Monday, November 30, 2009

The Search for Sombreros: An Afternoon Delight

This is a story of two roommates, one of their fathers, and a burning desire to wear sombreros to Iowa's home finale against Minnesota.  Wearing sombreros not only visually states that we want and intend to go to the Party Bowl, but it piques female interest in Caucasian males disguised as Mexican rancheros.  Utilizing a photograph and a literary device called foreshadowing, we found the sombreros.


That's my roommate with the cactus.  To protect his identity, we'll call him Fred. 
The man to his left (our right) is Fred's brother, we'll call him Ryan. 
The photo-shopped man underneath him is Fred's father, we'll call him Craig.

*Scene:  2:30 pm, Friday afternoon, one day before Minnesota.  I had just finished a meeting with a CBS Executive and my last class before Thanksgiving break.  Fred and his father had just returned from the casino where Fred had won $400.  Everything was alright.

2:44 PM:  Fred and Craig pick me up to being our sombrero hunt adventure.  Obvious first stop: the mall.

3:00 PM:  We arrive at the mall parking lot.  Instantly, we watch a Jeep tailgating the rear end of a Ford Taurus driven by high school girls.  Because high school girls are the epitome of cool, they were screaming obscenities out the window.   I'm certainly not reprimanding this, I have screamed a fair share of obscenities out car windows, just not at three in the afternoon in a mall parking lot.

3:05 PM:  Fred and Craig began the sombrero search on their own because I had not yet eaten that day.  I have no idea how I hadn't passed out from hunger yet, but that's irrelevant.  Fred and Craig traveled to the stores in the mall we figured would most likely have sombreros:  Target and Hot Topic.  I chose to eat at Panda Express (Orange Chicken, yummy yummy).  Quick sidenote:  Can you even imagine if there was a Panda Express downtown?  It would trump Taco Bell in every possible way.  I would be 300 pounds and completely broke due only to late night dining.

3:20 PM:  Fred and Craig returned, only to inform me that neither of the stores had sombreros.  Label us disappointed.

3:30 PM:  Next stop, the local Salvation Army.  Although they did have a hat section, no sombreros in sight.  Also, you couldn't pay me $1000 to put on one of their stocking hats from the collection.  Yikes.

3:50 PM:  Craig said that one of the workers at Hot Topic mentioned that we should try Hobby Lobby.  Hot Topic and Hobby Lobby go together about as well as non-douchebags and Ed Hardy.  However, I had high hopes.

4:05 PM:  We arrive at Hobby Lobby.  To be honest, I have never in my life set foot in a Hobby Lobby, but I figured they have tons of useless crap in there, why not sombreros?

4:15 PM:  After searching and failing aimlessly, I approach a college aged guy regarding the whereabouts of the sombreros.  Instantly I noticed two things about said guy.  #1.  He hated his job more than I hate mine.  #2.  Hobby Lobby may be his employer the rest of his life.  I know this because when I approached him, he greeted me with a "What's up, dude?"  When I asked about sombreros, his response was "Shit, dude.  I don't know, man.  I don't think we have any.  But I'm not sure, dude." 

Although he was a moron, he led us in the weirdest and most interesting direction of the entire trip.

He mentioned that he knew of a small, Mexican grocery store located behind Taco John's.

4:35 PM:  After no less than 10 minutes of searching for the aforementioned store, we finally located a building with a "La Lupita" sign on.  Figuring this was what the Hobby Lobby duder was talking about, we discussed both the possibilities of going in the store of coming out alive.

4:40 PM:  After minutes of second guessing, we decided the need for sombreros was greater than the need for our own lives.  Upon entering the building, I see some of the most disturbing things I've seen in my time in Iowa City.  These weren't just normal, "That's sorta weird" type things.  These are like signs that are in horror movies when you know that you're screwed.  Like finding a relatives head located somewhere in your house.  Or suddenly the phone lines and your cell phone don't work - AT THE SAME TIME.  Those kind of disturbing things.  (Signs you'll die in a horror movie:  you're a young, attractive virgin, you're black, or you're stupid.  All these things mean you're dead.). 

