Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K.: Texas: Part Two

Monday, July 12, 2004

Texas: Part Two

The trip to Texas went well, I got there in record time for some reason. I didn't speed or anything (well, just my usual 4-5 mph over the limit), but somehow I made it there in barely two and a half hours. It took me a few minutes over three hours to get back. I left Saturday after work, at about 5:00pm. The trip was uneventful, I didn't stop along the way or anything. Well, one thing happened, I thought I was going to get pulled over. There was a cop sitting in the median, and I went by at about 70 in a 65mph zone, and after I passed they pulled out of the median and drove a ways behind me for a while, then turned their lights and siren on, and sped up. I moved to the right lane to get out of their way, if they weren't coming after me, that is, and to my relief, they went past me after someone else.

I got to Chris' about 7:30pm, and we just hung around the apartment and watched some TV, then he let me run around killing things on Final Fantasy XI for a while. I didn't know what I was doing, but since his character was high level, and in an area full of weak enemies there was little chance of me messing his character up or getting it killed. It was the latest I've been up for a long time, we stayed up until after 1:00am. Then we woke up around 10:00am and later me and Chris went to Borders bookstore, and the mall. Candice stayed home to watch the kid. We went into K.B. Toys and were there for at least half an hour, because they were having this incredible sale, everything was really cheap, and he wanted to find some stuff for Kara, Candice's little girl. The kid isn't Chris, just so you know. It's Candice's from a previous marriage. She calls Chris "Ca-Ca," which I guess is some kind of combination of "Chris," and "Da-Da." It's also another word for crap, so that always makes me laugh. I think it fits Chris very well.

Chris finally found several things to buy Kara, and also bought this big pink gift bag with the Disney Princesses on it to put it all in, since Kara loves anything to do with them. So we got to walk around the mall carrying this big pink Disney princess bag. A very emasculating situation. I wasn't the one carrying it, but just two guys walking around together, one of them carrying a bag like that, doesn't look very good either. It didn't really bother me, but I kept laughing at Chris about it. Then, to make things even more awkward, we went into a Bath and Body Works, or something like that, so he could get some stuff for Candice. So now it's two guys with a pink princess bag, one of them (Chris) handing bottles of bubble bath and body lotions to the other (me) and asking, "How does this smell? Is this nice?" Most men would have run screaming in a situation like that. I'm still not sure why he was asking my opinion though. He said he couldn't smell them that well, there were too many smells in the store. Maybe he also thought I'd be good at stuff like that, though I don't know why, but apparently I am, because she really liked the one I picked out. They were having this buy three get one free sale on the stuff, and he picked out three, and was having trouble deciding on the last one, and I was like "what about that one," (it was Warm Baked Sugar scent, or something like that) "she might like that one." So then we went back to Chris' place, and everyone loved their gifts. Then we watched a DVD I brought, ten episodes of Dragonball, part one of the King Piccolo Saga. By the time that was done, it was time to head out to meet Gabe and Tycho, the Penny Arcade guys at that event, which was the whole reason for the trip.

They were going to be at Gameworks in Grapevine, Texas, which is about a half hour or so away from were Chris lives. We had a small amount of trouble finding the place, but we still got there at about 6:30pm, and they were supposed to be there from 7:00 to 11:00pm. The place turned out to be a giant arcade, instead of a comic book store, like we both thought it was supposed to be. It was a really nice place, it was two story, the bottom floor was video games, and the second floor was mostly a bar and grill, with a couple of pool tables, but it also had some of those kinds of games that give out tickets you can buy prizes with. Also, instead of using quarters or tokens, the machines all took these pre-paid credit card looking things you bought, I've never seen anything like that. The cards came in different amounts, $10, $15, $20, and over other, $30, I think. But if you paid $20, you got a card worth $25, and the $30 was worth $40 I think. Then, where the coin slot usually is on the machines, there was a slot you stuck the card in, and it sucked the card in, and showed how much was on the card, and then deducted the price of the game off of it and spit it back out. For some reason the games all cost 99 cents, instead of 50 cents or a dollar. Games are getting expensive, I remember when they cost a quarter, then they went up to 50 cents, and now lots of them are a dollar.

