BOOK 1: Rebels & Saints; a Weekend in October. CH 2.
Our fourth annual football trip promised to be our most ambitious effort yet; even crazier than last year’s cross-Texas adventure and far less wholesome than Green Bay was. Previous trips have taken us to Arlington, Austin, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Green Bay and New Orleans. This weekend would start in Memphis and end 360 miles later in New Orleans on Halloween. A wise man once said “It’s not the miles, it’s the amount of debauchery packed into those miles that counts.” Ok, it was me that said that and I’m really not all that wise. Anyway, this trip includes debauchery, depravation, beads, busses, hot tubs, hot tub propositions, a liquor locker, and so
Friday, as we lift off from LAX, I get the coveted picture of Steve slumped over and
sleeping in the most uncomfortable position imaginable on the plane. Getting that picture is a tradition on our trips, so now if felt like we were officially underway.
We arrive in Memphis to a limousine waiting curbside. There’s nothing cooler than a
driver holding up a sign with your name on it. Unfortunately, mine wasn’t on it. John’s was. Climbing inside to find a fully stocked bar waiting for us was pretty cool though. We pop cold beers and toast the start of our adventure. This weekend we’re going to Oxford Mississippi for 'Ole Miss/Auburn and then down to New Orleans for the Saints/Steelers Sunday Night game on Halloween.
But our adventure starts in Memphis, the largest city in Tennessee with a population
pushing 650,000. My only previous connection to it was watching Craig Brewer’s masterpiece HUSTLE AND FLOW, a personal favorite movie of mine. It brilliantly captured the humid, gritty tone of the city. Part of the movie was shot in a ‘club’ belonging to our Memphis host Jerry, whom we’re about to meet.
My only other time in Tennessee was in Nashville, a fun and charming city. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson, W. C. Handy, B.B. King all grew up around Memphis, renowned as the birthplace of the Mississippi Delta blues. “Welcome to Memphis, boys” I say. “Let’s try not to lose any wallets or ID’s this weekend, especially in New Orleans. I’m looking at you John!”
Off group laughs, John smiles and gives me a one-finger salute. There was a case of identity loss two years ago in New Orleans, but more on that later. Tonight, football takes a backseat to the indulgence of vices or“human weakness” as Jerry would say.
As we enter our hotel room at the Memphis Hilton we’re hit right in the face with the
smell of spilled bong water and ganja, compliments of the previous tenant or perhaps rogue room service personnel. We promptly switch rooms. Knowing tonight will end up at one of Jerry's clubs, John and I start making bets on when Steve would begin his back-out-of-going-to-the-club plan.
Sure enough, while getting ready in the hotel, Steve starts 'coughing' and mentioning he's not feeling well. I text John "someone is already starting to 'cough'. LOL was the reply. After cleaning up, the cleanest we would be the whole trip, we jump back in the limo and head to Jerry’s to pick him up for dinner.