It began Saturday night at Stupid O'Clock, when our heroine jalenstrix first ventured out to the Mighty Expanse of Parking Lot at the University of Maryland Campus to meet her ballroom dance partner Doug on their way to the dread state of New Jersey for a ballroom dance competition at Princeton. Doug, sadly, was delayed and it was at Even Stupider O'Clock at night that he was finally able to meet jalenstrix. Then, they picked up the other two dancers who would be traveling with them, and contacted the ambassadors of Ballroom at Maryland who were already in the dread state New Jersey that the journey had at last begun.
jalenstrix feared that it would be difficult to find lodging at Obscene O'Clock in the morning, when the chariot would arrive in the dread state New Jersey - but the Ballroom at Maryland ambassadors insisted that the magic conjuring spell they provided would summon an appropriately sympathetic host. To test this, jalenstrix tried the conjuring spell, which was in the form of a cell phone number. The spell failed, and led to a strange Voice Mail Limbo, that didn't sound at all host-like. The Ballroom at Maryland ambassadors also tried, with similar results. Much consternation abounded.
At last, however, the spell was successful and a voice purportedly belonging to the sympathetic Princeton host responded that he would happy to host us, even at Obscene O'Clock in the morning. A sigh of relief passed through the chariot. jalenstrix asked for directions off the Ninja Troll Pike (formerly the New Jersey Turnpike) to his place of residence. The Princeton host replied he would give directions when we were actually closer to arrival.
The chariot members puzzled over this, but decided it was the effect of it already being Really Stupid O'Clock in the morning, and perhaps the host wasn't all that clear-thinking. Nonetheless, heartened at having actually made contact with the Princeton host, the chariot continued along until it was traveling the Ninja Troll Pike itself.
Then, the curious exchanges with the Princeton host began.
For, you see, when jalenstrix called him to obtain directions to his house, he begged 5-10 minutes to look them up on Mapquest. jalenstrix furrowed her brow at this strangeness, but then chalked it up to the chariot perhaps being on a part of the Ninja Troll Pike he wasn't familiar with. So she then explained that the chariot had directions to Princeton campus, and could her host please give the chariot directions from there?
The host responded that he still needed to Mapquest directions, even from Princton, and would contact the chariot shortly with appropriate ones. jalenstrix really furrowed her brow at this, for it was now Obscene O'Clock in the morning, and why didn't their Princeton host know how to get from Princeton to where he lived?
But soon, their Princeton host called back with purported directions. The chariot was to travel some 15 miles north from Princeton campus to a certain road, and the host's house was very close to there.
And so the chariot traveled the 15 miles. And then more. But the certain road did not appear. Concerned, jalenstrix summoned their host again, asking if the chariot had somehow passed the certain road. The reply was that the host had no idea where the chariot was. After much confused communication, the host declared the chariot was in fact 30 miles north of the certain road. The chariot would have to turn around.
Much grumbling ensued in the chariot.
It was then determined amongst the chariot members that the host must have meant 15 miles south of Princeton campus, instead of North. jalenstrix asked the host if this was true, and the host avoided either confirming or denying this. In addition, the host also declared that the directions to reach his abode were now actually different.
The chariot puzzled over this again. If the host had accidentally meant the chariot to go 15 miles south instead of north, alright - but then the directions given should still hold once that minor error was corrected.
And it was now More Obscene O'Clock in the morning.
And the certain road the host now insisted was the correct one did not exist on Doug's Handy Road Atlas.
Waves of disgust passed through the chariot. Oh, foul Princeton minion!
jalenstrix's communications with the host became less cordial after this. When she mentioned that the new certain road didn't exist on the road atlas, the host said he would drive out to the road the chariot was currently on to meet it.
jalenstrix inquired why exactly the host couldn't give directions to his place of residence.
The host declined to comment, and tried again with yet a different set of directions, claiming that he was only 10 miles from Princeton campus this time.
At this point, the chariot was approaching Princeton campus. The chariot made the unanimous decision to curse the host (with a thousand winged hamsters dropping exploding piles of flaming poo upon his accursed residence) and try their luck on Princeton campus proper, since they at least had sensible directions to the specified place the competition was to be held in 4 hours.
But, alas - the directions had slight inaccuracies and it was at Extremely Obscene O'Clock that the tired chariot party crawled into the correct portion of Princeton campus. And then began the quest to find a few hours lodging. Surely there might be some open public space somewhere out of the morning's chill or access to the gym where the competition would be held?
The security guards said no.
The security guards' supervisor said no.
Various Princetonites either scoffed or said no.
The maintenance crew that worked at the gym said no.
The chariot began to despair and begin plans to catch a few hours sleep in the somewhat chilly car.
But fortune smiled upon them and a Princetonite hailing from West Virginia by the name of Al took pity upon the hapless chariot members and let the chariot members into the common room of his dorm, where they gratefully crashed on the floor for 2 glorious hours. (Oh, most merciful Al, we praise you and give you thanks.)
And then, stiff and sore from the floor, the chariot members traipsed back to the chariot in the streaming sunlight of the morning to retrieve their ballroom regalia and prepare for the competition in a state of semi-refreshed stupor.
The competition then began.
And the dancing was glorious and long and exhausting and exhilarating. There were waltzes, tangos, foxtrots, quicksteps, cha chas, rumbas, swings, mambos, sambas, and jives. jalenstrix collected prizes in tango, cha cha, and rumba. And then there were brilliant high-level competitions at the end of the Very Long Day, which were enjoyed by all. Especially, in jalenstrix's case, the tangos and sambas.
And then, it was time to return home. The chariot stopped for dinner at a place near Princeton campus, anxious to be on their way out of the dread state New Jersey - but hungry enough to stop before they left. And the food came, and it was delicious. And then, the bill most pointedly did not come.
And continued to not come, despite inquiries by the chariot members.
The chariot members vaguely wondered if they would be held captive in the dread state New Jersey because of social mores involving paying for food you've eaten. Or perhaps it was the simple act of eating the New Jersey food that had entrapped them.
But after a few more persuasive inquiries, the bill was brought. And the chariot members paid in a hurry, and left.
Space and time behaved strangely on the way home, most likely because of the sleep-deprived state of the chariot members - but the chariot returned to Maryland Campus with no terrible hardship beyond Staying Awake.
And so jalenstrix arrived home at Stupid O'Clock Sunday night, having survived yet another adventure in New Jersey.
And the newfound battle cry of the chariot? "Fucking New Jersey." (To be said while the Voltaire song "Bomb New Jersey" plays in the background.)