Friday, 8:05 am – The trunk door shut with a click and I settled into the passenger seat with a French press-filled thermos and the latest issue of Men’s Fitness. Not a bad way to start the day, I thought to myself.
Jacob and I had taken the day off and were setting sail for Atlanta. Several of our friends had migrated to the land of the Falcons and #ByeWig after college, and we thought it was time we paid them a visit.
Like a true lover of liberty, Jacob had gotten us lunch reservations at Mat Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill off of Peachtree Street – the perfect place to watch the inauguration ceremony, or so we thought.
We arrived right on time. “Reservations for two please,” said Jacob cheerfully. “And can you turn the TV on this side to the inauguration?”
The hostess scowled. “No, sorry,” she replied. Unfazed, Jacob insisted that he had been promised we would be able to watch the ceremony when he made the reservations. It’s not about politics – it’s a civic sacrament, after all! After a short-lived standoff, a nearby manager overheard and intervened.
“Phew! I was afraid that was about to get ugly,” I said, sipping my mojito, yet keeping an eye out for any unwanted additives.
Once the speech was given and the burgers eaten, we headed toward Phipps Plaza for some shopping. It was a quick trip, as we got spooked by a rabid elderly driver on the way. Okay, we may have cut him off, but you do what you’ve got to do when a left turn is coming up! The driver swerved from behind us, grey tangled locks flowing in the wind and middle fingers flying. Imagine Eustice from Courage the Cowardly Dog, and you’ve got a pretty good image.
We gave a smile and a wave, and zoomed past the ’89 pickup.
“That was exhilarating!” I exclaimed. “I’ve never dueled with a senior citizen before!”
Unfortunately, the high wore off, and we recalled the many photos he snapped of us and the phone call he was making as we passed.
“Maybe we should put some distance between us and Dr. Jekyll,” said Jacob.
We found a nature preserve a good distance from the mall and explored a bit until it was time to go to Lisa’s – our friend Alex’s mom whom we were staying with and visiting. She was going to keep us company until Alex got off work.
Lisa, the impeccable host that she is, greeted us with music, ‘tinis and hors d’oeuvres galore. Later that night, another college comrade, Nicole, joined us and we started planning the night. Thus, El Jinete and Psychic Tonya were born.
“UBER’S HERE!” screamed Alex. We piled inside the minivan and made the short drive from Alex’s to the local marg joint, El Jinete.
Through salt rimmed glass, a vision came to Lisa.
“Let’s go see Psychic Tonya,” she chimed. “She’s right across the street!”
We grabbed our to-go boxes and crossed the four lanes of traffic between us and the QT convenience store.
“You can’t go see Psychic Tonya without a roadie,” Alex said, divining my unspoken pondering.
With a 40oz in hand, we walked up to a dark and rectangular house. A tweeny girl greeted us and showed us to the living room. She explained that Psychic Tonya would see us individually, in her lair near the back of the house.
“So, are you here to make sure we don’t act up?” Nicole asked the loitering girl with a giggle.
“No. The wifi’s better in here,” she replied, and returned to her game of Bejeweled.
One by one we were summoned. Each person’s reaction was undeniably authentic. Some were shaken, some mystified, some entirely unreadable.
Finally, it was my turn. I entered the small chamber and shut the door behind me.
“What’s your name?” asked Psychic Tonya.
Shouldn’t you already know that…? I thought, but instead answered with a more appropriate “Luke.”
For $20, you got two questions. The clairvoyant flipped over three tarot cards and dealt out the answers.
I won’t go into details, but they involved a coin, a magazine and a snake. Interpret as you will.
Feeling sufficiently violated, we thanked Psychic Tonya and her accomplice and made our way back to Lisa’s.
Keeping with the spooky spirit, we decided to watch the Hills Have Eyes. Before long, we had drifted into a collective slumber, apparently lulled to sleep by the radioactive screams.
The next day, we waited out the morning rain and went to join some of Alex’s hometown friends at Top Golf. I’ve always imagined Top Golf as an arcade of virtual golf simulators. This wasn’t the case. It’s more like a cuter, outdoor version of bowling. You can drink and chat together, while one friend at a time tees up to swing into one of the gargantuan goal nets.
By 5:30, our swings were giving out and we made our way to South City Kitchen, a self-proclaimed luxury Southern food establishment. I must admit, the fried chicken and greens were on fleek.
That night, we hit the town in Buckhead, danced in a place I mistakenly named Five Pesos, and shared gas station beef jerky with an Uber Drive. A perfect night, if you ask me.
The next morning, we said our farewells and boarded the I-20 back to Birmingham.
“Until next weekend,” I whispered, giving a tiny wave to my peachy pied-à-terre.