I hadn’t seen The Guys in about a year. It’s strange, sometimes, when you spend all your waking hours with a group of people at a certain period in your life, and then suddenly you get a bit older and you realize you haven’t even spoken on the phone with them in months. Time gets away from you, and friendship – at least that kind of epic, intense friendship – requires proximity. You have to be involved with each other constantly. You have to know what you’re all up to at any given moment to have that kind of easy familiarity. I’d started to really worry about my old friendships with The Guys – until I boarded Party Bus Houston.
Billy was getting married. I knew he was serious with Marcia, but the wedding invite came as a shock, and that was when I started to realize that we’d drifted so far in recent years. There had been a time when I would have known about the proposal months in advance, when I would have been in on the planning and execution. Now I was just getting an invitation in the mail like everyone else.
I felt better when Wayne contacted me about the bachelor party. Good old Wayne, of course he was Bill’s Best Man. Things felt more familiar with him on board, though he was secretive. A plane ticket arrived in the mail, along with a key to a locker at George Bush Intercontinental. I had no idea what was coming. On the flight I had a few drinks, excited to see everyone. There’d be a few new faces, of course; the bride’s brother and some work friends of Bill’s I’d never met. But the old gang, The Guys, would all be there, a little older, a little paunchier, but still the best friends I’d ever had, and we had three days in Houston together, culminating in Bill’s wedding. I didn’t even know about Party Bus Houston yet, and I was excited.
At the airport, I made my way to the lockers and found mine. Inside was a garment bag with my name on it, and a note pinned to it saying WEAR ME. I ducked into the restroom and changed into the amazing black suit Wayne had left; it fit perfectly. How he’d managed that I would never know. Then I headed out to the curb and stood there, confused. That was the end of the instructions I’d been given. For a moment I stood there, looking around.
Then the bus came around the bend. A gleaming limo party bus, lights flashing. It pulled up right in front of me and the doors split open to reveal Wayne, in a matching black suit.
“All aboard Party Bus Houston!” he shouted, grinning, and there were matching shouts from inside.
Party Bus Houston was, indeed, a party on wheels. Everyone was there, and we were all wearing the black suits Wayne had selected as our uniform. He said something about a Vodka commercial he’d seen. There was, in fact, plenty of Tito’s Homemade Vodka on board, vodka born in Texas. I started to feel like I was in a commercial. We drank, and sang, and got caught up, and Party Bus Houston took us on a tour of the fun spots in town: The Flying Saucer, where every beer in the world was on tap as a nice break from vodka; McGonigels Mucky Duck to catch some music and have a few more drinks.
Through it all, we were safe and secure inside Party Bus Houston, so we could just relax and enjoy ourselves. I figured Bill must have loved it – I know for me it was the best night of my life, and I wasn’t even the groom!