For the uninitiated, the Overnight Web Challenge is a competition where teams of developers produce an entire website from scratch in just 24 hours. The finished sites benefit non-profit organizations. It's an event that people look forward to all year, and is attended by geeks and statesmen alike. No shit... Even Al Franken gave a funny speech this year!
My challenge team combines the Drupal CMS mascot (a water droplet) with Minnesota's sub-zero temperatures, thus arriving at the name "Drop it Like it's HOTH".* We prepare for months in advance.
* A very nerdy nod to Mrs. Frost for coming up with the team name!
I'm more than a bit nervous about this because not only is it my first time competing, but also I do not know several of the core technologies slated for the project. I'm not at all comfortable learning the complexities of Drupal 7 theming or mobile web app development on the fly, but Indie, my team captain, assures me that I'll do fine. I'm not convinced, but I pledge my support anyway.
The teams gather and the challenge begins at 8am on Saturday morning. My computer equipment is packed and ready to rock.
Meanwhile, the night before the competition, our pal Rocky (best known for his involvement in the infamous wedding guest book debacle) has returned to Minnesota after a long hiatus, and Mrs. Frost and I throw a small "welcome home" party for him. And I do mean small. We have a modest 1-bedroom apartment, but about 25 people arrive and pack into the place. We've got appetizers, a stocked bar, and more than enough craft beers. Everyone is happy. I promise myself to keep it light, and go to bed early to be well-rested for tomorrow's competition. I'm nervous enough as it is!
Temperatures are still a bit chilly on this spring evening, with at least 6 inches of icy snow still on the ground from our long Minnesota winter. I pay no attention to the north wind which tries to remind me of my curse. This is a night for celebrating! What could go wrong?
I check the clock. It's well after midnight, and I should be in bed by now. I can stay up for a bit longer, right? Things are going so well!
The drinks are flowing, the jokes are getting louder, and everybody is having a great time. One of the cute Asian girls, Maiden China, asks if our apartment building has a hot tub. We do, but it's an outdoor one and it's closed up for the winter. However, we have a sauna, and a fairly nice one at that. Several drunken eyes light up, and suddenly everyone wants to take a sauna. Considering my Finnish heritage, I feel obligated to make sure that any sauna taken under my watch is going to be a proper sauna. I also insist that it's pronounced correctly, and openly mock anyone who refers to this traditional bathhouse as a "saw-na".
I leave the apartment, and walk just a few doors down to the sauna. I clean up the stove, wipe down the benches, fill the water bucket, and start up the heat.
An hour later, the sauna is hot, and several of my tipsy guests are itching to free themselves of their clothes. Those who don't want to join the fun call it an evening and head home. The sauna itself doesn't have a changing room, so I pass out towels to everyone, and we all get changed in my apartment. It's a pretty evenly mixed group, 3 guys and 4 girls. Mrs. Frost says she's feeling tired and doesn't feel like joining us this time. The rest of us shrug, leave the apartment, and trot down the hall in our towels.
NOTE: I apologize in advance to all of you perverts who want pictures of this event, but our cameras/phones were back in the apartment. Trust me, you don't want to see my naked ass anyway.
The sauna is awesome, and everyone is having a great time soaking in the steam rolling off the stove rocks. Just next to the sauna is a door to the exterior of the apartment building. It has a crash bar on the inside, no handle on the outside, and is always locked, but there is a nice patio outside with a thin blanket of snow on it. Occasionally we step outside into the freezing air to cool off, making sure to prop open the exterior door behind us.
It's very late, now, and I really need to get to bed. The web challenge starts in just a few hours! Just then, our less-than-punctual friend Late Nate shows up. He had gone to the empty apartment and learned from Mrs. Frost that we were all down at the sauna. Nate is three sheets to the wind. How the hell did he drive here in his condition? At any rate, he's here now, acting rather loud and obnoxious... even moreso that the rest of us. He strips out of his clothes and throws them on the floor outside of the sauna.
We resume our fun, but Nate keeps getting overheated and decides to hold open the sauna door, letting all of the steam out. We shout at him angrily, but in his stupor, he decides that it's funny, so he props the door open even wider. Maiden shoves Nate in the chest, and he goes tumbling out into the hallway. At that point, we needed to cool off anyway, so we just stepped outside the exterior door, using Late Nate's pants to prop open the crash bar door.
