Saturday, March 19, 2016

This Week In Not Surfing

1. I think every airport ought to have the words DIGNITY and ELEGANCE printed in simple font on placards dotting the terminals. I believe that before every taciturn airline employee and dopey TSA agent assumes their post, they ought to repeat these words as a personal mantra.

2. On my way to Texas I order a double espresso and pay $2.17 for it. After finding out my plane is delayed an hour, I order a single espresso from the same counter and pay $2.17 for it, receiving the exact same amount of dry tasting Illy coffee as the first order.

3. I happen to be in Austin during the SXSW tech week, an eyerollingly embarrassing happenstance for my normally tetchy take on group-think. So many strivers, connivers, and thinkers and even more wanton hangeroners, hopeIgetluckiers and uselessideasquatters. It is all so blatantly, gratuitously, corporately dorky, everyone with their brightly colored, creative-classified laniards displaying their earnest intent. I can sit and judge from afar because I'm here for another reason, but the fact is, it's not all cringe worthy. These same jolly herds produce a collective smile of social submission that somehow conjures a whiff of desire for the better. I can't fault that in the end.

4. The ubiquity of Tillandsia. One of the most lovely, astonishing things in all Texas.

5. We sit in a chain restaurant to the left of a clinical smelling Marriott in Commerce, 20 minutes from Athens, Georgia but we don't know that as we haven't bothered to check the map, unconsciously settting ourselves up for a needless Applebees v. Ruby Tuesdays Decision 2016. Ruby Tuesdays is approximately 45 footsteps closer and wins the pole thanks to geographic merit. We wait five minutes to get our hands on a menu, another ten minutes to take a sip of water, a further five minutes to receive our beers (and order) and another twenty minutes to dig into our "simple, fresh American food." No less than three waiters and waitresses have attended to us on a night where one can only make out a two-top, a couple four-tops and three stragglers at the bar. From the moment we start eating to the moment we walk out the door, we are approached no fewer than seven times with abject apologies for the lack of service. "I'm really sorry! It has been craaaazy tonight." Commerce, Georgia has an alternate definition of craaaazy to the one which we're accustomed.

6. Jefferson, Georgia is the birthplace of anesthesia. It has a Lee Street and two commemorative statues for their brave Confederate boys in grey. Sometimes I wonder if they actually wore grey. I text my father the news and he responds, "Sounds like a sleepy town."

7. My borderline paranoiac fear that someone might overhear a personal conversation makes me a terrible long-distance lover. This psychosis takes conversationally warm phone calls out of my interpersonal repertoire. Instead I fill my texts with dumb observations (like these) and bad selfies. This is admittedly thin fare.

8. Glenn McDaniel moved from Atlanta to Seattle in the mid 80's, inserting him (and his family) into our lives in that gracious, entertaining way that Southerners can muster from the moment they pop out the womb. The first topic of conversation I remember (the only topic, really) was The Varsity, a one of a kind hamburger and hotdog joint plopped down in the middle of Atlanta. A sort of Georgian Dicks as far as my mind could understand it. And my mind tried to understand it, transforming tales of this spectacular drive-in into myths and legends that would haunt the periphery of my life's goals. In fact, I've never wanted to visit Atlanta for any reason other than giving the epic grease a go. This is a quest I repeat to anyone who'll listen during my two days in Georgia, eliciting a hundred enthusiastic bits of ordering advice. The gaffer: "Get the Frosted VO!" The stylist: "The Heavyweight!" The second AC: "Go All The Way!" After our shoot we hustle back to the big city, drop our bags and head out into the warm Southern night in anticipation of gastronomical debauchery. My mind ponders the instagram photo I'll take to record my dream fulfilling triumph as we race down the highway in an Uber, ignoring grumbling from the back seat. I scroll through my notes on proper ordering phrases, missing the growing protestations from my comrades. Just as I settle on the burger/dog/onion ring/frosted orange spread I'm going to set myself up with, Adam the cinematographer startles us suddenly, "we're going the wrong way!" I look over at the rotund lady behind the wheel. She looks confused, harried. I look back at my cohort. They look crestfallen, fearful. I look at the dashboard clock. 10:20. "Wait, The Varsity closes at 10:30... right?" The driver looks at me, shame in her soft eyes. I look at the back seat. My producer checks Apple Maps, the photographer Waze, the DP Google Maps. We miss two more exits, make three more u-turns, change our plan of attack four times. Pulling up, tumbling out, sprinting wildly towards the light. 10:31. Protestations. Pleading, begging, storytelling, and finally, consigned silence. As we hang our heads I start to laugh. We all start to laugh.

9. The next morning on an Uber to the airport we retell the story of our failure to the driver, a tall, trim middle aged black man in a tie. He laughs softly, sympathetically and adds, "To be honest, I think it's overrated." He is from Detroit and refers to hot dogs as Coneys. "After Coney Island?" "Yep." Pat chimes in that Norwegian Coneys are overrated as well, to which Kaia the Norwegian takes offense. Adam declares that Chicago has the best Coneys and our driver agrees. I offer that Coney Island Coneys are overrated and everyone goes quiet.

1 comment:

BigDan said...

Cheese Coneys are a Cincinnatti/Pittburgh standard. My cousins from there used to make them every summer at the beach in Maryland. The night after we would boil MD crabs just for contrast.
I have to say, this entry had me laughing by bullet point #2. I seem to have the same take on airports as you, from the Economist magazine entry of years back (where Emily used to work, btw) to espresso's and TSA agents. I think I dislike TSA agents more Trump or Cruz. This worries my wife. Ask her about it when you all come down here and you feel like winding her up. DC is full of TSA types, or as a friend once said, people who were hall monitors in high school.