This is the sixth bachelor party that I’ve attended in the past three years. There were eight of us in total, two lawyers, one dentist, one accountant, eight SEC graduates in total.
I have changed all names except for mine. I did this to protect their professional identities as well as their innocence.
This is our story.
1. I make my flight from Dallas, where I’d just finished the Texas Bar Exam, to Birmingham, Alabama to meet up with everyone.
I literally walked out of the bar exam and hopped a flight. Is there any better time to be heading to a bachelor party at the beach?
On the flight, the man next to me is a cattle farmer from northern Alabama. We start a fascinating conversation about cattle breeding.
It’s a two-hour flight and I land in Birmingham around dinner.
2. Five of us leave Birmingham at 8pm on Thursday evening to squeeze in a fishing trip early Friday morning in Orange Beach, AL.
The only directions we know are along the lines of “head south to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach and take a left on Ala. 182.” The drive is four hours.
As we drive, we all share our favorite stories from past visits to the beach. This is my third trip to Orange Beach. I’m astounded to discover that T.O. has never been to the FloraBama before. How did I not know this?
We arrive in Orange Beach just before midnight and roll the windows down. It is cool and comfortable in the August night. We then spend the next half hour trying to find a Wal-Mart to pick up a few things for the weekend. Unfortunately, we settle for a Tom Thumb gas station that is located next to a Barnes & Nobles bookstore. (I’m sure half of you just did a double take. There is indeed a bookstore…in Alabama.) We buy a few bags of ice, drinks, and sunscreen for our fishing trip in the morning.
3. We’re staying at a condo inside a building called the Phoenix X that shares a parking lot with the world famous beach bar, the Flora-Bama.
When we make it into the condo I immediately rush inside and claim a bed and pass out.
4. At around 5:30 AM we wake up and climb into BP’s truck.
Our guide/captain, Curtis, is the quintessential southern fisherman. He has a stingray tattoo on his calf, a shark tattoo on his neck, and every item of clothing he owns has a Costa logo on it. He also admits to being a Crimson Tide fan.
Seriously, Bama fans are unbelievable.
After pushing away from the marina, Captain Curtis immediately and without warning hits an uncomfortable high rate of speed. I spill my coffee all over the front deck of the boat. “Time is precious,” Captain Curtis yells as he throws an empty bucket at me to rinse down the deck. “Now if my wife saw that…..,” says Captain Curtis. I just, I just don’t know what to say. (Note: This is not how you make friends.)
After about an hour of catching bait, we head 60 miles out in search of Amberjack.
By 10 a.m., the sun had broken through the clouds and it was another clear, sunny beautiful day on the Gulf of Mexico. “That storm over there is less than 200 yards away.” T.O. and I look over and agree that the storm clouds are actually several miles away. Tyler replies, “I’m no math mathematician, but I’ve seen a few football fields, and no way is that storm two football fields away.” But Tyler’s using logic, something that has no business being utilized on any bachelor party (or in the vicinity of an Alabama fan.)
We will later agree that Curtis would be the worst general building contractor ever.
Shortly thereafter while T.O. is reeling in his line, a demon fish starts to erase his progress and pulls the line back out. After wrenching the fish close enough to see from the boat, Curtis lets out a yell.
“Oh man, that’s a big [flippin’] bull shark!”
After a thirty minute fight, T.O. is able to pull the shark up to the boat before we cut the line. Curtis then turns back to us and says “That’s nothing. Last year I saw a great white jump over 20 feet out of the water.” T.O. shakes his head in disbelief, “I’m going to need video evidence of that one.”
5. We’re back at the condo by 4pm.
When we return to the condo, additional reinforcements have arrived, Pete and Ron, both worked a half-day in Birmingham before hitting the road down to beach.
6. After dinner we walk next door to the FloraBama Lounge and Packare Store for the night.
An iconic, 50-year-old roadhouse situated just on the Florida side of the Florida-Alabama state line, the FloraBama is a place where “you can have a millionaire sitting next to a biker. The place is large and a little like a maze with bras strung all over the ceiling and graffitti messages of love, hate, and SEC football scribbled all across the floors, walls, and bathroom stalls. And unlike most bars like this, the FloraBama has never had to reinvent itself.
Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a Bushwacker at the Flora-Bama on a weekend night. The people-watching is first class. It’s a jaw-dropping sight.
The ‘Bama’ has been named the #1 Beach Bar in the U.S. since its inception in 1964. And over the past 40 years, it has survived hurricanes, fires, oil spills, and bankruptcy. Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, and Chris Young have all written songs about this local watering hole.
The ‘Bama” even features a “WAR EAGLE” drink. Needless to say, it’s an amazing place.
Tonight there appears to be a dozen bachelorette parties going. I engage one soon-to-be-bride in conversation and introduce them to our ‘bachelor’. One of the girls offers me a vodka and redbull. (At least I hoped it was a vodka and redbull.)
Everything is going bachelor party smooth until we realize that we have somehow managed to lose Pete in the crowd.
In the meantime, we meet an Alabama fan with the Alabama logo shaved into his head. Seriously, shaved head messages are coming back?? I mean, who hasn’t wanted to get their university logo shaved on their head? See, we’re all about education in the South.
About an hour later we find Pete with two drinks in his hands and his shirt unbuttoned to his midriff. I take a picture. Another soon-to-be-bride photobombs my picture. I buy her a vodka and redbull.
As we leave the FloraBama, I notice a large, barefoot black woman in a tiny miniskirt – not the good kind – lean up against the exit ramp and light a cigarette. We all notice this, but none of us say anything.
We’re back at the condo by one. Day 1 is in the books.
7. At nine the next morning, we are awakened by BP cooking bacon and eggs.
BP looks incredibly rested, he’s chipper and spry while everyone else moves around pretty slow.
Shortly after breakfast, we head downstairs and make our way to the beach.
As we walk down, a man walking in front of us spills his cooler, and his beers roll ominously down the boardwalk to the beach. We don’t stop to help because the sand beneath our feet is scorching.
When we pick our spot on the beach, Ron, Pete, and I decide to pay a total of $60 to rent a set of cabanas for the afternoon because the sun is out and it’s likely 110 degrees. From here we can lounge and look out into the crammed beach water.
“Sandra Bullock rented from me a few weeks ago,” says our cabana guy, who has muscles in his cheekbones.
8. Meanwhile Alabama fans have an inflatable island that takes 5 people to drag down to the beach.
A stuggling Bama fan attempts to jump onto the now floating inflatable island while holding a plastic handle of whiskey. Unfortunately he loses his balance and faceplants on the beach. Everyone on the beach erupts in laughter. I love Bama fans. I can’t look away.
(I can picture the Bama fan thinking to himself right now, “If ya’ll want to judge me, y’all can all go to hell and “kiss the 15 rings. Rahl Tyde, RAHL!!”)
I’ve officially seen everything now.
Did I mention it’s not even noon yet?
By noon a group of UGA grads start playing sand beer pong next to us. As if their party wasn’t wild enough, the girls start dancing and rapping along to Lil John’s song “Get Low.” They’re having the best time, screaming along with the song, and then all of a sudden that racial slur arrives. A whole crowd of people just sort of dies over the racial slur and then everyone starts singing again.
9. To the right of us, LSU fans have turned their beach party into a game day style tailgate.
These LSU tailgaters have beer pong tables, beer funnels, generators running margarita machines and speakers. I feel comfortable reporting that these LSU fans do not smell like corn dogs. I take a picture and make conversation with Uncle Ray, Cousin Earl, Tami (insert redneck name here) and tell them I’m an Auburn graduate. They offer me a daiquiri to “drain my sorrows.” It tastes like rum via straw.
Flash forward three hours, two girls from Mississippi ask us to play sand volleyball with them. One of them tells us, “It’s going to be frat bros acting like rednecks versus actual rednecks.” Uh oh.
