Monthly Archives: July 2015

Monday heats up

It’s Monday morning of what figures to be another emotional week. Not as emotional as last Saturday, but still enough to tug at my heart. 

Right now, I’ve got some solitude while my car is getting worked on at Morse-McCarthy Chevrolet in Overland Park. Never would have dreamed a car repair would be peaceful, but it is for me right now. 

Today is going to be brutally hot in Kansas City. The heat index is expected to soar to anywhere between 110 and 115 (45 Celsius). That is hotter than the heat index is on 95 percent of summer days in New Orleans. Anyone who has to be out in this sauna today has my deepest sympathy. It’s going to be 104 (40 Celsius) in Russell, although the heat index should be lower than KC, where it has rained so much that the ground has high moisture content, thus driving up the humidity to levels normally seen in the Deep South, but not in the Midwest. 

I’m visiting Buffalo Wild Wings this afternoon to see Lauren and Tori behind the bar, but tomorrow, it’s back to Russell. I have trips to Hays Wednesday and Thursday, first to see Dr. Custer, and then to see Crista for the first time in three weeks. 

Friday, it’s back to KC. I have to see Brittany again. I love her. And Zach. 

Liz’s last day at Buffalo Wild Wings is coming up soon. Another emotional day. On the other hand, it’s far better to go through these emotional times than not to. It means I’m loved. 

Hearts of gold

It has now been 24 hours since Brittany and Zach’s reception began. I’m still digesting what went on last night. 

It was a very heavy emotional night for me. However, it was the good kind of emotional, not the bad kind, which has happened far too often in my life. 

Brittany has been a very big reason why the bad days have happeend so much less frequently in 2015. Sure, there have been some down days. The worst was the one week in April where I really had some awful times at work. Not only did I cry during a session with Crista–one which was scheduled at the very last minute–I also cried during a checkup with Dr. Custer. However, there really hasn’t been anything that bad since. Maybe a couple of bumps, but nothing which I couldn’t quickly put behind me. 

However, when I’m around Brittany, it is nearly impossible to be down. If she sees me going down, she will always be very quick to pull me out of it. And she’s always right. I shouldn’t be down. 

I admit I nearly blew it two weeks ago when I told her I was really scared about going to her reception. Fortunately, Crista, Peggy Cox and Stacie Seube pulled me out of the funk the next day and everything was back on track. 

Crista is the biggest reason, other than the couple themselves, that I went last night. She has instileld the confidence in me to overcome just about any obstacles which once would have paralyzed me. Shannon was right when she told me last night 

If I would have missed last night, I would never have forgiven myself. Brittany and Zach might never have forgiven me, either, and they would lhave been right. Brittany has told me so many times that I matter, that she and Zach love me, that they want me to be my best, that they will always care about me. I’ve very rarely have had that in my life. If I had any sliver of a doubt, it was erased last night when Brittany came running in her wedding dress outside the ballroom just after arriving and threw her arms around me. 

With all the shocking and sad stories about men who cheat, men who abuse their significant others, and women who sometimes do the same, it’s so wonderful to see a loving couple whom I know is deeply committed to one another. Brittany will never have to live in fear, because Zach is the type of man who would never do something to cause her harm. 
I have lost contact with so many friends through the  years. I don’t believe this will be the case with Brittany and Zach. I hope we’re as good of friends 30, 40, 50 years from now as we are today. With these beautiful people, I’m confident we’ll enjoy many more good times together. And also be there for each other in the bad. 

Brittany and Zach, I know I’ve said it so many times this weekend, but I love you. Very very much. And I always will. 

One enchanted evening

Over two hours after I returned to my hotel in St. Joseph, and I’m still awake.

This is the good kind of still awake at 2:30 a.m., the kind which comes from the built up energy from a big event. I have usually felt it after driving home from a football game, a basketball game, a track meet or other sporting event.

Right now, it’s all because two people who love each other completely invited me to be a part of the biggest day of their lives.

I arrived at the reception hall, The Grand Ballroom in downtown St. Joseph, just before 6 p.m. I then began to saw people dressed up entering the building, and I began to get a little worried.