Two of my buddies get in a wrestling match in the snow, and we all laugh and cheer. It's a good time, but now I really need to show these people out and get myself to bed. So I walk back to the propped door, only to find that the pants were missing. I look around in disbelief, and there's Nate standing on the patio with us, wearing the pants.
"Dude, what the fuck is your problem?" I yelled at him. "You just locked us out of the building, you dumbass!" He passes it off as no big deal, but the others quickly catch on to our conversation and start to panic. Besides Nate, the rest of us are stark naked, except for our towels, and some of us are covered in snow from wrestling.
The others continue to berate him while I think of a plan. There's a man-door near the underground parking garage door that usually gets ice-jammed in the winter and never quite closes completely. I decide that it's our best shot, and I announce to the others to stay put while I run barefoot through the snow around the entirety of the apartment building to this service entrance.
The icy crystals are sharp on my bare feet, but I run through the snow anyway. My towel flies off at one point, and I just carry it with me while all God graced me with ricocheted back and forth between my thighs like a rapid game of Pong. I reached the door, and sure enough, it was open. I jog through the garage, buck naked, climb the stairs while trying to re-affix my towel, run over to the crash-bar door and let my freezing guests back inside.
Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, and we use the sauna for a moment to warm up again. That mishap was enough to ruin the mood for the evening, and everyone just wanted to go home. For that, I was grateful, so I led everyone back to my apartment to get dressed and gather their belongings.
I tried my apartment door. It was locked. Sonofabitch! I swore under my breath. Mrs. Frost prefers to keep the apartment door locked at all times, and scolds me whenever I leave it unlocked. It's become a habit of hers to lock the deadbolt every single time she sees it. She must have opened the door for Late Nate, told him where the sauna is, and then locked the door as he left. I knock on the door. She doesn't answer. My friends are lining up behind me in their towels, looking anxiously up and down the hall. A few of them ask me why I don't just use my key, but like everybody else's things, my keys are locked inside.
I knock louder. No answer. I pound very loudly several times on the door. I'm sure the neighbors heard it. Still no answer. Where the hell is she? Asleep?
Nate is the only one with a phone (or any clothes, for that matter) so we tell him to call Mrs. Frost. She doesn't answer and it goes straight into voicemail without ringing. Dammit! She shut the ringer off!
I'm trying to keep everybody calm and work the problem. I lead everyone back towards the sauna where they can be a bit more discreet, and I instruct them to stay inside while I go through the exterior door.
Once again, I run through the snow in my towel, and find the outside of our apartment. The lights are off. I wad up a snowball and toss it at the bedroom window. I completely miss the window and the snowball strikes the brick wall about 3 feet too low. I throw another snowball. Another miss, just to the right. I repeat this process several more times and prove once and for all that I cannot throw an object at a target to save my life. I'm a computer jockey, for fuck's sake. What do I know about sports!?! Nothing, evidently. I couldn't hit the side of a big red barn!
I keep trying, out of desperation. I get lucky and hit the window and it bangs loudly. I smile and exhale my steamy breath into the frigid air. But the window stays dark. I throw another snowball, and hit it again. (Practice makes perfect, eh?) Still nothing. If she's home at all, she has probably taken her sleeping pills and is 100% out for the night. fuck Fuck FUCK!!
Exhausted, I run back to the crash-bar door, and one of my friends lets me in. I break the bad news, and I'm completely out of ideas. Everyone grows quiet.
"Well we can't stay here," someone blurts out. Everyone agrees except me.
"What!?! Where are we going to go? The local Perkins? It's 3 miles away and I'm pretty sure they still have that shirt and shoes rule." I rebutted. "No, we can't leave. We're all naked, for fucks sake!"
One of the girls says she's still cold. Late Nate mutters that we can go sit in his car as he drunkenly fumbles for his keys. The crowd jumps on the idea and quickly takes the elevator down to the parking lot. Everyone winces as they carefully tiptoe across the ice-covered pavement, barefoot. I chase after them and take the car keys out of Nate's hand.