At this point, BP declines the invite and tells us that he’s going back to the condo to start cooking burgers for everyone, but we all accuse him of really going back to the room to fall asleep with the golf channel on. So anyway, that’s BP.
An hour or so passes and we text BP and receive no response. So, by four in the afternoon, one man is down. That person will not be me.
It’s a struggle, y’all.
10. Ron and I leave the beach area to check out the FloraBama.
Upon entering I check all my pockets in my swimsuit to find enough money to purchase a Bushwacker. It feels just like spring break, back when you didn’t have much money and the money you did have you were spending on alcohol. Ron and I each drink a Bushwacker before heading for a pizza joint.
11. We’re back at the condo by eight and find BP passed out with NFL preseason on TV.
We watch Manziel’s first preseason game while BP finally cooks everyone burgers.
I jump on the couch and quickly realize if I close my eyes, I’m not getting back up. Passing out is now a real threat. Others aren’t so lucky.
12. I change out of my swimsuit – which I’ve been wearing all day – and head over to the FloraBama.
As we enter the FloraBama, Eric, an accountant from Birmingham, gives me his advice for the evening, “If you accidentally cause someone to spill a drink, you should respond with a “RAHL Tyde” and walk away. For example, if you fall down a set of stairs and knock over a waitress with a tray of drinks in her hand…”Rahl. Tyde. RAHL.”
Welcome to the SEC. We play every day of the year.
(Related: I encourage you to say “Rahl Tyde,” any time you find yourself doing something stupid in your everyday life.)
By midnight, my stomach is killing me. I think it’s because I’ve had more “splashes of cranberry juice” than I’ve had in my entire life.
13. We meet a large bachelorette party composed of mostly Auburn grads, so we hang out with them for now.
Shortly after making converstion, Pete hijacks our conversation by loudly interrupting, “This woman just lied to me!” For a moment, I think Pete might actually kill someone. He is outraged. I ask Pete what happened. Apparently, an older woman tried to get Pete to buy her a drink by claiming that she was country singer star Terri Clark. Who does this?
Ron shakes his head morosely as he listens to Pete. I tell Pete that I’d be more troubled by this woman’s stupidity than her lies.
[Background on Pete: Pete claims to have listened to every “real country song.” So, I’ve dealt with the tension between Pete, country music and girls on a dance floor before.]
“You are not Terri Clark! I’ve seen her perform live!” Pete upsets fake Terri Clark so much that Ron and I are forced to extricate him from the area… with the help of fake Terri Clark’s husband….
14. Wanting no part in this, I head back downstairs to the main bar and find Jeremy and Eric.
For the rest of the night nothing that exciting goes on. Well, until Eric accidentally steps on a girls toe. We all apologize and end up sharing a table. I make conversation with one of the girls. Molly tells me that she just started optometry school so I decide to ask her for an eye exam. She leans toward me pretending to inspect my eyes. For a moment we are nose to nose as if we’re about to kiss. And then suddenly it happens….“Your eyes are poop brown,” she says, before immediately retracting her head.
Pete later finds us and also attempts to engage Molly in conversation by telling her that his name is “Victor.” Molly responds, “You just lied to me so now we can’t be friends.” Pete is in disbelief and stares off in silence for a moment until the girl explodes, “I know your name isn’t Victor……Pete!” Priceless.
This is like a bad blind date.
15. The FloraBama closes, and everyone heads home.
As we exit, Molly invites us to accompany her and her friends at the Waffle House across the street. Well, everyone except Pete. (Never change Pete. Never change.)
It’s now 2:30 in the morning and Molly hops in a cab as I embark on the “200 yard” trek home.
Sunday morning we face the road trip terror that everyone knows exists, but refuses to admit, the ride home. When I finally make it to the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport that evening, I receive this SnapChat from Molly….
If you visit the FloraBama, you will almost certainly have a good time, hear a sad song, and share a beer with someone you don’t know.
I can’t wait to come back. Hope everyone has a great weekend.
Rahl Tyde, Rahl!