Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm Pretty Sure We Partied, I Really Don't Remember

Last weekend was the bachelor party for my friend, K. It was, all things considered, a great success for a four-day event that took place nearly a year before his wedding will occur. Here's a brief recap:

K and a handful of guys fly in from various places around the country. Winning Run and I host a cookout at our place for the guys, some old 4-H counselor friends, and a few of K's med-school classmates still here in Atlanta. We fired up the grill to cook some brats and burgers, cracked open some cold beverages, and caught up with one another. At one point in the evening, there were as many kids under age 7 as there were adults. As the party wound down, we cleaned up and headed inside to watch USC being dismantled by the Beavers. Bedtime: 3:30 a.m.

The majority of the 20 guys arrived later in the afternoon. A few of us grabbed lunch together. Prior to returning home to take a much needed nap, I dropped K and company off at the Emory campus so they could meet up with K's brother and play flag football against some law students. A few hours later, I was roused from my nap by a phone call telling me that K was in the E.R. with a dislocated shoulder from the two-hand touch football game. He'd be late for dinner and would be hopped up on morphine until around midnight. Those of us who weren't football casualties met for an amazing dinner at Rathbun's in Innman Park; K joined us a little later. After dinner, we headed to Virginia Highlands for a drink or two in one of our old watering holes. It was purely nostalgia and lasted about twenty minutes; we're far too old to be in a ridiculously crowded, noisy bar. So, we decided to sneak away for a quiet glass of wine to discuss our book club selection, "The Choice" by Nicolas Sparks, author of "The Notebook." After that, we headed over to Wired and Fired to paint some pottery. We ended the evening with an impromptu chess tournament prior to heading out to breakfast at the Metro Cafe downtown.

As a social experiment, I took all the Strawberry Jam from our table after paying our tab and tried to give random strangers a packet of free jam. In the elevator up to the hotel room, I tried to offer Suge Knight's twin the opportunity to buy a packet of jam for a dollar. When he declined, I upped the offer to two packets of jam. Then, three packets of jam. Finally, five packets of jam. Luckily, Suge thought this was funny but still declined an incredible offer. My experiment results show that people are generally wary of anyone offering them jam in the wee hours of the morning.

Bedtime: 5:30a.m.

I chartered a bus to pick everyone up at the hotel and drive us to UGA for a day of tailgating at Crazy Greg's famous annual tailgate. We caught up with a bunch of our old camp counselor buddies and introduced the bachelor party to the unique rituals of SEC football. There were a few early casualties (as the following photos attest) and some that bit it hard on the bus ride back to Atlanta. In all, it was a great day with a few guys playing cornhole (a.k.a. beanbag toss) with some strangers and dominating them after the strangers wanted to play for $20 per point. One member of the party went AWOL at game time and wasn't found until moments before the bus was pulling out; turns out he went somewhere and took a nap for several hours.

Oh, we went to the game. K got everyone tickets...in the Alabama section. (Boo!) In retrospect, we could've picked a better game to see as UGA was destroyed during the first half. Again, boo. Nothing like sitting among a bunch of annoying fans. We grew so tired of having to explain how to count higher than "10." What we wouldn't have given for a simple arithmetic textbook!

The following photos are from the game.

Bedtime: 3:30 a.m.

Although I wasn't really hungover on Sunday morning, the cumulative effects of having drinks and staying up really late for three straight night left me feeling run-down and ill. In fact, I'm still feeling like I'm on the cusp of coming down with a flu or something a few days later. Trust me, I was one of the lucky ones who felt great on Sunday. Others didn't fare so lucky. For example, if you took a nap at the tailgate and had random shit stacked on you without your knowledge, chances are that you'd feel pretty rotten the next day.

Looking forward to living clean and going to sleep early for the next year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't Bullsh*t Me

This morning, Winning Run was pretty sore from last night's car accident. Honestly, we figured that would probably be the case. So, we'd made plans for her to get in to see the doctor just to be sure that her wrist was okay and there was no greater damage than cosmetic.

I went to walk Dylan and left her to make the calls to set up the appointment. During my walk, I get a call from Winning Run who was terribly upset because the doctor's office had told her that "auto accidents" aren't covered by insurance and that she'd have to pay out-of-pocket for any office visit.

"What?," I asked in disbelief.

"We'll have to pay for it. They said 'it's not covered.' Why are we paying so much if they won't cover an auto accident?," my wife said, fighting back tears.

"That's bullshit. If you fell down, they'd cover it. I don't understand how the cause of the injury makes any difference."

We ended our conversation and I headed back home. I was fuming. Seriously, was her doctor's office refusing treatment because she'd been in an auto accident? Were they just trying to distance themselves from the litigiousness that accompanies accidents? What the hell?

