Thursday, July 29, 2010

Drinking Beer With Dinosaurs

This is going to be a very strange, geeky, sitcom-esque post (complete high school memoirs and pictures of dinosaur bones). Consider yourself warned.

Last night, Steve took me OMSI After Dark. OMSI is a big science museum in Portland. There are a lot of really cool hands-on exhibits but it's generally flooded with obnoxious children. I haven't really thought to go there since I was about 14.

OMSI usually closes around 7pm. But every once in awhile, they stay open till 11 for the over 21 crowd. They open up a few bars and even get a dance floor going in the courtyard. Steve and I are little kids at heart and were pretty stoked when we found out about the event. After all, I magically like science again now that I am no longer in school.

So we drove to OMSI. Steve was most excited about seeing the old submarine they keep in the river behind the museum. He's a bit of a history buff who's watched "The Hunt For Red October" a few thousand times. This particular submarine was used in a couple of scenes for that movie, so Steve was descending into Sean Connery fanboy mode as we pulled into the parking lot. The Cold War really is interesting to me, but I saw something in the parking lot that completely took my mind away from Soviet Russia.

"Holy crap..." I exclaim as three vaguely familiar faces get out of a nearby car. "I went to high school with those people."

"What?" Steve says, still in Sean Connery land.

"That's my clarinet section from freshman year," I whisper, horrified.

I know I put up a scary picture of my old clarinet section a couple of months ago, but here it is again in case you missed it. If you're looking for me, I'm the dorky one. Oh wait, that's everyone in this picture. Okay, I'm the really dorky one. The girl with the bad perm who parts her hair down the middle and was probably wearing her favorite Paul Frank monkey t-shirt under her Star Trek-style uniform. The girl who could barely play the clarinet, let alone march at the same time. The girl who had ridiculous crushes on all the senior section leaders and could turn bright red at the slightest encounter with any of them. The girl that managed to break her arm at band camp. The girl who marched her first field competition with her uniform on backwards. The girl who made an art out of losing her instrument and forgetting her band locker combination.

That was me. I was the dorkiest freshman imaginable. I've spent years trying to make up for those days of being downright socially unbearable. And I've done okay. Three people in the last week have accused me of being a hipster, so I guess I've made progress.

But I digress. My old clarinet section leader and two first chair clarinets were there in the parking lot of OMSI. They are all nice people, but I haven't seen them (or wanted to see them) since the year 2002. I don't think I'm even Facebook friends with them.

Steve went to a small town high school and was BFFs with everybody, so he couldn't really understand my desire to avoid running into these people. I thought that maybe if I walked slowly on the way to the museum's entrance they would already be lost in the exhibits by the time I made it inside. But sure enough, they were still right there buying tickets when Steve and I got there.

I tried to stall by reading the program and asking an OMSI employee about events that were going on. Unfortunately, Steve did not pick up on what I was doing and jumped in the ticket line. I followed him and tried my best to be nonchalant. After all, I look much different than I did back in the dark ages. They probably wouldn't recognize me.

They recognized me.

The boy did, anyway. There were two girls and a boy. Boys that willingly play the clarinet are strange and this boy was no exception. We were never really friends but once I saved his ass at our final competition freshman year. It was the coldest night of the year and the upper register on his clarinet froze over (or something like that). Since I was notorious for faking it during competitions (I never really figured out how to play and march), he begged me to switch clarinet parts with him. He bribed me with money and promised me a lot of silly things like foot massages. I couldn't hit most of the notes in the upper register without squeaking anyway, so I let him use it for the night. He thanked me and vowed to love me forever and ever.

Of course, band season was over the next day and we never spoke again. Not to mention I never got my $20. Or my foot massage.

But he recognized me in line at OMSI. "Hey! How's it goin?" he said awkwardly. We shared a brief uncomfortable moment of painful small-talk and then I went on to buy my ticket.

Steve and I proceeded to have a blast. We geeked out over an Einstein exhibit. We marveled at at holograms and played with water rockets. There were free beer samples as well as multiple bars throughout the museum. Last night just might have been the most fun Steve and I have had together in awhile.

We went inside the infamous submarine. Steve got to launch a torpedo. His incredible sexiness almost rivals that of Sean Connery.


When we were done snooping around on the sub, we ventured into the museum's Earth Science room. Right when you enter this room, there is a green screen that you can stand in front of and give a weather report. Naturally, Steve jumped in front of the green screen, beer in hand, and delivered a Ron Burgundy-esque weather report. It was greatly amusing, but I was quickly sidetracked by an epic display of dinosaur bones.

Laugh at me if you want, but it's not everyday you get to see something that large and prehistoric. I became caught up in studying a nearby display of fossilized dinosaur teeth. I was about to go find Steve again when I heard laughter coming from the green screen area.

I looked over and saw the three clarinets delivering a silly weather report of sorts. But there was a fourth person with them, drinking beer and acting like Ron Burgundy.

It was Steve.

Horrified, I did the only thing that made sense: I acted like I didn't know any of them. I stayed in my dinosaur corner and casually drank beer.

Moments like that make me realize why so many people move to entirely different towns/states/countries when they grow up.

Steve and I proceeded to cruise the exhibits. There was a whole room filled with vacuum cleaner tubes that you could build into things that used air to shoot little balls. It was fun in a dorky way, and we managed to get balls flying everywhere. One hit a girl standing a few feet away from us. She laughed and turned around.

I recognized her immediately. She used to play the flute in marching band.

I kinda wanted to just leave at that point. But instead I made Steve go out to the courtyard with me and we spent the rest of the night dancing with drunk hipsters. It was the best.


  1. I LOVE dinosaur bones! And Beer. I wish the two could meet in my life. I am totally jealous of you right now.

  2. Holy crap. I have to experience this. When does it happen next?!

  3. Let me clarify: I need to experience OMSI after dark. I have zero desire to run into old bandmates. I mean, I loved band in high school, but there is NOTHING worse than running into people you went to school with. Ugh. I'm sick for you just thinking about it.

  4. I think this should be a scene in the movie we discussed earlier...the one with Ellen Page as you, and Michael Cera (or Joseph Gordon Levitt) as Steve.


  5. The Natural History Museum in London opens late every now and then, only the bars sell tiny little bottles of expensive beer and glasses of champagne and a man plays jazz on a piano by a stuffed dodo. While it was cool, I was out of my depth and need more geek in my life. Still, at least I didn't bump into any school friends, which is something I save for the train to work in the morning .I managed 20 minutes yesterday without making eye contact, only to be betrayed by the person next to me sneezing and drawing attention to herself. And lo, the awkward conversation commenced...


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