Up until this moment, the vacation had a marked lack of Australians. Dorp trips in general, have been undergoing a severe Aussie drought for years now. That ended today. Wilco would arrive early that afternoon, followed by my beloved Sarah later on. To accommodate a new grand total of 7 people, Reno decided to rent a big, black unmarked van to abduct them in.
Yeah, so, after a morning spent eating cereal, ritually checking steam sales, and playing Day of the Tentacle, we speed off to acquire Wilco. In the excitement of getting to see Sarah, I manage to forget my phone even though both Wilco and Sarah will try calling me to arrange pick ups.
We circle around a few times, the Cleveland Airport has two separate pick up areas on different levels and it takes some finagled over Siro's phone to discern which one he's at. Wilco sashays out of the terminal in a suit and Cowboy hat. We load him into the van, and Wiggy helps by HURLING Wilco's bag over the seat into the back. "WIGGY, MY LAPTOP IS IN THERE." "OH."
Wilco has a good laugh about how he's going to murder Wiggy horribly later. To which Wiggy goes, 'Yes.'
I ain't amused at ANY of these hijinks.
Wilco's Cowboy hat was acquired at the Calgary stampede, and would be our only source of entertainment for the rest of the trip.
We actually have zero time to take Wilco home because we need to start driving to the Akron airport to pick up Sarah RIGHT NOW. We spend the drive over getting Wilco up to speed on what's happened and every injoke.
Picking Sarah up is like the first time we've actually PARKED at an airport since Reno picked me up. We managed to get ahead of her by just a hair.
These dinguses tried to put on clothes but made a mistake and put on THE SAME CLOTHES.
Standing around in the lobby, we discuss tactics to prank Sarah. Wilco aims to leap out of her and give her a big Australian BOO which may or may not be a euphemism. The rest aim to act too cool to talk to her. Wilco tells me to get into optimal position, but I am too uncomfortable standing in one place while waiting to see Sarah. We spot her, and I run up and give her a big ol' bearhug.
"Wilco's gonna jump out at you."
Wilco then leaps out catlike from behind a pillar.
"Oh hi Wilco."
I'm a spoilsport.
We now have a full RPG party roster. There is only one possible way to celebrate.
We go to Bigboy!
Half the people in the car had never been inside a Big Boy, and it has this strange campy mystique of appearing in media and you ask yourself 'Is that a real thing?' and you aren't sure if you aren't within Big Boy's mighty sphere of influence. And you know what? It was a good choice.
Siro thinks Wilco's impression of a walrus is the FUNNIEST thing.
But before we eat, we all take a moment to stare at Siro lovingly.
The food at Big Boys turns out to be mighty tasty. Though we get into this issue where Sarah couldn't decide if she wanted to order the salad bar or not. Only after does she order that she realizes that, shit, she wants the salad bar.
So she thinks about just taking some salad and telling them later that she ordered it but I am like, NO. We need to inform them first, that is our civic duty. So we wind up telling the waitress like five times that we tacked on that salad to her order between us just to make sure that we aren't trying to steal salad here.
Big Boy likes leering at crotches.
Sarah spends a good amount of time leafing through my notebook, she gets a convenient recap by pointing out each cryptic message in my notebook and asks for the context. It's very meta when we have jokes about what I wrote down to remember jokes we had. At one point Sarah read 'Who cares about Siro?!' and Siro is like, "WHAAAT? THAT'S IT!" and storms out for one minute.
We return gloriously to the homestead with the full party in tow. And you know what the first thing we do when we get here is? We get stuck playing hotseat Isaac. Because we have a problem. Sarah finds it mystifying that we are so into this, but it also isn't really her thing. She likes actually doing things that are significant as opposed to games all the time. Pfft. The promise of going to the grocery store later sustains her.
Now that Wilco is here, the first thing I aim to do is show Wilco Reno's creepy basement (while I do laundry). It is purportedly haunted! (Jessie regales us with a few reported experiences down there) It has an uneasy atmosphere Jess doesn't like being down there at all.
Just imagine a good meaty 'chunk' sound here and you're good.
Before we can go to the grocery store, we have to stop for an impromptu hug-fest. Siro tries and fails to get out of it.
(Shippers take note of the Wilco/Wiggy pairing. It will come up again.)
On the way to the grocery store, Reno points out the restaurant where he first met Jessie in person. The van bursts into spontaneous applause for ten minutes to be obnoxious. Not really an exaggeration. This moment might've made Reno more contemplative for later.
Okay, enough screwing around. Time to get down to business.
We're here to refresh groceries and get some specific items for the new guests. With Sarah, this means basking in front of the warm glow of the cheese section.
We also spend more time than I am comfortable in the liquor section. Sarah is on and off again trying to figure out whether she wants to buy some rioja wine to share with Reno (he is accustomed to the fruity stuff as opposed to the super dry stuff.) Reno and Wilco pick up other varieties of booze. Wilco, Reno and Sarah all have a casual interest in drinking and it is a point of bonding to have the opportunity to drink together.
I am more concerned about what refresher cereal we are going to get out of all the goofy offbrands. Picking this is about as complicated as selecting a fine wine. I manage to leverage in a Captain Crunch knockoff, which I feel was an optimal choice.
I wasn't there for it, but apparently Siro was nearly run down by a slobbish man in an electric cart covered in tattoos. I can only imagine there being a brooklyn style exchange of insults after the brush with death. Sarah and I were occupied at the time talking about the logistics of doing stir fry in ways I haven't done before. (There are many ways.)
In the car back, Sarah uses her iphone to search for gaybars in the area because she just thinks it would be a cool place for us to hang out. This never pans out.
Also, at one point I lean forward over Reno's seat to make sure I'm heard and...
Sweet Moses am I creepy!!
Upon return, Wilco remembers to give Reno his gift from the Alamo.
Reno explicitly asked for the tackiest item from the gift shop from Wilco. The Alamo is a point of interest for the group because of injokes related to PeeWee's big adventure.
We also tried Vegemite. Which went down with the uncomfortable aftertaste as always.
Unwilling to be sucked into more tedious group video games, Sarah moves that we all spend some of our evening out on the back porch in the open air. This turns into a good idea. We clumsily carry dining chairs out back and sit around and deal a few hands of cards. We play 'Liar' which is a game I'd never played before. It's a game that necessitates you being dishonest about what cards you are playing. If you are called out, you have to take all the discarded cards, but if you're being honest, the player accusing you of lying takes all the cards. Playing this, I find it is next to impossible to read Reno as all he does is give me this huge dopey grin and laugh every time I try to peer into his soul regardless of what he's doing.
When we aren't playing cards, Reno sits back and smokes a mini-cigar, and gives us a heartfelt speech that reflects on how special it is that all these people who know each other the Internet from all over the place have come to his backyard. He savors just how special and meaningful it is that we've done this, and let's us know how much it means to him. It was terribly sweet.
When our card playing and laughter gets loud enough to prompt a complaint from Reno's relatives, we move it inside. Reno puts on a vinyl record and we gamble with Kaiji play-money. In goofy hats. Reno despairs that he was never able to find his fedora.
The guitar is necessary.
As are finger gun standoffs.
And Captain Crunch.
The evening wears on, I make notes, we wear ourselves out laughing and gambling. We play Chinchiro, and Wiggy manages to wipe the floor with all of us when we all go wager everything and LOSE. At this loss, Sarah and I decide to call it a night. This is only the start of our time with Sarah and Wilco. Good times ahead.