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Welcome to Detroit

Well, I survived Detroit and Wrestlemania! I guess I didn't really know what to expect. I hadn't heard anything positive about the D before. Only tales of abandoned boarded up or burned out houses, crime, unemployment and a depressed economy. But a particular Detroit guy painted a much different picture. He had Detroit pride. It was infectious. I've been talking to him since January. It really wasn't supposed to happen – I was only to talk to him about Wrestlemania! I was being “interviewed” on my non-existent Wrestlemania knowledge to see if I was worthy of a ticket. I passed thanks to Google and some hints from the other Detroit boys who were in earshot of the conversation. We talked for an hour and again the next day for five. Four the next day...you get the idea. A chance introduction turned into long hours on the phone, e-mail chains between the group and a 100% chance this Detroit weekend was going to include plenty of debauchery and liver endangerment.

The trip turned from something I never really thought would materialize to holy shit, I leave in 10 days. You can lose a guy in 10 days! And then I started to panic. What if I'm interrupting guys' weekend even though they all swore it wasn't so? What happens if he doesn't like me? What if I don't like him? What if I do? What if I really do? What if I'm distracted? What if I do something I shouldn't? What if I get drunk and agree to move to Michigan? Sigh.

Tom got in about 90 minutes before me. He and his Dad were at a hotel having a few brews waiting for my flight to arrive. I waited for them outside the baggage claim area soaking up the nice weather and watching people greet each other with excitement. I was excited to see Tom and anxious to meet the crew. I was imagining my own blissful airport greeting. I must have had a ginormous smile on my face because I noticed an older gentleman noticing me. He flashed me an appreciative smile. He walked by once, hesitated, went inside and came back out and said, "I just have to tell you, I haven’t seen a smile like that in years. You must be really happy – it’s just radiating off of you!" I thought I'd better tone it down a bit, I didn't want to give myself away!

Tom and his Dad picked me up and we headed to the house that Tom built. From the freeway, neighborhoods were interrupted by the shells of abandoned houses, some were badly burned and it was sad, but I was too frigging elated to be affected. I got to have dinner and play Keno with Tom and his parents and then we drug the old man out to the Suds Cellar for some cocktails. The whole gang was there so I got to distribute my Wrestlemania paraphernalia. We worked the jukebox over while the guys reminisced. Good times. And only a taste of what was to come.

Rich took me to work, Joe picked me up around noon. We hit a liquor store for the Jumping Bomb Angel shot ingredients (go into a party store in St. Clair Shores with an Asian and have her ask for sake, it was hilarious). After our unsolicited green tea lesson, we headed directly to the Shores Inn. I started the Hall of Foam beer tour and Kopah met us. We had a couple shots and the boys had a few boombas. I managed to stretch a single beer over 3 hours. I tried to nap in Kopah's truck but thanks to a nearby car alarm, no cigar. I was already exhausted and it was only 5pm. No rest for the weary, we headed to Jeff and Josh's keg party. Rich arrived shortly thereafter. Here I presented him with his gallon of Crown tucked neatly in a swivel stand. There were shots. I had Joe give me my last rites. We went on a wild sushi chase and ended up at Waves where Josh had too much fishbowl and Tom rescued me. We headed to Mike & Jen's. Rich & Kopah joined and we were off to a little hole in the wall filled up with karaoke. Bad karaoke. But good company :)

Rich & I had breakfast Saturday morning and walked around Royal Oak. Picked up some cannolis and gourmet flavored popcorn before heading back to his house. We watched The Boondock Saints and were lazy until it was time to meet the boys for dinner at Thai on Main. Those of you who know me, know I play the Asian card affectionately and often. I mean, I was charged with designing a shot and I called it the Jumping Bomb Angel after the famous Asian wrestling tag team of the 80's. So you won't be surprised when after the waitress took our drink order and disappeared into the kitchen, Kopah asked me, "So, do you know her?" You might recall the White Bear Story. Hilarious! So we're musing over the menu and Joe's having a hard time deciding what to order. They're asking me since clearly I’m the Asian cuisine expert and all of a sudden, there's this sound from the kitchen. Not just any sound. An animal sound. A freaking drawn out "Meow". I'm not kidding – you can't make this shit up! Kopah again doesn't miss a beat and says, "Well, I guess that's the special!" Turns out, it was just a baby crying, but it was too late, we were all just about on the floor we were laughing so hard. We had a nice dinner and headed down the street to Cafe Habana for Mojitos. We had two before Tom arrived and a third, maybe a fourth followed. This proved to be the last place I remembered to count my drinks. Swell.

