It might seem preposterous to suggest that a populous island somewhere between South Carolina and England would bother hating a single human being, but I assure you it’s true. Maybe it was the cavalier way I arrived last time with cats in tow and a friend’s swine flu-ridden, lying to customs boyfriend by my side? Maybe it’s the fact that I resent Bermuda for not being in the Caribbean and driving on the wrong side of the road and those stupid shorts: it resents me back? Perhaps it’s simply the old adage that you can’t please everybody. Some islands are going to hate your guts for no good reason.
And so it is.
Bermuda, like a sweet romance gone bad, decided to remind me of its wrath this morning, and I’d be lying if I didn’t mention I’m just hoping to get through the next two weeks alive. As I told the lady checking my bag onto a flight a full hour later than the one I originally purchased (more on that shortly) when she inquired how my morning was going, “If a meteor falls out of the sky and kills me right now, I will not be surprised.”
Now let’s back up and level set, shall we? As you probably know, as much as I travel, I rather hate to travel. Not the being there, but the getting there. Any way you slice it, it’s a goddamned hassle: schedules to plan, overpriced tickets to buy, clothes to be selected and packed, tiny bottles and portions to be rationed and remembered, pets to be sat, lamenting about ‘why did I think this sounded like a good idea???’ to be done, and details to manage. Even when it all goes well, it’s a small nightmare.
And when it all goes to hell?
Well, welcome to my life.
So where should we start? Probably with the decision to do not one, but two revisions to The Food Machine this week (including two new chapters! Great! Just what a 138,000-word novel needs! More words!) and while over at my friend’s house as she edited just a few pages behind me – kind of like the guy with the scooper who follows the horse.
From a book editing perspective, this was a brilliant idea, as I got a ton done, and I’m truly happy with the novel now. From a travel perspective, this was retarded and is why I now have a three-inch stack of 8 1/2×11” paper contained in a giant plastic binder sitting on my foot here on the plane. I ran out of time and had to bring the f*cker with me.
I also ran out of time for that little thing I like to call ‘packing.’ Long story short, the night ran late, and I crawled into bed hoping that the two and a half hours’ of sleep in my future would hold me over. I set the alarm for 3:00am (hoping to leave the house by 3:30am to get to the airport in time for my 5:00am flight) and quickly fell asleep.
What happened next is kind of foggy. As of today, I’ve developed a theory that extreme panic is akin to being really drunk: you remember things, but not really. All I know is that rather than a suitably annoying alarm sound, my alarm clock was set – but not quite – to a radio station. So the resulting “alarm” was more or less white noise with a little bit of radio static and feedback here and there.
Actually, thank the sweet lord for the feedback, or I’d probably still be asleep right now. At the same time, the feedback didn’t quite hack it, and I may have hit ‘snooze’ a few times. Again, I’m not sure, chalk it up to ‘full-blown panic amnesia.’
All I know for certain is that I groggily glanced at the clock and saw that it read 4:06. Ummmm. What? 4:06 what? 4:06 who? 4:06 HOLY SHIT I AM SO TOTALLY SCREWED.
I sprang out of bed, threw on some clothes, and didn’t so much as brush my teeth or look at myself in the mirror (Hel-lo Ugly Bangs!!!) or check to confirm my head was still attached. I fed the pets, took out the trash, left a baggie with three hard boiled eggs somewhere (holy mother of god the gas that dog will have! I am only grateful I won’t be there to smell it,) and drove ten minutes toward the airport when (doing a mental check: “Any kind of flames or other small fires left burning?” No. “All doors locked or at least closed?” “I think so.” “Pets alive and accounted for?” Yes. “Do you have your wallet and phone?” Yes…F*CK. BERMUDA IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY. To my credit, it was 4:25am, which means I actually got out the door in under ten minutes. To my discredit, I had just realized I’d forgotten my passport.
En route back to the house, I called the airline and changed (for $25 for a confirmed seat, which probably wasn’t necessary because there were empty seats on the flight, and I could have gone standby for free, but it wasn’t the kind of morning I was feeling particularly bold or lucky) to the 6am flight…giving me an hour to make my next connection. I can live with an hour. I’ve faced worse.
Back at the house, I was greeted warmly by the pets (“Back so soon! I’m so glad to see you!”), grabbed the passport, and nearly fell down the stairs while arranging the new flight and, again, freaking the f*ck out. En route once again, I felt a small ripple of calm run through the sea of uber anxiety attack, and realized I’d be at the airport a whole hour early. Yippee! What could possibly go wrong now?
