The Hunt Diaries: 2007

There are only two events out of the year when an unpredictable day can be predicted: Hoboken’s St. Patty’s Day and The Hunt.

Each event centers around drinking, each costs at least 100 dollars to help guarantee a positive outcome. As I’ve done for HSPD, here’s a blow-by-blow description of the 2007 Far Hills Races. Note: The time stamps may be off 3-34 minutes due to other factors compromising lucidity.

7:38 AM- Awaken to see the sky has drastically changed since I night before. Just a few high clouds and already May-like with temps in the 60s. Me thinks global warming is a good thing, at least for today.

8:15 AM- After a long shower, breakfast is sorely needed. Apple Jacks wins over Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, Trix, Honeycomb, and Special K.

8:30 AM- First phone call of the day. Apparently Bagels on the Hudson can’t handle an order from one of my volunteers for six dozen to feed the two buses and a van that I have going to the Hunt (I run my spot and provide food, alcohol, transportation, tickets and Best of South Park DVDs for the way out). Before a decision can be made in terms of what to do next, call waiting pops on from another volunteer already setting up liquor at the spot in Far Hills indicating that they couldn’t find any Red Bull on their way out at 7:00 AM. Obtaining this mixer wasn’t even a thought when I attended my first Hunt in 2001, but now apparently is an absolute necessity.

8:31 AM- Bagels are reportedly available at Hoboken Bagels on 7th and Washington. 72 are ordered, and of course, maybe 10 of them are actually consumed later. Arrrgh! Or is it, D’OH!

8:35 AM- My buddy Billy finds Red Bull at CVS: Eight bucks for a four pack? Is that price for a Red Bulls soccer ticket package? This shit is expensive.

9:00 AM- Hoboken feels a little like the first Saturday in March but without the green. The streets are bustling with Hunt attendees, who are only distinguishable because of all the large boots. As mentioned previously in this space, even a little rain can cause muddy conditions that can resemble a scene right out of Woodstock. The footwear advice got out this year. But more on that in a bit…

9:10 AM- Being the hypocrite that I am on this point every year, I’m ten minutes late despite apocalyptic warnings to all attending that they HAD to be at the bus NO LATER than 9:00 or risk being arrested, humiliated, being stoned to death, etc.

By the way, my niece told me that her English class has been assigned to read The Lottery, which is the story about a woman being stoned to death in some weird American town. I had nightmares about that from Junior High School until, like, three nights ago. It’s not as bad as getting beaten to death by somebody dressed as a clown, but it’s still a brutal way to go.

9:15 AM- Police lights appear from behind one of the buses. Apparently our spot near Texas Arizona is an illegal one. We move down to in front of Club H instead. Looking in, there are exactly two people working out in a gym that is usually bustling on a non-summer Saturday mornings. The Hunt can have that effect.

9:25- First text of “I’m running late” comes in. My goal is to leave people behind on principle at 9:30, but I simply can’t bring myself to do it. Besides, I think this guy still owes me money.

9:30- We’re finally about to leave when an older gentleman (late 40s) decides to come on the bus and ask questions like he’s a reporter.

“Where is this bus going?”

“Oh really, what’s the Hunt?”

“How many people go?”

“How much are tickets?”

“You can bring your own alcohol?”

“What makes puffy clouds so white?”

I don’t know how to shut him off, but luckily another person on the bus says, “This isn’t a press conference” and tells the driver to shut the door. As we pull away, the guy is just staring at the bus, looking as if was just sentenced to a stoning, or more likely, that he somehow missed out of an kick-ass event in his life.

10:14 AM- First call comes in from the other bus: They are already out of suds. Who’s on there? The cast of Beer League? Guess I miscalculated on the bagels vs. suds thing. I contemplate pulling our lead bus over to share our cooler, but fear a backlash from our lushes for giving anything away.

10:45 AM- We arrive and park. I start to hand out tickets to people on the other bus that I wasn’t on but it quickly turns into that scene in Trading Places. Wanna feel old? That flick is 25 years old.