We asked the guys at the counter what exactly would be happening, if they had like one of the birthday party rooms set aside for it or what, and he said that no, Gabe and Tycho would just be walking around playing video games and stuff. This posed a problem, as there was no easy way to recognize them, until the crowd formed around them anyway. Chris asked me if I knew what the guys even looked like in real life. I told them I'd seen some pictures before, but I didn't remember exactly. All I remembered was that they look nothing like their comic counterparts, and that they just look like your typical really geeky guys.

We could tell we weren't the only people there to see them (of course), because after a while, guys started walking in carrying cardboard tubes. There were cardboard tubes of all sizes at the event. Some even carried toilet-paper tubes, because "that was all they could find," as I later heard one of them tell Gabe.
Me and Chris played games until almost 7:30, when one guy overheard us wondering to each other about whether they were there yet. The guy said "Yeah, they're over there near the front signing autographs right now. Or Gabe is at least, I don't know where Tycho is." So we went over there, and this skinny geek in a black t-shirt that stated "It's not my fault you suck," was surrounded by a crowd of ten people or so, most of them carrying tubes. There were even a couple of hot girls in line, amazingly. One of them was even carrying a toilet-paper roll. Gabe was autographing things with his name, and a small sketch of his comic self. Chris and I realized we had nothing to sign. I would've had him sign my shirt, but it was my new Red vs. Blue shirt. Chris said to check my wallet and see if I had a receipt that Gabe could autograph the back of. I didn't, but luckily, Chris had paid for his game card thing with a credit card, so he had two pieces or receipt from that purchase, and he gave me one. Chris got his signed first, it was pretty loud in there, I don't know what he said to Gabe or what Gabe said back. Then I went up there, and told him, "I love your comic!" and he started autographing mine, and I asked him where Tycho was. He said "I don't know, we got separated, I have no idea where he is. Probably in a bar somewhere." Afterwards I carefully folded the receipt in half, and stuck it in my wallet so it wouldn't get wrinkled up in my pocket. Then we walked around some more, and found that Tycho had just recently come in at the back of the place, and he had a huge crowd around him. Once again, we had nothing to sign, and once again, luck came to our rescue, for sitting on the machine right next to us were two discarded game cards, empty presumably, we didn't check. So we had Tycho sign the backs of these. His signature wasn't really a signature, it was just four letters, it was the way he usually end his posts to their site, his real initials, followed by his character's initials: "(CW)TB". I told Tycho, "I drove almost 200 miles to be here tonight," and he gave me this weird look. I still don't know if he was amazed that I drove that far for it, or amazed at how stupid I was for driving that far for it. He probably thought I was some kind of creepy stalker guy.

Then me and Chris played games a while longer, then we went back to his place. He and Candice both went to bed soon after that, since they both had to work early. I couldn't sleep though, because it was so fucking hot in the apartment that night. So I watched one of his DVDs, The Ring, and then finally got to sleep around 1:00am. Then I had to get up at 7:00am to leave before Candice had to leave for work (Chris had already gone to work several hours before that). So, after stopping and eating, I got home around 11:00, and now I've just been sitting here at the computer most of the day since.

And so concludes the story of my Wonderful Adventure in Texas. It also concludes the longest fucking post I've ever written. So long, in fact, that I stopped halfway through and ate a gigantic bowl of Lime Jello, almost a whole box's worth.

For more on the Cardboard Tube Samurai, click here. And also here, and be sure to click next and check out all 6 parts of "Cardboard and Steel." I love the pig.

One's the Pope. One's a chimp. They're both detectives.
"The Pope and the Chimp" coming this fall to NBC