How about locking the keys in the car WITH THE LIGHTS ON. Yes. You read that correctly. I’m not going to apologize or try to make excuses. It is what it is. I locked the keys inside the car and the lights were on. I stood there stupefied for about two minutes and then shrugged my shoulders, slogged to the terminal, and got in line to check in. When all signs indicate you might die today, you may as well get on a plane.
The line was long, and time was short (it was now 5:12am – and a mere hour since I first awoke) and the electronic kiosk wouldn’t let me check my bag to Bermuda myself. As I stood behind roughly 30 people, I calculated the odds that I would miss this flight (HIGH), and went over to the MVP/Premier line. I am neither MVP nor Premier, but I am Type A, and when things start going badly, I start taking action. When the lady asked how I was, I played the ‘pitiful but still has a sense of humor’ card, gave her the meteor line above, and somehow she either didn’t notice or didn’t care that I’d kind of cheated my way into her line. Hey, I gave them an extra $25 today (plus $20 for the bag), and I am battling the ill will of an entire island. Sometimes you have to be a pushy jerk.
Naturally, checking my bag was a giant hassle and security was slammed, and I walked up to the gate as they were announcing “Final boarding call for WOLF. Passenger WOLF, please come to gate C21 immediately.” I was carrying my belt in my hands as I boarded, but with the wake-up call I had, I was just grateful to be wearing pants at all.
On the first flight (of three today), I sat in front of a screeching toddler and his screaming baby brother. There really is nothing more delightful than the sound of children’s banshee wails at six o’clock in the morning. It’s like music and sunbeams and sharp shards of glass all rolled up in a hand grenade. Meanwhile, the older kid was apparently practicing some kind of witchcraft (on me, no doubt) and bellowing incantations such as:
Shabba Doo Fini
Shabba Doo FINI
Shabba DOO FINI!!!
SHABBA DOO FINI!!!!!!!
I noticed his technique involved repeating each phrase at an increasingly louder volume until the old lady in the row in front of me turned around and hissed a nasty “Shhhh” in his direction. I’ve talked about the futility of sushing babies before, so my only comment on that is that apparently it is not just Mexicans who shhhhh babies, but old white ladies do too.
Although he may have been trying to work a spell rendering me blind or give me shingles or cause the handle of my carry-on bag to rip off inexplicably and turn into a panther, but thus far his toddler sorcery has proved ineffective. As an additional upside, I’ve picked up some new spells – Mozzle Dee Fafa! Mozzle Dee FAFA! Mozzle DEE FAFA!!! – that I’m most excited to try out on my friends and loved ones.
That brings us to now, where I am sitting in seat 24C bound for JFK and weighted down by the aforementioned ten-pound binder on my foot. I’m in the aisle and I’m freaking cold, but they don’t give you blankets or pillows anymore on American Airlines – they sell them to you for $8.00. So f*ck that. I’ll take my lumps like everyone else and freeze.
On the ceiling above me is a black and white TV on the serious fritz airing what appears to be a game show hosted by (I believe his name is) Guy Fieri of Applebees menu “fame” and some kind of cooking show and the really heinously ugly hair, and this woman has had an Oreo placed on her forehead and apparently has to get it into her mouth without touching it and is contorting her face in a wide variety of….oh, the humanity. Who comes up with this shit and what is wrong with the people who watch it???
In other news, the only food available is some oatmeal with raisins for $8.00 and a ‘giant cookie’ for $4.99. Much like the blanket, I will not only be cold, but I will be hungry, and I will like it.
At JFK, I have a 45 minute connection. This is not a terribly generous amount of time for an international flight, and it’s the last shuttle to Bermuda for the day. As the gate agent so succinctly put it, “If we’re even ten minutes late, you’re screwed.” Then she smiled at me brightly because she’s in customer service after all.
The joke, however, is on her. I already know I’m screwed. I woke up screwed. I went to bed screwed. I can still hear that kid screaming in my mind, and I’m cold, and I’m hungry, and I’m goddamned tired, and I feel screwed…and not the good kind. Nonetheless, one day this will all be over and my luggage and I will be reunited and with any luck, Bermuda will not open up a giant sinkhole a la Guatemala City and swallow me whole.
More later from the other side, presuming I make it through the Triangle…