Sunday, July 10, 2011
TBG in NYC Travel Diary -- Part I: The Worry and The Women
"And detrimental verbals get to spittin'
The highest in intellect, try connectin' with the written
Now they faced with the forbidden, vocally chosen
To explore new terrain, then remain unseen, throughout the war..."
-- Kurupt (from Tha Dogg Pound), New York, New York
Wednesday, June 22
4:00 AM -- Waking up. You all know that my travel diaries usually begin with a period of pre-flight anxiety. This time, however, my unfounded fretting was more pronounced. Subconsciously, it seemed to manifest several months before. After securing a cross-country kitchen pass from Mrs. Bootleg and negotiating the terms of my furlough, I procrastinated on every other aspect of this trip.
I didn't buy my plane ticket until three weeks before my intended departure date. I waited another week after that before I made hotel reservations. There were several people I wanted to meet in New York City -- most for the first time -- yet I'd only made vague plans with just one of them. So far, my self-saboteur work was worthy of Ravage.
6:00 AM -- I've made it to my gate a full 90 minutes before my flight. After folding my sleep-deprived, caffeine-deficient cadaver into one of the uncomfortable chairs, I reach for my cell phone and discover accomplices in the plot to sabotage my vacation. These guys! My Verizon HTC Thunderbolt phone had only been activated two months earlier, but in that short amount of time it had graduated to my primary time-waster. Now, however, I couldn't connect to any of the interwebs. No Twitter! No Facebook! No e-mail! NOOO!
6:10 AM -- After running through all the troubleshooting tactics I know (restarting phone, try restarting it again) it occurs to me that Mrs. Bootleg single-handedly saved my previous trip into New York City in 2007. Now, I need her more than ever. I give her a call and...wait, what? Well, yes, I used my cell phone. Oh, it worked for making calls and texting. The problem was internet connectivity. Did you guys miss the four straight exclamations that ended the preceding paragraph? Try and keep up, kids.
6:11 AM -- "Did you try turning it off and turning it back on?", Mrs. Bootleg suggests. In baseball parlance, it was obvious I went with the wrong reliever. She even slips in a "Well, if this is the worst thing that happens to you on this trip..." I'm booing her off the mound at this point as I grudgingly accept my phone's now-silenced bells and whistles. But, not before I try restarting it one more time...once a minute, every minute until my flight takes off.
6:15 AM - 7:15 AM -- NOOO!
7:25 AM -- Onboard the plane, perhaps five minutes prior to takeoff, the two seats next to me were the only unoccupied ones around. And, then the sitcom began. Two very attractive, VERY shrill women ambled down the aisle. Their hair and make-up were immaculate, their curve-hugging clothes were nightclub-correct and they wobbled together atop two pairs of the highest wedge shoes I've ever seen. Oh, and one appeared to be a few years older than the other. Eight to ten years, tops.
"Hi! I'm Marissa and this is my mom Sonja! I think we're sitting in the seats next to you!"
7:40 AM -- After her oddly-placed introduction, Marissa took the window seat and her [insert appropriately shocked pause] mom sat between us. I didn't mind their hyperactive passenger-banter with me in the least, as I couldn't take my eyes off of them. Mother and daughter? As our flight ascended, I silently wrestled with the innocuous ways I could approach this conversational taboo. (Oh, don't look at me like that. I negotiate defense contracts with the United States Government for a living. I know discretion and decorum. OK, fine...spoiler alert: I never found out their ages. I never even had a chance to ask. There. Happy?)
8:10 AM -- "Business planner". That was Marissa's cryptic job description. She's flown to Miami three times this year and it's her favorite city. This is her second trip to New York and she was in Washington DC last month. Why am I boring you with a transcript of our inane conversation? Stay with me.
8:15 AM -- The flight attendants began handing out headphones for the in-flight entertainment. I am NOT making up what happened next.
Marissa: [Receives headphones, whispers to me.] "Are these free?"
Me: "I'm pretty sure they are."
Marissa: [To flight attendant] "What are these for?"
Flight Attendant: "They're...for the movie."
Marissa: [To me] "They show a movie?! Do you know what it is?"
Me: "Uh, I don't know. Something that's like six months old, I'd guess."
Marissa: "Oh. So not, like, Transformers?"
Me: "Probably not."
It occurs to me that Marissa might not fly as much as she claims.
8:30 AM -- Just as drink service begins, Marissa gets up for the first of what would be six or seven restroom visits in the next 90 minutes. "Can you order me a chardonnay?", she asks with more command than question glinting off of her lightly-glossed grin. Her mom whispers in my ear, "I'll pay for it." Before I can completely appreciate her alleviation of that awkward moment, she orders a rum and coke for herself.
9:00 AM -- Marissa is still nursing her first glass of white wine, as she's morphed from sociable to comatose. On the other hand, her mother just ordered a third rum and coke.
10:00 AM -- Sonja just finished her fifth rum and coke. FIFTH! The first round of drink service ended an hour ago, so she just walked to the back of the plane and placed her order with any loitering flight attendant. Marissa is now slumped -- asleep -- against the window. I was left to wonder just how much of an alcohol head start she got on her mother. To her credit, mom's tolerance seemed stronger than her daughter's.
10:30 AM -- And, now mom's passed out. And, then, this happened to me. And, then, mom's head and torso limply fell forward just enough for this to happen. Her mom!
1:00 PM -- Shortly before we land, Sonja and Marissa simultaneously snap back to life. In a few short moments, they've touched up their make-up and brought the salon quality back to their hair. Sonja turns to me and in sweetly-accented English says, "I hope you have fun in New York!"
I'm off to a good start.
NEXT: New York City -- Home of 99-cent pizza, Nino Brown and my obligatory reference to "pimps and C.H.U.D.s"!