Jim Varagona

Category: dan

>My Friend Joins the Ranks of Kidder, Downey, & Heche

>It used to be more commonplace to hear of celebrities found wandering in delusion like when Robert Downey Jr. was found asleep in a neighbor’s house that he wandered into under the influence in 1996. He was in a club with Anne Heche, Margot Kidder, and even Martin Lawrence for similar episodes.

The genius behind TV Funhouse on SNL, Robert Smigel, satirized this phenomenon well back in 2006 with the short “Kidder, Downey, & Heche–Private Trespassing Investigators” (try this link, but due to copyrights, it may not last long and you may have to seek it out). I’ve always wondered how people can get to such a point…until a couple of weeks ago.

My wife was working the graveyard shift and I hadn’t spent much time with my friend and best man, Dan, lately, so I invited him over for some beers. I only drank a few in a couple of hours. I thought the same for Dan, but he apparently had done some prepping for our low-key man night. I think I witnessed him drink three beers. He did however smoke a bit of the doobage, of which I did not partake in, but it really didn’t seem like enough to drive a man to what I would witness.

After what seemed like a few tokes, he lost his bag and began searching my yard in the dark for it. It certainly was a bummer. Days later, I realized my puppy found the bag, which didn’t have much besides stems left in it anyway. I convinced Dan to give up, that maybe he smoked it all and the celophane evaporated.

We came inside and listened to some music, but within a half hour he was asking to crash on my couch. I obliged and hit the hay shortly after around 1 AM.

Around 8 AM, my wife arrived home asking what happened to Dan.

“Well, he had a bit too much and passed out on the couch.”

“His shoes are on the floor and his phones on the table, but he’s not on the couch,” she told me.

“Maybe he’s outside smoking.”

“But both doors are locked.”

Puzzled, I looked around. Knowing this was my friend that wandered onto the field after the Cardinals won the Series in ’06, I considered every possibility. I looked in closets and under the bed. No Dan.

I saw that the basement door was open, so I thought maybe he escaped through there, but the doors to the outside were locked as well. And why would he go far without his shoes? I looked around every nook and cranny of our dingy city basement to no avail.

We sat in our front room to ponder the situation. I then heard footsteps above me in my landlady’s unit. It was a tad early for them. Half jokingly, I suggested that he got upstairs and they discovered him.

The footsteps got faster and went back and forth. My wife and I followed the commotion with our eyes and heads like curious puppy dogs. There was some fast running down the stairs and then Dan appeared at my front door.

In disbelief, I could only keep saying “What the fuck?!” and “You have to leave.”

He claimed that they were cool about it, but also thought we were involved with this as some sort of joke. I thought the same of him, but I know better.

He left after we kept pushing, then we frantically thought about how to handle our neighbors. Do I call? Do I text? Do I play it off or consider this a serious problem that will be taken care of? What were they thinking at the time after discovering a strange yet unassuming hippy asleep on their couch?

I texted her to meet me on the porch to chat. I walked out back where they have a screened in porch and looked up at my landlady and her boyfriend. They looked like two pissed off parents after you get home late from a night of partying. Then the busted into laughing. I nervously joined in.

When he awoke, seeing their faces, he asked “Where am I?” Luckily they were nice and explained what they figured was going on. They considered lying to him and making him believe he was states away…Laramie, Wyoming…yeah, that’s the ticket. Around 3 that morning, our boxer, Sadie was at their door to the basement and it got the attention of their dog who began wimpering. The landlady simply told Sadie to go back to bed, but didn’t realize that my dog was there to tell her that a hippy had wandered into her unit. He must’ve quietly sleptwalked onto their couch, unnoticed until their 8 AM discovery.

My wife and I laughed with them for awhile about this, which was strange enough, but even moreso considering how early it was for us. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so we walked the dogs and avoided the homeless.

Dan’s been calling, but I am without words. How did Robert Downey Jr.’s friends handle him after he was found asleep in some kid’s bed that he wandered into?



>Adrenaline is Real

>I took the wife to a schoolhouse last night. It has been transformed into a music/event venue and happened to be showing Game 5 of the World Series on a 15 foot screen. I’m usually hesitant about trying new places without someone else vouching for it, but I had a good feeling about this.

The Lucas School House in Soulard is a quaint joint with leather seating abound. Their drinks were quite strong and tasty, which helped ease the building tension of the game between our Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers, who didn’t seem to even bring their C-game, unless you consider the one game they won at the hands of the almighty Cheater, Kenny “The Gambler” Rogers.

