Five Days of Life

I have enjoyed the last five days hanging out with my friends. While working out today, I reflected on the past several days and realized that I could kind of pull a certain story from each night that kind of defined that particular evening. Let me warn you now, there is nothing too overly exciting…well maybe one of the stories…but I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. Basically, I have just lived my life recently and am deciding to write about it for tonight’s post. Hope you don’t get too bored!

Wednesday, June 13: Trivia Victory

This past Wednesday, a group of us went to the Broadway (Restaurant/bar in Missoula) for all you can eat wings and trivia. For only $9, you can gobble up as many wings as your stomach can handle while also playing in a pretty fun trivia game. While getting basket after basket of wings, we managed to hang tight in trivia. We managed to stay in the upper tier of the standings for most of the game. However, when the final round came along, it looked as if we would not leap frog into first place. Because of this, we all paid our tabs. The last round, the “music round”, came and went. We hung around just to see where we ended up.  Well, wouldn’t you know it? We actually did know our music pretty well and once the results flashed on the bar televisions, there was our team name, #Winning, sitting all alone in the number one spot. We had just won a $50 bar tab and none of us had a tab open. We remedied that situation and asked our server to bring us out $50 worth of Fireball shots. The Broadway staff was more than happy to help us consume the plethora of shots.

Our team, #Winning, won trivia.
Thursday, June 14: Making Friends at Downtown Tonight

During Thursdays during the summer, Caras Park in Missoula holds “Downtown Tonight,” a great community event that features food, beer, and live music. The food choice is always amazing and when the weather is decent, the fun to be had is pretty remarkable. This past Thursday, my friend Chris, my co-worker/friend Jimmy, and myself invaded Caras Park. While chowing down on gumbo and distributing business cards for Jimmy’s new BBQ restaurant, we also met a couple different groups of really cool people. First off, we met two girls working a booth ran by a very successful real estate agent here in town who we all know from work. As successful people usually do, they hire intelligent and motivated people who will in turn be successful in the long run. This was definitely the case with the two girls that Diane (real estate agent) had working her booth. Just a little ways from the real estate table, there was a wood oven pizza stand ran by three girls around the age of twenty-three. One of the girls happened to actually start the business. This girl hired two of her friends to help her run the business (it is called Ciao Bella Wood Fired Pizza…check it out next time) and the rest is history, they completely sold out of pizza on Thursday night.

So we got to know both groups of these girls pretty well. Once Downtown Tonight ended and everything was packed up, it just so happened that Chris, Jimmy, and myself found ourselves sitting on a patio deck of a popular restaurant with both groups of girls, Diane, and the dad of the girl who runs the pizza business. Don’t think I said this above, but all the girls were beautiful. We had a great time visiting and getting to know each other. Anytime you can enjoy an evening where you network with similarly minded young professionals who also happen to be very attractive you know that you did not have a bad night.
Diane with her two workers.
Friday, June 15: Sucker Punched

On Friday night, Chris, Dan, and I were at the Iron Horse (yet another established restaurant in Missoula). The Iron Horse has two levels, connected by a staircase. The staff closed down the upper half of the restaurant that the three of us happened to be in. As we made our way down the stairs, there was a big commotion just a few feet away from the bottom of the steps. A troubled and very intoxicated guy in probably his late forties was giving the Iron Horse staff problems as they were trying to get him to leave the place. Not wanting to get mixed in with the unfortunate scene, we veered to the left to completely avoid the confrontation. Well, that night my red and white striped Where’s Waldo shirt must have attracted just a little too much attention because as I walked by looking straight ahead away from the scene, I was the recipient of a sucker punch to my jaw.

