Friday, July 22, 2005

Howling in Tampa

I recently returned from facilitating a group of teachers to be technology peer coaches in Tampa last week. Lots to talk about there ranging from the wonderful efforts on the parts of all involved to ultimately raise the level of professionalism among teachers by gently guiding fearful others into the world of technology integration to the quality of the dorm-room experience and so on. Definitely topics for another day. The highlight of the entire week was the last evening when my good pal S. and I went looking for a place to get a bite to eat and ended up at Channelside in Tampa. After dinner at a Spanish-tapas restuarant, which was ok, barely worth mentioning, we went to Howl At The Moon. If you've never heard of Howl At The Moon, maybe you've heard of another similar "dueling piano bar" like Hugh Jorgans (say it aloud, come on!) in Delray Beach. Well, we got there relatively early and there were a few people in the bar. Not too much drinking going on (yet). S. and I were drinking Diet Cokes (knowing darn well we needed to stay perfectly sober to navigate our way back through strange streets in downtown Tampa back to USF-not that it helped-we got lost anyway-shoulda drank!)

So, here we are listening to these two guys playing songs, singing (everyone sings!) and taking requests with tips. Don't even bother requesting a song without attaching a few bucks. The longer the song, the bigger the tip they expect. One guy request Stairway to Heaven, but only gave $2.00, the song fizzled out about 1/4 the way through because "it ran out of gas." S. and I requested "American Pie" by Don McLean and it cost us $4.00. It seemed to be a favorite there and luckily $4.00 got us through to the very end. By the time we left, these guys were raking in the bucks! Every song they sang sounded a lot like the artist they were imitating. It was pretty cool. There were a lot of teachers in the room, apparently a few conventions were going on, or maybe there are real teachers in Tampa. Go figure.

The piano players are not just talented musically, but they are very funny, pick on EVERYONE, and the longer you are there, the more afraid you become of getting up to go to the restroom (which is labeled "Sit 2 P" or "Stand 2 P").

It was loads of fun watching the transformation of members of our chosen profession, who looked way too young to be in a bar in the first place, as they drank these "bucket drinks" with 6 straws for sharing (yuk). Ah, yes, back to our Glorious College Days...Were we ever that silly/brave? Were the boys (yes, boys) ever that totally obnoxious? Since when do they allow 15 year-olds in bars anyway?

Up on stage was "The Wheel." The wheel sat quiet for awhile. One young teacher, whose birthday it was, wanted to spin this wheel (or maybe it was everyone else in her party who wanted her to spin it.) Anyway, she got as far as reading all the possiblitiies, and then decided she "would never!" Let's see, if you spin the wheel you could WIN a:
free t-shirt
free shot
beer funnel
free party
ice bath
glory hole

There were some other raunchy choices but I really can't remember what else because S. and I were sort of fixated on what was that last choice there? What is that? and what happens, on stage, if you land on it?

Needless to say, by the end of the evening, Birthday Teacher did spin the wheel (and so did a few well-imbibed others). Lucky for them, they all won t-shirts and parties. Unlucky for us we never did find out what the Glory Hole was. I had to ask a pal at work to explain it to me. Now, I'm glad nobody landed on it while we were there!

Anyway, it was really good to sit in a bar again (it's been, what, 22 years?) with a good friend and listen to good music, laugh (hard) and not deal with cigarette smoke or boys hitting on me (see how long it's been?). It was a wonderful "escape" for an evening that also made me realize that although it was fun, I'm glad I'm not college age anymore. I did feel a teeny-bit old but I'm actually pretty comfortable in my skin.

Driving home we laughed about the night before. Arriving at my house, finally, where my two kids, two dogs and husband of 20 years were waiting, made me realize that it's true: There really is "No Place Like Home."

-GM

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After reading your post and reflecting back on our week in Tampa, I realized many things. It was a week spent with a group of wonderful, enthusiastic, creative teachers who valued and repected each others work. I learned that PBC is far, far ahead of many other districts in infusing technology into their classrooms. I learned you can not go back in time to a part of lost youth. Mature eyes see the world differently. I've moved beyond those days into a more comfortable environment and I'm glad to be there.
It was a week full of camaraderie, some good food Bern's Steakhouse, and many, many laughs at "Howl at the Moon". An appropriate name because we sure did some howling!
I await our next adventure! "S"