January 16, 2005

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

"On my first day in New York a guy asked me if I knew where Central Park was. When I told him I didn't he said, 'do you mind if I mug you here?'"

~Paul Merton

It’s a new year and a new post. Sorry I haven’t done it in a while, but I really don’t care. Now read and enjoy. Post your accolades if you must.

From my new home in Midway Kentucky, I had to take a bit of a trip into the big city and “Bluegrass Airport.” It’s a quaint little place with three whole gates and automatic sliding glass doors. Security takes 6 minutes, then it’s over. Since 2001, everybody’s got the routine down. I guess I only look like a terrorist when I’m traveling with a group because this was the first time I wasn’t patted down by a woman named Helga. Though this was relieving, it was also irritating because I’d arrived an hour early and had nothing to do but read the book I was saving for later. Finally my plane began to board, and somehow I was the last person to go through the gate.

As I tried to search the back of the plane for an overhead compartment, I was stopped by the mom-jeans-clad woman who had the aisle seat in my row. “You can’t put that there.” I’m not sure where she thought I was putting anything, but she was stern in her decision to control the territory she had claimed for the next half-hour. About to make a smug remark, I was muscled backwards by an attendant with a carry-on similar to mine. “There’s no more room for roller bags!” she shouted in my ear so that the four people behind me could hear as well. “You’ll have to check that, sir,” she added on a lower register. This was to indicate that I was either unique or stupid. I gave her a smile and a nod that indicated I finally understood.

At the front of the plane, I encountered the same attendant. Somehow she had slipped past me in the space that Kate Moss would have trouble getting through completely unnoticed and was there waiting for me with that plastered-on smile that was starting to fade from weary years of “Have a nice flight. No, we don’t serve peanuts anymore.” I shared with her my struggle to compress all my clothes into that tiny bag so as to avoid checking it in the first place. She gave me a smiling nod that reminded me of my self. It said “Tough tits, sucker. Have a nice flight. No, we don’t serve peanuts anymore.”

As I made my way back to my seat in good ole 12F, I heard a familiar patronizing voice, “Hey, aren’t you here?” It was Mom Jeans. I felt foolish for a moment, but then noticed that the row order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11… Who the hell came up with that idea? Was it supposed to make first class passengers feel 6 rows better than the people behind them? Or is it to discourage anyone with former wealth who was flying coach for the first time?

I nestled into my seat with naught but my laptop and reading material, relieved to be in a window seat. The whole morning I had secretly hoped that my 4:20 wakeup call would be rewarded with an aerial view of the sunrise. Nope. It was cloudy, and I was on the west side of the plane.

Somehow an Indian gentleman ended up in my lap. He was really quite tiny, so I narrowed his reasons for intrusion down to my undeniable attractiveness and our shared disdain for Mom Jeans and her 300 lb Vera Bradley body bag. Either way, the little tyke must have been exhausted from our 20-minute trip from central to northern Kentucky that he conched right out as we began to descend. I was delighted to discover, though, that instead of smelling like curry and BO, he smelled like cigar smoke. Incidentally, so does my left shoulder.

I stepped from the gate into Cincinnati International Airport, a real airport with cafés and bookstores that sell more than “Bloodhorse Magazine” and “Motorcycle Weekly.” I contemplated for a short while the notion of grabbing some McDonald’s but images from “Super Size Me” came flooding to my mind. I was further diverted by the sound of my own name. I looked over to see a girl with whom I would be spending the next few days; however I had no recollection of her identity. So I mustered a large smile (Hello, dearest friend! Did you know they don’t serve peanuts anymore?) and gave her a hug. My memory plagues me with awkward situations. I wouldn’t be able to recall these events at all if I wasn’t sitting in the terminal with my laptop moments after these things occurred. That’s right. We’re living these moments together. I would write in the present tense, but that makes me think of sitting in a large room of lesbians learning narrative writing…

Looking at my ticket, I saw that I was assigned to the seat 6A. Based on previous experience, I was convinced that my seat wouldn’t exist and began to panic. I started to ponder life as Viktor Navorski, doing odd jobs around the airport, hanging out with convicts and Mexicans and nourishing myself only by means of the Heinz Company. I boarded the plane anyway and was relieved to find my seat by the window instead of in the Twilight Zone. It was a two-hour flight. I got a lot more reading done.

I arrived in JFK International and quickly came to the realization that I was very out of place. Even though I’d flown in from Cincinnati, I was a foreigner on this soil. No one spoke English, and I was thoroughly lost within five minutes. I had to take several trains just to get to my bag, and then several more to get to the subway station, where I would be sent to a dozen more trains to find Times Square. I did, however, manage to get from Queens to the Hotel Edison without breaking down or getting mugged.

I had arrived hours before the rest were scheduled to get there, so I took a short nap after unpacking. I woke up an hour later. My stomach rumbling from a lack of peanuts, I decided to go out and find a deli or something, but I got off the elevator to see my friends entering the lobby. A man with a trolley full of luggage passed between us and I ran up behind it, waiting to unveil myself in some sort of serendipitous moment. It didn't really work out like I'd hoped.

A whole bunch of things happened after that. We went to the Met, saw five shows, I met Idina Menzel and she broke a rib as she swooned, it rained, and I had Thai food. I’ll expound later. This was about travel. Sometime soon I’ll post about the actual trip and the return journey. For now, I’ll let you digest this nugget.

Comments on "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"


Blogger thieves and beggars said ... (11:14 AM) : 

not enough superlatives to give you proper accolades. enjoy school.


Blogger Yax said ... (5:24 PM) : 



Blogger lvs said ... (10:32 AM) : 

Rocking my world. Call me.


Blogger Cap'n Ganch said ... (10:44 AM) : 

heh, narrating lesbians ... that was a bad night ...


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