Tuesday, July 14, 2009

10 Things I Hate About Westside Sports Park

10. I hate the manly men acting like boys and the boys acting like manly men who play softball there every week.
9. I hate the way I feel at work the next day after having drunk your 32oz. tubs of beer.
8. I hate that your cheese coneys aren't as good as Skyline's.
7. I hate that most of your clientele are rednecks, a lot of whom chew tobacco and bring their elementary-aged daughters along for lack of a better place to put them.
6. I hate the beer bellies and sleeveless muscle shirts that overwhelm the place.
5. I hate the seriousness about the games and the high levels of testosterone.
4. I hate that this is the highlight of most of your clientele's week and that, with your being located on the Westside of Cincinnati, they're all connected through first or second degree.
3. I hate the bored and boring women that come to watch.
2. I hate that I spent so many drunken nights there when I was underage, and that you had no plans of limiting how many tubs I consumed even while knowing full well that I was underage.
1. And most of all I hate the way that, despite it all, I keep coming back for more week after week.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Oh, it's just a little sparrow." "C'mon Roman, it's got ears!"

My brother, his girlfriend and I stopped off at the Red River Gorge in Slade, Kentucky to do some climbing on the way to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, this summer's destination for the Cassedy family vacation. Sweaty and satisfied (from the hot, hot heat and humidity and the completion of my first 5.10 lead climb - woo hoo!), we headed through Kentucky, Virgina, and Tennessee on one back road after another to North Carolina. Understandably, before the trip commenced, many assumed we were heading to the beach, but those who know my dad well know that he would never go to the beach in the middle of the summer. Instead, our vacation consisted of a fourteen-person cabin in the mountains between Boone, NC and Blowing Rock.

Yes, we all stayed in one cabin - Mom, Dad, brother Ben, brother's girlfriend Nicole, sister Helen, sister's husband Kevin, Aunt Clare (the youngest of my dad's eight siblings) and her daughter Callie (one of my thirty-one cousins on the Cassedy side of the family) , Aunt Kathy (the oldest of the eight), Lisa (another of the thirty-one cousins) and her seven year-old son Javi, and me. The cabin was nice and spacious, with a large deck and hot tub and quality fixings (like a large buffalo head over the fireplace), and we had a grand old time drinking too much beer, eating too much food, and playing hours of board games; that's not to say, however, that there wasn't a little bit of friction.

Let's take, for instance, the many games of Scattergories that were played. Some were played peacefully (even getting so lenient as to nearly allow Aunt Clare to receive points for "Kingdom Ruling" when "K" was the letter and "College Majors" was the topic), while others were not. The games that were not so peaceful typically involved a Cassedy male (Dad, Ben or both), and hell was raised when the game became a little too subjective in their eyes. I, not totally innocent when it came to stirring things up, would not go down without a fight when "Pool" was not accepted as a body of water that started with letter "P". (Look up "body of water" on Wikipedia if you're curious).

What also made things interesting were simple things like lights - yes, like lamps and track lights - because there was often disagreement about whether or not some of what seemed like hundreds of lights should be turned on or off. The older folks turned them on to see what was written on their Apples to Apples cards, and then Ben would turn them off, insisting that we didn't need so many lights.

And of course there was sleeplessness. Those of us who were trying to sleep past 8 a.m., especially those of us sleeping in the loft, were rudely awakened by the sound of Dad trying to break apart frozen hash browns on the kitchen counter top at whatever hour. And the most memorable sleepless night was the last night when, at 3 or 4 in the morning, I awoke in the top bunk of the loft to the sound of a bat's wings vibrating frantically around my bed. As it was zipping around, I assessed the possibility of the winged creature being just a butterfly or a bird, and once I realized it was in fact a bat and once it came a little too close to my face, I unexpectedly yelped. Nicole, having noticed the bat while laying in the bottom bunk, was the only one to get out of bed when I yelped, and the two of us went downstairs to safer ground and grabbed a spatula and some other kitchen utensil for protection - I felt like John Candy in The Great Outdoors. After having had a laughing fit over the ridiculousness of the situation, Nicole and I fell asleep next to the TV, bat-fighting utensils in-hand.

There are other things that made the vacation a little more sour: Dad getting impatient with me while playing Scrabble for (strategically) using all of the time that the hourglass gave me and Dad yelling at me (and I mean yelling, even going so far as to tell me I should get my own cabin next year) when I told my mom that Kevin and I were going to play beer pong on the kitchen table. Conversely, there are other things that made the vacation a little more sweet: the scrumptious brownie cake I baked on Callie's 23rd birthday; Javi's reading to everyone from his book of tales of goblins and his dancing to our a capella rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller"; and kebabs and fireworks on the 4th of July.

Would I do it all over again? Yes - but I think on the next trip I'll take Dad's advice (for once) and get my own place. That way I won't have to worry about waking to the banging of frozen hash browns on the counter top in the morning, and I'll be able to play as much beer pong as I want. If nothing else I'll at least have an escape plan.....and maybe a tennis racket, just in case I have another run-in with a bat.