I was worried that I was underdressed for the event. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I bypassed the shirt and tie for something which would be more appropriate, at least to some, at a barbecue: tropical print silk blend shirt, pale yellow shorts (which came down to the knees), green Polo Ralph Lauren socks and all-white Stan Smith Adidas sneakers. I even wore a new cologne from Lacoste and used the Soda scented after shave from Wm. Neumann for the first time. The only thing not new was the blue dial Fossil watch.

Turns out I was fine. Many other people showed up in polo shirts and shorts, and a lot of people were in polo shirts and long pants. I was better off the way I was because the ballroom was not air conditioned. There were fans keeping it bearable, but it should have had air conditioning. Sure, St. Joseph isn’t New Orleans, Houston or Miami in the summer, but it’s still brutally hot most of the time.

I went inside at 6:15, and the only person there I knew for the first 30 minutes was Tori, who was one of the two bartenders for the event. We took a couple of pictures together and I waited for other people I knew to show up, which finally came at 6:45 when Shannon and Kyndal from Buffalo Wild Wings came in.

A little after 7, Brittany, Zach and the rest of their party disembarked from a large van (no limo??!!) in front of the ballroom. I went outside to catch a glimpse. I didn’t expect Brittany and Zach to greet me, which would not have bothered me, but when Brittany saw me, she came up and hugged me as fast as she could. Zach hugged me too.

The newlyweds were very impressed by the video I made for them Friday. I recorded it on my phone at the Courtyard before I left. I let Alex, Raymie and Liz see some of it before I posted it for Brittany and Zach Friday night after 11.

Lisa was in the bridal party. She looked beautiful in her blue dress. She announced she and Jeff will be having a boy in late December, and they’ve already picked out a name–Liam Gearhart Daniels. I gave Lisa the $200 gift card from Dillard’s which i picked up Thursday. She and Jeff loved it, of course.

Raymie, Casey, Lindsey, Stephanie and Ashlie from Buffalo Wild Wings showed up, as did Sandra Rodriguez, who worked there through the first half of 2014 before leaving. Lindsey and Ashlie were there with their husbands, Justin and Ryan, a couple of good guys.

Alex Mullinax was supposed to make it, but her boyfriend, Justin, was sick. Raymie didn’t come with Brennan, her boyfriend, so I was kind of surprised Alex would miss it. She could easily have come alone. Oh well.

Zach’s grandmother made Brittany’s dress. It was amazing. Words would do it no justice. Vera Wang could not have designed a more beautiful gown for the bride. Brittany showed me a few pictures of the dress two weeks ago, but I didn’t know it would be this beautiful on her until last night.

I got to dance with Brittany–twice. I was the first to pony up money into the hat, so I got to dance with the bride first. Then I danced with Zach, which drew huge laughs from the Buffalo Wild Wings gals, especially Shannon. I got the last dance with Brittany, too, and Shannon got pictures of that.

Brittany and Zach left 45 minutes before the reception ended. I was one of the last ones out of there at 11:10.

Tori and Jordan, the other bartender, gave me some pop to enjoy. Brittany encouraged me to take cupcakes baked for the occasion, and I did–18 to be exact. Some will be going to Liz later today at Buffalo Wild Wings, since she had to work last night.

I felt bad Liz couldn’t make it. She told me it was fine, though. When she and Sean get married, i’m sure I’ll be invited. I’ll do all I can to make sure Brittany and Zach get an invite, too, but if the wedding is in Michigan, we’ll have to figure something out on how to get there.

I also felt bad Morgan Gilliland, whose seven month old daughter, Faith, is ridiculously cute, couldn’t make it either. Felt bad there, too.

All in all, a beautiful night with people I care about deeply, and who care about me deeply as well. I hope Brittany and Zach and I can remain friends until, as Liz once put it, we’re all old and feeble and walking around with canes. Of course, I’m getting there faster than Mr. and Mrs. Morgan since I’ve got a good head start (10 years on Zach, 13 on Brittany).

