written Tuesday 30 December 2003
|Quick Christmas Trip|
Schiphol airport, in line for check-in. Woman in sweatshirt, sporting an American accent: "I can't believe these KLM stewardesses, they're such perfect Barbie dolls!" Me:"That's true, they haven't gone all butch and fat like a lot of American flight attendants."
Fortunately, the sweatshirt wasn't fated to rub elbows with me for the ten hours to Memphis. Yes, Memphis. What a weird non-stop flight, Amsterdam to Memphis, Van Gogh meets Elvis. And there are three things I hate on long flights. (1) Men (presumably) who pee on the toilet seats, (2) Women who haul squawking, smelly, mewling, puking, screaming brats on board, and (3) fatties of either gender next to me, or breaking my elbow at the aisle, or using my seat back or even my shoulder or head as crutches to lumber their fat asses to the head, as well as fatties who plop their 40 years of cheese-danish stuffing blobhood into their seats, breaking my knees.
But crossing the Atlantic westbound is much easier than the return to Europe. Westbound, I had ten hours to outline the next chapters, with occasional breaks at will. An article in the Wall Street Journal cheered new parents who named their babies after consumer products. As far as I'm concerned, this is an omen of the downfall of Western Civilization, when Americans start to allow corporations to run every part of their lives. "The Bliss of Your First Kiss!"--brought to you by Chevrolet. What crap. The most popular baby name of this type was Lexus.
Christmas shopping went well. I had a second pair of close-up glasses made so I don't have to haul one pair back and forth to the office. Otherwise, just ate too much. The trip's cultural highlight was the Messiah presented by a small (authentically sized) ensemble playing period instruments. Very special. The parents are happy and healthy and planning a trip snow skiing.
Of course, it's wintertime in America, too, cold weather, bare limbs. These behind my parents' house out-Pollock Jackson Pollock.
And then there was Christmas, at my sister's place. I was glad to see that my she and Lil Bit (pictured) and my niece and nephew, too, are all happy and healthy.
Of course, the flight back was dreadful, as long eastbound inevitably are. The 35-minute connection all the way across Memphis terminal went OK. No one broke my knees or elbow, the inevitable screaming brat was six rows ahead, out of range given the ear plugs I've learned to wear on any flight over an hour, and the fatties found someone else to rub their stink on. Trains out of Schiphol were late, but at least it wasn't raining while I rolled my suitcase over the tiles (clackclackclackclack) to the apartment. The two-hour (exactly) nap, and the hardest part of the eastbound trip, trust me: dragging my butt from under the covers at 4 pm. Every muscle wants to keep sleeping, but if you do you are a lost soul, and for days. Coffee helps, and by the next morning, you're OK.
Then one day of work slipped in, before the bullet train to Paris...
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