Anyway, the ticket allocation becomes that part toward the end when Eddie Murphy and a thin Dan Aykroyd start selling orange futures to a fervent mob of buyers on a trading floor and outwit the Dukes out of their entire fortune. In my reality a quarter of a century later, hands are everywhere, with some asking for as many as eight tickets. I know about 60 percent of the people here but the rest signed up via friends of friends of friends. Having said, all 115 tickets I brought with me were gone. And there were still eight people standing there empty handed.

Rule #1 on running a Hunt spot: Never, ever allow anyone to get on the bus if they haven’t paid yet. It’s like getting a verbal commitment from a future employer but no contract or start date.

Rule #2- Never trust an eVite number when determining how many tickets to buy the night before and for filling bus seats. Like a Nets game, people assume (and they’re invariably not being underhanded but are simply lazy) that there are always seats available and there’s plenty of room for all.

So after I accepted the fact that I would have to drop an additional $700 dollars on $100 same-day tickets at the gate (the price doubles the day of the Hunt, which is a whole bowl of wrong on some many levels), I was handed a few checks from those who hadn’t anted up yet after nearly six weeks of emails asking for payment.

So whether it is coordinating a beach or ski house or a Hunt spot, know this: You can get all of the blame and very little of the credit when being the guy or girl who runs anything. It’s a lot like being an offensive lineman in the NFL. You can block brilliantly all game but receive no glory, and if you’re called for a penalty late in a close game, you’re the goat. All it takes is one mistake. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about these experiences, it’s that (A) People are spoiled and (B) they love to complain more getting orally pleasured. It’s in our DNA to be coddled.

10:45 AM- After buying the tickets needed and scalping one more for $50.00, in we went. The ground is shockingly dry with a few patches of mud, but nowhere near what it was in 2006 in the photo to the right.

11:00 AM- Arrive at spots 1085-1087 to see everything is set up perfectly. The food is scrumptious; the liquor is neatly available to all on three long tables. And the plots are as packed as Texas Arizona on a Sunday afternoon when the Steelers are playing. I’m happy with the crowd we have…perfect mix of old guard and new faces.

11:45 AM- First walk to the bathroom is needed. I notice that there is an unwritten rule when it comes to traveling outside the Green Zone which represents our Hunt Plots: Don’t travel alone for fear of being seen without a companion by your side.

But I’m not about to grab someone to walk me to the Port-O-Pottys just to avoid looking like a drifter who arrived at the Hunt without friends, so I begin the 200-yard journey. On the way and on cue, I run into an old acquaintance who immediately asks, “What, are you here alone? Where is everyone?” Arrggh…or is it, D’OH?

12:30 PM- My first check of the watch. I’m already having a phenomenal time catching up with friends from the summer and therefore fear what happens during every Hunt: The expedition of the space-time continuum. Strangest thing: One minute it’s 11:30 AM and you still have at least six hours to socialize, the next minute it’s 6:30 and you’re on a bus wondering where the hell the day went.

Think about what can be accomplished in six hours: Two sessions of intercourse (at least in my case), a drive to and from Baltimore without traffic, or watching about 17 straight episodes (DVRd) of The Family Guy.

2:33 PM- The annual run-in with an ex-girlfriend-who-is-now-married-but-still-goes-to-the-Hunt every year occurs. Her name is Nancy and we grew up in Wayne together (she went to Hills and I took up space at Valley for four years). Aging is a funny thing. Nancy has two kids and is 34, yet looks as young, thin and vibrant as she was when we saw For Keeps with Molly Ringwald back in 1988 on our first date (Side note: This movie abruptly ended Ringwald’s career after an impressive run at the top with Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. She went from the Queen of the 80s to being put in the same category as Gary Coleman. Amazing…)

3:00 PM- The day is running downhill now. The temptation to switch to something other than keg beer is getting strong. A bottle of John Daniels has gone relatively untouched and that devil on my shoulder right out of Animal House (but the angel is a talking horse like Mr. Ed…don’t ask) is telling me to have just one Jack and Coke to kick start my second wind. But a cooler head prevails due to seeing into my future of a flight to Chicago the following day and my private tour of Wrigley Field. A vision of hurling on the pitchers mound on the diamond of my favorite team ensues. I pour another Bud Light and set up an empty table for a rousing Flip Cup tournament instead.

