I've experienced many a misadventure with this friend. But the one yesterday will surely be among the most memorable, given the heights of its idiocy and hilarity.
A couple of months ago, this friend from Texas asked whether I was up for a road trip to Toronto for his cousin's wedding. It was going to cost several hundred dollars more to fly directly into Toronto than to come up to NYC and drive, so he figured he'd come up, hang out a bit and take a road trip.
I probably should've thought things through before answering, but I'm always up for a road trip, so I told him I was in. After all, it was about 10 years ago that the two of us rather spontaneously drove from Houston to L.A. and came away with a bundle of silly memories.
Problems quickly arose as I started to ask questions over the next few weeks. First, I asked whether I was invited to the wedding. Thought I was merely confirming the obvious. What the hell was I supposed to do on my own in Toronto, right? I heard quite a bit of hemming and hawing, so I asked whether he was invited. As it turned out, he wasn't sure, because he didn't really know the cousin getting married very well. He was going mostly because other cousins of his from Hong Kong and London were going.
So he confirmed that he was invited, but I was not. What's more, he found out that his cousin who was going to ride back with us wanted to leave on Monday instead of Sunday. Which meant what? That I'd have to take a day off work to ride in a car for 17 hours to attend a wedding that ... well, I couldn't attend.
This is all making more and more sense, right? Just you wait.
On top of the building absurdity of it all, I learned that MGMT -- perhaps my favorite band of the summer -- was playing a free show at McCarren Park Pool on Sunday afternoon. I immediately got to thinking that it was perhaps time to beg off. (Many of my friends thought I should've reached that point as soon as the idea of a two-day road trip to Toronto was raised.)
Alas, I couldn't back out. I had told him that I'd go, so I'd go. And that was that.
Well, not quite. I figured I'd only have to accompany him on the way up to fulfill my obligation; he had a cousin to keep him company on the way back. So my plan was to get a one-way rental in Buffalo and drive back Saturday night.
We headed out bright and early Saturday morning. Probably the earliest I'd gotten up on a Saturday in months. At that hour during the weekend, the city seems rather peaceful. But also rather strange. Grand Central felt like a city of tourists. And when we drove away from the car rental place, I saw what looked to be a bum picking up a pair of slacks off the ground. Strange.
The first part of the drive went smoothly enough. We made good time passing through Jersey and Pennsylvania before looping back into New York. We listened to some good tunes on the iPod. We reminisced about other stupid ideas we've come up with over the years. At some point, he thanked me for coming along, and I told him that I'd be annoyed if it weren't for the fact that this doesn't even register in the top 5 of the dumbest things I've seen him do. Soon enough, we were already almost at Buffalo.
We pulled into a rest stop so that he could change into his suit. I stayed outside to fill up the tank. Moments later, he came running back, consternation on face and full (well, sort of) garment bag in hand.
"I can't find my pants," he said, as he searched the car inside out. He was sure that he'd packed them, but the pants were nowhere to be found. Because the garment bag lacked a bottom enclosure, he started to contemplate the likelihood that he dropped them along the way to the car rental place.
And just then, I remembered the sight of the bum picking up slacks off the ground. Didn't have the heart to mention it at that moment, because he was pretty pissed. We'd come all this way, and now he'd either have to skip out on the wedding or show up looking like a dope. (Well, that second possibility was probably going to be the case regardless of the pants situation.)
I tried to calm him down and told him that we should just find a mall so that he could buy a pair of pants to make do. After he got the expletives out of his system, we went on the hunt for a Banana Republic. Along the way, he told me that he sent a text message to his cousin that said something like: "Big problem. Dropped pants. Call me." Seemed an ill-advised message to me. Now, he ran the risk of not only being the dopey cousin, but also the pervy one. But whatever. There were more pressing concerns at hand.
We tracked down a Banana Republic, and he tracked down some pants. All was (as) normal (as could be) again. He then dropped me off at the car rental center at the airport before continuing on his way to Toronto.
I checked in at Budget and was told that my name would be called when my car was ready. I surveyed the scene and noticed a large number of others waiting. And they all looked pretty annoyed. Apparently, Budget had run out of cars, and none of the other companies had any available, either. Right away, I could sense that my crazy day was not likely to end soon.
An hour went by, and I was still waiting to hear my name. I figured I might as well check the airline websites on my BlackBerry to see how much I'd have to shell out to fly home instead. Lo and behold, JetBlue had a ticket for an astonishingly low $170, and the flight would get me into the city before 11:00 p.m. I was probably going to spend about $130 for the car and gas, so it was a no-brainer. Turned out to be a blessing that Budget is such a crap company. And off I went on an unexpectedly abbreviated trip to home sweet home.
So basically, I left my apartment at 9:00 a.m. and traveled 800 miles by plane, train and automobile (but without pants) before getting home at midnight. I wasted a Saturday and blew off $170 to keep my word. But, you know, crazy as it may sound, I had fun. And it all worked out in the end, as it always does. He saw his cousins in Toronto, and I saw MGMT in Brooklyn! (Woohoo!)
Still, you can bet I'll be saving this rather large chip to cash in on a rainy day. [Oh ... if you read this, pantless wonder, think real hard about that time when you wouldn't bother driving down to Houston while I was in town to see my folks. Think real hard. And what about that time when you left me stranded at the airport in Philly during a blizzard because your "girlfriend" wouldn't "let" you drive back to pick me up? Yup. This is one hefty-sized chip I'll be cashing in some day.]