Travels with Fang, Day 3
Woke up at 6:30 Boise time. Took a look at my last blog entry and decided it needed some art to spice it up. So I grabbed my cell phone and drove back to the Anne Frank Memorial. This time I was careful to stick to business and not get distracted by thoughts or feelings or, God help me, ruminations on the human condition.
Cruised back to the hotel…
You know, I should mention that my maximum time away from home before system degradation begins is two days. Not usually two days. Not approximately two days. Two days.
Typically, my verbal acuity is the first thing to abandon me. The Missus informed me on the ride to the house tonight that it began to fail me right after my interview. (I can always pull a command performance out of my ass when the situation requires it.) She said I did well with her Boise friends, and I explained that what I do is compose what I want to say in my mind, then picture it and read the text aloud. It makes me look intelligent (and interested), pondering my response when in fact I have it at the tip of my tongue but my tongue just isn’t working quite right.
So anyhow, it’s now Day Three and the dark rings under my empty eyes look like twin dark crescent moons. Except this time, I’m pretty cool in spite of the sleep deprivation. So far things have pushed all my right buttons, from Anne Frank to the day care guy to the cool rental car with the bitchin’ turning radius.
But due to an error in our reservations, we didn’t leave Saturday morning as we thought we were going to; in fact, we weren’t scheduled to depart until 6 p.m. So we had concluded all our compulsories and had a whole day to kill before coming home. We decided to go to the big gay-rights rally on the steps of the state capitol. The Missus because she hates discrimination, and me because in addition to hating discrimination, I love people watching. And unlike, say, whole-earth festivals with ersatz hippies, a gay-rights rally is always exceptional people watching. And most of the people have come there to be seen.
For instance, this young lady was happy to pose for me:
Actually, everybody was happy to pose for me; I’ve always found the gay community to be the same as any other community—endlessly accommodating when treated as, you know, people.
The turnout at the rally, however, was disappointing by Christmas Island standards. If we had thrown this shindig, there wouldn’t have been a bit of lawn visible:
We maneuvered next to the head of the Idaho ACLU and introduced ourselves. I mentioned that I had just applied to her organization a couple weeks earlier. I told her my name and she turned to The Missus and began discussing items of mutual interest that we hadn’t mentioned in our brief conversation, but had disclosed in my job app cover letter.
So (we discerned), she must have read my application and remembered it. I was stoked. How cool would it be to work for the ACLU?! I could be like The Last Boy Scout, getting paid to advocate for issues already near and dear to my heart. I mean, I would love to be offered the position at the printing company, that would be a great job. But working for the ACLU would be a lifestyle. And yes, it would really piss off my Mom!
As we were leaving the rally, an older woman came up and asked us if we had a cell phone she could borrow. She was obviously in growing distress, having lost her car keys and no one answering her phone calls to come pick her up. In situations like this I ask myself two questions: What would Elvis do? And what would Johnny Cash do? Since we couldn’t afford to buy her a new Cadillac, we went for the Johnny Cash option and offered her a ride home ourselves.
Because of the rally and the ensuing parade, the packed Saturday street market and I think even some road construction, it took us about a half hour to traverse the six blocks to the freeway. We could have crawled the distance on our hands and knees over broken glass and made better time.
Our passenger (Sue) took some convincing that we really didn’t mind the hassle; our flight was still six hours away. Plus it turned out she lived in the vicinity of the airport. So we got her home and made sure she was able to get in her place (keypad garage opener) and took off for a nearby theater to catch Toy Story 3.
[SPOLER ALERT!! – this paragraph only.] I love it when a movie lives up to its hype. Toy Story 3’s themes of the difficulty of change and the tumult of transition were not lost on me and their analogy to my own situation. At the end of the film, I felt both like the boy playing with his toys for the last time, as well as the toys who were being told they were essentially expendable. I thought it was a stunningly gutsy move for a modern G-rated kids’ movie to make. Our toys may indeed become expendable over time, but this film will not.
Afterwards, when we arrived at the airport, we found out our flight had been delayed, making our connecting flight a suddenly iffy affair. We discussed calling my most excellent sister Connie—who had sacrificed the better part of the week to come up and stay with The Boy—and finding some out for her in a worst-case scenario. I ended up calling her and accepting her protestations that she was good with whatever happened, schedule-wise. I decided this would be an ideal time to suspend disbelief and take her at her word.
The United Airlines Arrivals/Departures board wasn’t much help as it steadfastly failed to reflect the reality that our flight was already late and therefore not “on time” as it insisted. United Airlines also failed to supply any personnel—not one person beside the janitor—in the terminal to interrogate during a subsequent search to discern WTF.
On the other hand, when our plane finally did arrive, we sat uncustomarily close to the front—pretty empty flight—and ended up chatting up the flight attendant at length. (We earned her trust by sympathizing with her plight, having to tell trapped plane passengers there was going to be one tarmac delay after another. The poor kid next to us, a 16-year-old traveling alone between divorced parents, was near apoplectic because there was no way this latest delay wasn’t going to cause her to miss her connecting flight to Honolulu, and the next flight with open seats wasn’t scheduled for another 24 hours.)
Anyhow, the flight attendant had just gotten back from her home along the western Florida coast, and she had hundreds of images on her camera of the devastation to the water down there, and the land and the animals. She choked back tears when she spoke of one species that she didn’t think would survive because their sole habitat had been destroyed by the spill in the Gulf.
It was a more than sobering conversation and it put our good luck in the new home town, as well as worries about missing our own connecting flight, into a larger context. (The girl no longer headed to Honolulu that night didn’t seem as easily distracted by the attendant’s horrifying show-and-tell.)
When our first leg finally ended we bolted from the plane and literally ran the whole way to our connecting flight in a distant terminal, which flight was scheduled to depart one minute before our plane actually pulled up to the gate. Apparently they had been paging us by name in the terminal about a minute before we deplaned and began our mad dash.
Last boring detail: the flight out took 45 minutes, the flight back—covering the same distance and geography—took 20. Can anyone explain that me? Jeff Johnson? Mather?
Now all that’s left to do is everything else. And thank God, too, or this post would be even longer.