This past weekend, Aaron and I ventured off to Jacksonville, Florida to watch MSU spank Michigan in the Gator Bowl. The entire weekend was hilariously awesome and I'm so glad I had the cahones to pry myself away from Clarkimus long enough to realize how vital getaway weekends must be to my sanity. That was a terribly long sentence. Read it again if you must.
The goal was to leave Hattiesburg on Friday morning before Clark woke up. I know myself well enough to know if I had to say bye to him for three days, I would most certainly have a complete meltdown and change my mind about the whole trip and never let him out of my vision for the rest of his life. And y'all, guess what? We did it. We left on time. On time, that is. I need to bask in the glory of that sentence for just a moment because never, ever in the history of Aaron Rice has this ever happened. Punctuality is not his forte. We left (almost) exactly when we planned to. I did a victory dance in the passenger seat at 7:30 a.m. when we were pulling out of the driveway. That is not a very important detail to the weekend, and I can't promise this post is going to get anymore exciting than that.
Anyway, as it turns out, all of the hours I spent in the car with Arnie were my favorite part of the entire trip. You see, Aaron and I are road trip champions and always have been. We spent the first four years of our courtship on the road trying to make a long distance relationship work. And it did work, by the way. We are married now. But it has been quite some time since we ventured off together without a screaming little turkey in the backseat and having to stop every seven seconds to nurse or change a diaper. So it was a bit refreshing to hit the open road and only stop when Aaron had to poop. It was a nine hour road trip that honestly felt like thirty minutes. We talked the whole time. And not about the Constitution. But about trees.
I've gotten used to this and it makes me laugh now. Aaron is the proud son of a Registered Forester and as a result, can look at a pine tree and tell me exactly how old it is and what its father did for a living. While driving, his eyes are rarely on the road because he is too busy surveying the landscape and explaining why that tree over there can kick the butt of that tree over there. He explains why the ground is too wet for such and such a tree to survive. And something about trees competing with each other for something or another. I don't know. But he enjoys talking about trees almost as much as he does about politics, and that says a lot. I bet you didn't know that about my Arnie, did you?
Back to the road trip. I knew first thing it was going to be a good trip when we stopped at Wards to get breakfast and Aaron made a last minute decision to order a Big One hamburger. The reason they call it the Big One is because, well, its freaking huge. And messy. And disgusting looking, but y'all, its dadgum good. I might have to pause my life so I can go get one right now. I proclaim this burger to be one of the best in its business, but it is by no means a breakfast burger. In fact, I've changed my mind about going to get one because I just got a visual image of Aaron sloppily inhaling the Big One at 9:00 a.m. and I just got nauseated. So after eating his burger, large fries, and an extra, extra large root beer, and a couple of gas releases that almost caused a mass exodus of everyone in the car, me, Aaron, and Susan hit the open road. Susan became our best friend on this trip, but eventually she just started creeping us out. She knew every detail about us and could even predict where we were going in life. Susan is the voice on our Tom Tom and I will take her with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life. She's a Rice now. Simply brilliant and amazing in every way.
When we weren't talking about trees or hanging our heads out the window to escape the terror of Aaron's latest bowels, we were laughing and reminiscing about the old days. The year of 2011 marks the end of a decade, and Aaron and I spent that entire decade together. That's a lot of dates, flowers, arguments, New Years Eve kisses, and embarrassing moments, and it was fun chatting about them in the car. In between conversations about the Spring Breaks we spent together and people's legs getting blown off, Aaron had to floss his teeth. Random? Yes. But you see, Aaron's New Years Resolution was to practice better dental hygiene, and he has taken this to the most extreme measure imaginable. It started off with him just acknowledging that he needed to brush his teeth at night. Because, well, he just never did that. But I still loved him. The seemingly innocent NY Resolution turned into this crazy, psychotic need to freaking floss his teeth 22.5 hours a day. It just so happens that he found these portable flosser things, so you can bet your bottom dollar that at any given moment he's got a flosser thing in his pocket, two or three in the cup holder of whatever vehicle he is in, and one behind his ear. I just love him so much. One last thing about the road trip: we bought fudge at a gas station. And it was fabulous and made me cry.
Susan took us directly to our hotel in Jacksonville and she knew the exact minute we would arrive. Creepy, right? We arrived at 6:00 Central Standard Time and upon chatting with a nice lady in the elevator, we learned the hotel was offering a Happy Hour type shindig in the lounge from 4:00-7:00 throughout the weekend. This meant we had an hour to get ready and catch the last couple minutes of the free open bar and free food. If its free, give me three, right? When we arrived to the lounge with about 15 minutes to spare, there was no evidence of a happy hour, which made us sad. It was at this moment that we should have realized the time difference. It was actually 8:00 (Eastern Standard Time), which meant it was an entire hour after the party was over. But no, no. We didn't figure this out until many, many hours later.