4:06 PM- Our team finishes its Colorado Rockies imitation and finally loses a game. My bladder is on the verge of exploding, so it’s off to the Port-o-Johns again. This time, I run into people at spots and along the path again but can’t concentrate on the small talk. For the final 100 yards, I act like I’m talking on my cell phone even though I haven’t been able to get a signal since arriving there.

4:09 PM- Out of 1000 toilets to choose from, I get the one where someone decided to drop off the Cosby kids. The stench is overwhelming but I’m able to hold my breath for 45 seconds. Somewhere, someone is bragging to their friends about how they took a dump in a portable bathroom at the Hunt.

5:30 PM- A friend informs me that the spot next to our (1088 and 1089) is taking liquor from our bar. I peer over to see one Jagoff drinking directly from one of our bottles of Grey Goose. We confront him. The conversation between one of our members and the mooch isn’t pleasant, with both sides dropping the word “dude” multiple times, which is common when men argue.

“Dude, that’s our vodka.”

“Dude, chill. I was only having one swig.”

“Dude, you ever think about asking?”

“Dude, you have tons of this shit. Share the wealth.”

“Dude, if we see you do it again we’re going to have a problem.”

“What are you going to do about it?” (takes another swig)

A brawl almost ensues until another guy from their spot plays the role of diplomat (like the word “dude” an referee also seems to work his ways into these situations. Said diplomat/ref apologizes as the other guy who was stealing the liquor tries to win a staring and smirking contest with everyone who has come over to see what’s going on at this point.

After being involved in breaking up a scrum at the 2003 Hunt when the same kind of thing occurred, I accept the apology. Yes, the day is about generosity to those visiting a spot, and we were to a fault, but not when it’s done this way. Just another unwritten rule of the Hunt…

6:00 PM- Time to start heading back. I carry one of our four kegs back with some other volunteers for the mile walk to the bus. The sun is setting and the first hint of fall is in the air. It’s always a bittersweet jaunt at this point of the day. Everyone feels they can go another six hours if given the opportunity.

Plans are made internally about going out upon arriving back in Hoboken. It will only be 7:30, the Sox game will be on and a ton of college football. And everyone is already hammered, so it will be twice as fun, right?

But as the bus hits the usual traffic upon leaving Far Hills, excitement quickly becomes fatigue. It’s getting dark; the bus is eerily quiet with the exception of the Scott Tenermon Must Die South Park episode playing on the DVD. Some folks are sleeping while other making out like they’re on a chairlift at Vernon Valley in 8th grade…

8:45 PM- Back in Hoboken. Texas Arizona is the next stop, but after one shot of Jameson and the first Jack and Coke of the day, hunger and blurry vision sets in. As I’m leaving, JD Drew hits a grand slam for the home team. I must be drunk or already asleep if that just happened.

Only pizza from Mario’s will do. An Irish exit (which occurs when leaving a bar and not telling anyone) is executed sloppily but effectively.

9:30 PM- Two slices are finished and the Boston-Cleveland game is on in my apartment. I close my eyes for two seconds.

1:45 AM (more than two seconds): I realize that two of my friends from upstate New York were supposed to crash on my place. I call their cell but it goes directly to voice mail. No word on what has happened to them at press time.


3:30 PM (Sunday)- I’m on the field at Wrigley a few hours after ordering four cups of water on top of the two bottles I had with me for the flight out.

Hell of a weekend; from the infield at Moorland Farms in Far Hills to the infield of the second oldest park in baseball in Chicago. Not the most exciting or adventurous two days I’ve ever had, but certainly one of the more memorable ones.

And I’ll do again every third Saturday in October for the next 50 years.