Anyway, Craig, Fred, and I enter La Lupita.  The first thing we see is a lady with a helmet on leaving the "store."  Check.  Next, an extremely elderly gentleman who can barely walk exits.  It's like they knew we were coming in.  Check.  We notice that there is one cashier and he is standing behind a tinted, probably bulletproof glass barrier.  Check.  Finally, this wasn't actually a grocery store, but a collection of miscellaneous goods.  How the Hobby Lobby guy knew about this place is the real question.  It had everything from cowboy hats to cornflakes to marshmallows to jacks.  It was a crazy place.  Seeing no sombreros anywhere and fearing for our lives, we bolted to continue searching.

5:00 PM:  We drive across town.  We are discouraged, but not defeated.  We must have the sombreros.

5:10 PM:  Our group searches both Stuff and Goodwill only to come up short again.  Craig contemplates buying some shoes at Stuff for his wife for Christmas.  That would have ended up being the worst decision of the trip.  Please note we should have been murdered in a Mexican grocery store.  And buying your wife discounted shoes at the Stuff boutique is a worse decision.  She'll notice and you'll be in an endless hell.  Trust me, Craig.

5:30 PM:  Fully demoralized at this point, we begin discussing alternate options.  Some of them being: calling Carlos O'Kelly's to see if they rent their birthday sombreros, going into restaurants to see if they have sombreros on the walls (we did this), or trying to find a young child's birthday fiesta siesta. 

With none of these options being at all plausible, we decide that all hope is lost and it wasn't meant to be.  My mood at that point was somewhere between Ryan from the O.C. and Brock Lesnar.  I was an emotional explosion waiting to happen.

5:35 PM:  Fred is driving to our apartment.  Talk of watching the miserable Hawkeye basketball team begins.  This is the worst.

5:40 PM:  On our way home, we drive past the Aero Party and Rental Shoppe.  Craig things we should stop.  I'm pouting.  Fred agrees with Craig only because of their father-son connection.  Fred pulls the car into the lot and we hop out.  Through the window I see items I haven't seen in any of the other stores:  huge palm trees, streamers, etc.  I begin to get excited.  The excitement turns to anxiety, so I run into the store.  The lady at the counter looks at me funny, mainly because I'm 21 and running into/through the store like a child.

It was at this point that I knew this was the place.  I began laughing, slowly at first, while furiously pacing in between shelves.

Finally.  I had found them.  Sombreros stacked gloriously into the air.  My laughter turned hysterical, Fred had joined by that point too.  And I couldn't stop.  Just laughing.  We purchased six sombreros, a package of fake mustaches, and an inflatable cactus.

Mission Accomplished.

7:00 AM, the next day:  After a hard night of.....studying, our apartment begins the ritual of the trek to Kinnick.  Quick showers, Lupe Fiasco blaring, and we're off with our tickets, sombreros, and mustaches.

10:00 AM - 3:00 PM


































Check out -2:50 of this video.  Clearly, I was appalled at this guy.  Who wears a beret and brings a dog to a football game?  Per Mar isn't going to stand for that type nonsense.  Especially the beret.




10:00 PM, Saturday Night:  The Brother's (The bar, not the movie where everyone thinks Spiderman is dead, so Donnie Darko begins to romp with Padmé, but Spiderman isn't dead and goes apeshit.) bouncer asked if the sombrero was going to be a problem.  Obviously it was.  Obviously I answered, "Of course not."  Little did he know, my sombrero and I were about to ruin some girl's birthday.  Live and learn, bouncer.

The real lesson from this story is this:  don't be afraid to spend 3+ hours on a Friday afternoon in search of a necessity.

Dear God, please let us go to the Fiesta Bowl so we can bust out the sombreros with good and righteous reason.  I'm wearing mine to the airport.

*Photo Credits, Top to Bottom:  Quad City Times, Matthew Holst of the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The (Cedar Rapids Gazette, Des Moines Register
*Video Credits:  KCRG
*Adventure Credit:  Fred and Craig

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