Sunday, July 29, 2012

Antics, Fifty Bucks, and how Jeff Ragsdale Gave Me a Story to Share

            I grew up in the 80s which meant all of life’s big problems could be solved either in 30-60 minute increments or by some elaborate big scheme. The first time I watched Animal House, it wasn’t the parties, the boobies (though very nice), or even the toga party that stuck with me. It was the death mobile tearing through the streets and wreaking havoc on the squares from Faber College. As I wrote in the now famous proposal blog, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Ramming Speeeeedddd!!!!!!

            As I grew older, I found myself surrounded but not only very good and intelligent people but also quite a few characters that grew up with similar sensibilities. Back when the Big Guy was with us, we’d all gather in Savannah and the best part would come in the evenings. We’d settle on the deck facing the marsh. Many beers met their demise on that humid spot as we’d entertain ourselves by telling stories and smoke cigars.

            The Big Guy would chortle and laugh in convulsions as we’d share some of our infamous antics like the time Rags convinced the fraternity to hire strippers for rush (Sensitivity training, anyone?) Or the time Nick drank 13 shots called an oatmeal cookie which resulted in him throwing up so badly that Nick’s left eye looked like Sigourney Weaver in Alien 3. Or the time everyone showed up to the annual Quantrek camping trip at Edisto to find Gid and I about passed out with pink stained lips. We added a pint of 152 to a Strawberry Shortcake Pre-Mixed cocktail. It may sound like a bad beer commercial but good friends equals to some pretty fun times. Looking at Facebook today reminded of one of the greatest moments we ever pulled off. The Infamous Bad Tux Formal Night of the Parrothead Cruise of 2000.
No one can hear you wretch in space from too many Oatmeal Cookie shots

            It’s a pretty funny story. We had all moved up to the Atlanta area after college and gotten involved in the Atlanta Parrothead Club. Our buddy, Brent, had started an annual Parrothead cruise through the Caribbean. Of course it would be rude not to go and we did.

            This particular cruise line hosted a series of formal nights during the course for the week. Over 200 parrotheads would be intermingled with the variety of characters that ordinarily spend a week cruising the high seas. After a viewing of Dumb and Dumber, I suggested to Gid and Rags how we should show up in horrible tuxes for this event. The idea snowballed as you can see.  

            I always knew this would be good for a few laughs. What I underestimated was just how much of a surprise this would be to the rest of the Costa Victoria Cruising Community. See, some people take the night of the Captain’s Dinner as a that just right time to break out the furs and jewels usually reserved for the safe. I looked at as an excuse to wear my black Chuck Taylor high tops with my spats. Nowadays when I describe this evening, I usually use the comparison of it being one of those Three Stooges shorts when they go to a High Society Ball.

            The Captain’s Dinner starts off with a champagne/martini reception in one of the classier ballrooms. Enter Eight Parrotheads not afraid to shop on Ebay for formal wear. Three fourths of the guest couldn’t stop laughing and even kept having us pose with them for pictures. Some folks even thought we were paid entertainers to keep the party going. One-fourth was not as amused. Enter Ragsdale.
Jeff Ragsdale: Family Man, Statesman, Threat to fish everywhere

            This one lady had a serious stick up her ass about our entrance. Rags overhead her complaining about our lack of decorum and disrespect for the sanctity of Captain’s Night to her poor, overtaxed husband. He seemed like a decent Joe whose only crime was making the mistake of saying “I do” to Greta the Wonder Bitch.

            Rags love to poke the bear especially when he has had a few. Being a cruise taken in the honor of Jimmy Buffett, all of our blood alcohol levels would have been classified as jet fuel. Rags saw his moment and took it.

            In his best Mr. Mooney voice, Rags struts up to the lady in question, “Pardon me, ma’am. Mind if I join you?” I could almost hear Rags saying, ”Yesssss” to Lucille Ball.

            Greta the Wonder Bitch responds in a manner that is only egging on Rags.

“It’s a free country.”  Greta snapped. I almost groaned fro Greta. She was setting herself up for the inevitable torment that Rags was about bring along with some noise and some funk.

            Now, keep in mind how this is a cocktail party and reception. In addition to all those cute waitresses wandering around with trays of champagne and martinis, the cruise line also provided the traditional finger food and snacks expected at any cocktail party. About every two or three table would sit small bowls of Spanish peanuts. Rags saw that Greta was stationed perfectly.

            Rag’s moment to strike and he played it like an old vaudevillian comic with perfect timing. “Pardon me, ma’am, could I trouble you for a nut?” Again with the Mr. Mooney voice.

At that moment, Rags selected a Spanish peanut while attempting to peel the red skin off it then proceeded to eat it like corn on the cob,

            It was quite the sights and even Greta’s husband began to snicker. Greta was not amused. She grabbed her husband by the arm. And growled, “Well, I never.. Come on Charles.”

            Exit Greta from our lives forever except through the passing of this tale. May her bitchiness live on..

            The rest of the evening was a blur of laughs, double takes, and shots bought by amused fellow cruisers. At one point, our picture was taken with the Captain. To this day, I can’t tell if his confusion was due to the language/cultural barrier, our outfits, or a combination of both. All I clearly can remember is waking up the next morning with a serious case of the brown bag flu.

            I love my friends and all of our wacky adventures. Even though I could hear the Big Guy saying it was a rip off to buy photos from the cruise line, I sprang the five or ten bucks for it. It still hangs in my room to this day. Once while teaching Sociology, I even used it to explain how social mores work.
Kings of the World 2000

            A few years ago, we lost the gent in the Captain’s Hat. Monty was not only a character but a classy guy. He is missed. The world seems s a little smaller without his huge and exciting personality.  Monty brought style and class to everything he did. Once he made a Bloody Mary for me and it took him thirty minutes because he used over thirty ingredients.

            Fortunately, I have been lucky to keep in touch with the  rest of those guys. A few of us even made a pact to wear those tuxes at our rehearsal dinners. A waiter at the Atlanta Country Club bought Gid and I drinks for an entire because we had the balls to do so. .

            We have all settled down now but the tuxes are not mothballed yet. Every now and then, opportunity strikes. Gid wore his a few times to the Jimmy Buffett concerts. Rags dusts his off and uses his for his Sunday School Classes. Last spring, I took Kim to the High School Prom where I teach. The theme was Mardi gras so I felt festive enough to share the magic of the tacky tux. We had a blast. It’s nice to know that over ten years later this might be the best fifty bucks I have ever spent.

1 comment:

  1. Robbie,

    Thanks again for the idea, the eBay links and most importantly the memories. I still have my tux, and although my waistline is conspriring against me wearning it tonight, that photo and this post really made me want to don it once again. Great times.