Day One: July 18, 2006
You know those days where you think it’s going to be kind of quiet so you can get all your stuff done and be ready to leave when you’re supposed to leave? Me neither, although today was one of them. My empty calendar was soon filled with copy revisions and meetings and phone calls and more meetings. And lunch. I had some kind of stir fry thing from Café Grey. Too hot to go outside. But I digress. Next thing you know, it’s 5:00 and I’m being rushed out the door (but in a good way). I printed some stuff out to read on the plane. If you go to my office, you’ll find it still sitting there. So we get outside and producer Topher whisks Robert and I the whole 20 feet from the front of Grey to the waiting car, which is already stuffed with luggage.
So this driver stares at the trunk for a bit and then proceeds to unload the entire thing except for his own stuff. By the way, don’t try to joke with a guy who is unloading a trunk except for his own stuff. After all of this prep, he goes for my bag and I tell him that is has to remain upright. Nothing except an awkward glare and the advice from Skollar to leave it alone. Besides, we really have to get moving before the asphalt melts from around the car. Did I mention it was hot?
Second Avenue. Ahh, a protest. Oh that’s original: the problems in the Middle East are Israel’s fault. That’s a new one. And this protest is augmented by some Orthodox types. So to the unitiated, there are Jews protesting Israel. That’s great. Maybe they should stick to not bathing and wearing black in the sweltering heat. Jerks.
Politics aside, we zip through the Midtown Tunnel (as much as one can zip through the Midtown Tunnel) and find confusion at the toll plaza. Our genius driver left his EZ Pass in the trunk. Amazing because that’s probably the only thing that could still fit in the trunk. Instead of taking us up on our offers of cash, he stops between two lanes and opens the trunk in order to retrieve his plastic toll pass. You know what cops love? Foreign-looking people pulling up to a toll plaza and opening the trunk.
Robert and I have already started with the “Jews on a German airline” jokes. The driver is laughing, I think. But that could mean a lot of things.
JFK. A great president, a third-world airport. The Airport Formerly Known As Idlewild is in a state of permanent construction. Like a friendly ugly person, the International Terminal looks nice but only on the inside. We are blessed with Business Class seats (thanks, Sir Martin!) and access to the Executive Club (or whatever it’s called). Topher, who looks lost without an open laptop, bypasses the free grub and starts checking e-mail or downloading porn or whatever he does. Liz has never been inside one of these airport club places and is amazed at all the food. But while she’s amazed and gets a cup of coffee, I load up on cookies and beer. Mmmm, Milanos and beer on tap. And a soft pretzel. And some more cookies. And is that a chicken sandwich? I’ve decided to go back into the terminal proper and buy something just for the bag so I can fill it with all the food here. I start to have flashbacks to my childhood in a synagogue on a Shabbat afternoon, being knocked to the ground by hungry old woman stuffing their husband’s tallis bags with sponge cake and ruggelah. I stay in the lounge.
German is just not a friendly-sounding language. Most of the words have more than 11 letters (German crossword puzzles must be a bitch) and they’re very guttural-sounding. Listening to all of the pre-flight announcements, I realize that this is the first time I’ve been on a plane where the info was delivered in another language before they get to English. And I can’t even play the game where I hear a word and guess what it means. It’s just not pleasing to the ears.
I can’t make heads or tails out of this tray table. I’m trying to stow it away before takeoff without annoying the guy next to me but I finally give up and ask if he knows how to do it. He doesn’t, but stops reading his book about collapsing democracies (uh, security?) to watch me struggle.
8:15 pm: push away from the gate.
8:45 pm: engines off.
I’m having bad luck lately with delayed flights. I should say that I’m having good luck with delayed flights. After last week’s debacle in Toronto, I’m really annoyed at yet another weather delay because there’s no one to be angry with. Who can I yell at? G-d? He’s busy making asphalt melt in Manhattan.
So let me set the stage for you. To my right is an old lady who has this black brace on her left arm. She’s either strained a tendon or waiting for a bowling match to start. She keeps poking every kid in the aisle (more on that later) and spouting genius cliches in her German accent like “better safe than sorry.” Her giant-sized husband isn’t amused.
And then there’s the family. Grandmother behind. Dad and at least 2 kids in front. Mom and another kid in front of them. And what appears to be an aunt up in first class. Loud kids. The youngest doesn’t speak, unless you call shrieking a form of speaking. Now that the plane has stopped, the whole fmaily has gathered around to “help” each other. There appears to be a search for a specific snack. They look like refugees from a post Bar Mitzvah brunch. Why is this all happening around me? Because I’m cursed, that’s why.
Okay, kids in business class? I know this sounds snobby and elitist but what the f*ck? Now before I get letters from all you kid lovers, just relax. I have kids. I like kids. Just not your kids. There’s an implied agreement that if you’ve paid for business class, you get a big seat, better food, nice service and no kids. The shrieking? It’s not cute, it’s not adorable and it belongs in coach. And the creepy bowling lady isn’t helping much.
Ah hah!!!! You know when you’re stopped on a runway for any amount of time and someone stands up for whatever reason? Someone announces that you can’t be in the aisle because the plane can’t move. FAA regulations! But here in business class, we can not only walk around but drinks are being served!
Meanwhile, Dr. Ruth Bowlerheimer keeps trying to put her legs up but she’s too short. Her legs don’t reach the seat in front of her. And her husband still is not amused.