Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random Thoughts (Regarding Transportation)

When I was three, I was at the airport with my parents seeing my dad off for a business trip or something. Maybe it was a business trip, I was three, so who cares, right? I decided to explore the airport while my parents were busy with tickets, baggage and the like. “Here’s an interesting doorway” I thought. “My, what a long hallway!” was my impression after entering the interesting doorway. After venturing down the long hallway, I found a big, comfy seat and climbed up into it to make myself comfortable. A few minutes later, Patsy, my dad’s secretary, came and whisked me away from my comfy seat and brought me back to my mother and father who were visibly disturbed. Apparently in 1968, it was very easy to climb aboard any old plane bound for Las Vegas. There were no x-rays or full body scanners or whatever, Yet, somehow, civilization as we know it continued.

In fifth grade, my class had sold the most “America’s Finest” candy, and hence we were entitled to a pizza party at the nearby Shakey’s Pizza place. It did not occur to me to wonder at that tender age why the Corporate Executive Officer of the establishment might be named “Shakey.” Anyway, we had no school bus to transport us to Shakey’s, only four blocks away, so we walked. After having our fill of impossibly bland pizza (during which I distinctly remember singing along to Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice” [or was it Journey?]) while waiting for our pizza, my entire class walked back to the school. Upon arrival, we tarried at the entrance, during which time I decided to hop up onto a low wall bordering a garden. My butt overshot the trajectory and landed upon four feet of nothingness, causing the rest of my body to hurtle forth to the ground. Upon impact, my left arm struck a concrete cinderblock bordering the garden. When I arose from the tumble, I noticed that my hand was four inches lower than my arm - my wrist was broken!. This caused me no slight consternation, so naturally I screamed like a schoolgirl. Later, after my mom had collected me and brought me to the doctor, I had a splint wrapped with ace bandages around a rigid arm support. Since the outer covering of the splint was merely ace wraps rather than plaster, it was impossible for friends to sign, as friends of the cool kids did when they wore a real plaster cast for broken bones. With this physical and obvious reminder that I was not a "cool kid" to this day, I curse mere splints.

When I was eight, my mother and my two sisters flew to Tampa to visit my mother’s brother, my Uncle Merlin. Yes, Merlin, as in the wizard in the Knights of the Round Table. Don’t say anything bad about my Uncle Merlin; he’s one of the coolest people I know, and I’ll kick your ass if you do (cool kids be damned). My mom, my two sisters, my aunt Mimi and I were flying on National Airlines. During the flight, the plane was hit by lightning. All the lights went out. Since it was our first flight, my sisters and I thought it was just part of the ride. My mom and Mimi sort of freaked out.

At age twenty-eight, I got married. My dad died the next year and my Mom gave us his old Dodge K-Car. I had been driving a 1990 Ford Ranger, which I had kept nicely. The K-Car had been parked for years under the pine trees in front of my parents’ house, and was coated in the dried sap of the evergreens. It was a car preserved in amber. It could have been displayed in the Smithsonian alongside the prehistoric dragonflies and mosquitos that have been preserved through the millennia by the same mechanism. Shortly after having been bequeathed to me, the amber-preserved K-Car was my vehicle, while my new wife tooled about town in my nice pickup. I didn’t complain; something about a woman who drives a pickup always... stimulated me.

In 1998, my wife and I invited my mother and our friend Ingrid to join us in a trip to Ireland to visit my wife’s parents. Long story short, the airline owed us an upgrade for bumping us off the flight across the pond and subsequently losing all our luggage. On the return trip to the United States, we were bumped up to Business Class, which I highly recommend. But on the flight from Atlanta to New Orleans, we were back in pigs-and-chickens class, which I recommend not so highly. My mother was several rows behind us during the rather turbulent flight, which seating arrangement I highly recommend. During the bumpy parts of the flight, I could hear my mother, who has a fantastic singing voice, singing “Lady of Knock” to the other woman sitting next to her. At the baggage carousel, I gave that woman what I hoped would be interpreted as an envious, yet simultaneously apologetic, glance.

During my elementary school years, I rode bus number 22, driven by Mr. Jimmy, who was also my Catechism teacher. In the last year of school before Sam Barthe Athletic School For Boys was sold to EcĂ´le Classique, my younger brother also rode Mr. Jimmy’s bus number 22. Having seniority, and determined to take full advantage of it, as a seventh-grader I sat sullenly in the back of the bus with the upperclassmen, while I forced Patrick to sit in the front of the bus with the kids his own age.
Note: I had absolutely zero talent for athleticism, while Patrick was the quintessential athletic paradigm. I have yet to forgive him for that.