It’s been a while since I’ve written a flight blog (or “flog”), but I’m feeling a certain peppiness today — the sort of peppiness that comes from an intoxicating cocktail of D-list celebrity sightings and a venti iced mocha from Starbucks. This sort of chipper outlook is fairly rare at this early hour of 9:20 AM as I’m usually shaking the cobwebs off and adjusting to the cruel light of day. However, I was up quite literally at the crack of dawn to fetch a ride (courtesy of the lovely Sly) to LAX for my annual trip back to New York for Passover (FYI — Leslie and Laura, I forgot to tell you: I’m coming in this weekend. Drinks on Saturday? Don’t mind me and my social planning, everyone). Anyway, my flight won’t board for at least another hour and a half, but Sly’s work schedule mandated that she drop me off at the airport earlier than planned, and thank God for that. As I stepped out of her vehicle, I immediately noticed a hoard of people in American Airlines’ priority access area, waiting to ascend a staircase to security. This seemed unconventional. After all, the priority access people have, well, priority access. They never have to wait for anything, let alone a minor check point en route to the metal detectors. If these First Class folk were backed up, I couldn’t even imagine what the rest of us hoi polloi had in store for us.
It wasn’t pretty.
I soon arrived at the OME (Ordinary Mooks Escalator) that would take me up to the terminal’s security area. As usual, it was flanked by two portly women whose job was to double check boarding passes and force people to stick their bulky luggage into those awful metal brackets (my mortal enemy: I can’t tell you how many times my perfectly suitable carry-on has been forced into steerage, thanks to what I’m convinced are the unrealistic dimensions of that box). On a normal day, the line leading up to these gatekeepers is minor — five people at most. Sometimes — usually during holidays — the line gets ten to fifteen people deep, in which case, we’re sent outside, around some ropes, and back inside to the escalator. Not a big deal. But today… TODAY… it was unparalleled. The line extended from the front doors of the terminal, allllll the way down to the Delta terminal, and then back again. Madhouse. Total madhouse. The sort of madhouse that’s usually seen only in front of Southwest terminals. Needless to say, it took ten minutes alone just to get to the escalator. I wasn’t stressed though. As I mentioned before, I had an extraordinary amount of free time thanks to Sly dropping me off curbside at 7 AM for my 11:20 AM flight.
And so I stood there quietly, passing the time on my iPhone and pondering the fate of my balcony herb garden, which I realized would be going without water for the next week thanks to me forgetting to leave my apartment keys with Sly or jash (my usual horticultural custodians when I travel). I wasn’t terribly concerned about the rosemary and thyme — both of which are remarkably hardy plants. However, the parsley seems not long for this world, and the basil — well, the basil is already in pretty bad shape. Let’s just say it hasn’t sprouted a useful leaf since sometime around Columbus Day. It’s presently just a collection of tall, barren stalks, on top of which have appeared several green outgrowths with stupid flowers on the end. I’m not gonna lie: part of me wanted to just let the plant die a quiet death this week. And that’s exactly what will happen, I’m sure.
But I digress. After ten minutes, I breezed past the guards, and thanks to the pressure of moving the line along, I was not required to stuff my bag into the metal box. This was great news for me, but not so wonderful for the Persian dude behind me, who after twenty minutes of waiting in the security line was informed by a passing worker that he could not in fact bring three carry-on items onto the plane. This, of course, was beyond common knowledge, and it’s his own dumb fault for attempting to bend the rules, but some of the blame must fall on the two bowling balls guarding the escalator, who clearly should have informed the guy of his own idiocy.
(UPDATE: I just helped an old lady with her bag. See? I’m not always a jerk)
Anyway, now that this dude was twenty minutes deep into the security line (not including wait time for the escalator), he was unsurprisingly miffed that he’d have to leave the line and check one of his bags. I would be too. But then again, I wouldn’t bring three items on as carry on. This guy, we must remember, was a huge idiot. He absolutely refused to step out of the line, insisting that this was the fault of the escalator guards and therefore he shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences. Had he been smart (which he clearly wasn’t — note his attempt to bring THREE carry-on items onto the plane), the guy would have kindly asked if he could return to his rightful place in line. But instead he began fighting with the guard, which is never a successful tactic, especially when an pissed off police officer appears at said guard’s side.
