I’ve had a few birthdays. Well, more than a few, honestly. They’ve generally been just plain old days, filled with “Happy Birthday’s,” dinner, and maybe a gift or two thrown in for good measure. No big deal, really. This year, though, that changed. This year’s birthday was different than any I’ve had before. Sure, there were “Happy Birthday’s”. There was dinner. There weren’t, however, a lot of wrapped boxes thrown at me in an attempt to make me feel better about my age or whatever. So what was it? It was mystery. It was suspense. It was fun and relaxation and awesome! Let me explain.
This or That
Friday afternoon I received a message from my girlfriend.
“Your weekend of ‘this or that’ begins now. All weekend you will have choices. Some will be direct, some will be indirect. But it will always be this or that.”
The weekend started off with my first choice: sushi or dinner at home. You’d think that would be a no-brainer. Honestly, though, it was a very hard decision. One one hand, the thought of a nice, quiet dinner at home, just the two of us, was nice. But so was sushi. I kept going back and forth, trying to decide. The deciding factor was when she told me what sushi place she was talking about, which was a Japanese restaurant with the fancy grill where the guys do all the tricks and stuff. Yep. That was all it took. Sign me up for that. We had a nice, relaxing dinner of sushi, bulgogi, and some of the best fried rice I’ve ever tasted. Then, it was home to relax.
I had been told to be ready by the time she got home from work Saturday morning. Well, let me tell you.. what a morning! The call of nature woke me up super early, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Especially when I looked at my phone, saw the time, and realized that I had a ton of stuff to get done in the next 5 or 6 hours. Never before has packing caused me so much stress. Since I didn’t know what to expect (remember..mystery) I wasn’t sure what all to pack.
- Slacks, dress shirt and tie.. check.
- Jeans and T-shirt (the kind without the stupid sayings, by request).. check
- shoes.. socks.. yeah, all the basics
- Oh.. no free WiFi, you say ? No problem. *packs laptop, charger, HDMI cable, throws some movies on a thumbdrive for good measure.. more about that later LOL.
- Let’s not forget the myriad of charger cables, USB charging station, iPad (because you just never know). Swim trunks. Toiletries. Lions. Tigers. Bears, oh my!
The more I packed, the more I stressed. By the time it was done we had about 4 bags laid out ready to go. You’d think we were going to disappear in the wilderness for weeks by the size of the pile. I spent most of the morning running around the house, up and down stairs, to the garage in search of more bags, up the stairs to deposit them on the bed (that I was so very tempted to just throw myself back into every time I neared it), back down the stairs because I had forgotten one thing or another. Finally, I was finished packing my part. Now to wait for her to come home and pack hers. Finally, the moment arrived.. she walked in the door, up the stairs, and 10 minutes later we were loading stuff into the car. Well, that figured. Hours for me to pack. Just a few minutes for her to grab what she needed. What alternate reality had I woken up in?
We loaded everything into the car and hit the road. It wasn’t really a very long trip, but for much of the trip there wasn’t anything to see.. rolling flat land, trees, a car flipped on its side along the highway. Let’s not forget about the insane rain, either. It got so bad that we had to pull off the road at a rest stop for a few minutes because we just couldn’t see the road. But then we hit the outskirts of our destination.
Traffic, traffic, and more traffic. Have I mentioned that the traffic was insane? My anxiety levels went through the roof just being surrounded by so many fast-moving vehicles, multiple lanes, and overpasses that would confuse even the sanest brain (which mine isn’t). It seemed like the trip through Dallas took a while, but we finally reached our hotel.
Checking in to the Omni
She purposely hadn’t told me where we were going. I didn’t want her to. Sure, she asked if I wanted to see pictures or something before we even left, but I told her no, that I’d rather be surprised. The suspense was intense. I was dying to know, but at the same time, the mystery was a lot of fun. When we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, I was amazed. This thing was huge! Little did I know at the time that the Omni was practically as big as a small city. I stayed with the car while she went inside to check in, was questioned by a valet attendance, and sat in a state of awe and confusion until she finally came back out and we headed for the parking garage. Once we got out of the car, grabbed our stuff (remember the bazillion bags?) and headed to the elevator, I was ready to get to the room. Walking inside and through the lobby, though, was a treat in and of itself. A live band was setting up, and the sign said they would be playing 50’s music. Woot! I love that era.
No HDMI capability? What?
Remember the laptop, DVDs, and thumbdrive I’d brought for entertainment purposes? Yeah, about that. I quickly discovered that the TV was bolted to the wall inside this little alcove as if someone would be able to just walk away with a gigantic flatscreen TV anyway. Not only that, but once I did manage to find the HDMI port on the side of the television (with the help of my phone’s camera) and got everything plugged in, I discovered that there was no HDMI source option. What?!?!? A quick google search revealed the horrifying truth: the Omni disables HDMI access on their television. What the.. Blah. Ok, fine. Who needs it anyway, right?
Walking Downtown Dallas
I wasn’t sure what we would be doing in Dallas. It was all a surprise. I was told to get ready, and wear comfortable shoes, because we would be walking downtown Dallas. I got dressed, put on my Vans, and made sure I had everything I needed.
And then I hear “I feel I should warn you about where we’re going so you don’t go off on someone when we walk in there.”
Dicks Last Resort in Dallas is supposed to be one of the most fun, interesting places to go. When you walk in they start throwing insults at you. They place paper hats on your head with insults written on them. They’re rude, they’re horrible, they’re, well, dicks. Except, they’re not (Full review here). I understand now why she warned be but unfortunately, there was no need.
