When I was in my mid-20s, my buddy threw an epic 30th birthday party at his place with free-flowing booze and whatnot that I used to wonder what my 30th birthday party would look like (insert a cartoon cloud above my head): My friends and I would go to the hottest bar or restaurant in town, I’d be dressed up all GQ, they’d be wearing their nice, fake designer clothes from Ross, and we’d pop champagne, and laugh, and firehose the shit out of each other until we couldn’t take anymore fun. Ahhh, what a great, fake party it would be…
But then, that all changed over the past year as I became a minimalist. I knew I didn’t want a big, fancy smancy party, I just wanted a simple adventure for my birthday and I figured a hike in the Wichita mountains with mis amigos was the perfect way to do that. Unbeknownst to me at the time, none of my plans would go according to plan and I’m actually grateful it didn’t because things turned out better than I ever expected. Here’s how that whole weekend went down:
The Thing That Screwed Everything Up
So, I told all my friends to plan to go hiking on May 5th without looking at my own calendar and when I finally looked at it I saw that I had purchased a ticket to go see a ballet (I purchased it last August, that’s why I forgot). So I called the box office and asked them to switch my ticket to a Sunday performance but they were sold out, and they couldn’t see me as having purchased the ticket. Effers, dude! Luckily, they comped me an extra ticket for the trouble but still, I could only choose a Saturday performance, afternoon or evening, so I opted for the afternoon show and decided to push my hike back to Sunday.
Well, this now created 2 problems: 1.) Only two of my friends were free to go hiking on Sunday, and 2.) Now I had to find a date to the ballet. Regarding the latter, I asked this woman I recently went out with to the ballet but she had to work, and since this ballet was taking place in a town an hour and a half away from me where I knew no one, called Tulsa, I decided to reach out to the only two people I did know, Joe & Liz, who owned a yoga studio. They told me to post on their Facebook yoga group and so I did.
I actually got quite a bit of responses. The initial responders said they couldn’t go but they all thought it pretty awesome that I was willing to share this experience with someone new. Then one guy responded named Tyler who said he’d like to go to the ballet. That was weird I thought, a guy going to the ballet. But then again, I was a guy going to the ballet. So I did some Facebook creeping/research and saw that he was a blonde hipster from Colorado and seemed like a pretty cool dude. I said why the hell not. And so a bro date was set.
The Date That Did & Didn’t Happen
It was the day of the ballet and I was sitting in construction traffic en route to Tulsa when I received a text from Tyler; he said he had to finish building a community garden and asked if his girlfriend Chanista could go for him instead. I did a double-take — what tha — then I received a picture of her, a freckled, redhead girl, and he called her a complete badass and said she’d be a much better companion anyways. I didn’t know what to think… but I loved the whole spontaneity of it all and said why the hell not!
I arrived at the venue and quickly turned nervous since I didn’t know what to expect. I waited in the lobby for her to arrive, staring at the door I came through, and she happened to enter through the door at the other end and I happened to turn around and she walked in wearing a pearl colored flapper dress and we both instantly recognized each other (I guessed Tyler showed her my Facebook) and I approached her and quickly embraced her and thanked her for coming.
She was a natural laugher and had one of those cool, raspy voices, and was quite a free-spirit, always making friends with everyone she met. She bought a glass of bubbles and I bought one also since I didn’t want her to drink alone, then we took a seat on one of those circular, tufted cone sofas and got to know each other over champagne. Her main profession was teaching yoga to kids but she also took up odd jobs, like working the bar at the recent Backwoods Music Festival which she showed me some pics on her phone. Tyler was right, she was a complete badass and ended up being an awesome ballet companion!
(Me in front of the venue a year ago. I was too busy enjoying the moment
to take a pic this go-around.)