This was the setting we soon found ourselves in: New Years Eve, Florida, Party, Fireworks, Alcohol, Hotdogs, and more. So we decided to forego Susan and the trusty Camry and hail a cab to drive us to a Mississippi State Alumni Party. So it turns out we are in fact very smart, despite the failure to acknowledge the dadgum time change.
Remember: Over the Limit, Under Arrest (as every billboard in Mississippi likes to remind you).
Our first cab driver was a fine man named Kirk. He gave me his personal cell phone and told me to holla at him if we needed another ride. That is not an important detail to this story at all. The MSU Alumni Party we went to was fun but only for two reasons. It was overcrowded, which didn't fare well with Aaron's flatulence issues, and lines were four thousand people long for food, drinks, and potty. And Aaron started getting fidgety because he "hates places with a lot of people." His words, not mine. He can really be a turd sometimes. But I'll tell you the two reasons the party was the most awesome place on planet earth.
1. We got to hang out with my fabulous college roomie, Megan, and her hubs, Russ. It had probably been nine or more months since we last saw these two and I've missed them something awful. But getting to hang out with them all night made the painstakingly long lines completely worth it. Also, for the first time in 26 years, I ate a hot dog because I felt some intense peer pressure coming from Megan. It was pretty disgusting. Seriously, a hot dog? But I'm glad I could share the experience with my roomie. I always have so much fun with her and sometimes I'm tempted to pack up all my belongings and move to whatever neighborhood she lives in just so I can always be in her presence.
And I would be a complete failure not to mention and give props to Russ Johnson for his usage of the word "postface." Russ, it really is a word. This is the Wikipedia definition: A postface is the opposite of a preface, a brief article or explanatory information placed at the end of a book. It is a great word, and although I don't think you used it in the correct context that night, I'm so proud of you for your attempt. I bet you didn't think I'd remember that. Bring it.
2. Something happened before the party that I will never forget for the rest of my life. It was epic. It was one of those blue moon situations that just never happens. I won an argument with Aaron. I was right about something. I was sooooo very right and he was sooooo wrong. Kirk the Cab Driver dropped us off in downtown Jacksonville and we walked toward the Alumni party and eventually made our way to end of the 58 mile long line of people waiting to get in. It was ridiculously long and I was dreading it. Fortunately for us, a very nice young couple approached us and offered to sell us their arm bands at cost so that we could walk right up to the front of the line, show the security peeps the arm bands, and walk on in. The nice young couple explained they didn't want to stay at the party and had cut the arm bands off enough so that somebody else could use still use them. So we swapped cash for arm bands and I jumped for joy and started making my way to the front of the line. It was about 15 seconds later that Aaron started freaking out and saying we were scammed and blah blah blah. You would not have wanted to see Aaron and Kelly Rice standing in the parking lot yelling at each other that night. It was not pretty. I tried to explain to him that we already had exactly what everyone was standing in line to buy so we could just bust up in that party and avoid the bloomin' line. Aaron was being a stubborn turd and said he didn't think it was going to work and refused to cut in front of everyone. I repeat: turd! I'll skip over the not so glamourous details of the argument that took place in front of 2,000 MSU alumnus, but we were in fact able to walk right up to the gate, show them our arm bands, and enter the party. I gloated all night. And the entire weekend. And even five minutes ago because I thought about it again. I realize its such a small victory, but its just so uncommon for me to get something right that I have to enjoy it to the highest power when it does happen.
We partied with all the Bulldogs all night long, and by party, I mean waited in long lines for 30 minutes to get one drink or 45 minutes to use the little girls room. As I waited in these lines I entertained myself and those around me by updating my Facebook status in a way that might have been less than flattering to Aaron, but he was a darn good sport. We rang in the New Year with a sweet kiss and a beautiful fireworks show and by 12:03 we were looking for the closest exit because we are old and we "hate places with lots of people."
We were stranded in J'ville and Susan was nowhere in sight so we had to hail a cab along with 30 million other MSU alum at the party. We took the offer of a little dude riding a bike with a tiny carriage type thing attached to it (Aaron kept calling it a rickshaw, whatever that means). We told him to take us as far as $6 would go, which turned out to be about 10 yards. We hopped off the bike carriage and spotted a cab across the street to which I ran as fast as I could to in an attempt to beat all the other little turds trying to find rides. I looked like a giant fool, but thats neither here nor there. We got in the cab with four other unpleasant human beings and listened as the woman driver (whom Aaron kept referring to as a dude) told us about her lesbianism. Needless to say it was an interesting ride across town. We stayed up just long enough to destroy the large pepperoni/sausage and jalapeno pizza from Papa Johns we ordered from the cab (disgusting, I know, but Aaron loves the sausage/jalapeno combo). Pizza, hot dogs, fudge, alcohol, and Wards in one day. We could be in a documentary.