By the time, I got home I was effing pissed off and looking for someone's head on a platter. So, Winning Run kindly gave me the number to the doctor's office and I called for a little chat. First, I spoke with the receptionist.

"Hi. My wife called a little while ago to make an appointment to be see for some minor injuries as a result of an accident last night. You guys told her that you wouldn't see her or that it wasn't covered?"

"I remember, I...," the receptionist began.

"You can tell her it's not covered without ever asking her name or what insurance we have or knowing any other details?," I interrupted.

The poor receptionist tried to fumble through an explanation of their office billing policies. I cut to the chase and got the office manager, Sue, on the phone. In an asinine explanation attempt, Sue said that the office never "declined service" to my wife. They had offered to see her but we'd have to pay for the service ourselves because "insurance" doesn't cover it.

"You're telling me that insurance doesn't cover someone who's been in an auto accident?," I asked incredulously.

"That's right," sayeth the dumb ass.

"What if my wife fell down the steps last night and wanted to come it to see you guys today? Would you see her for that?"

"We'd call 911 and send you to the emergency room."

"For a scrape and a wrist sprain?," I asked.

"Absolutely," she confirmed.

"Ma'am, the paramedics saw her last night and everything was fine. This morning, she's sore and we'd like to get it checked out. You're telling me that insurance doesn't cover it?"

"You'd have to go the ER."

"I'm pretty sure that the insurance company would prefer that we see our PCP instead of going for an expensive ER visit."

"Sir, there is a law that says that insurance doesn't cover auto accidents."

"A law? You're telling me that there is a legislative mandate that prevents coverage? It's not a personal decision by your office but a law?"

"Yes. We share all required information with the insurance companies about visits relating to auto accidents but the visit isn't covered."

This went on for a while and I heard most every explanation under the sun to explain why the "system" prevents insured patients involved in car accidents from being covered for an office visit.

Here's the best/worst part: It's all horseshit. There is no law that prevents anything of the sort. I phoned the insurance company and spoke with them. The guy was pretty surprised that they wouldn't see her***. After confirming with him and his supervisor that there is no law to prevent them from taking insurance for visits relating to auto accident, I ask to formally note a complaint about it. So, he decided to get the office manager on the phone. I wasn't privy to the call but, after being on hold for a while, he returned to share the details of the conversation. Turns out, old dumb-ass Sue was pretty shocked that the insurance company would call and ask her about the issue so quickly. Evidently, she adamantly denied that she'd ever mentioned anything about a law preventing them from billing patients involved in car accidents. It was clear to the guy that she was backpedaling.

Whatever. If you don't want to deal with the hassle of it, don't. Don't feed me a bunch of lines about it being some law's fault. At the very least, buck up and take responsibility. Level with me, don't bullshit me.

*** I know that, by the letter of the law, the doctor didn't refuse to see her. The reality of it, though, seems to be that if you decline to accept insurance coverage for an exam or treatment, you are effectively denying to see someone by forcing patients to opt out of treatment due to the prohibitive cost. (Isn't that why we have insurance?) That, my friends, is infuriating.

Think You Might Have Better Luck?
If anyone out there has been in an auto accident or is purely interested in gathering information, I would not recommend that you call 404.255.5774 and try to book an appointment that is covered by insurance. I would also not recommend that you have a long discussion with Sue regarding the reasons patients must pay out-of-pocket for these visits. Finally, I strongly advise against anyone trying to get their friends to do this at least once or twice a week; I'm pretty sure there are laws against it.

Last Flight of the Red Baron?

Last night, my wife, a.k.a. "Winning Run," was in a car accident. Seems that someone wanted their car to occupy the same physical space as her car at the same time. Trust me, it doesn't work that well. She and Dylan were shaken up but, otherwise, no worse for the wear. Winning Run has the normal cuts and bruises that you'd see as a result of the violent deployment of an airbag and the restraint of a seat belt but that's about it. Dylan was thrown around a little but is his usual playful self this morning.

The great new is that after we put a good amount of money into fixing the air conditioner, the insurance company may simply decide to total the car. So, because some jackass doesn't look (or presumably signal) before leaping, we'll get to rid ourselves of the pain of not having a car payment and, most likely, receive a check for less than the value of our car! Sweet.

Never good when your hood has a "gangsta lean."

When in gear, the car won't go.
Instead, smoke billows from the engine.
Is that bad?

You can't see the floor but these were "hairbags."
Drivers are left bruised and itchy.

