Monday, February 21, 2011


In last week's column, I had a good 'n' proper 1000 word whine about turning the dread 4-0. Little did I know just how exciting a birthday it would be.

As I was busy whining about how my life was over, forces were at work. Chief among them: my girlfriend, her family, my family, and my friends, working together to create a birthday shindig of epic proportions.

It wasn't a surprise party -- I knew about it in advance. But I had no clue how cool the end result would be. A hall was rented, food procured, the obligatory embarassing baby photos donated by my mother, and even my two favorite local bands booked. As party day approached, I had actually forgotten all about the horrors of my evaporated youth and was instead focused on having an amazing night with family and friends. That was when the evening turned into something straight out of a dream.

I was on my way to the party and, like usual, running late. I decided to defy my age by cranking the iPod up to levels that tested the structural integrity of the Beetle. I was so busy rocking out that I barely saw the figure dash across the street in front of me.

I slammed on the brakes, but it was too late. I watched in horror as my front bumper clipped the man, sending him onto my hood, over the roof, and flopping onto the pavement behind me. Minutes before, I had wondered how I would be spending my 40's. And now, thanks to my distracted driving, I now knew the likely answer: PRISON. I leapt out of the car and steeled myself for the grisly scene that surely awaited me.

But as I reached the back of my car, I saw no traumatic display of entrails. Only, in the glow of the taillights, a stunned figure sitting up unexpectedly from the pavement.

"Omigosh!" I yelled. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," came the reply. "But I need your help."

"Do you need to go to the hospital? Should I call 911?"

"No, no telephones," said the voice, now sounding a bit more familiar.

"Aren't you...?"

"Vince Vaughn," said star of stage and screen Vince Vaughn. "And you just hit me with your car."

My mind was spinning. How? Why? What on Earth was Vince Vaughn doing in the Quad Cities dashing across a deserted street after dark? It really WAS like something out of a dream.

"Can you give me a ride? I've got to meet a friend."

"Sure thing," I said. He climbed into my car and gave me simple directions to a nearby office park.

"Wait here, I'll be right back."

The people at my party might wonder where the heck I was, but when I tell them I hit Vince freaking Vaughn with my car, methinks all will be forgiven. Just then, the car door opened, but Vince wasn't alone, as a second man climbed in back.

"MATT DAMON?!?!" I said in astonishment, looking at the familiar face in my back seat.

"No, I get that all the time," he replied. "My name's Bourne. Jason Bourne."

"Matt Damon's just one of his aliases," explained Vince. "He really IS a secret agent, and we need your help."

After Vince's explanation, it all made sense. The two were in town to thwart a plan concocted by Sarah Palin and, strangely, Jimmy Carter to funnel money to corrupt members of Congress via the sale of blood diamonds from Sierra Leone. Their mission: intercept these diamonds and expose the conspiracy.

"You need to come with us to pose as our Midwest friend, otherwise it'd be suspicious for just the two of us to be travelling together," said Vince. See, TOTALLY made sense.

"Umm, I guess," I said. "Where are we going?"

"Hawaii," they said in unison. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane for Hawaii. It took forever, too. Had to have been at LEAST five minutes before we got there. We landed at Hawaii, and I drove them to a local jewelry store. In minutes, they came out fleeing with bag in hand, but something was wrong.

"We've been compromised! Head for the airport!"

By the time we reached the airfield, police were swarming everywhere. We had no choice but for me to pose as a kidnapper, holding my hostages, Vince and "Matt." My demands were simple: a fueled plane and a federal no-fly zone over Hawaii to thwart pursuit. I knew the no-fly zone had been enacted when giant lasers shot into the sky and created a green laser field over the entire island. We jumped into the plane, Vince took the pilot's seat, and we were airborne.

Once clear of danger, Vince and Jason/Matt put on chutes, told me their identities couldn't be compromised, gave me instructions to fly the diamonds to a secret base in Greenland, and parachuted away. Unfortunately, Vince Vaughn had failed to ask me whether or not I was trained to pilot a small Cessna over open water, a skill which I fear I remain woefully under-educated on. That's why I decided to bail out of the plane myself, once I saw a rescue speedboat on the horizon.

The jump was rough, but I made it to the boat and was pleased to find it captained by Cameron Diaz. But when I saw that the other occupant of the vessel was former first daughter Amy Carter, I realized I had fallen into a trap. One swift ninja kick took Cameron overboard, but Amy pulled a gun and fired, causing me to fall off the back of the boat. It was a good thing, then, that the boat had an outrigging that I could grab onto and stealthily ride all the way from Hawaii to Greenland.

It was like something out of a dream. Because, of course, it WAS, which I sadly realized as my cat jumped on my sleeping head just as I was to reach Greenland with the diamonds and hopefully beat the snot out of that evil Amy Carter. But as I sat there on my couch, laughing at the most insane dream EVER, I realized somthing. 40 might have taken away my figure, my coolness, and a little bit of my hairline, but as long as my subconscious is capable of amusing me to THAT degree, it's still a life worth living.

I'd also make a joke about how my party was kinda boring in comparison to Vince Vaughn and diamond smuggling, but I can't lie: I think the party was more fun.

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