I arrived home from work at a little after 8 p.m. on Tuesday the 15th. I had a 7 a.m. flight the very next morning. After finishing half my packing I took a "nap" at 11:30 p.m. and dutifully woke up at 3 a.m. to finish what packing I could before heading to the airport.
As I stood in line bleary-eyed for a breakfast burrito that ended up tasting better in theory than in reality I turned around and noticed Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller get in line behind me.
"What a coincidence," I thought. Or so I thought.
Once I got to the gate my plane was departing from, I saw that there was a small group congregated near it...and I recognized them all.
I said hello and good morning to Allen Katz, Paul Tanguay, Kenta Goto and Damon Dyer. Damon was asking if anyone knew where to get some lemons. This was an important fact to note and it would be most fortunate that I ended up sitting next to him.
I think I passed out from sheer exhaustion as the plane took off, but I was soon wide awake as the flight attendants were making their way down the aisle for drinks. I asked for a Coke and got my soda with a cup of ice. Damon asked for tonic water and two cups of ice. Our flight attendant looked at him funny, but acquiesced.
Damon eyed my cup and solemnly told me, "Save your ice."
He informed mixologist Gardner Dunn, who was sitting in the row head of us, to do the same. Wising up to what was going on, Gardner stressed that he wanted "a lot of ice" with his drink order.
The flight attendant again looked slightly suspicious but Gardner got his request. He turned back around and gave Damon a thumbs up and handed his cup back.
After giving a perfunctory assessment of the situation, Damon began pulling out small bottles of brown spirits and made me sniff one of them saying that it'd been pre-doctored with bitters and began pouring the contents out over the ice. The smell of bitters seemed to linger with a vengeance in the recycled air of the plane's cabin. The lemon search had been unsuccessful, so he ended up using some orange juice (later on, he'd take a swig of the juice and wrinkling his nose declare that it was "pretty terrible. I'm ashamed I even put that in there.")
He then reached into another pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag filled with lemon peel and begins to squeeze and drop them into the drinks. After passing one to Gardner I got a cup of my own.
Holding his plastic airline cup up he said, "Cheers. Welcome to Tales."
I lifted my own cup and said, "Cheers."