In a few hours, I’ll be back in Kansas City, sitting on the same barstool at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m sure the reception will be the conversation. But I’m looking forward to that.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, I wish you nothing but a lifetime of happiness. Nobody deserves it more.  Love, Foots

Anticipation and (a little) anxiety

Less than three hours until the reception. Less than two hours until I leave. I’m thinking I’m departing between 5:30 and 5:45 to make sure I’m there in plenty of time.

I’m so happy for Brittany and Zach. I never would have dreamed when I first met Brittany two nights after Christmas in 2013 that something like this would blossom. She was so much different than any of the other ladies who work or have worked at Buffalo Wild Wings. She was so warm, so friendly, even to those she had never seen before. The second time she saw me, she greeted me like I was a regular. Even Liz did not warm up to me that quickly.

I’m so glad Brittany and I have developed a bond. It will keep me coming back to Kansas City, even though Lisa has already left for Chicago, and LIz will soon be moving to Colorado Springs. If I quit coming, I’m sure Brittany (and Zach) would never let me hear the end of it.

I don’t have many male friends. Especially male friends close to my age. The only one I can think of is Sean Spoonts, Russell High School’s athletic director, who is the same age as me. Larry Bernard, Russell High’s principal, is 62. I hope to grow closer to Zach in the coming weeks, months and years.

I’m hoping one day Brittany and Zach will grace my parents and I with their presence in Russell. I would love nothing more than to introduce one of my closest friends and someone I hope will become one of my closest friends to my friends in western Kansas. I also would love for Brittany to meet Crista. She’s a big reason why I’m coming instead of declining the invitation.

Well, nothing more left to do than round up everything and drive down.

Name game

I teased Brittany a couple of weeks ago that when she got married, she would have the same name as an actress from the 1980s.

Only the first and last names are reversed.

Morgan Brittany was best known as Katherine Wentworth on the hit CBS prime time show Dallas. She played the role for 56 episodes over six seasons between 1981 and 1987.

I also remember Ms. Brittany making several appearances on The Love Boat in the 1980s. I will let Mrs. Morgan see one of those which is on YouTube right now. She might get a good laugh or two.

It’s 2:45 and I’m starting to pace. Just like me to pace before a big event. I figured I would leave a little earlier than usual so I can get there in plenty of time and get a parking space.

Reception closing in

I’m less than six hours away from leaving my hotel room and heading to downtown St. Joseph for the big reception. Brittany and Zach are tying the knot this evening. I’m so happy for both of them. They truly love one another, and Brittany always talks about him in such glowing terms. However, I don’t think it’s an act. If it’s true that true love conquers all, Brittany and Zach will be conquering quite a bit together.

My first wedding reception in almost 16 years. The good news is I will know more people at this reception than I did at the first two weddings/receptions I attended combined. Many of the ladies from Buffalo Wild Wings will be there. Lisa is in the wedding, Tori will be the bartender at the reception, and Alex, Raymie, Shannon, Molly, Casey, Lindsey McClain and so many others will be there. I’m disappointed Liz isn’t coming, but she told me it would be okay. I promised Liz I’d get her a piece of cake.

At Adam Young’s wedding in 1997, the only others there I knew besides the groom were Michael and Robin Bonnette, and Lee Feinswog. There weren’t as many people at Bill and Yvette Franques’ wedding in 1999 as I thought there would be. The only ones there I knew besides the bride and groom were Dan Canevari, who was in Bill’s wedding part; Mike “Bones” Boniol, an equipment manager for the LSU baseball team; and Amanda Fornea, who helped out around the office. Scooter Hobbs, the longtime LSU beat writer from the Lake Charles American Press, showed up at the reception. Herb Vincent showed up at the reception, but by that time, I was on my way back to Baton Rouge.

It’s better that I’m not bringing a date. It will allow me to capture the memories, which will be far more important than a date. I would have invited someone I know from western Kansas, but that would have meant a hotel room and all kinds of hassle. No, I’m better off this way.

