Andrea: The day of the rugby match has arrived! We left the campsite to return downtown and stay in a hostel (abandoning GEM for the night). The place had a tiny parking lot and we managed to park after 15 minutes of Brie and me barking instructions at poor Vern behind the wheel while a handful of backpackers looked on. The receptionist told us they were full and we'd been upgraded to two double rooms. After a few minutes of deliberation, it was decided that Vern and I would share one room and Brie could have her own. We got to our rooms and I kept repeating how we were lucky to get our own room and how the room was better than I was expecting. I happily shuffled off to the bathroom and passed a man standing in the doorway of his room looking forlorn at the basic furnishings while talking himself into crossing the threshold, 'Well, it's only for one night.' I guess one man's palace is another man's... soup kitchen.
In the common area of the hostel we broke out our markers and poster board and finished making our sign for the match. The plan was to have a fantastic sign to get us on TV! We came up with a great slogan that played off the captain of the USA team's name, Todd Clever, that read: 'We're CUTE and CLEVER...like TODD! (Brie would want me to clarify that the ellipses was her idea. The rest was mine.) We had 'cute' colored with white stars and a blue background, the 'clever' was red striped and the 'Todd' was a mix of both stars and stripes. It was beautiful. (Brie would want me to tell you that I did 2 stripes. She and Vern did the rest.) We rolled up our sign, donned our cowboy hats (Vern in a visor) and hit the town. The plan was to search for an Indian restaurant that Brie had been to 5 years earlier that she didn't know where it was or what it was called. We would eat there and then go to the game. Well, after 5 minutes on our pilgrimage we got distracted by a great happy hour special: 'wine: $3 at 3:00, $4 at 4:00' etc. We hopped in trying to get the $3 special, but just missed it so settled for three glasses each at $4...and then later two more glasses at $5. We played a game of 'Celebrity' and then continued on the mission. The bartender told us about a place called Tulsi that was the best Indian restaurant in the city. And BYO. That was our place! We grabbed two bottles of wine on the way to the restaurant. After a delicious array of curries the owner came up to greet us. His hair was plastered to his head and he couldn't take his beady eyes off Brie. He told us we should leave now if we wanted to make it to the game on time. We had had no concept of time and hadn't even finished the wine yet. He reluctantly gave us plastic cups to take the wine on the road (although this was illegal. I blame Brie's feminine wiles). The walk didn't seem to take long and we hadn't even finished the wine by the time we got there. A cop immediately spotted us and made us pour them out. 'But I'm worried about getting it on your pants!' I genuinely yelled at the female cop. 'Don't worry about my pants.'. Then someone walked by. 'I'm worried about getting it on his pants!' 'Don't worry about anyone's pants. If you don't pour it out then you won't see the game.' I'm happy to report everyone walked away from this with clean pants.
Our ticket said Row KK so we figured that was even further back than Row Z. Up, up and up we walked looking for KK and the furthest we got was Z. We rushed around trying to find our seats because ten minutes had already passed in the game. We left the hostel at 3:30, the game started at 8:30 and somehow we were late. We were the last people in the row, but our row was only 3 rows back from the field! We had great seats even though they were the 'cheap ones'. Good seats + our amazing sign = getting on TV! We held our sign with pride and searched the field for our man, Todd Clever. Mumbling to each other about how we didn't see his flowing locks on the field, a spirited Kiwi in front of us wearing a full home team Red Sox uniform nonchalantly informed us that Todd Clever was suspended and therefore not playing: he'd been punished for an illegal play in the previous game against Russia. His voice became distant as he yammered on something about a late tackle and my world went black. We spent hours on that sign and now the object of our affection wasn't even playing! I looked to my right. Brie was still enthusiastically holding the sign up. I yanked at her arms. 'The sign is DEAD!' I screamed. 'Put it down!' 'What? We need this to get on TV,' she screamed. I reasoned with her that he's not playing so we had a better chance of getting on TV using our sheer beauty than with the sign. She couldn't argue with that. The USA Eagles were getting pummeled on the field, which was fine because we were having so much fun in the stands that we could only half pay attention to the game. At one point the guy in front of us in the Red Sox uniform spotted James O'Connor, a player for Australia, on the sidelines just in front of us. James is a young player with baby face and a 'fashionable' haircut. The Red Sox guy started chanting 'Justin Bieber' followed by clap clap clap clap clap. We joined in. This continued for about 20 minutes and O'Connor was fully aware we were screaming at him. We found this hilarious. I still do! We started making friends with everyone around us, even some kids who were out in support of Australia. One kid dressed in all yellow supporting the Wallabies kept turning around and looking at the loud US supporters (us). Brie and I were sticking our tongues out and making the cut throat motion with our fingers (like in the Kiwi haka). The kid took one look at us and shook his head slowly in what can only be described as disappointed. That kid was probably 10 years old. We wasn't intimidated or angry, just disappointed.
