Well, She is Gone…
I have been left to my own devices this weekend. It was not my idea, not that I have any problem with my devices, but the love of my life has left me. She is gone. Whisked away to that wonderful bastion of freedom, Boston.
Ah, Boston. The harbor, the beer, the great dining, the beer, the history, the beer, the four-star hotel, the fan-effing-tastic local beer.
Last year, I had the opportunity to go with her to Boston. This is a regular trip for her and she managed to swing an extra plane ticket and a larger room, at a nominal fee. This was great! We have been married for some time now and have gone on several “family” vacations with her parents, but this was the first time we got to slip off on our own. The concept of a vacation is something foreign to me. My family didn’t vacation. This was something that the Vanderbilt’s and Rockefellers did, not the humble family of a carpenter. My wife’s family went most every year, sometimes twice.
I was really looking forward to our trip to Boston, but not looking forward to the plane ride that would get us there. I HATE to fly! I haven’t done much of it, but the little I have done is enough to convince me that I have no business being on a plane. The grief involved in getting to the airport, parking in lot number ZZZ, walking the six miles to get from the lot to the airport with luggage that has wheels but has been specially designed to tip over every 12 feet and corners like a hay wagon, standing in line to get to the counter, dealing with the over-stressed yet trying so had to be perky counter girl, more luggage wrestling only to find out that the damn bag is four pounds over weight and it will cost an extra $70 bucks to take this thing on board, the arduous task of waiting to get through security, only to be treated to the humiliating experience of being shaken down by the guards (I’ve met muggers with a gentler touch, my bunghole still aches in recalling this misadventure, but you got to admit, they are thorough) who eye you, trying to decide if you really are Bin Laden in disguise.
Then, after all that, they send you on another six-mile trek to the gate. (After my run in with security, I wasn’t walking with my usual stride. The K-Y jelly tended to give me more of a loping plod, rather than my normal bouncing step.) You would have thought that for the price of the plane ticket, they would have included some toilet paper to clean up with. I mean really, after having some stranger elbow deep behind me, asking, ”Are these nail clippers I feel?” as he is digging around the vicinity of my small intestine. I don’t think that would be too much to ask. Even some of the cheap stuff they have at the gas station, but no, they felt that my money would be better spent on a twenty-nine cent bag of pretzels that are “complimentary” on my flight.
Anyway, that phase of the nightmare being over, I had nothing to do but sit and contemplate the next phase, riding in the plane. I am not afraid of small places, and I am not afraid of heights. I must admit that I have healthy respect for heights, but that only comes from falling off a two-story house just one too many times, only to have the ladder strike my skull very shortly after I had found my way back to Mother Earth. This sort of experience tends to breed a healthy respect for heights I’ve found.
Knowing my apprehension for flying, my dear, beloved Mother-in-Law provided some “nerve pills”. I don’t know what a “nerve pill” is or what is in it. She gave me four (two for the ride there and two for the ride home) and a warning that I should take one, a half-hour before the flight, and if I was still really uncomfortable when the plane was off the ground, to have one more. Do not drink alcohol with these. They are powerful.
I took two and headed for the bar. I washed them down with a double scotch (Johnny Walker Red) and a beer chaser (Budweiser). I wasn’t taking any chances that I was going to “flip out” on the plane. I drank and waited, like the condemned man I felt like. I resigned myself to being the statistic that I was so sure that I was going to be.
I boarded the plane.
They warn nondrinkers, and people that don’t fly much, that the altitude can screw you up if you drink and fly. I have to agree. Two scotches, two “nerve pills”, and a beer had absolutely no effect on me whatsoever. I was as sober as the proverbial judge, and as white knuckled as a first time mother in the grips of labor.
The stewardess (do they call them that anymore?) had the nerve to ask me if I needed a drink with my twenty-nine cent bag of pretzels. Hell Yea, I needed a drink! The mix of booze and pills was a bust, a cocktail that I was sure would have dropped a Clydesdale, was only enough to keep me from running up and down the aisles, screaming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” or some other such damn fool thing.