I’m glad this reception is indoors. It is terrible outside. 88 degrees (31 Celsius) and 67 percent humidity adds up to a heat index o 97 (36 Celsius). OUCH. Reminds me of Louisiana. I feel for any poor people who have to get all dressed up for an outdoor wedding today. I’m NOT getting dressed up for the reception. First, I don’t have any dress clothes to fit me. Second, I didn’t want to travel all that way with the clothes. Therefore, I’m going to look like Panama Jack. Or Panama Foots.

Still have to get ready. Lucky for me, I can be ready to go in 15 minutes. No hair to worry about, that’s for sure.

Northward bound

I’m almost packed up and ready to leave the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs. I would have stayed through the weekend, but I figured it would be too much hassle to drive to and from St. Joseph tomorrow. Therefore, I’m staying there tonight and tomorrow night and returning south Sunday. I go back to Russell Tuesday because of my appointments with Dr. Custer Wednesday and Crista Thursday.

Got a little emotional last night. I shouldn’t have. I overthink these things too much. Everything will be fine tomorrow at the reception as long as I don’t lose my cool. I’m getting better, but I wonder if I will have one of those moments.

Thought about making a side trip from St. Joseph to Omaha this evening, but that’s not likely. Expecting some bad weather to move in and linger into early Saturday morning. Now as for most of Saturday, either (a) I have to stay in the room until it’s time to leave, or (b) go out early, then go back and get ready. I’ve thought seriously about an early morning shower–like 1 to 2 a.m.–go out to Dunkin Donuts or somewhere for breakfast, then go back, relax and take another shower around 4:30 to be ready to leave by 6;15. It’s not a big deal either way.

First, I have to record a video for the happy couple, and then go to Buffalo Wild Wings. At least that I know.

(Classic) Coke was it

Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of one of the biggest moments of pop culture of my formative years. Since I’m going to be engrossed in a certain someone’s wedding reception, I’ll get to it today.

And it all revolved around a soft drink, one which had changed its formula less than three months prior.

On April 23, 1985, Coca-Cola announced a new formula, one which was supposed to be sweeter than the original, which had been unchanged since cocaine was removed from the list of ingredients at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. While Coca-Cola was still the number one drink of choice throughout the south, including my hometown of New Orleans, it was losing share rapidly to Pepsi in other parts of the United States.

In fact, my dad refused to drink Coca-Cola. That’s right, my mother, who was drinking Diet Coke by 1985 after switching from TaB, the only diet beverage The Coca-Cola Company had in its portfolio prior to 1982, bought my dad Pepsi. He grew up in Russell, and Kansas was big on Pepsi, not Coca-Cola. In a lot of states outside of the old Confederacy, Coca-Cola was associated with the South, with the losing side in the Civil War, and in the late 1950s and early 1960s when my dad was growing up, Coca-Cola was also derisively called “Redenck Cola” by many northerners, more than a few of whom associated Coca-Cola with racism and the Jim Crow laws which ordered separate facilities for whites and Negroes. .

Coca-Cola’s headquarters are in Atlanta, a progressive city in a state which was still ruled by the rural white interests at that time. Even though Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got his start preaching in Atlanta’s Ebeneezer Baptist Church, Georgia still elected notorious racist Lester Maddox as governor in 1966. In the Democratic primary, Maddox defeated  a peanut farmer from Plains who also favored segregation. Unfortunately, we had not heard the last of James Earl Carter Jr.

Pepsi was considered “Yankee Cola” by many in the south and still is in many areas, although Pepsi has a strong presence in Alabama, thanks to the Buffalo Rock bottling plant in Birmingham, which distributes Pepsi throughout the Yellowhammer State. In fact, the Alabama Crimson Tide are sponsored by Pepsi, the only Southeastern Conference school to buck Coca-Cola. But in many southern restaurants which serve Pepsi–including Dreamland Barbecue and Baumhower’s Wings in Alabama–waiters and waitresses must ask if Pepsi is okay when someone asks for a Coca-Cola.

What most people don’t realize is Pepsi was started in Raleigh. As in the capital of North Carolina. Last I checked, North Carolina was one of the 11 Confederate states.

