bonus post – medieval times.

People seem to like the Rich stories.  

Hey, this blog is about MY LABEL.  (I’m kidding)

Rich stories are fun.  Here’s one.


Medieval TImes in NJ

Medieval TImes in NJ

For his birthday in 1993, a bunch of us decided to take him out to dinner for his birthday, to Medieval Times.


Medieval Times is a theme restaurant that they make fun of in the movies.  It’s a totally nerdy place, with a medieval theme.  While you eat, there’s a show taking place that involves knights and jousting and swordfights and stuff.  It’s set up like an arena; you’re seated in a section of the arena where you’re instructed to cheer for a certain knight.  You’re served by a “wench,” you eat chicken with your hands (no utensils in medieval days), you drink “mead” out of a mug, and watch the events transpire in front of you.

It truly is a horrible place to go as an adult; as a dad, my kids love it, but as a 23-year-old, it was a pretty pathetic day out.

Rich had mentioned to someone that he had never been there, and I believe it was Matt who decided that he needed to go.  As an adult.

And it needed to be a surprise.

So we picked Rich up at The Scary Place on his birthday, and we blindfolded him.  Tightly.  And then Sandy guided him to our car, we got in, and drove off.

As we drove to the end of his road and made a left, he said “Okay, we’re now on River Road.”

We drove into the center of Elmwood Park, made a right onto Boulevard, and he said “We’re on Boulevard.”

I made the left turn at the jughandle that crosses onto Route 46 in Elmwood Park, and Rich said “We’re getting onto Route 46 East.”

We were beginning to panic.  He was totally blindfolded, and yet he still knew exactly where we were, based only on the speed we were moving, and the degree to which the car was turning left or right.

I slowed the car down – despite being on a highway, I was driving about 30 MPH.  I started changing lanes, and turning the car left and right.  I figured maybe I’d throw him off a bit, and he’d think we were on a different road than we were.

“Cut the shit, Al,” Rich said.  “You’re driving too slow on the highway.  You’re going to get us into an accident.”

Understand that to eat at Medieval Times, you had to buy a ticket.  It was more like going to the theater than going to a restaurant.  A ticket was, like, $25.  So, for Sandy and I to both attend this, it was $50.  Plus, we split the cost of Rich’s ticket among us all, so there was an additional amount (whatever it was, I don’t remember).  Our grocery budget for an entire week was $40, so we were spending the equivalent of a week and a half’s worth of food on one evening out, at the hokiest, cornball restaurant imaginable.

I did not want to fuck up the surprise.

And yet the closer we got, he was still getting every turn right.  He knew exactly where we were.  “Now we’re on Route 80,” he said, “And we just got off 80 onto Route 17 South.”

We were just a few miles from our destination.  

Then, he said “We’re heading toward Medieval Times.”

No way.  No way I was going to let him guess it, that smug little shit.

Route 17 is a pretty busy highway.  For those of you reading who are from New Jersey, it’s a pretty normal highway.  Apparently, though, for those of you who are from out of town, Route 17 has a phenomenon that’s not at all common among highways.

It is a typical two or three-lane highway in most cases, with traffic heading north-south.  The speed limit is 55 MPH on most of it; it runs from the Hasbrouck Heights area all the way up to the New York State border and beyond.  It connects with Route 3, an east-west highway that leads you to Manhattan, as well as to the Meadowlands (where, among other things, the New Jersey Nets basketball team, New Jersey Devils hockey team, and New York Giants football team play, plus the source of countless arena-type rock concerts occur).

This is a busy part of New Jersey.

Route 17 also runs through Paramus, a town that many people call the “retail capital of the world.”  Paramus is the site of seven different shopping malls, plus Route 4 – another east-west highway that leads to the George Washington Bridge (to New York City).

What out-of-staters find weird about Route 17 is this: the highway is entirely lined with retail stores.  This means you go from driving 55 MPH on a traffic-filled highway, to making a right-hand turn directly into a parking lot.  Or, if you’re shopping, you go from being stopped in a parking lot to full acceleration directly onto the highway.  There are no exit ramps to the stores – you’re pulling directly from the highway into a parking lot, or vice-versa.

Between cars getting onto the highway from exit ramps, traffic merging onto the highway from parking lots, people changing lanes to get off the road or move to the left, people exiting the highway to go to a retail store, and the typical Manhattan/New Jersey traffic, Route 17 is mayhem.

So, in the middle of Route 17, I stopped the car.

Slowed it down to a roll, actually.  And then I rolled down my window, and said “How are you doing?” to nobody in particular.  I waited a second, said “Thanks!”, rolled up my window, and drove away.

“Did we just pay a toll?” Rich asked.

“That’s what it looked like to me,” I said.

“Huh.  I guess I was totally wrong,” he said.  “I thought I had it down.  I must have missed a turn somewhere.  If we just paid a toll, we must either be on the Garden State Parkway, or we’re heading over the bridge to Manhattan.”

I pulled into the parking lot of Medieval Times, thankful that we duped him, even for just a few minutes.  

We made him wear the blindfold all the way into the place, walking blindfolded through the parking lot with a person on either side of him, guiding him.  Once we got inside, we took the blindfold off and he saw where he was.

He looked at me and said “Did you stop your fucking car right in the middle of Route 17?”

I grinned.

“Blindfolded Man Found Dead In Bizarre Car Wreck,” he quoted the headline in tomorrow’s paper.

And dinner was actually pretty fun.

~ by Al on March 12, 2009.

6 Responses to “bonus post – medieval times.”

  1. That’s a good one.

  2. Did they do the bit where the falcon flies around inside the arena like 2 inches over everyones heads? We took my Dad there for his 60th.

  3. It’s a fun story that I just remembered this afternoon while I was hanging around, procrastinating.

    I don’t recall a falcon, unfortunately. That might have made it more fun.

  4. When I was there, they did the falcon thing. And my red knight beat up the black knight. But then lost to Ted Knight.

  5. Thanks, Al. I never heard that one before.

  6. A nice little interlude. I grew up off of a portion of Route 17 called Ridge Road in North Arlington, though it was decades later before I realized it was the same road.

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