Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Corporate Crashers and Party Poopers‏

A weekend away – nothing but sun, sand, swimming pools, waterfalls, poop and corporate party crashing.

This, my friends, is the tale of the weddingmoon that GAR and I recently chose to embark upon. Now, you may recall that, as a couple, my Groom-A-Saurus Rex (GAR) and I suffer from a pretty bad case of ADD. We aren’t the type to allow ourselves a lot of time for “doing nothing.” Though on this trip – this little “getaway” (though I’ve always hated this term – why would I need to “get away” from it all? My life is already awesome – by taking vacation I’m simply making it more awesome. But I digress…) – we really did try to simply relax and enjoy the type of laid-back vacation experience that others seem to enjoy so much.

So we lounged by the pool for hours, sipping cool cocktails and taking the occasional dip into the pool that, according to my friend Mac, won the title of “Best Pool in South Florida” (a title that I would like to dispute. Granted, I have not seen every pool in South Florida, but I’ve seen more impressive ones here in Central Florida and I’m guessing that South Beach has some seriously cool pools that would put the merely “better than average” pool at the Hard Rock to shame). And we were relaxed … and hot ... but mostly relaxed … until some literal party pooper decided to take a dump in the allegedly award-winning water feature. And, well, that kicked the Zen-like vibe right out of that place (to be honest, it wasn’t really that Zen … sure, we were relaxing, but only by blocking out the high-pitched shrills of oversized children crammed into undersized inner tubes running all around. For this type of serenity I could have just spent the day at any of Central Florida’s “award winning” Speedo-infested water parks).
Not that sitting by the pool all day doesn’t have its charms, but I’m sure that GAR would agree that we had a bit more fun once the sun went down (or, err … the sun sets really late this time of year, so maybe I should instead say “once the pool shut down”). Since lounging poolside was out, our evening started with us doing something that the hip people of South Beach would never do – we went to dinner at 6 p.m. Expecting to see nothing more than a few retirees out way past their bedtime, we hit up a Cuban restaurant at the resort (which, naturally, I had purchased a Groupon for in advance). To our amazement, it was packed! And, even more to our amazement, we sat down and were instantly greeted with lavish appetizers and exotic, bubbling drinks – items we had not ordered. When GAR insisted that we should not be getting these items, the waiter responded that we were special guests and it was all, of course, complimentary. SCORE!! Apparently dining so early in the evening is something that is only done by celebrities and royalty and, whichever one we were mistaken for, we were very grateful.

We got our menus, which listed delicious 3-course meal options and a fixed price - $6.99 ... far below what even the least expensive mini-dessert on the menu would usually cost. We were perplexed but we went with it because, well, why not? All the other tables seemed to be doing the same thing (and, yes, if the other tables jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge I might, momentarily, wonder if perhaps they’re not onto something fabulous that I just haven’t figured out yet). And soon it all became clear – we had accidentally crashed a Hard Rock employee appreciation night … and boy was it delicious!

Once dinner was done and our $14 was paid, the night was still young  … very young – in a town where the action doesn’t start until midnight, we walked out of the restaurant at 7 p.m. What to do? Like lemmings we followed the sea of employees (I'd like to say our “fellow” employees, but we weren’t officially on the casino’s payroll yet) into Hard Rock Live. We have attended concerts at this venue in Orlando many times, but this was our first visit to this locale … and it was drastically different … mostly because it was set up for a concert unlike any we’ve ever attended before. Oh yes, it was set up for an event of epic proportions – the Southeast Regional Hard Rock Employee Talent Show! Now hear me out – attending a D-grade “talent show” with people you don’t know, care about or work with may sound lame (and, okay, it is), but I assure you that the good people at Hard Rock corporate had spared no expense in setting up this event – indoor fireworks, lazer light effects, smoke machines, professional back-up musicians, back-up singers, back-up dancers and even a professional (male) bellydancer. Come on now – THIS is entertainment (good enough for 7 p.m. on a Monday night anyway)!

And – whoa! – did I mention that the whole thing was hosted by TV’s Joey Lawrence? Or so says GAR (this "fact" was never confirmed, but I will agree that it looked like him), and I have no reason to doubt he was the real deal. After all, they did have all the “real” American Idol judges – old and new – on set to review the performances. Look everyone, it’s Steven Tyler!
J-Lo ...
And, of course, Paula.

But it was great fun. We cheered on the contestants, shook our light-up maracas (oh yes, they gave us maracas) and rejoiced when “our” top selection won it all! Plus they gave us really cheap beer and popcorn.

Oh sure, we did lots of other exciting things on this trip – enjoyed overpriced cocktails at an exclusive, swanky rooftop bar, accidentally started a dance-off with another couple in a billiards halls, won money playing video roulette, sang along with Journey’s “Separate Ways” during karaoke, strolled along the beach hand-in-hand, hunted down an out-of-business Barnes & Noble, feasted on discounted oversized pretzels, and came back home to find Dad sitting on our couch and telling us that he just bought a house in Florida. But, really, it’s the 7th Annual Casino Appreciation Night that we’ll remember the most – GAR is already planning a trip back for the 2012 showdown. I’ll keep my neon maracas handy!

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