Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Roadrunner, Skin Care, and Luggage

September 30, 2012
            Finished packing. Loaded car. Drove to ABQ. 2 hours 10 minutes. Seamless and easy. Coffee at the Purple Sage. Crappiest muffin I’ve ever had. At the airport we mailed our absentee ballots and saw a roadrunner. Very cool. The cartoon symbol of confident, indomitable, eternal frustration.  At the airport, more expensive crapfood for 15$. Tiny Dannon yogurt, two hardboiled eggs, three small pieces each of celery and carrots, orange juice, 2 coffees. Fifteen dollars.

I’ve been hearing the soundtrack to South Pacific, again, running through my head all day. Happens a lot.
What the hell don’t people understand about the concept of carryon luggage? Do not bring huge, cumbersome, heavy, overstuffed, hard to manage bags that the owners cannot lift or move around in the narrow crowded aisles. Really, dimwit, if you packed it, you handle it. Can’t lift it over your head to the luggage racks? Tough shit, loser. It’s always amusing to watch the beta codependents helping some entitled arrogant piece of refuse who can’t hoist his/her own bag. I do not budge. Ever. If the goddamn thing falls on the owner and crushes him, trapping him, he can damn well get up without my help, or die. See this Mr. or Ms. VIP? This small bag with a paperback, a notebook, an iPod and a spare pair of glasses? That’s my carryon. Everywhere. Paris, Singapore, Hawaii, Vegas. Everywhere. Apparently, I am able to bear the agony of waiting ten minutes for my luggage to come around the carousel so I can snag it. You entitled, needy waste of clothes. I figure by your shorts, Harley Davidson tattoo and tank top that there isn’t anyone waiting for you. You have nothing to be late for, Mr. VIP.
I also noticed that there is now a sign, just as we enter the TSA screening area at the Albuquerque Airport, that says, “If you were born before today’s date in 1937, you don’t have to remove your light jacket or shoes.” More perks and special treatment for the goddamned old people. Aged elderly seniors. Dues paying AARP members.  Some security genius has decided that there are no terrorists over the age of 75. He’s never dropped into Matteucci’s for a drink before 8 a.m.