The moment the blow connected with my face, no fewer than four Iron Horse staff members mobbed the dude, carried him out with his legs kicking, and threw him into the parking lot. The whole place watched the scene as the 86’d individual tried to get up, only to fall backwards. His friend who was beyond fed up with his actions took the guy’s shoe and started beating him with it. The place erupted in laughter. The Iron Horse staff was very professional and sympathetic to me about the whole situation. They said they had never seen an unprovoked attack like that before. I told them not to worry, they took care of the problem immediately. After all, it was really no big deal at all…the guy couldn’t throw a decent hard punch if his life depended on it.
Moments after getting sucker punched Jessie pointed out the point of contact.
Saturday, June 16: A Great Meal on the House

Friday night, Dan and I played in the Bingo game at the Lucky Strike. Dan happened to win one of the rounds and in addition to some cash he also got a coupon good for two free dinners in the bowling alley’s connected restaurant. We decided to cash in the coupon on Saturday night. The card was good for two dinners, two drinks, and two desserts. We sat down in the empty restaurant with a killer air conditioning system and just enjoyed a free meal. Our entrees came with either soup or salad and I chose the former which was meatball soup! I had never tried such a thing before but it was delicious. Next, our dinners came. I got steak and mashed potatoes while Dan got the steak and shrimp combo. Even though we probably could have passed, we couldn’t refuse the free dessert. I got a giant brownie topped with ice cream and whipped cream while Dan got caramel cheesecake. We enjoyed every bite of our food along with every drink of our bottomless Coca-Colas. Getting a hearty, good tasting free meal every once in a while is not so bad.

Dan digs into his dinner at Lucky Strike.
Sunday, June 17: Seeing an Old Friend

On Sunday late afternoon I got to see an old friend who I had not seen in person since the Miranda Lambert concert way back in October. A lot had changed since that last encounter and unfortunately it was not for the better. Ellie lost her dad in January, an experience that I can’t even begin to comprehend. She came up with her mom from Kalispell for a day of shopping. When they finished hitting the Missoula shopping spots, they invited me out to one of my favorite restaurants in Missoula, Johnny Carino’s. We visited and caught up and had a really nice time. After I ate every bite of my five meat Tuscan pasta, I got to taste some of what Dan ate last night as the three of us split a piece of cheesecake. I was honored that I got to spend some time with Ellie and her mom on what had to have been a very tough Father’s Day for both of them.

Ellie and I at Carino’s earlier today.
I look forward to what this next week has to hold. Hopefully I will continue to have good times with my friends, meet more new people, and not get punched in the face. We shall see. Don’t Blink.

Meeting Dierks Bentley

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend Dierks Bentley’s “Country and Cold Cans” tour as it made a stop in Missoula. With the Eli Young Band as his main opening act, I had the date circled on my calendar for a long time.

Among others, the group I attended the concert with included my boss Christie, co-worker Jimmy, my intern Nick, and my friend Kathy who had made the trip over from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Jimmy hails from the great state of Texas and it just so happens that he has contacts within the country music industry. Because of these special connections, he was able to score us meet and greet passes with the headliner himself, Dierks Bentley. So while the first opening act, Will Hoge, opened the show, the five of us went to the designated area in the Adams Center to meet Dierks.
If you have never experienced a concert meet and greet before, the best way I can describe it is organized chaos. The performer’s crew simply throws up some pipe and drape (fancy talk for temporary curtains and poles) and welcomes in 50-75 excited, liquored up people to meet the star in a short period of time before he/she/they have to go on stage and perform.  Because the crew has had loads and loads of experience doing these types of things night in and night out and because they tolerate absolutely no funny business, these meet and greets usually go on without a hitch.
We had to line up in the northwest corner of the Adams Center concourse at 7:45pm. After about twenty minutes of standing in line, the organizers let us all into the meet and greet area and briefed us on the rules. Basically, they told us to compose ourselves when we met Dierks and to keep it short. They told us that we were allowed to have ONE item signed and ONE picture taken. They emphasized to have the item out that you wanted signed as you approached Mr. Bentley. They also stressed that we were not to take any pictures at all with our own devices while Dierks was present. You see, they have a professional photographer take all the pictures. It is a pretty decent deal, a couple days after the meet and greet you get to go on Dierks’ website and download for free a nice, professionally taken photo of yourself with the star. You can use it at your disposal to put up on Facebook or e-mail to anyone you want.
After the briefing the mob that had circled around the person who explained the directions broke and the line to meet Dierks formed. The five of us were a little slow to realize that this line was forming so by the time we actually did realize what was going on, we were far in the back. Well, we weren’t going to settle for that. Nick, Kathy, and myself remedied the situation by cutting half way up the line while Jimmy took the initiative to cut in front of about 80% of the people in line. Christie blended in by following Jimmy and sticking at his side. I mean we didn’t care about missing Will Hoge but we were going to make sure we didn’t miss a second of the Eli Young Band.
Now remember how I told you that there was a strict policy not  to take any personal pictures while in the meet and greet area? That simple rule was a rather tough one to follow for me. The moment Dierks entered the meet and greet area and started receiving the people in line I had my camera out and started snapping away. By about my third  picture, the staffer who was assisting the photographer looked back, saw me, made eye contact, and exclaimed “Any more shenanigans and you are out of here!” Yes, he actually said shenanigans. That camera went right back into my pocket….for the time being. I managed to take several more photos while he was not watching.
Christie and Jimmy were the first ones in our group to meet Dierks. Christie talked to him first and all she could muster to say was “Hi…I’m Christie……………can you sign my ticket?” However, for the little that Christie had to say, Jimmy made up for it. Jimmy went on a soapbox talking to Dierks about canoeing. Bless Dierks’ heart, he played the role of captive listener as Jimmy went on and on about stuff that Bentley had no idea about. While Dierks was very patient, the people running the meet and greet were not. They quickly ushered Jimmy on.
Jimmy and Christie with Dierks.

