Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Put On Your Booties Cause Its Cold Outside" -- A Groundhog's Day Tale by Bob Shepherd

My brother wrote this a few years ago, and it has been a Facebook favorite. It deserves to be liberated on the Internet, for the benefit of the tens of additional people who may see this. Take it away, Bob:

I've had a few people bring up this story to me today so I figured I'd share it with the rest of the world. It is definitely better told in person but here it goes...

It is 1am on February 2, 2004. The New England Patriots had just defeated the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. Instead of turning in and getting ready for class the next day, I head outside into the balmy 12 degree Pittsburgh night and meet Josh and his trusty red Tacoma pickup truck affectionately referred to as "the red dragon." I hop in and am handed a cup of coffee as our night has just begun. Despite my previous experience with a plan laid out by Josh, I have agreed to ride to Punxsutawney, PA to witness Phil make his yearly prediction. I was told to expect an all night party, and that it was an event not to be missed. I was reluctant, but as usual Josh convinced to participate.

Now Josh is a very good friend of mine and I was honored to be a groomsman at his please read the rest of this knowing that I have a lot or respect for him...however..I should also mention that previous good ideas by Josh include the following events: A sailing trip that resulted in me jumping into the lake to swim after an un-manned vessel, then a ticket issued for not having life jackets. Screaming insults at the Pitt football team's offensive line from his porch. Repelling out of his second story window. Driving onto the front lawn of a frat house in front of a cop then getting out, tying a rope from his truck around a snowman and driving off. Running down Forbes Ave with a pumpkin on his head telling everyone they knew it, and breaking into a certain prominent Pitt building under construction to steal blueprints. I have also witnessed Josh put a brilliant spin move on a cop while rushing the basketball court at a Pitt game...needless to say Josh was pretty good at college.

We hit I-70 and head north. It's not long before I happen to notice that the red dragon is approaching E which I point out to Josh. I have been in this situation several times before with Josh so I didn't worry too much when he assured me we'd be cool and he had a place in mind.

Skip ahead 45 minutes where jamming to Credence has helped pass the time and we approach the off ramp in Kittanning, PA to head east.

J: " ...Um dude"
::: sputter:::
B: "NO...don't tell me that"
J: "OK I won't"
:::Sputter:::: :::silence:::
J: "We're out of gas dude."
As we're coasting down the ramp with only our momentum carrying us, an 18 wheeler has attached itself to the bumper and a constant barrage of air horn fills the cab. He passes with a few choice words and we continue to coast down the ramp.

The truck comes to rest directly in front of an ominously dark gas station, we push it in and Josh fruitlessly tries his credit card.

Its 3am, literally 0 degrees, there is nothing in sight, and we have no AAA. Josh calls 911 and asks if someone can "bring us some gas."

It begins to sleet while the dispatcher tries to stop laughing and then tells us there's a gas station two miles up the hill to our left. We begin the trek and I share the same choice words the trucker had with Josh moments ago.

We get a can of gas and a ride from the sympathetic station attendant back to the truck...Josh asks me for gas money....I have more choice words.

This is getting pretty long so I'll skip to my assessment of Groundhog's Day in Punxsutawney.

It looks nothing like the Bill Murray movie. The actual event takes place in the woods nowhere near town at "Gobblers Knob." You are bussed in from town after the most invasive pat down of my life and arrive at what I can best describe as a wedding with no booze and no dancing, no food and it's freezing. There is a stage with a fake stump that houses the rat and they blast loud awful music at you all night...when finally at 7am, they rip the now deaf, disoriented Phil from his cage and hold him up so every flashbulb hits him directly in the eyes. He immediately pees all over the handler and most of the front row. Some dude in a top hat reads a scroll and tells you whether or not there was a shadow and everyone goes home. That's it. The end. I look at Josh and he confirms that the event is complete and its time to head back to the Burgh.

Long story short don't go to Punxsutawney...ever. I make sure to tell this story ever time Josh and I catch up usually to berate him...and to remind myself that college was way too much fun!