“What would you like?” she asked with the practiced skill of someone used to dealing with the frightened, frantic general public that are most definitely out of their natural element.
“What have ya got?”
She rattled through a surprisingly long list of booze, soft drinks, juices, and sports drinks. (Who the f**k has a Gatorade on a plane?)
Turns out, they carried my favorite brand of vodka, Skyy. I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I’ll have a Skyy with water.”
“I’ve never heard of that before,”
The tiny, little bottle she produced was not a comfort. Sauce packets from Taco Bell have more contents than this miniature bottle. I kept trying to tell myself that this thimble-full of great American vodka was going to hit me harder than the drinks and pills I had at the bar, because of the “altitude”.
I had another. She looked at me funny but complied. The flight was an hour and a half and it seemed to stretch out like the eternity that it took to build the universe. I watched the land pass beneath me in a comforting patchwork of a familiar chessboard. (I had a window seat. I insisted on it, in the weird rational that if I could see the lands pass underneath me that I would, somehow, feel more reassured. It made a lot more sense at the time.)
I was fine until the plane was no longer over land. I am not crazy about flying, but I am even less crazy about drowning. A water landing was in my future, I was sure of it. What made the whole experience all the more memorable was the first-hand experience of turbulence, over water. I know, in my heart of hearts, and years of study of the effects of weather, that there is such a thing as air pockets. This does not describe the state of a poor mans finances but the proven, scientific fact, that the air that surrounds our world is not all made up of the same density. Some are more dense than others. (The same could be said of the general population.) This does not, in any way, make it any more comforting when the airplane seat that you have been trying so desperately to convince yourself was as safe as your lazy boy at home, suddenly drops four feet below the position it was in a second ago. Much like the sickening feeling you get when the roller coaster seat disappears from under you as you descend the first big hill, the entire population of the airplane hangs for that split second, as the plane dips unexpectedly four feet lower.
I would have had another drink, but even when facing death, I am too much of a cheap bastard to pay for a third $6 drink. ::Sigh::.
We landed. I smiled and trembled as I left the plane and tried to reassure God that I meant all those promises I had made, if only I could make it to the ground again in one piece and living.
For me, the week in Boston was a lark of the highest order. No responsibilities, no kids, no expectations, no exceptions. I became the unofficial guide to the city, even though I had never been to the town, or even in that part of the country before. While most of the group was tied up in meetings and conferences, I was free to roam about. I didn’t roam far without my wife (I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, or a great sense of direction), who was tied up in the same meetings as everyone else, but my time was my own. I got a chance to read the pamphlets that the hotel provided, and armed with this knowledge, came off as some kind of expert. I knew where the best shopping was, the local restaurants, their specialties, and their bill of fare. I knew where all the good shopping was to be had, as well as where to find that gag gift for the person that you didn’t really like but had promised a souvenir for. I knew vast amounts of local history that I could whip on the unsuspecting at any given moment. I had become the unofficial ambassador for a town I had never known before. While they were in classes, I cruised the streets in three blocks in every direction.
I found this pub that was named after one of the town fathers, John Roberts, I think. (Something Roberts, I remember distinctly) It was a great pub with its own microbrew. Every kind of beer possible was represented, and it was all great, even the ones not to my taste. (If you ever find your self in Boston on an overnight, seek out the Something Roberts Pub, near the Inn at Harvard.) On two different nights, the gang of thirty or more of us wound up there, the second night we were all disguised in fake mustaches that the wife and I bought at the gag shop. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for an evening of watching the principles of the schools of Cleveland laughing, drinking, and posing for pictures in dime store fake mustaches, not to mention hitting on the wait staff. The women were the worst! (As a side note, I will be selling these pictures on E Bay for any student that wants a little leverage on their principle.)
A good time was had by all.
I couldn’t afford to go this year. The $600 to $800 price tag was too much.
So, the love of my life, she is gone. I have, once again, lost her to the unmistakable lure of bean town.
But she will be back on Tuesday, and I can’t wait to hear the dirt.