Friday, July 10, 2009
I'm sitting in an airport in the midwest, the bar has closed. I leave on a red-eye flight for one of the coasts in a short period of time.
At first, I arrived at the airport fully expecting to slide into the private airline lounge (a perk if you fly a bazillion miles a year like I do), take a nap, and get escorted to my business or preferably first class seat. That didn't happen.
Instead, a bar was surprisingly open. They're never open late on a Thursday, but there were 8 people in a bar and they stayed open. God bless those who take the red-eye.
Red-eye flights are interesting. MOST search engines don't list them, including Expedia and Orbitz. Even the main websites of airlines don't always have them in their default. Who wants to fly at 3am?
So I wander to the bar, sit down, and the cute old man bartender walks up. "Mr. Sane, it's been awhile." Umm, who the hell are you, bucko? "We met in a bar in Atlanta. Wait." He flips through his wallet and producing a business card of mine.
It says Chicago Sane, Man on a Mission. Holy crap, I haven't had that card in 8 years. How does this man remember me? "It's my job to remember names and faces. Why do you think a guy in his 50s would work in an airport?" Win. I'll have a... "Tequila on the rocks?" GEEZUS. "$7." I leave him a $20 and tell him to keep the change.
As my drink is poured, a lady 2 seats over to me slides over to the seat to my right. "He didn't know me, but I had met him once before." In Georgia? "Denver." Oh. "I'm flying early, figured I may as well get drunk before boarding the flight." I'm staying sober.
We chat. She's really attractive, maybe late 20s. I'll call her Xena, because she's gargantuan tall but probably a size 2. We end up discovering we have 3 mutual friends on various coasts, we may have met at a party just 3 years ago. She was drunk, and after 2 hours I was drunk. Her hands were all over my body, something I haven't gotten properly with the last few gals I took out. Damn it, mile high club here I come. Again.
She's also flying to the same destination I am. Alas, she's flying cattle class. Too bad, because she's a trip, and she knows all the punch lines to every bar joke imaginable. Still, we had a good talk, and it's always nice when a gorgeous Amazon woman gives you her number, her business card, her email address and all that without you prompting her for it. I promised to call her the next time I visited her home town.
So here I am, completely shitfaced, using whatever WiFi one of my cell phone companies provides free of charge. It's OK, I needed this. I board shortly anyway, and I was pleasantly placed in the last remaining first class seat on the plane.
So I'm heading to a coast, allegedly to meet to friends of mine who were miniature rock stars in their previous lives. In reality, of course, I received a phone call from a client who is in quite a bind and needs superior assistance with whatever it is he's gotten himself into.
I wasn't going to go, in fact I was going to go visit another friend in another town and drink mass quantities of vodka and put my face on hers and see where it landed us. But then he pitched a price, and I couldn't say no. Imagine that you own a crappy microwave oven made in 1995 and someone you know calls you and says they'll pay $1000 cash for it if you can deliver it. Even without a car, you're going to schlep that bastard on the bus and the train to make $1000 for a microwave work $20 or less. So here I am.
I love the coasts -- New York and Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle. The first two have a disgusting amount of gorgeous women, and in this economy, beauty gets you jack shit. So you have gorgeous women who can't get jobs as baristas because they're too pretty and the fat dyke who manages won't hire them. It means that "actress" gigs are gone, and even the good bar jobs are hard to come by. I love recessions, personally, because I make a shit-ton of money when things are supposedly slow, so I can conserve it until things pick up financially for the Joe Six Pack, which means more vacation time for me.
I hate the coasts, though, because people are blind to reality. My friend on one coast owns a $2 million condo that is about 2000 square feet. Idiot. It's filled with another million work of junk that I would scoff at for 1/100 of the price. Then there is me, Mr. Opposite. I drive an old car, I live in a tiny apartment in the ghetto, I tell women I meet that I'm an unemployed writer. Why? Because I can hide my wealth so simply, and no one has to know I'm taking them out for $6 burgers and then taking myself out for a $100 steak alone the next night.
It's a love-hate relationship, me and the coasts. I'm a Midwest guy, hell I AM CHICAGO. There is no doubt in my mind that I am more Chicago than Mayor Daley, Chicago-style pizza or a "drag it through the garden" hot dog. They all came after me, at least that's how I'll rewrite the history books.
I need the break, but I think I need to makeout with some random stranger and run before she can give me her spare hotel room key. Chances are, I won't do it. The girls on the coasts are DIRTY, and I'm clean. Sane and clean, that's me. Sane and clean and discrete and mysterious, etc.
So here I am, sitting in an airport, drunk. Xena is sleeping in a chair about 10 feet way from me, the last thing I noticed was her lips mouthing "call me" or possibly "caw eemee." Probably the first. She's passed out, though. My flight leaves eventually, and I'm in no rush to take off. But that's my life.
Sometimes people I know say they wish they could disappear for a day or two, maybe a week, tops. For me, that's part of the job. I fly on big planes to big cities with big hotels. I do a big job that I finish in less time than it takes a woman to get a manicure and pedicure. I get my payment, haul ass back to the Midwest, and resume my path to being known as an author and an entrepreneur.
And I love life. I really, really do. I feel bad for those who are duped into thinking life is about HUGE houses with 2 $80,000 BMWs parked out front. Maybe for most it is, but I could never let life pass me by that fast. Instead, life feels slow, like I can feel it, the palpable heartbeat of life. In an airport, drunk, hopping a flight to the edge of the border of the U.S., that's where I want to be. That brings me sanity.
Staying Sane is the most important activity in my life. It's what I do for others, it is who I have become.