Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The TBGaithersburg Travel Diary – Part One
Sunday, April 27th
3:30 AM - What the f*ck was I thinking with this 6:20 AM flight? I slept downstairs in the living room and used my cell phone's alarm clock function to wake me up on time. I love how I was sure that I needed to upgrade to a more modern cell phone last year, yet the only functions I've used on my four-month old super-phone are the camera, the alarm clock and E-Z Tip – and, yes, the default is 5% for black phones like mine.
4:30 AM - I'm about halfway to the airport as I pass the second most surreal sight of the morning: the Déjà vu Gentlemen's Club is just closing for the night and I can clearly see patrons milling about in the parking lot from the freeway. All you need to know about this place is that (1) they don't serve alcohol and (2) a stripper there once recognized me between visits that were over a year apart. For months, I was terrified to go out in public with Mrs. Bootleg for fear that "Essence" would be in the adjacent booth at Applebee's with an urge to catch up over quesadillas.
4:45 AM - The most surreal sight of the morning: $4.49/$4.59/$4.69…these were the gas prices at a service station along that area of the airport parking/rental car return area where you expect to take it up the ass, but c'mon…
4:50 AM - I arrive at the Park & Ride, haul my luggage out of the trunk and wait for the shuttle. Moments later, it pulls up and the driver opens the back double-doors. She sleepily says, "Just toss your bags right there in back, hon." Umm…aren't you the one in the ill-fitting polyester pants with the G.E.D. and the smack habit, princess?
5:15 AM - I'm assigned an exit row seat, which means some extra leg room in exchange for promising to open the emergency exit doors in the unlikely event we survive a crash. Joke's on American Airlines, though, as the exit row passengers have to verbally declare that we'll perform this duty and verbal contracts are almost always unenforceable. (After 9+ years in the contracts law industry, I'm quite the sieve of applied knowledge.)
6:00 AM - Time to board. And, in one of those moments that would certainly result in my deadpan reaction right into the camera that's filming my life…my seat is next to a graying, middle-aged King Mabel (or Mabel King). For you movie fans, think Della Reese without the wig and the pieces of her pinky toe put back together.
6:05 AM - I finally make my way around him – naturally, he didn't even attempt to move and let me through – and discover that he's oozing over his aisle seat, right into my window seat. But, before I can give him a lecture on "armrest etiquette"…
6:06 AM - …he appears to have nodded off.
6:07 AM - Of course. (3rd bullet down…)
6:20 AM - M'man wakes up during the runway taxi, looks around as if he has NO idea how he got here, then goes right back to sleep. Seriously, I haven't seen such a wonderfully funny wide-eyed take since Amos & Andy. (Which one was Flavor Flav, again?)
7:00 AM - The arrival of the beverage and snack carts wake the grizzly bear from his latest chainsaw slumber. He hauls himself off to the airplane lavatory which, and I can't lie, has me…intrigued. But, I can't act on my impulse as I won't likely get another chance to lift my seat's tray from inside the armrest that, to this point, has been one with the stomach of my row mate.
7:05 AM - Upon his return, he annexes my tray for his own territory, and then gets whacked by the sandman, again.
7:20 AM - After 15 more minutes of a beefy left elbow in my ribs and snoring in my ear, I make a glorious discovery: I'd…inadvertently hit my tray with my knee, which seemed to re-start the big guy's heart and wake him up. For the final hour of the flight, whenever he'd close his eyes and take just half of a nasally-blocked breath, I'd swiftly raise the knee and interrupt his dreams.
8:30 AM (10:30 AM, Dallas time) - At the end of the flight, Mabel grabbed his bag and de-planed without even acknowledging that he had two seats the entire time. Seriously, I could've lived without an apology, but I did at least expect some oblivious, insincere self-effacement ("Hope my morbid obesity didn't inconvenience you, son!") Instead, I got nothing but the horizontal lumps on the back of his neck as he lumbered up the aisle and off the plane.
Next: It's Dallas to Dulles…with a really good book along for the flight!