Friday, June 26, 2009

The Weekend: Detroit

Why Were We Kept In the Dark About Windsor?
As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the weekend with some friends in the Detroit-Windsor area.  Just moments after that post, I discovered that Windsor is well-known for its strip clubs.  I passed one of my coworkers in the hallway who saw my suitcase and asked where I was going.  The conversation went like this:

"Hey Jeff, where are you going?"
"I'm going to Detroit with some friends to see a Tigers game."
"You know, Windsor is right across the river."
"Yeah, that's where we're staying."
"Oh yeah, you know the deal."

I didn't know the deal.  However, I now suspected that there was some type of "deal" with Windsor.  I was pretty sure it had to do with something more than being able to buy Cuban cigars in Canada.  Aside from the cigars, I had to assume that Windsor had lots of casinos or strip clubs or both.  It turned out to be both, but most people that "knew the deal with Windsor" were referring to the strip clubs.

I found out later that each one of us had a similar conversation with our coworkers before we left.

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Border Crossings Can Be Fun (But They're Usually Not)

When Bob and I arrived in Detroit, we needed to cross into Canada to get to our hotel and meet up with Brian.  We had our passports and expected no problems.  Bob pulled up to the gate and had our passports in hand.  The lady in the booth asked us a few questions about what we were doing and then noticed that my iPhone was sitting on my leg displaying the map we were using to guide us.  She immediately shouted, "Can you please put that away?"  It took me a second to realize what she was talking about, but I quickly realized she meant my phone.  I shut off the screen and placed it on the console directly next to my leg.  This satisfied her and we were allowed to cross.

Staying in Windsor and visiting Detroit creates a unique set of issues for four guys who want to enjoy beers at a ballpark.  None of us wanted to drive across and leave our car, nor did we want to try to cross back over with even a hint of beer on our breath.  Fortunately, the hotel informed us of the "Tunnel Bus" that would shuttle us across and wait for us at customs and everything.  We had our transportation for the day.

The US Customs officers made a point of trying to confuse you to make sure that you were telling a consistent story.  One of my conversations went something like this:

"Where are you from?"
"Chicago."
"Where in Chicago?"
"Rogers Park."
"If you live in Rogers Park, why did you say Chicago?"
"Rogers Park is a neighborhood in Chicago."
"Where in Chicago?"
[At this point, I'm tempted to answer "Rogers Park" in the hopes that would turn into a sort of "Who's On First?" thing.]
"Northside."
"Give me your keys and open the trunk."

We were allowed to pass into our homeland.

The Canadian Customs officers were a little more laid back (with the exception of the first lady):

"Why are you coming to Canada?"
"My hotel is here.  I came to see a Tigers game."
"Why are you staying in Windsor?"
"The hotel was cheaper."
"And it's safer.  Are you by yourself?"
"No.  I'm with those guys."
"Okay.  Have a nice day."

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A Song Gets Stuck In Your Head
On Saturday morning, Bob discovered the following video and played it for us on his iPhone:



Various parts of the song were stuck in our head all day and we would frequently sing it and chuckle.  Watch it - if you haven't already.

After Bob, Brian and I had enjoyed our fill of the video, we made our way back to the States in the hopes of seeing a little bit of Detroit before the game started.  We got off the Tunnel Bus and walked directly to Comerica Park (which Bob insisted on pronouncing "Come Erica Park").  We poked around the surrounding area but were careful not to stray too far as it seemed to get shady rather quickly.  Eventually, Jon met us at a restaurant next to the park in enough time to eat and watch the video one more time.

It turned out to be a beautiful day for a baseball game and we spent a few innings discussing the possibility of me becoming a baseball fan.  The major obstacle to my baseball fandom is that I don't have an obvious team to root for.  Growing up in Indiana, we got coverage of the Cubs (because of WGN), Reds (the closest team geographically) and Braves (because of TBS).  After some discussion, we determined that the Reds make the most sense for me (I hate the Cubs).  However, I'll probably never become a fan because baseball just doesn't hold my interest unless I'm in the in the park.  That would be an expensive habit for a Reds fan in Chicago.  I don't think I'll become a baseball fan anytime soon.

(Don't worry Sean, our passive semi-feud between baseball and football remains intact.)

After the game we made our way back to Windsor all the while debating whether the choices we make are essentially gambles or not.  To no one's surprise, Bob and Brian were on different sides of this coin - which is probably why the conversation lasted as long as it did.  It was fun and it felt like reminiscing without actually talking about things in the past.

We got back to the hotel, took quick showers and headed out in search of dinner.  We found a nice little place where we could sit outside.  We spent the entire dinner unintentionally ignoring the table of girls next to us who kept trying to inject themselves into our conversation.  I guess they didn't notice how old and married we were.

After dinner we found an empty little dive bar and spent most of the evening drinking terrible Canadian beer and listening to even worse country music.  Thankfully, Bob, Brian and Jon had mercy on me and we left the bar.  Unfortunately, the next place we chose was even worse but in the completely opposite way.  We decided to go back to the dive bar and do tequila shots with Clamato chasers - better than it sounds, actually.  It made the country music more bearable.  Of course, I also had the option to drown it out with the auto-tune magic of Joe Biden and Steve Buyer.

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