Coca-Cola hired Bill Cosby as its main spokesperson for New Coke. However, even the star of the number one show in prime time TV at the time could not convince loyal Coca-Cola drinkers that the New Coke was better than the old formula.

Some people were afraid of the switch to the point they hoarded the old formula. One such man was Gay Mullins, a retired advertising executive from Seattle. He borrowed $120,000 and around Memorial Day started a new club, The Old Coke Drinkers of America. He began to lobby Coca-Cola headquarters, including CEO Roberto Gouizeta, to bring back to the original formula.

Pepsi took advantage of the apathy over New Coke and began to heavily cut into the market share of its archrival.

Although Gouizeta was a staunch defender of New Coke right up until his 1997 death, he finally relented to public pressure, and on July 11, 1985, Coca-Cola Classic was born and quickly returned to the shelves.

How important was the reintroduction of the old formula? ABC News interrupted General Hospital (in the Eastern and Central time zones), One Life To Live (Mountain) and All My Children (Pacific) for a special bulletin, which was announced by World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings. My mother was addicted to AMC and OLTL in the mid-1980s, but she did not watch General Hospital. Thankfully for her, Jennings’ interruption did not affect her as much as it might have.

By July 1986, Coca-Cola Classic was far outselling New Coke. By 1991, New Coke had disappeared from the shelves in the Big Easy.

Buffalo Wild Wings switched from Coca-Cola to Pepsi in early 2014. I was upset Coke Zero was no longer on the menu, but as you can see, it has not stopped me from going and going and going and going.

In case you’re curious, TaB is still around, although it can only be found in certain areas, like Kansas City. Much like Pibb Xtra and Pibb Zero, the former Mr. Pibb, which is not available in Russell, Hays, Wichita, Hutchinson and most of northwest Kansas.

Maybe Billy Joel had it right in “We Didn’t Start the Fire”….rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore!

Waiting game really on

I guess the coutndown to Saturday evening in St. Joseph is now official for me. I arrived in Kansas City a few minutes before 4, stopped at Dillard’s in Zona Rosa to pick up a gift card for Lisa and something for me, and then went to Buffalo Wild Wings, where I am now.

I spent most of yesterday by myself. My parents left Russell at 6:30 a.m. to drive to Kansas City so my dad could undergo a CT scan at the Univeristy of Kansas Medical Center. They then went to the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway before coming back this morning. 

The only time I wasn’t alone yesterday was when I was in Hays for lunch with Peggy and Caitlyn Cox and Raegan Vanderplas at Gella’s. Peggy asked me to meet her and Caitlyn there, and then Raegan, who played at Phillipsburg from 2008-2011 and then at Fort Hays State 2012-14, tagged along because she was ast Caitlyn’s club team practice. 

Gella’s is a Hays institution. I had never been there, and neither had my parents. That shocked everyone else, who had been there often. 

Gella’s is very similar to The Chimes in Baton Rouge. Expansive menu, many beers on tap, casual atmosphere. I had the steak salad, which was very good. I am not a big salad eater, but I couldn’t pass it up. 

Elaine and Frank Mercer have raved about Gella’s. I guess I’m going to have to tell my parents about it. The only problem is parking. More than one person  took up two spaces on the street. In New Orleans, that person would have been towed and had to pay a pretty penny to get the car out of hock. 

I don’t know why I am so excited about a wedding reception. I was quite blase about the two previous weddings I attended. I guess Brittany has had that effect on me. Her bachelorette party is tonight. From what I’ve heard, Zach isn’t having a bachelor party. 

I leave tomorrow evening for St. Joseph. Going to have a day to kill Satruday. But I’ll make do. 

Britt’s big day is almost here!

I am now less than five days away from attending what will be, at least for me, my biggest social event to date in this millennium.

My dear friend Brittany Davidson and the love of her life, Zachery Morgan, marry Saturday in St. Joseph. Their reception follows at 7 p.m. at a downtown ballroom.