About ten minutes later, it was my turn to meet Dierks. While walking up to him I composed myself and tried to block out the adult liquids that were in my system. I initiated the conversation.

ME: Hi Dierks, I am Brent

DIERKS: Hi Brent, I’m Dierks. (Yes, even though I addressed him by his name initially, he said it again…mildly awkward).
ME: Thanks for coming to Missoula. Did you end up hiking the M today? (I asked this because earlier in the day he had sent out the following tweet: good morning Missoula! so many possibilities today..hike the M, go fishing, take the jeep and a banjo into some back country,…).
DIERKS: Actually I didn’t get around to it. I ended up taking my jeep up Rattlesnake Rd.
ME: That’s awesome. That is where I live!
DIERKS: You are lucky. Beautiful country up there.
ME: Thanks for doing this Dierks.
DIERKS: No problem buddy.

And that was it, I gracefully went off to the side, making sure not to overstay my welcome. On purpose, I did not have him sign an autograph for me. As I have written about before, I find no redeeming value in an autograph.
Me with Dierks. Good guy.
It was then Kathy’s turn to meet Dierks. After their greetings, she told him that she worked at a golf course in Coeur d’Alene. When she said that, Dierks responded with “The Raven?” The Raven is a popular golf course in the CDA area. Kathy responded with “Actually the Coeur d’Alene Resort.” To this, Dierks responded, “Well I will have to find you next time.”
Kathy and Dierks!
 Lastly, Nick got his turn to meet Dierks. As Nick is really good at kissing ass, he told Dierks that the whole state of Montana had come out to see him perform. After some pleasantries between the two, Nick informed Dierks  to hang in there because there were hot girls at the end of the line (a couple who happen to be on the Dance Team). To this Dierks slyly responded, “Saving the best for last.” Classic.
Nick and Dierks.
 What struck me the most about Dierks was how soft spoken he was. It was a natural conversation between him and I, it was not like he was some over the top personality who made me shiver in my shoes when he talked with me. But thinking about it, this should not surprise me that much. In the past several months I have met other country stars such as Toby Keith, Summer Sweeney, and Justin Moore and they are all the same…they talk to you like a normal person. Obviously, this is because they are normal people themselves. Just normal people who have extraordinary talents who happened to work their butts off to cultivate their talents as much as possible. There really is something to that southern charm as country superstars are the nicest celebrities you will meet. I am glad I got to meet another one this past Thursday. Don’t Blink.

Posts about other country stars I have met:
Toby Keith
Justin Moore