We continued watching my teams lose the Final Four games at O'Tooles. This is where things apparently got out of hand. We have a gigantic tube full of Newcastle and my stomach is still full of rum! Eventually, we have sister waitresses, Rich buys all of the test-tube shots from the shot girl and I am sure I'm going to be seeing double before the night is through. Lucky for us, there were 38 shots purchased so we can easily refer to this as the .38 Special. I was slap happy and not in the way you'd think. There were camera phone pictures... yikes. I don't know if we went to the Rock or not, not because I was in that bad of shape, more so because I'd stopped paying attention. We did go to Andiamo's. I know that for sure because Rich and Kopah ripped Tom's jeans in an effort to Daisy Duke him. There is definitely something about the D that I will never understand :)

We managed to get back to Rich's. I put on my iPod while Rich and Tom put away some Johnny Walker Blue and I read magazines before passing out half on the couch and half on the footstool. That doesn't sound bad in and of itself but my legs were on the couch with only my elbows on the footstool i.e. nothing below my stomach. I have no idea how I managed to fall asleep this way. Oh yeah, that's right, I didn't... I passed out! I did wake up once to check on the boys to find them playing with swords. I wisely retreated upstairs. Last time I was around two boys play fighting, I was inadvertently knocked out by an uppercut. Still rings my bell just to think of it!

Wrestlemania is upon us... and we were still wrecked from the night before.

Kopah handed me a beer. When he realized I had no intentions of opening it, he opened it for me. We got to downtown Detroit and took over the patio at Coach’s Corner. I devoured a chicken sandwich, seriously, it didn’t have a chance and tried to shake the well, shakes. Rich took off, without saying goodbye I might add, and we headed to Ford Field around 5:30 and were shocked by the crowd. Turns out there were over 80,000 people in attendance! Ford Field employees were ushering us around the back of the stadium telling us lines at the front were over an hour long. It was madness! We grabbed an $11 beer and found our seats. It was a great spectacle, they left nothing out – fire, lights, insanity. We had pretty good seats but Ford Field is huge and the ring is so small that we did end up watching the jumbo-tron some of the time. The masses booed every wrestler that I knew by name, but I found myself cheering anyway. Yes, as in any sporting event, I couldn’t help myself! After the show, we headed to Bookie’s. Rich was there with some friends and let’s just say I had some catching up to do. I managed to soak up enough alcohol to numb the senses before the party bus arrived. It was then that I realized that I was a survivor!

Rich dropped me off at Tom’s Monday morning. Tom, his Dad and I headed to Comerica Park for the Tiger’s opening day block party. We took the people mover so I got to see the different parts of downtown. It’s not a big-city-downtown, but it has a big footprint. No pretty skyline or interesting architecture really to speak of and still the boarded up buildings and broken windows were scattered throughout. They’re renovating, building up lofts and condos. It sort of feels unnatural though, I couldn’t put my finger on it. The ballpark is incredible, however. The area around Comerica and Ford Field has a new face and seems to be a more happening place. I bought a hat, we walked around, ate, laughed. I was my usual easily amused self. At one point, I reached through the gate at Comerica Park and took a picture of myself. I said, there, that’s my picture at Comerica Park. Tom’s Dad says to Tom, she’s easily entertained isn’t she? All we’d have to do is find a ball of yarn – she’d be entertained for hours! Tom’s family is great. I had such a great day and the weather was gorgeous. We all dropped $20 at the MGM Grand Casino before heading home. I fell asleep in the car. The true test of comfort. Tom and I went to see 300 which was great. I hear people complaining about the weak or inaccurate story but the visuals more than made up for it. Of course it will be filled with gratuitous violence, but isn’t that the draw? Tom was on the phone with Rich when I came out of the ladies room. He seemed anxious to pick me up and it was kind of cute. We went to the grocery store and he made me dinner. We got an authentic Slurpee at the 7-11 and watched the Black Donnelly’s. Was kind of hard to believe it was my last night in Detroit!

I’m not going to detail the travel horrors, only the good stuff makes the cut. After all, I think I’ve already written a book.

Even though I survived Detroit, I didn’t make it unscathed. I got really sick Tuesday, had a fever so took it easy all day while Rich worked. I did walk up to the 7-11 to get another taste of the Slurpee and hysterically, I got lost on the way back to his house. I walked by the same house with the humungous easter display about 8 times. I had to ask a mail carrier for directions. Only I would get lost going to the corner store! Turns out I had walked past his house once, I had the house number wrong in my head. His pup Maddy was probably going crazy watching me walk past! I was kind of sad when he brought me to the airport, it was the first real non-working vacation I’ve had in years and I had such a great time! I bought a few souvenirs, ate at the Coney Island and boarded the plane. And my liver breathed a sigh of relief.

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