Going to the Best Hole-in-the-Wall-iest Restaurant Ever
After the ballet, Chanista and I decided to meet Tyler for some tacos. She recommended this nice Mexican restaurant but then feared that it’d be crowded since it was Cinco de Mayo (she was right, told “an hour and a half wait” when she called), so she recommended this hole-in-the-wall place nearby called Taco’s Don Francisco.
Chanista asked for a ride, as Tyler gave her a ride to the ballet, which I didn’t mind, and I drove us into an old part of town. Then we arrived at this small brick building with an even smaller parking lot — Taco’s Don. We walked inside and, seeing that it was about the size of a living room of a one-bedroom apartment, I was a little skeptical, but Chanista assured me that everything here was good and that my meal was on her as a thank you for the tickets which I said wasn’t necessary but she insisted.
We ordered then sat outside at this rickety, old picnic table that must’ve been built in the ’70s. Then a red pickup roll up into the parking lot and Chanista said that was Tyler with their friends, and two dogs in the bed. After parking, the first one out was this thin brunette who ran straight up to Chanista and kicked her right leg in the air (she was wearing these spandex shorts) and said, “Guess what?! I got a job.” This friend of hers is a complete wanderer and goes around finding random jobs here and there, and that night she found a job working at a food truck.
The next guy I saw was this short, slightly chubby dude who sported his hair in dreads, topped by a paisley, velvety hat. We’ll call him Dreads, he was the comedian of the group and liked to punch trashcans for no reason. Then I met a guy also named Tyler, who was missing his gauges, I imagined my finger could fit through the holes in his earlobes. Then finally, I got to meet the man, Tyler…
Eating Tacos with Tyler & His Family
(Us doing “The Vogue”.)
Tyler was a tall and thin man, with a strong jawline, his blonde hair wrapped up in a ponytail. He was definitely the leader of the group, not because he owned the truck, but because he was very self-confident and spoke like a brilliant philosopher. As he approached me, I gave him a wuzz up head nod, then he surprised me by leaning in and warmly embracing me and “thanked” me for no reason in particular. I was so taken aback that I didn’t how to react and just gave him a soft pat, a there there. Then he and his crew went and ordered and when they returned I knew I was in for a very interesting dinner.
This group of hippies, not hipsters, talked about all kinds of things as we downed our food. I learned that they all lived together in a house that Tyler and Chanista either owned or rented and that they take care of each other, sometimes giving money to each other. And they all had stoner personalities that I assumed they most likely smoked grass… but even if they didn’t they all had super awesome and fun-loving personalities! — They kept saying “hi” to everyone that pulled up.
By far, the most interesting thing I learned was that Tyler was a lover of classical music, which is something you couldn’t tell at first glance, but he said this was the only music worth listening to on the radio. Chanista added that he likes to conduct to an imaginary orchestra when he listens and when those those powerful Beethoven symphonies come on he loses it (she mimed a mad conductor and did a DUR DUR DUR in a honky voice) and she has to turn off the radio and say, “That’s it! You’re done.” (I later found myself listening to the classical music on the radio, secretly trying to be like him.)
Dreads said the most random and hilarious stuff that he had us all in tears no matter what he said, and he punched a trashcan, then Tyler and Chanista had to leave as they made plans to go see his sister out of state. We took a picture doing The Vogue, then I embraced them both and thanked them for a great time. I was truly grateful for everything that happened because I would’ve never had this adventure without them nor would I have ever encountered people like them in my everyday life.
A Change in the Course of My Journey
As I started driving home, I realized I wasn’t ready to go home just yet so I decided to stop by this store in downtown Tulsa called EAST + WEST that I admired. They sell some cool men’s stuff (clothes, cologne, candles, anything else that starts with a “c”) but they’re pretty pricey so I usually just browse when I go there. That would turn out to be an interesting choice because I would soon find myself inside a shipping container doing free tequila shots. Stay tuned for more… 😉
(Cover pic and first photo taken by actor/filmmaker Ben Richardson. See more of his photography @ benrichardsonactor.com.)