Growing more impatient with this awful man, the guard informed him that if he didn’t check his bag now, the TSA agents at security would make him check the bags down the line, thus wasting even more time and perhaps even causing him to miss his flight. “So I’ll miss my flight. I don’t care!” said the idiot, who was now officially making no sense. If you don’t care about missing your flight, then why do you care about stepping out of line? I think it was some vague attempt at reverse psychology, but it utterly failed to generate the results he sought out. The guard just rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, I’ve had enough of this. GET OUT OF THE LINE.” And just like that, the idiot was ejected and sent down to the baggage check downstairs. Justice was served. I was happy.
Twenty minutes later, I finally arrived at security and encountered the most affable and friendly TSA agent of all time. The guy, whose name I regrettably didn’t catch, was all about fun banter, and as such, I felt emboldened to ask him why the airport was such a zoo today.
“What’s next week?” he asked. By the puzzled look on my face, he could tell I had no idea. “Spring break,” he said. Ahhhh… it all made sense. I had some suspicions that Spring Break was the culprit as I had already seen umpteen high school groups in stupid t-shirts, but I wasn’t sure if that was the main cause of the chaos. Turns out it was. Mystery solved. Of course, this didn’t make things any better, but given that I was nearly through security and that I was far from a time crunch, I managed to avoid the customary ball of stress that usually forms in my chest by the time I emerge from the metal detectors.
Well the awful security ordeal behind me, I focused on my next task: breakfast. Usually I just make a beeline for Burger King, but I’ve had a tad too much fast food recently; so I decided to do something healthier: Starbucks. Okay, it’s not healthier, but at least it’s not as greasy. And so I plopped myself on yet another line, soon to be joined by some Earth mother nature fiend with Tevas on her feet and hair that was not unlike Willie Nelson’s. While she babbled away incessantly to some annoyed stranger, I turned my focus elsewhere, and to my surprise, I saw my first D-List celebrity of the morning: Madison Hildebrand of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing. Yes, I’ll just pause for a moment so you can pick your jaw up off the floor. Big time star power here. Big time.
Anyway, as if seeing a pretty boy cast member from one of Bravo’s most annoying shows weren’t enough, I soon saw an even more impressive D-lister: the one and only Pauly Shore. This morning was rapidly turning into quite the amazing compendium of stars. And as we all know, these things happen in threes. So who was the final member of our trinity? Well, I suppose Rick Fox, as I saw him walking around too, but let’s forget about him and focus on the REAL superstar in my midst: Miguel. As in, Ina Garten’s friend MIGUEL.
That’s right, the Food Network’s most preeminent tablescape artist Miguel walked right by me. How did I recognize him? Well, it’s hard to ignore a man dressed in a dapper sweater-vest and blazer adorned with a bright yellow scarf. Claaaaassic Miguel.
How exciting to have one of Ina’s inner circle members right here at LAX. Should I say something? No. Of course not. That would be ridiculous. But then I remembered something very important: I AM ridiculous. And so I marched up to him and acting like an old friend, I asked, “Miguel?” He looked up attentivelly, and as I extended my hand, I entered Dumb Babble mode wherein my brain shuts off and words just spill out of my mouth, not always in a coherent manner. Miguel half rose to his feet, not sure if I was someone he should actually know. I soon informed him, however, that I was a huge fan of The Barefoot Contessa and that my friends and I frequently gather together to have Ina Garten potlucks. Miguel was friendly about it, saying “I’ll be sure to tell Ina,” (words that kind of BLEW MY MIND. I mean, how fortunate to be one of the few who can casually say “I’ll be sure to tell Ina.”) However, I could tell he was somewhat weirded out by me, which makes sense because I was acting fairly weird.
