A lot of you know me from many, many years of the insane marathons that were the classic Lotuspheres.
I find now that those 18 years of preparation made for perfect training for my second unofficial career, which is big wabbit shows.
Y'all who thought Lotusphere was tough, here, read what my weekend was like:
1:45pm: I arrive at my barn. I need to feed and water the 12 Flemish Giants that are NOT going to a weekend triple show 525 miles away in South Carolina. I need to prep up the six Flemish Giants that ARE going, put them in my station wagon, provision it with enough hay and feed and water to last the weekend, and go to Falls Church, Virginia, where I have to pick up a junior doe who is also going. I am already sweating my balls off.
2:00pm: I get an email from a recruiter who wants me to do a phone interview with his boss at 3pm. I hustle up my pace, jump in the diesel, put the AC on full and haul ass to Virginia.
2:55pm: I get a followup email from the recruiter saying his boss doesn't need to talk to me, she's sending me to the client. I take five minutes and renew my AAA membership because I notice it expired July 1st.
4:00pm: Seven giants wabbits and I roll out onto the DC Beltway, laden with Gatorade, water, hay, feed, spare batteries and motor oil.
6:00pm: because it's Friday afternoon and people in the DC area drive like retarded cattle every fucking weekend, I have traveled exactly 26 miles in two hours. I am partway to Fredericksburg, Virginia, and have 499 miles to go.
7:00pm: Finally, traffic breaks up, and as we get up to interstate-grade speeds, I notice a strong vibration from the rear of the car. I pull into a rest area on I-95, and the right-rear tire is nearly flat. I didn't pack my battery-operated inflator, because I needed room for hay, feed and wabbits, but I gamble that I can make it four miles to the next exit, where I know there's a truckstop with an air hose. I lose. Two miles later, I pull the blown tire and put on the donut. I drive 23 miles on the donut and find a Pep Boys who replaces the blown tire in record time, while the staff goes goggle-eyed about the giant wabbits in the back.
8:30pm: I get back on the road, $100 poorer but with a new tire. I drive to Emporia, Virginia, fill up on diesel, eat some fried chicken, and drive for the next seven hours nonstop. I never set foot in the entire state of North Carolina.
3:30am: I arrive in Ladson, South Carolina. There's no sense in wasting $90 on a hotel room, since I have to be at the show site at 7am, so I go to the next best thing: a Waffle House. I have a lot of protein, including serious country ham, which I completely recommend. I see essentially the entire local post-bar-drunk-ass culture. I leave the waitress a huge tip, and an hour later I drive over to the fairgrounds a mile away, where the show will take place.
4:30am: I am the first person there, and am paranoid the local cops will show up and ask me to squeal like a pig. I finally decide I can nap a little bit, with the engine running and the AC on full blast (it's 80 degrees and 70% humidity at 4:30am) because someone else shows up in a huge Ford pickup with a livestock trailer on the back and a million lights, and they are obviously about to sleep in it. I sleep briefly, fitfully, and dream of bad History Channel shows about people in the deep South.
6:38am: I wake up, AC still blasting, and there are other people and the sun is coming up. The showroom opens, and we load our wabbits inside. I park the diesel in a nice shady spot.
9:00am: This is when every sing;e wabbit show in the entire country claims judging will start "promptly at." They're full of shit.
9:17am: This is when judging actually starts at this particular show. My breed, Flemish Giants, is the first breed on this particular judge's bill, so they work through the colors in alphabetical order. My first wabbit is a light gray, so he waits till after black, blue and fawn.
10:10am: my first wabbit actually gets on the table. He doesn't win, but shows decently. The big class, sandy-colored, is next, and time becomes a blur. Somewhere in there, my youngest, smallest rabbit claws the shit out of my left arm, which is usually a good sign. If I shed blood, or someone around me sheds blood, my wabbits win. Sure enough, Helen wins and goes on to be Best Of Variety in the first show.
12:15pm: I know we have a long break between the first and second shows, so I drive half a mile to the commercial center of town and get some chicken at KFC. I pull into the parking lot, and in the parking lot is... an actual chicken. I get out of the diesel, look at him (it's a white rooster), look at the KFC, look at him, look at the KFC, and ask him, "are you out of your mind???" The chicken is not fazed. I take some pictures of him wandering around the parking lot. I go inside, order, and tell the guy at the register, "y'all know there's a chicken out in the parking lot, right?" Manager says, "if you can catch him, you can have him." When I'm leaving with my order, the KFC manager is chasing the chicken around the parking lot with a broom.
12:35pm: I go to the nearby Piggly-Wiggly to get the wabbits some lettuce, and me some other stuff. The only romaine lettuce is awful-looking crap that's $4 a head, but I buy it because I am in Ladson, South Carolina and there's fuck all else. I also pick up a couple of cardboard boxes full of 500ml of what I'm sure is delightful and delicate white zinfandel, and two doses of 5 Hour Energy®. They will come in handy later in this tale.
2:00pm: the second show commences. The other colors are on the table, nothing amiss. I take my phone out to the car to plug it into the charger.
3:30pm: my colors are coming up, so I duck out to the car to discover that in an unprecedented miracle, the keys have locked themselves into the car. I've been driving for 35 years and have never locked my keys into any of my more than 20 cars, ever, anywhere, at any time. All I can figure is that I tossed the keys on the passenger's seat and my camera bag rolled over on them and hit the button. I can see the keys sticking out from under the camera bag. Either that, or being that this is the genteel South, some Good Samaritan saw that my car was unlocked and "helped me" by locking the car for me. I want to punch them in the fucking throat. I dick with the door lock with a borrowed coat hanger, cutting my right hand in the process, and bleeding. I fail to open the door.