The next day was game day and I slept in until the sun was setting. Not really. It was more like 10:00, but it felt like I had completely slept the day away, and it was fabulous. We got decked out in our maroon attire and called yet another cab to take us to the stadium. The reason for the second cab is because Aaron and I have been together long enough to know and accept that being in a strange, huge city in major traffic and trying to find a cheap parking place are all the ingredients leading up to a great big fight between us. We actually ended up paying less in cab fares than we would have buying a parking pass, so all is well.
The game was dadgum awesome. Our seats were awesome. The weather was beautiful. The Bulldogs played a game we won't soon forget. In fact, Aaron watched the Gator Bowl a second time on tv two nights ago. We cheered our little bums off and enjoyed watching our friendly Michigan neighbors wallow in sorrow. I also discovered my favorite way of watching a football game: with a margarita (or two). I was dumbfounded that a stadium sold liquor. Dumbfounded I tell you. After the Bulldogs won, Dan Mullen gave a speech, Relf accepted his MVP award, and after every single Michigan fan had cleared the stadium, we started the long journey to nowhere. Remember how we took a cab? Again, we find ourselves stranded in J'ville, but this time, there were zero cabs to be found. So we walked about 14 miles into the heart of downtown until we found a very shady, sketchy, unreliable looking cab that we hopped into without hesitation. He took us to our hotel and we might have gotten the bad end of the deal on that one, but I'm not dwelling on it. Oh, and I have to mention the fact that on our way out of the stadium, Aaron and I almost got scammed out of every dollar to our name. Our identity was one pawn away from being stolen. It was crazy. Somewhere in the last two sentences I have hidden a sarcastic tone, so ask Aaron about that in your free time.
After sitting in direct sunlight for five hours and then walking 1,403 miles, we were completely exhausted. But not too exhausted to stuff our faces at the Cheesecake Factory. We ate a ridiculous amount of food and I sincerely wish I would have ordered the beef ribs that Aaron had but I will never regret ordering that piece of Snicker cheesecake. It was heaven on a plate with a ton of cool whip. That is another thing about my Arnie. Not only is he right 98% of the time, but he always, always orders the right thing at restaurants. You would think after ten years, I would have learned to just order the same thing as him, but I just haven't gotten to that special place yet. At least I know to go to the front of a line if I already have an arm band. Oops, there I go again. I'm gloating.
After our cheesecake escapade we waddled back to our hotel and crashed. And continued sleeping until about 11:00 the next morning. It was delightful. By the time we checked out of the hotel, we were feening for some Clarkimus so we decided to forego dining out in some snazzy J'ville restaurant for lunch and hit the closest Wendy's drive through. I wanted to punch myself in the face after I finished that last french fry, but I didn't. And Aaron seemed to enjoy his Double Baconator with extra bacon just fine. The ride back to Mississippi was definitely longer than the ride to Florida but not bad at all. We did a lot of talking and a lot of smack talking too. When I'm in the car with Aaron, I like to play a little game called "I'll give you anything if you can tell me who sings this." I always win at this game. He's definitely not on his A game when it comes to music of any nature, unless of course its Johnny Cash or Hank Williams. He is usually so painfully wrong and I like to point at him and make fun of him. For example, a Fleetwood Mac song same on and he guessed it was Madonna. Seriously, Arnie?
It was really an awesome weekend with the hubs. I enjoyed my time with him so much. He's so fun and thoughtful and I'm so glad he's my mate for life. And Aaron had a great weekend too. When I asked him what his favorite part of the weekend was, he said it was when MSU blocked that punt from Michigan. It is a good thing MSU blocked that punt, because if not, I guess he wouldn't have a had an awesome weekend like me. It wasn't the most flattering way to tell me he enjoyed spending time with me, but I'll take what I can get. And just because of that, I feel justified in telling the world that Aaron is currently using a pink loofa. Bring it, Aaron. You won't win.
We arrived back in Hattiesburg at 7:00, just in time to spend some much needed snuggling time with Clark before he went to bed. I'll never forget how big and perfect his smile was when he saw me walk through the door. He was so happy to see me and let me love on him for about 15 seconds until he saw his dad walk through the door. He's obsessed with Aaron and thinks his daddy is the coolest thing since sliced green beans. I dig that though. I love seeing them together.
And that ends our fabulous getaway weekend. Upon starting this post I had no idea it was going to be the novel that it turned out to be, but I guess it makes up for the three weeks I have gone without blogging. In less than 48 hours, Clark will be a one year old. I have no idea how to blog about that so it might be another three weeks or so until I work up the nerve to accept the subject matter and put my thoughts into words. Thanks for reading about our little excursion. If nothing else, I hope it helped you understand the big dweeb I married and how much I love him.