To be fair, I wasn’t being that awkward… yet. I did, however, descend into terribleness when I realized I had no idea how to just end this discussion politely and let Miguel get back to rocking his yellow scarf quietly. So what did I do? Oh, just the most AWKWARD THING POSSIBLE. “Tell Ina to keep up the good work,” I said, which is perhaps one of the most idiotic sentiments to express. I mean, what is he really going to do? Tell Ina Garten “Oh, this guy at the airport wants you to keep up the good work.” But it got worse. I felt bad for only lavishing praise on Ina; so I added, “And you too! Keep up the good work with… the… floral arrangements.” At that point I realized I was just being AWFUL, and so after we shared a friendly but uncomfortable laugh, I quickly shuffled away to the charging station, where I’ve since been writing this blog. Actually, I had to move to another charging station as the previous one was located adjacent to the Dallas/Fort Worth gate, which was full of loud Middle Americans, who all decided to crowd my space, despite an abundance of chairs nearby. Literally, one girl SAT AT MY FEET. I ultimately relocated to a new charging station conveniently located adjacent to my New York gate, and I can report that the crowd here is much better.
Well, I’m up in the air and logged on. I have further celebrity updates. None other than Joe Rogan is up in first class, looking a bit gabby with his friend. Also on board in John Henson (Wipeout, Talk Soup). My old boss used to be BFF with him, and as it turns out, we were both standing in the aisle together; so I totally did a name drop, and I can assure you that I was much smoother than with Miguel. We had nice banter, but sadly, he had no updates on my boss.
Meanwhile, I was all excited because I thought I had an exit-row seat. Turns out I’m sitting behind the exit row, which means I have very little legroom. Argh. Also, the moment I always dreaded has arrived: the passenger next to me has a laptop airplane power adaptor too — the first time I’ve encountered someone equally as savvy about the power jacks below the seats. I’ve always wondered what would happen in these sorts of situations. How would we share the one solitary power jack? Well, luckily, I plugged in first. We agreed that we would share later on when his battery dies. It’s very amiable. I respect anyone who is tech savvy.
I should note that the last time I flew home for Passover, I met Ginny. And we all know how that turned out. If you don’t, well, do a Google search.
Near crisis! GoGo-In-Flight Wireless fell out! Total panic! At least internally. I tried to play it cool, but I was already contemplating scenarios of me calling up customer service and demanding a refund. Luckily, the wireless came back after two minutes. Oooh, cocktail service is starting. I’m starving. I may need to get the Big Cookie. What to drink with it though? I can’t do my customary Bloody Mary mix. I suppose it’s ginger ale time. Closing laptop. Will be back once all liquids are gone!
Well, I just destroyed the Big Cookie. I always feel silly ordering the Big Cookie. I suppose that’s due to my insistence on asking for the “Big Cookie,” even though I’m clearly the only person on the plane who calls it that. I’m sure everyone else merely refers to it as “the cookie,” but that just doesn’t seem apt. It’s not just a cookie. It’s a BIG cookie. Either way, it’s similarly silly to ask for just a cookie. I mean, is there anything more mortifying than a grown man saying “Could I have a cookie please?” What am I? In third grade? Maybe next time I should ask for the cookie by its proper name, the MEGA BITE. Yes, the MEGA BITE. If you ask me, it’s a rather intense moniker, especially considering the cookie hails from the relatively hokey-sounding “Cookietree Bakery.” You’d think they’d go for a more quaint cookie name like the “Big ‘n’ Chunky” or more to the point, ” Big Bite.” But no, they went with MEGA BITE. I can only imagine what their other offerings are: COOKIESAURUS? MONSTER BISCUIT? GIGANTOR COOKIERAMA?
Nevertheless, I’m most disappointed to announce that my MEGA BITE was a bit stale. A part of me wants to call up Cookietree Bakery and give them a mega piece of my mega mind. Shame on you, Cookietree. Shame on you. (But behind that shame, know that I’m secretly loving you, if only for providing the image of a tree that grows COOKIES).
For what it’s worth, there’s a girl on the plane wearing a loosely crocheted top (perhaps fishnet is a better term), underneath which is nothing but a black bra. She’s also gone to great lengths to make her hair look ridiculous, thanks to a strategically placed headband. She’s like a slutty Pocahantas.