October 1, 2012
An exceptional trip. No hassles, no trouble, all minor divergences quickly and efficiently overcome. Big ups to American Airlines and Captain Pyle, the two (!) first officers and particularly to the well-fed flight attendants, aging women and men who are the experienced front line representatives of this amazing, patriotic organization.
The flight from Dallas was late getting off the ground by 45 minutes or so. Captain Pyle, who insisted on introducing himself every time he made an announcement, (as if I was going to remember his name, write a nice recommendation to American Airlines for him), reminded us of how delighted and honored American was to have us “choose” them to be our airline. He knows, really knows and appreciates that we have lots of options and he’s very happy and grateful that we picked his airline.
He explained about the delay. It appears that there are other planes using the runway and we have to wait our turn. This always sounds like bullshit to me. Don’t they have air traffic controllers? Line them up and make them take off for God’s sake. From where I’m sitting, in my lumpy cramped seat, I can see at least 4 other giant runways empty and disappearing into the long, flat, Texas distance. It’s Dallas, the biggest, most annoying city in the US. Everything they have is better than all the rest of us. Sports teams undefeated, women with hair the size and density of furniture, 96-ounce steaks. But our airplane, part of the fleet of one of the biggest companies in world history, named after the country wherein they are stationed, “American” goddamnit, can’t take off on time because the line’s too long? It’s Sunday. There was no traffic on the road. Security took five minutes. There are no other planes in sight. I am losing confidence, Captain Pyle.
Once up, though, it was pretty easy. Nine and three quarters hours from Dallas to Paris. It’s almost miraculous as one flies out of Texas, looking through the window at the flat, hot land, pickup trucks speeding along frontage roads, shopping malls in a sea of automobiles, and then, nine hours later, a little more than a soul numbing shift at Wal-Mart or Burger King, we’re seeing small villages far below, surrounded by well-tended green fields, meandering streams, all punctuated by church steeples and surrounded by feathery forests two thousand years old. Nine quick hours. The plane was old, still had the ashtrays, welded closed, on the armrest. The in-flight entertainment consisted of unheard of and unreviewed films shown on several small screen TVs affixed to the ceiling. No one watched.
All of the women flight attendants had excellent haircuts and they kept shaking their heads so we could all watch their thick dyed locks fly around the cabin like birds of prey, and then fall back into place, finding their nests, settling in until the next time she needed to laugh, gesture, or indicate confusion. Man, who the hell cuts their hair? Fabulous. It must be one of the benefits of working for American Airlines.
“Sure we took your pension and terminated you because you had gained twenty pounds and are over 50, but you’ve got to admit, you’ve had some marvelous haircuts.”
The men on the staff all looked like the creepy guy who stocks shelves down at the liquor store.
On our plane, first class really sucked. I guess. I only travel in coach with the proletariat. No complaints but, wow, if that had been my first experience with the whole American bullshit class system, (we are more valuable than you, look where we get to sit), I’d have been super-pissed. The seats weren’t much better than coach’s, they got the same blankets, had to watch the same crap movie on little obsolete screens and were of cramped and sweaty with a little extra leg-room. I checked them out a few times during the flight and they didn’t look like they were having a big party, either. I guess they got free drinks but for my money none of them took advantage of that grand extra special deal.  If I would have found myself in that situation after having forked out $4000 for the privilege of being only 10 percent better than the schmucks in coach, I’d have drained the liquor cabinet and at least taken off my pants and demanded a foot rub. Maybe a haircut.  But they all disembarked with no staggering and no belligerent remarks or inappropriate offers made to the crew. It’s true, I guess; I don’t belong in first class.
They had nice skin, though, the first class passengers. I can’t figure that out, unless there is a special additive in the air recycling system for first class. Maybe the well-coiffed attendants rub moisturizer on them while they’re asleep, to sort of make up for the crappy movies and uncool seats, the smell, humidity, and cheap vodka. A more obvious answer is that those who can afford first class and think they deserve it have the leisure and money to take better care of their skin. Spas and saunas and expensive oils and lotions are part of the whole class system in America, aren’t they? I try to make eye contact with this pampered part of the herd, the filet mignon of travelers, and I smirk and nod knowingly as they nervously watch us board. I imagine that they are hoping that none of us, the ones who will be sitting in slightly smaller, narrower, harder seats, with little personal attention to our dry, un-oiled skin, are about ready to have a revolutionary moment and screw up their vacations. But it was a fine flight and we all coexisted in the little silver airborne microcosm of society as we took off. We arrived in Paris nine hours later, hardly long enough to get beverage service, dinner, have a short nap and listen to all the announcements that were broadcast at high volume to a disco beat. 
The luggage took about ten minutes to locate, all safe and sound, un-ransacked, proving my point that there is no need for giant, frustrating dipshit carryon. Our cab driver was holding a sign with my name misspelled as usual. He spoke no English, but got us to the apartment, called ahead so that a young man was there with keys and departed with a smile. I walked to the ATM, took out a few hundred Euros and had a cup of coffee at La Favorite, formerly Le Dome, remodeled and upscaled. The waiter, a wild looking guy right out of an old can-can poster, corrected my French good-naturedly. Afterwards I went to the river and walked along one of the quays, shopped for fruit and yogurt at the grocery store, bought a baguette and a small round of Camembert. It’s six p.m. and I’m tired, safe, well fed, inspired, comfortable. One the way back our building I noticed that all the Pharmacies sell special French moisturizers and anti aging snakeoil. I’ll probably give some of it a try while I’m here. Can’t hurt. My skin will look first class, even if I’m not. Perhaps I’ll just spend three months writing about skin care products, testing and reviewing them. To the soundtrack of South Pacific.

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