As the innings went by, we were joined by my mother-in-law, Dan (my best man), and Shannon’s friend Jeni and her friend Neil. Dan, the hippie that he is, tried reasoning with me that nothing was real, not even us at that point in time. I let him keep talking but I think it may have been the Caucasians. Dan frequently wonders what is real, but he was onto something last night. For the first time since I was a youngling (about 1.7 years), my home team was going to win the World Series, and in their new stadium to boot. Was it real?

I discussed with the others what our plan of action would be. Would we overturn cars and set fire to trash cans in our own city like the Red Sox fans did after beating us in 2004? It doesn’t make much sense, but overturning a Yugo is enticing, only because it is possible.

As Adam Wainwright, our youngster closer, threw the final strike, the adrenaline in the crowd skyrocketed. I’m not a huge sports nut, at least comparing myself to the jock types I despised in my earlier years, but sometimes the good feelings take hold, and you just must let go. We did, and we couldn’t breathe. My wife and I were afraid her heart condition from her childhood would get the best of her, but it didn’t, of course, because this was euphoria.

The excitement poured into the streets as people screamed, honked, drove and marched through the streets to let the people without televisions and radios know what was up. the six of us hopped in Shannon’s two-door car and drove into the madness of Downtown St. Louis. The traffic was barely moving and nobody cared. My mother-in-law was soliciting kisses from passers-by to share the love. Once we noticed a couple of fans abandoning their parking spot, everyone jumped out to hold back traffic so that I could maneuver my way into the spot.

I realized that we lost Dan somehow in the chaos. Sometimes he needs guidance, so I called him and tried to guide him to us as we arrived at the Stadium, which was about six blocks from our parking spot. As he made his way closer to us through the crowds, we managed to get into a still roaring Busch Stadium. It was an amazing sight that we took in from several rows up from third base. We danced and screamed in the forty degree weather that felt like seventy from our hearts pumping and the bit of alcohol left in us.

The wife and I were very ecstatic.

I still couldn’t find Dan though. He kept calling and we’d try to figure out where he was. At one point it sounded like he said he was at third base, which scared me a bit, but knowing him, I headed that way. He wasn’t on the field, but who knows if he though he was? After a back and forth of row numbers and seat numbers, I found him and brought him to the group.

Dan asked us if we wanted to streak on the field, but I wasn’t sure if the adrenaline could keep me warm through that, and I wasn’t sure if the perimeter of cops on the field would gas or mace me. He asked again if he should run out on the field, and we jokingly said sure.

Enter that package of bacon…I don’t think so.

Two minutes later, Dan hopped over the short wall right past third and walked several feet out. A female usher motioned to an officer on the field, and he proceeded towards Dan. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. He didn’t make it that far. Dan held his hands up like there was some misunderstanding. At one point he even gave peace signs to the cop, but he was cuffed anyway. We just laughed hysterically in disbelief.

After I snapped out of it, I thought it may be a good idea to find out where he was going. I had never had to bail any friend out of jail before, but he was my best man, so I felt a duty to track him down once again.

We got mixed information from different workers at Busch. Most of the security had no idea where the security office was, which I found bizzare, so we had to find it on our own. I asked around there and they told me he was probably already taken to the city jail. Just then I got a call from Dan in his holding cell, still in the Stadium. He couldn’t believe that was real. It was though. I told him to call me when he got word of what was to happen.

In the meantime, I drove Jeni and my mother-in-law back to their vehicles back in Soulard. As I started on home, Dan called again saying to pick him up before he was raped. A cop he knew from his grade school years let him loose. I headed back only to find that police cars blocked every street into Downtown leaving only a perimeter leading us back onto the highway. That was only after we had to creep along in the celebratory traffic in the streets.

About a half hour later, we reunited with Dan. He still couldn’t understand. I couldn’t comprehend the night either. Our boys won. And I was to look forward to 3 hours of sleep before training to supervise the electronic voting machines on Election Day.

Tiredness is real too.

–I realize I have some photos posted but none of Dan on the field. My camera batts died right before it happened. I’m working to get Jeni’s photos to post. In the meantime, here’s a crappy photo from my phone with Dan flanked by po-po’s circled and pointed out for you.

UPDATE (11/1/06): A better photo of Dan (in gray fleece) on the field after being grabbed by a cop…

World Series (300x250)

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