SLUTTY POCAHANTAS UPDATE!
Well, I just took a bathroom break, and while I was waiting in line, I happened to notice Slutty Pocahantas (a.k.a. SluPo) bundled up in a blanket. I laughed to myself knowing that she was probably going to later complain to her friends that the plane was soooooo cold. Well, that’s what happens when you wear a top with less fabric than a basketball net.
Meanwhile, I also noticed the flight attendant ambling up the aisle with a bag, asking for people’s garbage. Whenever I see this hallowed ritual, I always think of the movie Red Eye; specifically the scene where the bitchy stewardess walks up to Rachel McAdams and says “TRASH?” Oh, if only that happened in real life.
WELL. The flight attendant walked up and past me, and as I turned my attention back to quietly spying on SluPo, I noticed something quite surprising. Slutty Pocahantas was trying to get MY attention. Turns out she had some detritus to give the flight attendant. Very sweetly and with a friendly smile (the sort of smile that made me feel a touch bad about calling her SLUTTY POCAHANTAS) asked if I could get the flight attendant’s attention, and being the gentleman that I am, I obliged. I tapped the flight attendant on the shoulder and gestured to Slutty Pocahantas.
“She has some trash for you,” I said.
“OH I BET SHE DOES!” the flight attendant snapped back. I barely suppressed a guffaw. There, just seconds after my whole thought process about Red Eye, was about as close as a reenactment as I could have hoped for. It was brilliant! Amazing! Fantastic!
The flight attendant soon realized how judgmental she sounded; so she tried to backtrack, saying “Well, you know EVERYONE has trash. So it’s not surprising that she has trash. I’ll just take that, dear.” Luckily for her, SluPo was already ensconced back in her cocoon and oblivious to the veiled insult that had been hurled her way. I, however, was taking it all in. I swear, the combination of Slutty Pocahantas plus the passive-aggressive flight attendant was more than I could deal with. Thank God I found an open lav because I probably would have peed myself right there had this gone on much longer.
A flight attendant named PAM (and she’s such a Pam) just walked by with water. A guy flight attendant named Toby (and he’s such a Toby) made some remark that caused her to say “It’s a JODY thing.” Cut to me snickering. Claaaaaasssic Jody thing.
Brief drama on the flight. An older woman — probably in her late fifties or early sixties — got a cramp in her leg. Well, according to her, she said she pulled a muscle (which is unlikely given that she’d been sitting in the same position for three hours). Anyway, she stood up and began crying in pain, which was alarming. I immediately decided she had Deep Venous thrombosis. The flight attendants, however, opted on the decidedly less urgent diagnosis of “Charlie Horse.” Within minutes, an entire horde of flight attendants had filled the aisle near this woman (ie. above me), and soon they were all chattering with concern, often repeating the phrase “Charlie Horse” over and over again. There was a lot of “She has a Charlie Horse” and “Oh, she came down with a Charlie Horse” and “Do we have an ice pack? We’ve got a Charlie Horse up front.” Pam, it should be noted, was conspicuously absent. She was probably off pretending to be Jody again.
Fear not though. The lady seems to have survived her cramp and is now walking around with the best of them.
Meanwhile, the time finally came to hand off the power outlet to my neighbor. I now have about an hour’s worth of battery left, which really means forty minutes. Hopefully I can take over the jack again later. We’ll see…
Guess who just enjoyed some Bloody Mary Mix? This MOI. It was delicious. Unfortunately, I the experience was interrupted by the person in front of me who keeps bashing her back into the seat, causing it to jolt forward every few seconds. It’s like she’s having sex or something up there, assuming her shoulder blades were her genitals and the seat her lover. Have I taken this analogy too far? Perhaps. I wonder how Slutty Pocahantas is faring.
22 minutes of battery left.
In a stunning turn of good luck, my neighbor here finished using his laptop, which meant I could plug back in. I’m back! But we’re about to land. Oh well. I suppose it’s time to shut down this operation…