Day 1:

I went out Thursday night with Lois to see Johnny Cash's original band, The Tennessee 3, and really needed some sleep in anticipation of whatever madness Brian and Mike had in store for me. So I left work at lunch, figuring I could catch a couple hours of shuteye, take a shower, and still watch some TiVo before they showed up at 4:30 p.m. Great plan, right? Yeah. 20 minutes after I got home they showed up at my door. This was enough time to eat a bowl of Special K with Berries and prepare to hit the sheets.

Mike's Herculean grip made it clear the party was beginning early. And what the hell is Brian doing on the ground?

You gotta be kidding me.

The proverbial Ball and Chain becomes literal.

And let's be clear, this is a 16-pound bowling ball locked to my ankle.

As soon as we get in the car Brian asks for $20, from which he hands me back $3. Then he says, "You've just bought yourself a bowling ball and chain." Sonuvabitch!

First stop: Islands in Pasadena, my treat. Double sonuvabitch, I had just eaten.

Could Brian be any happier? (Yes, that was a Chandler impersonation.)

Then my "friends" come up with the brilliant idea that I take a picture with anyone who asks me about the bowling ball. First of the day, our (very gay) waiter.

With Brian having a beer with lunch I got the driving duties, ball and all. I was instructed to head south on Lake Ave.

Until I pulled into... YES, the Ritz Carlton. It was almost three years ago that we made our last appearance.

As soon as we get into our room Mike pulls out some restroom reading.

What's gayer than Brian and me in the corner of our room behind the bed?


Mike, post-restroom reading. That's right ladies, he's muscle all over.

A view from our window.

I am afforded a bit a freedom in order to go swimming.

Of course there are only two fancy robes, and even though Mike's enormous muscles are too monstrous to fit, I am S.O.L.

I'm staying at the Ritz Carlton about to go swimming on a hot Southern California afternoon, so why do I look so discontented?

The bastards put the ball and chain back on and made me walk through the hotel down to the pool.

While they strolled ahead in their fancy attire.

Out to the pool.

Will he or won't he?

At least he went in to retrieve the key. Then he threw it even farther into the pool.

Finally I got to swim.

And boy was I happy.

And boy did I have a message for Brian and Mike.

We took a little tour of the Ritz grounds.

Our room is situated at the very tip of Brian's finger.

Bonus points to Brian for the cold-lamping'.

Then back to reality as a guest asked for the meaning of the ball and chain. Mike claimed this guy was gay, too, because his shorts had a pink triangle on the butt. Why Mike was looking at the guy's butt is a mystery to me.

Back in the room we showed off our collective pool hair. Bonus points to Mike for the Crispin Glover mop .

So Brian and Mike made me wait until they were dressed before I was allowed to.

Here's why. (Yes, with the ball and chain.)

Yippee kai yay.

Then Brian made me sing.

Off we went to an unknown destination.

With Mike enjoying the show.

OK, word to your mother: If you ever find yourself being driven around by Brian make sure you pay attention. He is notorious for keeping great conversation then getting lost because he's not watching for his turn or off-ramp. From the 605 we once nearly ended up at the beach while going the OC Swap Meet because he missed the 5 and ended up the 405.

This time we only found ourselves in Angelino Heights, a place I didn't know existed. How did this happen? (1.) I was never told where we were going...

...and (2.) Mike fell asleep.

Brian finally righted the ship and we arrived at the Magic Castle.

Photography is strictly verboten inside so I was taking flashless shots. Here's Brian waiting for the rest of our party to show up (again, I had no clue who was coming). Plus to keep the little theme going, you can see, in the forefront, my water next to Brian and Mike's gay lime drinks.

Then The Wayne Show arrived. As soon as he showed up he began ordering Jack and Cokes, and, when he found I was only drinking water, even offered to pick up my tab for the night. Wayne became the attraction as soon as he sat down. At our first stop he took over as he upstaged the magician, who was actually very entertaining. But when Wayne started buying rounds for people he didn't even know, we knew The Show was about to begin. With every trick the magician performed Wayne had the small crowd in stitches with his comments of awe. The guy Wayne is talking with in the above picture is some professional tailor from Bangkok who was in town for less than a week to make suits for a bunch of rich people (a fact he offered when asked by the magician). As soon we heard this Brian leaned over and whispered, "By the end of the night I'll bet you Wayne will have a free suit." No kidding, in less than 15 minutes Wayne and this guy were talking like old friends, exchanging information and everything (forget that a now-tipsy Wayne kept making comments that he was going to visit this guy in Bangladesh). This new "friendship" was so classic that I actually took a picture with flash, then quickly hid the camera in my pocket. The beauty of it all is that Wayne is sincere when he talks to people. The guy has magnetism to burn and people are just drawn to him. Whether or not he scored a suit is still unclear (though my money is on him).

The whole gang sat down for dinner. Since photography was not allowed Mike was generous enough to pay the $20 for the group photo. Clockwise from left: An angry-looking James Espinoza, Bill Crockwell, Mike Sandoval, Yours Truly, Ball and Chain, an ecstatic-looking Brian Day trying to make up for James, Wayne Busick, Giancarlo Volpe, and Mike Tellez.

A flashless shot of Mike gathering the cash to pay for dinner.

Bill, James (showing proper simultaneous testical/rectal-examination form), and Mike waiting for the next show to begin.

A couple of rows back sat Wayne, Giancarlo, and Mike. Apparently five minutes into the show Wayne says, "I can't take this shit; I'm out of here." And just quickly as it came to town, the tent was taken down and, without as much as a farewell, the circus disappeared into the dark of night. Note: It was later learned that Wayne brought with him $320 and, after dinner and buying round after round, left with zero. He didn't even have a dollar to tip the valet, which made him feel extremely guilty.

Me and Mike at the Midnight (and final) show of the night.

As we were leaving I encountered one of the illusionists we saw this night. I asked to take a picture with her for two reasons. (1.) It was her show that so disgusted Wayne that he walked out and went home (yes, it was that bad); and (2.) this lady looked and sounded so much like Diane Bladen that for the first ten minutes of her show Bill and I could only watch with dropped jaws (yes, it was that creepy).

Back at the Ritz by 2:30 a.m., just in time for Brian to get his sexy on...

...and Mike to serenade me.

3 a.m. and Sleeping Beauty was off to his happy place.