4:00pm: after explaining to the friendly but moronic lady from AAA that no, my car does not have a valid South Carolina license plate on it because I do not fucking live in South Carolina and do you not have my home address on your fucking screen you moron and I am standing in the sun and my balls are sweating off, a driver is dispatched from nearby Charleston. I have to call them on a borrowed cell phone, since my phone is locked in the car. No, there is no number at which you can call me back, just show up and pop the lock. I am really, really glad I remembered to renew my AAA membership 24 hours ago right now.
4:25pm: AAA guy shows up, and unlocks the diesel in less than five minutes. No additional charge. George, from Jennings Towing And Recovery, you are cool as shit. Thanks.
4:30pm: I go inside to discover that my best sandy doe has won Best Of Variety in the second show, too. Things are getting hazy, so I pound the first dose of 5-Hour Energy®.
6:00pm: I am wired UP! on that 5-Hour Energy® and I am about to polish the floors with Bounty towels. The third show is about to get started. I get clawed by another one of the wabbits. A friend also sheds blood with a wabbit. Sure enough, per the Giant Wabbit Bloodshed False Correlation, Helen, Tiny White, Mario, Eloise and Tony all win their classes in the third show, and Helen goes on to win Best Opposite of Variety.
7:30pm: our breed is done, but a friend (the guy who lent me his cell phone to call AAA) asks if I can "write" for his breed, Belgian Hares. This is a task involving writing down the judge's comments, making sure the number of wabbits on the table agrees with the number that should be there, and recording the rankings on paper. I've done it before for several breeds, and that 5-Hour Energy® is kicking in bigtime, so I agree.
8:00pm: the judge is done with Belgians, so now I have to pack up seven wabbits and haul them outside into what seems like blast-furnace (or at least chocolate-making) heat, fire up the diesel, kick on the air-conditioning, and drive 40 miles up the road to the hotel my at-home cohort has picked for me, knowing I won't be able to drive 525 miles home tonight. I do not leave any wabbits or equipment in the showroom, next to the car, or on the roof, which is good. Every single part of me smells like a swamp into which someone has thrown dead cattle.
9:24pm: I check into the hotel -- oddly, one at which I've stayed many times over the years, in St. George, South Carolina. In fact, I was in this very hotel on the way home from Lotusphere 2003, and Terri Sciolla-Lynch texted me and said, "did you hear the Space Shuttle crashed?" Yeah, that exact hotel. Possibly the exact same room.
9:33pm: I successfully smuggle seven giant wabbits into the hotel room. Realizing I smell like a fecund moose, I change out of my "show" clothes -- i.e., the clothes I've been in for almost two days -- and into fresh clothes I've carried from home in a bag. I throw the wool socks in the sink to soak in wonderful hotel shampoo solution, but the underwear is a total loss. Rather than call the local hazmat crew, I simply pull on sweatpants, carry them out to the big steel trashcan in the parking lot, and throw them in. Fruit Of The Loom made more today. I'm not wedded to that particular evil pair. I take a shower. The water comes off me looking like tea.
9:52pm: I am in clean clothes, the phone is charged, wabbits have water and feed, so I go to the shitkicker bar next door to the hotel to get something to eat. I have been here before, but not on a Saturday night. Saturday is karaoke night. I have a chili cheeseburger, and endure the worst karaoke that might be mathematically possible. At some indeterminate time, I get back to the hotel room.
6:10am: I wake up after having weird dreams of Sir Mix-A-Lot and giant wabbits. After verifying all the wabbits are OK, I go back to sleep.
10:34am: I wake up for real, and for once, not waiting for the 11am checkout robocall from the desk, I load all the wabbits into the diesel, not even trying to be stealthy about it, and we get out the door. FourSquare doesn't want to know anything about me.
1:00pm: I stop in Dillon, SC for lunch at a barbecue place that prominently features "Barbecue" on their sign. It's Sunday, so it's an after-church Sunday buffet, and there's not a shred of barbecue in the whole damn building. Being as it's Sunday, though, and it's in South Carolina, there's an even balance of well-dressed middle-aged ladies in church clothes and screaming brats throwing banana pudding and okra in every direction. I leave the diesel in a shaded corner of the parking lot, running, with the AC on full, in a spot where I can watch it every minute. Nobody's gonna steal either the diesel or the giant wabbits, because if they do, man, what the fuck they gonna do THEN? They're stuck with them!
6:00pm: I fuel up one last time, and more than sixty miles from DC, I run into a 30-mile traffic jam for no fucking reason. No accident. No construction. Just an assload of people from DC who learned to drive in Georgia or Los Angeles or Bangkok or Prague and they are incensed that their $80,000 Mercedes has to sit behind this smoky VW diesel that smells like wabbit whiz, an hour from their overprices shitbox house outside DC.
8:45pm: I get back to Falls Church, Virginia. I eat meatloaf, laugh at preseason football, and I sleep for 14 hours.
2:00pm: Six of the seven traveling wabbits go back to the barn in Maryland. I am absurdly proud of them.
It's now late Monday night, or early Tuesday morning, depending on where you are. My legs and back feel like crap, I'm still sort of dehydrated. Half the wabbits are pissed off at me because they went to the show or because I didn't ask them to go, I need another shower, and I need to get more feed Wednesday. I didn't win anything of substance, just points on a championship tally. I spent probably $300. I got nine hours' sleep out of 52. I drove 1,053 miles and spent 21 hours behind the wheel.
Yeah. Seems a lot like Lotusphere.