"If anyone is going to be driving, it's me. I'm the only sober one, anyway." Nate manages to give me the "finger gun" and make a clicking sound out the side of his teeth, indicating that he approved of this plan. Fucking drunks.
As fate would have it, Late Nate drives a little 4-door compact sedan. There are eight of us. Sitting on each other's laps. Naked. I'll let that sink in for a minute.
Right, so the car is running, and we're starting to warm up, but it's super uncomfortable and the windows are fogging up. Everyone generally agrees that we need to go somewhere. Maiden China says she has an idea. "We can go to my dad's house. It's just the next town over."
"It's nearly 4am," I retort. "Oh yeah, and WE'RE ALL NAKED."
Without missing a beat, Maiden says, "He's a pastor. He has to let us in."
We're all in disbelief, and everyone laughs maniacally for a long time. But we don't have a better idea, so we reluctantly agree. I put the car in gear and ask for directions.
"Are we really going to do this?" someone asks. "Frost, how does this shit even happen to you? This is unbelievable! When I read your blog I figured at least half of it was made up!"
"Just wait." I grumble. "Night ain't over yet."
"Don't jinx it, fucker!" Maiden China punches me in the shoulder.
She doesn't know her dad's address, or even any real nearby landmarks, but she is confident she can take us there turn-by-turn. People are laughing at our situation as we get on the highway. There aren't any other cars around at that hour, but we giggle at the possibility of somebody spotting us. Maiden directed me to drive southwest. Little did I know she was taking us back into the heart of Prior Lake, my old stomping grounds.
"WHOSE DICK IS IN MY ASS!?!" one of the girls squeals. "You have a boner? Oh my God!" Everyone laughs and starts shifting uncomfortably. Our buddy Tim is the culprit who drunkenly admits that he can't help it. We start making small dick jokes. Everybody is in hysterics, doubled over in laughter. Somebody is slapping my seatback and bucking around in stitches!
That's when the cherries come on behind us.
"MOTHERFUCKER!" I shout. Late Nate is laughing his ass off, but everyone else starts muttering expletives. I pull over and instruct everyone to "act cool", but quickly realize the impossibility of that command, given our current situation. Maiden manages to reduce Nate's laughter to a snicker as we bring the sedan to a halt. I throw it in park. Sure as shit, we were right at the mile marker for the city limits of Prior Lake.
I can see the silhouette of the patrolman as he approaches our car. I roll down my window, and I shit you not, it's Officer Josh, my old nemesis. He's a little shocked to see me behind the wheel.
"New car, Frost?" he asks with a grin on his face. From his casual demeanor, I can tell he's ready to pull some ego-trip cop authority bullshit on me.
"No, it's his car." I point to Nate who smiles and waves to the policeman. "He's intoxicated."
"You don't say." Josh replies dryly. "Can I ask what the hell is going on here?" He shines a flashlight into the car, illuminating lots of exposed skin. The girls are doing their best to cover themselves where the towels are clearly failing.
I briefly explain the situation to Josh, whose eyes light up at the thought of naked party chicks. "So where are you going?" he askes. Maiden can't give him an address either, but assures him that it is her father's house, just one mile away.
"Well, you've got more people in this car than there are seatbelts. I can't have you driving around like that." he shines the light right in my face.
Oh fuck, I think to myself. I'm going to get arrested again. That asshole Nate probably doesn't even have proof of insurance in this car. Son of a bitch!
"Tell you what", Josh says. "I want you to drive straight to that house and get this car off the road. I'm going to follow you there to make sure you get everybody inside. You hear me?"
I assure him I understand completely, and wait for him to get back into his squad car. He shuts off the cherries, I put the sedan in gear, and Maiden directs us just a few more blocks to her dad's house. I pull into the driveway and shut off the headlights. Josh stops the squad car on the curb.
Maiden tells us to wait here, and she carefully slips out of the car, quickly re-wrapping the towel around her. Her head is down, shamefully, as she walks up to the front door of her father's house and reluctantly rings the doorbell. There is no answer. I look back at Josh, who has his arms folded across his chest, leaning against his cop car with some kind of swagger. Who the fuck does this guy think he is? Han Solo?