Deep Ellum, in case you haven’t heard of it, is a neighborhood in Dallas that is comprised largely of arts and entertainment venues. It was developed in the late 19th century and was originally called Deep Elm. Due to Southern accents, though, many people pronounced it “ell-um” instead of “elm”, and the name just stuck. It’s supposed to be full of live music, street performers, arts, graffiti.. just plain fun and entertainment. My girlfriend told me that they have a block party going on. Me, of course, asked, “What’s a block party?”
<insert eye rolls here> “Ok. That’s it. We’re going.”
We loaded back up into the car, because, well, forget walking miles through downtown Dallas after dark. We didn’t want to get stabbed or mugged or raped or whatever. We found Deep Ellum and slowly drove around, looking for non-existent parking spaces. We ended up not stopping, though, because it was mostly bars and drinking, and that’s just not really my thing anymore.
What did we end up doing? We headed back to the hotel and settled in. Of course, me being a night owl (I work late) I usually end up hungry late at night. But, the Omni has no vending machines, and I wasn’t about to try and find my way around Dallas. Heck, I can barely find my way around my hometown half of the time. So.. what’s a guy to do? My wonderful girlfriend grabbed the room service menu and started looking. We finally decided on a pizza, Cokes, and a “family” cheesecake. About 30 minutes later the room service guy shows up, brings in the food, and has me sign the receipt..for $45. What?!? 45 bucks for a small pizza, 2 cans of Coke, and a cheesecake about the size of what I would normally eat myself! Talk about a ripoff. But, what do you expect? It was at that moment that I understood why there were no vending machines anywhere around.
After eating I ran a hot bath and.. get this.. watched TV on the built-in mirror-screen-thingie. It was pretty cool, honestly, even if it did only get a handful of channels. If we ever build our dream house, or remodel, I definitely want one of those. By this time my girlfriend was asleep so I kicked back and watched TV until I fell asleep. Sometime during the middle of the night I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I sat in front of the wall-to-wall-floor-to-ceiling window and watched the view. It was amazing.
The next morning I awoke in the most comfortable bed ever. I thought our bed at home was comfy, but it doesn’t compare. I slowly opened my eyes, realized where I was, and smiled. The level of relaxation was great. Over the last few months I’ve gotten so stressed, so “uptight”, that getting away like this was perfect. We began the unfortunate act of getting dressed, packed up, and ready to leave. But the day was just beginning.
Hunting for Food
First stop.. breakfast. She wanted waffles, so we headed out for the local waffle house. Yeah, bad mistake. We walked in the door to see people sitting on benches, waiting to be seated in the tiny restaurant. A waitress was walking toward us with a clipboard and.. nope. Not gonna happen. We were looking for something different, something we couldn’t really get at home. What did we end up eating? Burger King! But I like a good Whopper sometimes, so that was okay. Properly fed, we made our way to..
Ripley’s Believe it or Not /Toussad’s Wax Museum
This place was lots of fun. Filled with attractions and things to do/look at, we stayed busy for a few hours and had a great time. There were tons of wax figures to check out. Some of them looked realistic. Some weren’t even close. Some were creepy..
.. some were fun..
.. and some were just downright hilarious..
Imagine walking through the doorway, passing by this figure, and his camera flash goes off. It went something like this:
Girlfriend: *stepping back* “Oh, excuse me.”
Girlfriend: “Shut up!”
Fun times. Of course, I must be fair here. She may have tried to be polite to a wax figure, but I did something even funnier. At least to her, and everyone else that’s heard the story. Imagine walking through the “Horror Wax Museum”, through all the cave-looking rooms and hallways, and walking into a fairly innocent looking room with the front end of an old car sticking out of the wall. What’s this, then? Nothing. No problem. *Keeps walking. What would you do if all-of-a-sudden the car started honking at you as you passed in front of it, and the lights started flashing?
Which one of us would you guess would be the runner? If you guessed my girlfriend, you would be.. wrong. Yeah, I ran like a little girl. It scared the living bejeezus out of me. I still haven’t lived it down.
The Ripley’s Believe it or Not section of this place wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. There were some interesting things like shrunken heads..
.. and an authentic vampire-killing kit.
One of the most awesome things about this place, though, was the moving 7-D theater. I had no clue what it meant when I read it on the sign, but I tell ya.. it was insanely fun. Here’s how it goes:
You walk into this small theater, strap into a row of chairs, and grab the “gun” attached to the side of your chair. There’s a large screen in front of you, and a row of fans below the screen. The “movie” starts, and you find yourself in a car, traveling wildly along a roadway. Suddenly.. BAM! Zombies everywhere. Jumping on the hood of your car, trying to eat your face! You rapid-fire as fast as you can, in the hopes that you can get away before you, yourself, become one of the walking dead. As the car on the screen moves, so do you. Your seat bounces, leans, tilts.. the fans blow air on you. At one point I was almost positive I felt mist hitting my skin. At the end you find yourself going over the side of a cliff and dropping straight down into the top of a semi truck, seconds before you’re overrun by zombies and..well, you’re dead. Do not pass go. I loved it!
The Voyage Home
The fun was over, and it was time to head back home. (but not before swinging by AT&T stadium and seeing the home of ‘Dem Boys’. Of course, my girlfriend is NOT a Cowboys fan, so although she agreed to drive through, there would be no stopping).
The closer we got, the more I dreaded going back to “normal life”.. work, sleep, work, sleep. Did I mention work? But alas, all good things must come to an end. And although some parts of the trip weren’t as expected, overall I had lots of fun, and I walked away with a lot of great memories. And that made it all worth it.
Nobody had ever gone through that much trouble on my behalf. Nobody had ever spent that much effort on something for my sake. So when she asks why I love her? That’s why. Not the trip per se (I’m not that shallow/materialistic) but the fact that she loves me enough to do that for me. So yes, it was the best birthday I’ve ever had, spent with the one I love.