" you'd recognize just once, a long time ago. There's a restaurant there called... something or other, but Mikey and I went there once and I remembered it being terrible. The Where We Eatin' Blog would take it down, I'm sure. In the years since, the hotel has been torn down and... well, I'm trying to remember what is even there now.
So, to my right is the shopping center, to my left is the motel... and behind me at this very moment? A police officer. In a police car. And it is at this very moment that I remember... my tag is expired. Its April. I'm a "D", so that means I renew in January. Do the math.
The officer did the math, and before I could utter any sort of profanity that only I and God would hear that I might feel bad about later, the lights came on. The red light changed to green, and I wheeled over into the parking lot of the motel and turned the car off. Another ticket. This will suck. And my girlfriend, the Dating Steph Leann, who has been reminding me of getting this taken care of, will not be happy. However, my thought is to pay it off quickly, and just not mention it. That would be easier, right? Right.
Sighing, I pull my wallet out, or my dayplanner, or whatever it was that I was carrying at the time and set it on the passenger seat, and put both hands on the steering wheel. The big, black, behemoth of an officer came to my window and smiled. He looked like Eddie George, the then-Tennessee Titan running back.
"License and registration, please," he said. Then added, "Proof of insurance."
"Yes sir," I replied, friendly enough. I pulled out my license and my Geico insurance information.
"Do you know why I pulled you over, d$?"
"I am guessing it has something to do with my tag being a couple of months overdue, right?"
"Yep," he nodded, writing on his little tablet. Not looking up, he said, "Normally, if its a month late, I don't worry about it, but yours is three months past. I just couldn't let it slip." He looked up, nodded again and turned to his car. "Just sit right there for me, I'll be right back."
Eddie George got back in his police car, and I looked down at the clock. It was 5:42. I was going to be late, and I hated being late. And even worse, Eddie George was taking forever... finally, he got out of his vehicle, and walked back to the car.
"I'm going to ask you to step out of the car, d$," Eddie George said, suddenly sounding very official. Uh... okay...
I unbuckled my seatbelt, opened the door and stepped out. "Can I ask what the problem is, officer?" That is always such a cheesy movie line, until you are forced to ask it for real.
"Are you aware that you have a speeding ticket that is outstanding from 2000?"
"Uh... no. But I have a feeling I'm aware of it now."
"Please turn around, sir. I'm going to have to take you into custody."
"Seriously? Like, you are seriously going to arrest me?"
"I'm afraid so."
I turned around, and like something out a comedy, Eddie George grabbed my wrists and I felt the metal around my arms snap into place and the handcuffs were squeezed tightly. Eddie George led me to his car and opened the backseat. He nodded toward the backseat, and I climbed in.
"Well," I asked, looking up at Eddie George. "Now what happens?"
"I am a Hoover Police Officer. I've called Vestavia, someone's going to come and take you to their police station."
"Okay, officer, seriously... are these handcuffs necessary? I mean, I'm in a Starbucks shirt. You have my keys. Where am I going to go?"
"Sorry, man. Its policy. I gotta keep you there."
I then glanced over and looked at my car. Where would it go?
"Can I ask what will happen to my vehicle?"
"It's going to be impounded."
"Impounded? Like, I live right there," I nodded my head toward a clump of trees. "See those trees? I live on the other side of them. We could walk there in six minutes. Can I not leave the car here?"
"Sorry about that... its the rules. This is a private business, so it can't stay here."
"What about if... I dunno... you let me drive it, and you follow me back to my apartment. Take me in there. If I try to drive away, you know where I live, or you can just shoot my tires or something."
This got a chuckle out of Eddie George, who had had a half-smile on his face already. He seemed as if he knew I was just a guy who made a mistake, was no real harm, but he was just following the rules he had to follow. Didn't fault him for that.
"Man, if you did that and something happened, do you know how much trouble I'd be in? Gotta leave it here."
"Oh, I got it... my roommate Tom can just get the keys. I can leave them in the floorboard, he will just drive it back. Seriously, man, if you impound the car, its going to cost me like, a hundred bucks when I could stand on my hood of where my car is right now and throw a baseball through my bedroom window." Now this was a lie, because my arm strength has never been very good, but you get the point.
Again, he chuckled, but shook his head. "No can do, my man. No can do."
Finally, it was time to bring up the elephant in the room, so to speak. Say the awkward thing that was there... let's just say it.... "Did you know you look like Eddie George?"
Eddie George smiled again, "Yeah, I've been told that a few times."
"They won 11 last year. Think they'll pick up what they need in the draft?"
"Dunno, man. They need some offensive help, McNair can't do it all by himself."
"They'll be fine. They got a big year ahead."
"Oh, I agree. I see at least 10, 12 wins next season." He pushed a button on his walkie-talkie and took a few steps back.
I sat back as much as I could, though it was harder when your hands are behind your back, pressed against the plastic seat. It was a bonafide plastic bench. I looked around, traffic whizzing by, knowing that I was going to be all kinds of late, or not show up, and I glanced over toward Southland Drive. I couldn't help but grin as I saw a red Ford Explorer, with four faces glued to the window, almost like a scene in a comedy.
In the front, Wookiee, while driving, was staring out the window. Next to him I saw the face of Shawn-Fu, and behind them, I saw the face of Tom Johnson and Mikey. The Explorer was going about seven miles per hour, all faces glued on the red car that they knew was mine parked in the parking lot, and probably the shape in the backseat of the police cruiser that they knew was me.
Mikey called The Rev'rn Ty, and said only, "Ty. The (fecal matter) has hit the fan."
Coming Thursday... Arrested Development's Conclusion...