"I had years of partying, and I was kind of surprised and happy I survived it all. Now, being a parent, I look back on it thinking, Oh God, the things you did!"
— Jeff Bridges
I've partied in every major city in Florida — Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale — but sometimes the smaller ones will surprise you. My wife and I recently celebrated our five year wedding anniversary, much to both of our surprise that we haven't killed each other by now. She planned a stay in a hotel in Lake Mary, Florida located close to her parents' house so we could drop off our baby and not have to worry for the weekend. Anyone outside of Florida probably hasn't heard of Lake Mary, and those living inside of Florida who have heard of the city probably couldn't locate it on a map anyway so I'll help you out: Remember where George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL? Just south of that. So imagine my surprise when I had one of the greatest fucking times in years.
Dinner: Samurai Sushi
The place was an absolute hole-in-the-wall located within a Winn Dixie shopping center, but was highly, highly praised by a friend of my wife, and right across the street from our hotel. One word: INCREDIBLE. The salmon was fresh, the shrimp tempura was fried to perfection, the sake at optimal temperature (at least I'm guessing, who the fuck knows the optimal temperature of sake), the crab delicious as it was beautiful. When you eat at a place this good you realize how many other places truly fuck up sushi.
Drinks Part 1: The Blue Elephant
This Thai restaurant was impeccably decorated with more rivers, ponds, and waterfalls than FernGully. And that was inside the restaurant. Outside was a comfortable sitting area with live music... starting at 6pm. Drinks were decently priced and I ordered something the waitress recommended, which of course was pink, but extremely strong without being overbearing. Also their urinals were black. I never knew those even EXISTED!
Drinks Part 2: World of Beer
If your city does not have a World of Beer please petition your mayor and/or congressman to bring one to your location. The name says it all but the menu will leave you speechless. You're given essentially a menu the size of a standard magazine with 40 different beers — yeah, I counted — on each page from which to choose. Those are only the bottled beers. There's another wall of taps behind the bar if, only if you couldn't what you were looking for in a bottle. My suggestion: order the flights. They're samples of beer, but you get a wide range of flavors in four different mini-glasses. And order multiple flights of different categories. By this time you should have already secured a designated driver.
Drinks Part 3: Liam Fitzpatrick's
This Irish pub with servers wearing Scottish kilts for no discernible reason is where the night ended for us because of one simple reason: Dueling Pianos! An old pastime of ours where you're allowed to scream at the top of your lungs like a Downs syndrome kid at the zoo and it's totally acceptable. Even encouraged. Know the lyrics to the song? Slur them. Don't know the lyrics to the song? So what, don't let that stop you, sing anyway! Want to add expletives to the verses? Curse up a fucking storm! Do you think those guys near the stage who are complete strangers would mind if you went and put your arms around them to gently sway them side to side while belting "I've Got Friends in Low Places"? There's only one way to find out.
I Have BFS (Resting Bitch Face Syndrome)
This was also the night I found out I have Resting Bitch Face Syndrome; something I must have picked up over the years because I've never had anyone tell me this before. My wife claims whenever I'm just sitting around, lounging, minding my own business I look like I'm totally pissed off and about to blow up on the next person who talks to me. Apparently this is a "real disease" with "official YouTube videos" according to her. A candid picture she took of me while we were at Liam Fitzpatrick's is attached below. And yes, I was in a totally kickass, happy mood. If you see this face in the future, please approach me. I'm not pissed! Maybe I was subconsciously pissed my Guinness was empty.