The important thing is that Winning Run and Dylan are unharmed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

That Old Familiar Feeling

So, I left a pound of flesh on the field at tonight's East Atlanta Pillage game. When at risk of being tagged out at second base, I decided (against my better judgement) to slide into the bag. I was safe. Unfortunately, we still lost the damned game.

On the bright side, I didn't get an ass-berry.

Cool points earned for a blood leg wound: +1000

Killa McD

Last Sunday, my sister-in-law had a baby. When my wife returned from a business trip, we drove up to Spartanburg to visit the newbie and his parents. FYI: I love the shell-shocked look worn by brand-new parents in the immediate chaos and ectasy of realizing that they are completely responsible for a brand new person, a blank slate, a life they created.

I'm not so naive that I think it won't happen to me; I'm fully aware that, one day, I'll have the same damned countenance on my ugly mug.

Here are a few photos of the new little man.

Killa McD

Killa practicing the gang signs of the Spartanburg Cribs.

Barely a week old and he's already mastered sing-alongs.

Welcome to the world, kiddo.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fishing While Kayaking is Tough

Over the weekend, I migrated 30 miles south of the city to meet my pal, Randy, for some good old fishing. We dined on a Waffle House breakfast at 6am and them made our way over to the water. He provided me with a sit-on-top kayak and all the fishing gear I could possibly need. Immediately, an image popped into my head: me paddling under low-hanging branches with a gaudy fishing lure lodged in my cheek. I opted for the most basic reel that he had; it made the Snoopy Rod from my youth seem like an advanced contraption. I couldn't be too careful, you know?

We paddled for most of the morning, casting up and down the banks. Randy, the sage that he is, would give me the go-ahead to cast in the virgin water and point out exactly where I should put the lure and how I should bring it back. Hopefully, I didn't disappoint him with my poor casting and overall withered fishing skill. Honestly, it was fun just to get out and paddle. At one point, I was sure that we'd be ambushed by a heretofore unknown cannibal tribe. Hell, we'd paddled so far back into the wilderness, I was sure that we'd been sent to terminate Colonel Kurtz' command.

The boats that took us into the jungle: the Wilderness and the Cobra.

At the end of the day, I was pretty wiped out. I had managed to catch two trees, two submerged branches, and the crotch area of my pants. I did, however, make it out alive with all my digits and my ability to see. I considered it a victory.

Randy pulling boats out of the water.
I was busy making an ibuprofen sandwich.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bigfoot Lives!

Last weekend, I spent the weekend in the north Georgia mountains with the "guys." My buddy Scott's son turned 13 and, to celebrate, Scott put together a hiking trip. We stayed in the cottages at Vogel State Park and hiked part of the Appalachian Trail toward Neels Gap.

On returning from the hike, we stumbled across an actual Sasquatch. The following photos are the definitive proof.

First sighting, note the lazy swing of the arms and crouched stance.

Evidently, the Bigfoot is into philosophy and jam bands.

Dogs were wary of the Sasquatch.

Naturally, we managed to shoot the thing and pack it in a fishing cooler full of ice. Soon, an independent team of scientists will authenticate it. I can't wait for the tons of money we're going to make!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pour a Little Out for the Snowman

R.I.P. - Jerry Reed

On my drive home from the grocery a short while ago, I received a call from Dr. James Three Thousand.
"You got your black armband on?," he asked.
"What? Who died?," I asked.

"Jerry Reed," he confessed.


"Yeah. Guess the chances of him appearing in our remake of 'Smokey and the Bandit' are pretty slim."

"Guess so," I said.

"Pour some out for The Snowman," the good doctor advised.

"I will," I promised. "Why the hell couldn't it have been Winehouse?"

"Don't know, brother," he consoled.
As I sit here, banging this out on my laptop, listening to a compilation of Jerry Reed tunes, I'm reminded of the time a bunch of us saw him in concert a few years ago at the Georgia Mountain Festival. The concert was mediocre. Actually, it might've been okay but there was no way in hell that it would live up to our expectations; the only way we would've been satisfied was if it had been performed from a black '77 Trans-Am by a 1977 Jerry Reed AND Burt Reynolds. To his credit, Jerry didn't seem to be mailing it in; he gave it his all.

Unfortunately, during the show, a buddy thought it was a good idea to come out of the closet to Dr. J3K. (Really? In the middle of a Jerry Reed concert at a country fair in the north Georgia mountains? That's like 3/4 of the way toward a hate-crime.) Being that this buddy was married at the time, J3K thought it was a big, ill-timed joke. When he learned that it was, in fact, the truth, J3K's face had the most confused, stunned look that I've seen. Shortly thereafter, we all left and drank many beers.

And that, readers, is my favorite Jerry Reed concert story.