I. The towncar service is always punctual, and is cheaper than parking my car at the airport. And still, I always feel just a TEENSY bit Leona Helmsley when I walk to it and am greeted formally...
Today's driver was in a bad way. "It's hibernation time, Dr. J...it's the graveyard time of year." What do I say to that? He looks back at me in the rearview mirror, so I know he wants me to respond. "Look at those birds on the powerline, Dr. J. Just sittin' there starin' at us drive by. Wonder what they think of us, messin' every little thing up like we do."
I am almost frantic, trying to move my otherwise sharp and quick tongue into action. But I'm tongue-tied.
Just then, the Christian radio station he's listening to cues up a song he likes. And he starts singing "born again, I'm born again." I don't use that as a way out of the graveyard imagery, but it's tempting...
II. Plane change in Minneapolis. Walking by the pan-Asian restaurant, an old man with a southern accent is ordering General Tso's Chicken and a Thai coffee, paying with dollars, and handing it to the Somali cashier.
III. My seatmate in 4C is Everyman. Courteous, taught to help a lady put her rollaboard in the overhead bin, eager to engage everyone in conversation. A little boy is shuffling down the aisle in front of his mother, and the foot traffic stops as people try to get seated. He turns and looks at my seatmate in that completely guileless way that kids do. "I caught a lizard," he says. "Where did you catch him?"--my seatmate is delighted. "Around the middle." "Son, bless your heart, I'm so proud of you."
I know I'm back below the Mason-Dixon line.
IV. Turns out 4C is also a fan of the "free wine" in First Class (yeah, I fly a lot and get upgraded). A happy drunk, he tells me all about the doors he sells and blesses my heart at every turn, too. He then falls into a medicated, snoring sleep, and has to be awakened by the flight attendant as we approach the airfield. Did I say happy drunk? What I meant to say was AMOROUS drunk. In his journey from sleep to waking, he took a wrong turn at Fondle Street. He was quite sheepish when I spoke sharply at him, and excused himself with "the wife and I tend to start most days with a little romp."
V. There's a crescent moon over San Antonio tonight. My hotel bed is beautiful.