I cannot and will not miss it. Brittany has been one of the best things to happen to me, at the very least since moving to Kansas ten years ago. I have to argue she ranks above almost everyone else right now, only trailing my family, Peggy Cox and a select few others as to people who are of utmost importance into my life. As far as Buffalo Wild Wings goes, she’s 1A right now with Liz, but she’ll move to 1 alone when Liz leaves for Colorado Springs very soon. If Zach won her heart for life, he is a hell of a man. I’m honored they would want me to share in their big day.

That’s about all I could think about during my long and arduous travels through Nebraska and back into Kansas last Friday. I enjoyed the pictures at the former Rosenblatt Stadium, T.D. Ameritrade, the Cornhuskers’ Memorial Stadium and the Nebraska capitol, but the countdown to the big day for Brittany and Zach is really gnawing at me. In a very good way.

Brittany has told me time and again she wants me there. She does have some concern that I will lose my cool and melt down as I have in the past, but those fears aren’t as bad as they might have been before I started therapy with Crista.

I’m sure a lot of my friends at Buffalo Wild Wings, especially Alex, Tori, Raymie and the recently departed Lisa, will also be sad if I din’t make it. Don’t want to let them down.

Crista has really helped me put my life together. I still have my flaws and my concerns, but who doesn’t?

I have only been to two weddings in my life. The first was in July 1997 at a small chapel on the LSU campus between Adam Young, a former colleague of mine in the LSU sports information office, and former LSU volleyball player Luciana Santana, who came to LSU from Sao Paulo and ended up staying, much to the benefit of everyone at LSU. They now make their home in Bossier City in northwest Louisiana. I was not going to go at first, but Michael Bonnette, who was a groosman, convinced me to go. He and Robin (who was six months pregnant with their first son, Peyton) was there, as was Lee Feinswog and Brenda LeBlanc, who had been married less than a year at that time.

The second wedding was the Saturday before Thanksgiving 1999, when Bill Franques married Yvette Lemoine in Bunkie, her hometown. My father has nothing but bad memories of Bunkie; it was in the Avoyelles Parish town where a large rock casued a huge crack in the windshield of the family’s Oldsmobile station wagon during our June 1986 trip to Russell. Fortunately for my dad, (a) we sold the station wagon one month later to purchase my mother’s new Oldsmobile Delta 88; and (b) he only had to drive through Bunkie one more time, since Interstate 49 was completed to bypass Bunkie by 1990.

Bill and Yvette met at Michael’s July 1995 wedding in Opelousas. Yvette and Robin Arnaud were best friends at Bunkie High, and they took turns standing in each other’s wedding, although Michael did not attend Bill’s because he was on LSU business with the women’s basketball team in California. Bill and Yvette dated for four years before getting married, and some of us associated with LSU’s baseball team, led by Bill’s close friend, Dan Canevari, and equipment manager Mike “Bones’ Boniol, teased him mercilessly about Yvette. I joined in sometimes with trainer Shawn Eddy and assistant coach Bill Dailey.

Yvette was not a frequent topic of conversation at the Ivar’s sessions with Bill and Jim Schwanke. We had other things to worry about.

I was not in any mood to drive from Baton Rouge to Bunkie that day. I had been sick most of the week week with diarrhea and vomiting; it sometimes came out simultaneously at both ends. I won’t go into any more detail. The night before the wedding, I covered a high school football game between Eunice and Capitol at Baton Rouge’s Memorial Stadium (Capitol 9, Eunice 0) and ended up going out to eat with some peple thereafter, not returning to my apartment in southeast Baton Rouge until after 1 a.m.

The next morning, I was groggy and still not 100 percent, but I got dressed and made the drive northwest. I got to the church in Bunkie at 11:30 for the 1 p.m. ceremony. Bill and I actually talked for a few minutes before the church opened.

The reception was in Cottonport, another small town in Avoyelles Parish. I lasted 20 minutes. I decided to get back to Baton Rouge before dark.

No such worries this time. I’m staying in St. Joseph. I’ll be well-rested. And I don’t want to leave my friends too early.

I got back to Russell just before 7 pm.. Friday–in time to watch a Shark Tank rerun. I have not left 1224 North Brooks since.