March 28, 2009

California, Part I

The cups hit the bar in a clatter, Jack Daniels sloshing around in their spotted, airport half-cleanliness. The bartender peers down at me as if staring at a degenerate finishing off a bender. When it comes to flying, no time is too early to drink, a sentiment not shared by my host. The men at the bar around me pick through their eggs and sneak glances at my choice of breakfast, while pretending to watch random highlights on the television above our heads. I can't tell if they admire what a man I am or share the bartender's sentiment that I am a mess. No matter, I am only a few minutes from the requisite buzz to get me through takeoff.

After quietly paying my tab, I head out to let the whiskey take its effect. I'm not someone who gets drunk often and after a short time my brain calms down. I start to get the feeling of having a secret that no one, save the judgemental bartender, knows. The rest of the passengers all walk around as if approaching the gallows, and only I have the solution; it jostles gently in my belly and needs a bit of greasy bacon to keep it company. I can't bring myself to eat what Starbucks considers a bagel and so wander the terminal in search of a better option. Halfway down the row of brightly lit stores, I notice a line of people at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Now, I sometimes indulge in a pre-dinner little bacon cheeseburger if I pass a Five Guys while out, but even a guy who drank a couple of whiskeys before dawn has to set limits. It occurs to me that this is the only secret I keep from my wife.

A sudden thought hits me; bacon, egg and cheese would go nicely on a squishy Five Guys bun. I stare longingly at the red and white checkerboard facade. Dreaming. Ah, I am not the only person to hatch this idea. A dutiful line of patrons wait, mouth watering, for the same classic combination. I join them silently. The line creeps closer to the grill and I observe a Five Guys twist on this breakfast classic. They don't simply add a couple strips of bacon to the top of the sandwich, they stack the egg and melted cheese on a half inch bed of crumbled bacon. I swoon.

Something stops me from ordering coffee here, so I head out in search of a decent cup. While this may counteract the effect of the Jack Daniels, it is too ingrained in my morning ritual to skip. I may only drink half the cup. Two customers in line before me admire my partially eaten sandwich and stare in simultaneous jealousy. The woman prods the man to skip breakfast here and double back for some of what I've got. We make pleasant conversation over a shared love of bacon, with only the man talking about the detriment it can have on one's waistline. I can tell that she will relent and settle for the dried scone sitting before us in the case. I pay for my coffee and take leave, knowing that she will regret letting him talk her out of her plan.

It's time for me to head over to the gate and await boarding. Despite the drinks, I dwell on the idea that I am knowingly walking to my own death. Somberly, I take the furthest seat from the jetway. A Virgin America employee is leading some kind of contest in which passengers compete for a set of hot pink headphones. A plainly dressed woman in a blue flannel shirt wins and dutifully gathers her prize. It will clash horribly with her. It is obvious that the feel good vibe of the women at the counter—who aren't going to board the plane I might add—is having the desired effect on the passengers. They smile. They relax. The same employee is now offering early boarding to anyone who can guess where she went to college. She dangles the familiar white and blue logo of North Carolina from a lanyard around her neck. People are calling out answers all around me and they are rewarded with places at the head of the line. They feel like they are flying first class.

My section, E, is called and I slowly move towards row 6, seat A. I'm about to take my place, when a familiar voice says, "Hey, Five Guys guy, how was your sandwich?" I look up to see the pretty face from the coffee shop. She and the self conscious man are our flight attendants. In a flirtatious manner that I have whenever I'm alone, I rub my belly and say satisfyingly, "It's brewing." Her face mirrors mine in that we both realize I just alluded to the fact that I will soon have to take a very large shit in a very small public bathroom. Hopelessly, I continue on about the technical merits of the crumbled bacon, but I have lost her. I sheepishly take my seat and immediately forget my gaffe. It is time to start thinking about death.


Blogger Lizzie G said...

Good thing you're married, your technique stinks! (Intentional pun!)

April 5, 2009 at 8:06 AM  

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