So! I shall now chronicle Rappy's visit!
Day One - Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Rappy's plane landed at Tampa International Airport at 10:20 a.m. The airport wasn't allowing non-passengers out to the airsides, so I was waiting in the terminal where the monorails come in (on the third floor). And even though I've seen numerous photos of Rappy, I somehow missed spotting her when she disembarked the train.
10:35 a.m. – I'm still waiting. I'm thinking that maybe there were a lot of people on the plane, and Rappy was sitting at the back, so it's just taking her a little bit longer to make her way over to the terminal.
10:45 a.m. – I decide that Something Is Wrong, so I run downstairs to the first floor to check the baggage claim area. The sign for Belt 17 lists Rappy's flight, but there's no luggage there. I take this to mean that no luggage has come in yet from the plane, and run back upstairs.
11:00 a.m. – Still no Rappy. I see someone that I think might be her, because she's holding a big coat in her arms. The person gets closer and I realize that it's not a coat, it's a baby wrapped up in blankets. I brilliantly deduce that this cannot possibly be Rappy.
11:10 a.m. – I check the Arrivals monitors again. Rappy's flight is no longer listed. I cry. I run downstairs to the baggage claim and now Belt 17 is listing some other flight number. I break down in heaving, wracking sobs, right there by the Sikorsky elevators. I run up to the second floor, to the Continental counter, to ask if there was any way to check and see if Rappy was actually on the flight (I thought she might have gotten bumped). The person said she couldn't tell me that specifically, only if the person had a reservation. Well I already knew that, so I ran back upstairs to the Customer Service desk on the third floor to ask how to page someone. I was directed to the White Courtesy Phone on the wall.
It took several tries to get the operator to correctly pronounce Rappy's real name. A few minutes later, I hear the page for Rappy come over the PA system. I run back down to the baggage claim and wait by the elevators (which is where the operator was going to tell Rappy to meet her party).
So THEN - damn, this is long, and I haven't even met Rappy yet - I stick my head outside, where people are waiting for their rides. I don't see her. I shout her real name and then duck inside quickly, so as not to be stared at like I'm a complete gaywad who doesn't recognize their own friend.
Nothing. I pace. I cry. I curse the very existence of God. Still no Rappy. I have her paged again. Nothing. I punch the wall next to me. I go back outside and yell her name again, then run away. I go back upstairs to make one more round of the terminal area, don't see her, then go back down to the baggage claim.
And there she is! FINALLY! We run to greet each other and it's all slow-motion and sunshine and smiles and gauzy loveliness. We give each other the brief version of Where the Hell Have You BEEN?, and then go to my car.
We talk and traverse the Courtney Campbell Parkway (a bridge) back to my apartment. I warn Rappy that I drive "hard", which is fine by her since she drives the same way.
We get back to my apartment, decompress a little bit, then plan our attack for the day - we have to leave at 3 to make our dinner reservation, but we need to get some groceries and alcohol for our New Year's Eve festivities. We run out to Albertsons to procure some Woody's Hard Blueberry. Then I decide that I hate Albertsons for food selection, so we leave and drive to Publix. There we buy lots of wonderful things, like leeks and carrots and Canadian bacon - you see, we're making the infamous Potato and Canadian Bacon Chowder - and Diet Sunkist and all-natural barbecue corn chips and the BEST SHIZNIT EVER, Skinny Cow Coffee Ice Cream Sammiches.
Rappy, being a former grocery store bagger, packs up the groceries. And I must say, she did a great job.
We haul ass back to the apartment, watch an episode of Alias, then start prettifying ourselves for our trip to Bern's Steak House. We left at 3:10, and then ran into some hellacious traffic on the bridge. So we ended up arriving 5-10 minutes late. But who cares! We were strapping on the feed bag and no one was going to stop us!
We pull in to the valet area, and a teenage boy rushes out to greet us. Rappy makes goo-goo eyes at him (this will be a pattern and continuing theme for her entire visit). I hand him my keys, and Rappy and I traipse into the restaurant like the badasses we are.
And then, we see it - red. velvet. walls.
All the girls who work at Bern's as hostesses are wearing homecoming dresses. It's a party! We are directed to our table and meet our waiter, Kurt. We ask for wine recommendations - red for me, white for Rappy - and he offers suggestions. I settle on Beaujolais Villages 2001, Joseph Drouhin France (okaaaaaay), and Rappy selects a 1995 Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Auslese from Germany (alriiiiiiiiiiiiiight).
Kurt gives us time to peruse the menu (which is a freakin' book) and then comes back to edumacate us as to what the hell is happening. Because the choices are overwhelming and confusing.
Skipping to what we decided to order, it went down like this:
Rappy: Fois Gras Ravioli (appetizer), Vichysoisse soup (Osetra caviar, white truffle oil, shaved fried potato), salad with Macadamia Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette, baked potato, and filet mignon as the entreé.
HWG: Balsamic-Glazed Heirloom Tomatoes with Gorgonzola Cheese ("Vine ripened organic heirloom tomatoes glazed with 20-year old balsamic vinegar and hydroponically grown opal basil"), French onion soup (with "garlic and spelt toasts"), salad with Creamy White Balsamic Italian dressing, baked potato, and filet mignon with Bernaise sauce as the entreé.
Everything was excellent except for the salad (average) and the veggies that came with the dinner (zucchini and yellow squashes, and shaved carrots). I especially loved the Heirloom Tomato appetizer, and of course the filet mignon was delicious.
The atmosphere was great as well, except for the family at the table next to us who brought a BABY to dinner. And the baby, it cried. I refrained from stabbing it or hitting it with a lunch tray, though.
So we gorged ourselves, then went upstairs to use the facilities. The bathrooms are stocked with special monogrammed napkins for drying your hands.
Then we headed up to the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. Aww, yeaaaaaah. Here comes the chocolate. Rappy ordered a Hazelnut Café Con Leche and the Chocolate Pistachio Pyramid ("Pistachio dacquoise with dark chocolate mousse, pistachio creme brulee center, vanilla bean creme anglaise and pistachio oil."). I ordered the Chocolate-Chocolate-Chocolate ("Layers of our chocolate cheese pie, chocolate cheesecake with a white chocolate center, and milk chocolate mousse on a dense chocolate crust.").
We ate. Then we died and went to heaven. Then we came back to life feeling very full (and for me on the ride home, very sick - too much rich food at one setting after three months on Weight Watchers was not smrt). But it was GOOD! So it was all worth it.
Final damage for me was about $100.
We left Bern's, whipped through the Westshore Mall parking lot to see if Saks was open (no) and then drove home. Upon arriving at my apartment we both immediately changed into our jammies. Then we watched a little Alias until about 11:40 p.m., at which time we hopped online to see who was chatting.
And then we chatted to the masses. We called Teem and Nancybeth, who were getting drubnk and breaking beds (!) at Teem's house. Then we called Overg, who tried to take credit, again, for all of my jokes. Next we called Roo, who was partying down with 40 preschoolers at her Choi school. Lucky girl! She was having things blown in her face, so we left her alone. But she called back a little later and we wished each other a Happy New Year.
Rappy and I stayed up for a little bit longer, then decided that we'd had enough of this day and promptly kicked it to the curb (i.e. we went to bed).
OH! For the record, Caygeon came out to greet Rappy before we left for Bern's, and Dawsey (!) came out after we got home from dinner. Rappy is a magnet for even the most skittish of cats.Posted by Highwaygirl on January 3, 2004 10:38 AM to the category Friends