Week 22: Ricks on the River

Week 22: Ricks on the River

I assure you the desire to be a twig is buried within my chubby little heart, and I often yearn to have a pre-pubescent body, but as we get older our priorities change…. and they absolutely take a turn for the worst when you find your significant other. I’ve always been someone who sets individual fitness goals and adheres to them on my own, but in the past year I’ve spent 90% of my life running around between work, Ryan, volunteering, networking, a new phenomenon called reading, and boozing. I’ve learned that the window of opportunity to exercise is my time spent with Ryan, and while I’d much rather inhale a double bacon cheeseburger or engage in a game of spin the bottle, I just need to work out. Somehow, he never seems to lose his motivation and it may have taken a year for him to rub off on me, but I’m gonna follow in his shrinking, skinny footsteps. That’s right, even his feet are shrinking before my eyes.

Saturday morning we ran 5 miles with Miles for Moffit, and when I say “WE” I mean that we both attended. Ryan finished the race within 36 psychotic minutes and I took 51 pitiful minutes.  I haven’t been running so my only goal was to survive and to putt along without stopping. I would have actually reached my goal of 10 minute miles had I not stopped to puke on a tree just 200 yards from the finish line. As a stranger rubbed my back and told me to “Get it all up” and that “I’m almost there” I desperately wanted to let him know that I was “FINE” and that puking and rallying is actually a recreational tradition of mine, on and off the pavement.  However, I was unable to tell him off while the previous night’s shrimp and grits were exiting my nostrils.

So, moral of Saturday’s race is to never just go out there and “wing” 5 miles. With knots literally tying up the back of my thighs, we’re venturing out on round two of our fitness weekend: kayaking to Sunday brunch. When you can’t use your legs, use your arms. As we pulled up to my condo to grab my bathing suit, we encountered a pirate looking for something in the trunk of his Lexus RX. There was also an extremely large spitting image of Mr. T riding a moped that was designed for a dwarf and/or child. It’s characters like these that remind me why I live in Ybor City. I’m not sure I ever want to leave. If it wasn’t for the lack of space in my two bedroom condo and my desire to raise an army of 6 Swedish meatballs, then I’d probably stay forever.

Soon after, we arrive at Bayshore Blvd  and drop the kayaks into the water. We plan to get brunch at Ricks on the River which is a 3 mile kayaking adventure down Bayshore, through downtown, by the University of Tampa and then down the Hillsborough River. Naturally, I’m concerned for large sting rays, alligators, bull sharks, carnivorous dolphins, and pelicans.  Most people aren’t afraid of Pelicans but if you took just one minute to study them, you would be. Not only do they look exactly like their pterodactyl ancestors, but they dive down into the water at rapid speeds, using their beaks as fishing nets and swallowing their prey whole. So here’s my thing:  since any animal can develop bad eye sight with old age, who is to say I am safe swimming or kayaking underneath the wings of these beasts. What if one day I find myself tragically placed below an elderly pelican and then BAM, there goes my head, swallowed whole by this modern day dinosaur.

While my concerns mainly surrounded wildlife, I should have been more concerned with what my arms would feel like after the 2 hours it took to reach our destination. Sometimes I have a funny way of letting Ryan know I love him, like by screaming at him that “my arms f’in kill and this idea sucked” and “the last tenth of a mile has smelled like cat piss.”  Ryan knows all too well what cat piss smells like because this morning he decided to help me with my chores which included cleaning the litter box. Helping with chores may have gained him brownie points with me, but they literally, no pun intended, gained him real brownie points when his sunglasses fell off of his head and straight into fresh cat shit. While he didn’t find it funny at all, I internally chuckled all day.

I’ve never been to Ricks on the River but have heard it’s a local dive offering boat slips, live music, a bar and mediocre food. Once the kayaks were secure, we walked (stumbled) in to the glorious melting pot. Mullets, rat tails, motorcyclists, handicapped, camo hats, fishermen, Gators fans, mixed race children, a living breathing red head, couples, elderly men, jimmy buffet shirts, a waitress with a knee brace, a cowboy,  lesbians, river rats, rockers, and more.

As the band sets up, a bedazzled midget twirls around on stage. She has rhinestone denim pockets and sparkling high heels and I’m ecstatic to have my first Meatball Chronicle with a performing midget.

We were going to do a little boozing at Ricks but I just couldn’t do it. I was exhausted and dehydrated and needed water more than anything. Ryan got a beer and we ordered some jalapeño poppers for an appetizer. We also ordered a buffalo chicken wrap with cole slaw and fried oysters and fries. The jalapeño poppers came out relatively fast and while I was eating them I disappointingly noticed that I had mistaken someone’s fat child as the midget on stage. No midget performances today.

I take a while to analyze our immediate surroundings. The motorcycle chick next to us has huge fake lips and a leather pony tail holder to prevent her hair from blowing and tangling in the wind. Her dominatrix look intrigues me and as I sit here with knotted hair I find myself wishing that I had one of those horse tail things for the windy trip home.  The woman in front of me is smoking her cigarette and has put her tropical drink’s umbrella in her hair as an accessory. It looks like shit. She has skinned knees and for a second I wonder why, but Ryan informs me that she is probably a hardworking housewife who has been scrubbing her kitchen floors and gardening for 20+ years now. Oh.

I’m not a huge fan of fried oysters but when they arrive at our table Ryan is very excited about them. I don’t feel like trying them but he informs me that they are fantastic. My buffalo chicken wrap came out looking like it went through a garbage disposal but that didn’t affect its fabulous taste. It was loaded with chicken and having to conquer it with a fork didn’t bother me.

Aside from the primarily redneck crowd, I wonder why people talk so poorly about Ricks. It may be a dive but their food is fantastic and their staff is rather welcoming. They are the first establishment we’ve visited where I’ve actually wanted to stay all day. Actually, I wanted to stay all day to avoid kayaking home, but that’s a moot point. The journey home was long but we made it (as I am sure you have assumed with my ability to recap). Rick… whoever you are, I was pleasantly surprised and I’ll be back. Maybe by foot next time.

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