The game went by way too quickly and by the end our team had lost by a significant margin and we hadn't spotted ourselves on the big screen. Two disappointing outcomes. But, then we saw Todd Clever coming out onto the field from the coaches box, his flowing locks gelled to perfection and wearing a suit. We grabbed the 'dead' sign and screamed for his attention. He came over to us and had his teammate take a picture of him with our sign! 'We're going to be on his blog!' I shrieked, not knowing if he had a blog nor whether he could read or write. We told him to take the sign if he wanted it, but he told us to keep it. 'Oh, we're just going to throw it away,' replied Brie, honestly. 'Ouch,' Todd Clever said, visibly offended. We asked him where he was going after this and he said they were off to Nelson for the next game. 'What? Oh, rugby. No. We meant what are you doing TONIGHT!?' He mentioned a bar we were planning on going to anyway so the plan was set. My main objective was to get Brie together with Todd Clever for a few reasons: 1.) His last name is awesome and she would be Brie Clever after they married. 2.) He lives in Japan so we could go visit Brie in their marital home. 3.) She could tell him to shave off his stupid soul patch (aka flavor saver, aka the tuft of hair just under his lower lip). 4.) He has beautiful blue eyes and long curly hair (Brie has beautiful green eyes and long curly hair) so they would make gorgeous lion cub-esque babies that came out of the womb with shoulder-length hair. None of these were selfish reasons and all completely practical. We walked from the stadium to the bar, The Establishment and hung out there for a few hours. After watching the door for a long time we gave up hope of seeing that liar Todd Clever again and settled for chatting with normal people. Boooorrrrriiiinnnnggggg. Now that we've had a 3 minute conversation with an almost famous person I don't know if we can ever go back to talking to normies. Vern and I left slightly early, hit Burger King for 4th meal (I'm not proud of it) and went straight to bed after reaching the hostel.
The next morning we hit a cafe that looked like it was torn between being a cafe and a club for some delicious breakfasts. Vern and I both had French toast with bacon and banana, and big coffees to ward off the dreaded hangovers. We walked back to the hostel and passed a store that was being renovated that had newspaper taped on the windows to prevent people from seeing inside. Vern looked over and pointed screaming, 'That's our dude!' We looked at the newspaper and, sure enough, the flat-haired owner of the Indian restaurant was staring us in the faces. Looks like we met a local celebrity last night! Maybe he lingered so long at our table hoping we would recognize him! Back at the hostel and we claimed 3 couches and recalled stories from the previous night while waiting to drop off Brie at the airport. Vern sneakily went to a computer and mumbled, 'You're not going to believe this, but Todd Clever does have a blog!' We checked and we weren't on it yet. All in good time.
We said goodbye and dropped off Brie :( then went grocery shopping. We spotted the flat-haired restaurant owner again on a range of at-home Indian foods! This guy was inescapable. We took photos and sent it to Brie to show her what she was missing. After that, we said goodbye to Wellington, and hopefully the owner of Tulsi, for good and hit the road to find a free DOC campsite on the way back up north. We cooked pasta and settled back into life in the campervan, just the two of us.