She rings the doorbell again, and still no answer. She is starting to bounce back and forth on her feet, to try to keep them from freezing.
"Is there a problem?" Josh calls out.
Maiden walks back to the driveway and admits, "Omigosh. I totally forgot that he's out of the country on a mission trip!"
Everybody in our car groans, and palmfaces.
Officer Josh walks over to the drivers window and says, "You need to get these people out of this car and someplace safe. I really don't want to have to take you guys to jail. That wouldn't be fun for anyone."
Yeah, fun. That's what you're after. I'm onto you, pig-boy.
"Oh wait!" Maiden China lights up. "I think he has a hidden key! I'll go find it."
Moments later, she is waving us into the door, we all hop out of the sedan, and dart into the house. Josh follows up the sidewalk behind us. He's practically licking his lips as the girls in towels pass him by. "You guys need to stay here for the night, now." he says. I can tell he is just looking for a reason for us to invite him in, but he won't get one. I thank him, assure him I'll keep things under control, he gives me a 2-fingered salute, and I shut the door. Maiden China locks the deadbolt and turns to look at the rest of us who can't hold our snickering in any longer. We all bust out laughing.
I notice that Maiden's dad still has a land-line. I pick it up and try Mrs. Frost. Still no answer. I give up for the night. Everyone camps on the living room furniture under whatever blankets they can find.
I can't get much sleep, because I'm super nervous that I'm not going to make it to the web challenge on time. I keep trying Mrs. Frost every couple hours. Nothing.
7am comes, and there's no way for me to let the guys on team "Drop It Like It's Hoth" know that I'm stranded in fucking Prior Lake with only a towel to my name. I start sweating and getting fidgety.
People slowly begin to wake up. Maiden goes through her pastor-dad's closet and starts handing out clothes to everyone. I keep trying Mrs. Frost twice an hour. No answer.
At 1pm I can't stand it any longer, and I suggest we all just go back to my apartment and try pounding on the door again. Everyone agrees, but we can't afford to get caught overloading the car, so we decide to drive in shifts. Myself, the now-sober Late Nate, and three others would make the first trip.
I begin pounding on the apartment door. A very sleepy Mrs. Frost answers it at 1:45 in the afternoon. She groggily asks why I'm not at the web challenge and why I'm dressed like a 60 year-old.
"We went to take a sauna, and you locked all of us out last night, with your phone off. We ended up going to Maiden's dad's house, but not before getting stopped by Officer Josh in Prior Lake. We've been trying to call you all night." I pause for dramatic effect. "How was your evening? Did you have sweet dreams?"
She gives me a death glare.
Everyone collects their things, changes out of Pastor-Dad clothes and back into their own, and thank us for yet another memorable evening. Tiny Tim shakes my hand as he exits the apartment and mutters, "I can't wait to read about this on Only Frost." I give him the finger.
Nate takes the remaining clothes back to Prior Lake, everyone else changes back into their own outfits, they close up Pastor-Dad's house, and Nate drives them all back to my place to get their cars.
At this point, I find my cell phone. It's 100% dead, out of juice. I'm panicking because I can't even call my web team about my absence. I plug it into my charger, and out of the corner of my eye I notice a thin, sparkling thread of distortion.
"Oh no!" I look around the room to confirm my suspicious. Yep, my vision is closing in on me. I'm getting a migraine.
It attacks fast. Within minutes, I'm completely blind, and in the bathroom, vomiting. My head is searing with pain.
The web challenge is almost half over! These guys are gonna kill me.
About 3pm, I manage to power up my phone and regain enough vision to dial my voicemail. I have several messages.
Indie: "Hey dude! Just making sure you're on your way. Call me."
Indie: "Dude! Web challenge! Get here!"
Indie: "Dude. Seriously, where the fuck are you? You're our only front-end guy! *sighhhhh* I dunno. Call me."
I think my stress has already peaked, but then I get this message, from none-other than the VP of Development.
Krazy Tom: "Heeeeeyyy, Frost! Tom, here! Just giving you a wake-up call on behalf of your friends at the Drop It Like It's Hoth team. You better get your ass in here buddy, cuz uh, if you don't make it the next half you're fired! Alright! Enjoy your day!"
I puke again and fall unconscious.