Of runway delays, Fat Vodka, and how I should be having babies...I should have known when I saw the group of beer fat twenty-somethings throwing down dollar bills and gambling in the gate waiting area that my destiny was somehow going to revisit them, although I probably would have hoped that it wouldn't happen in a crowded plane.
We finally boarded 30 minutes late (it's not a little disconcerting to see your flight attendants and pilots running onto your plane what seems like moments before you board) and I got happily settled into my seat, 9E between a New Jersey Lawyer (or he was just reading multiple copies of the journal, New Jersey Lawyer) and a woman reading a hardcover Balducci novel. What a nice quiet little crew I thought until I noticed a family in the seats ahead of us with a 3 year old and what looked to be a 6 month old. I knew they were in for a much rougher time but my tolerance for babies is very high (after all, this seemed like an attentive couple) so I was concerned.
I was busy reading my book when the flight attendant approached us. It seems the family with the kids had another member of their party (an aunt I later discovered) who was sitting in row 23 and the flight crew was looking for someone kind enough to switch. I have a philosophy that you should never refuse a mitzvah when it is presented to you, so I volunteered. The woman was very profuse in her thanks and I lucked out with her seat being an aisle seat.
Lucked out seemed to be an attitude to be amended later. Gambling boys were in the row ahead of me and it seemed as if spring break had come several months early. The person (gentleman seems too fictional a word here) was on the phone with his Florida buddy, to inform him of the initial delay. They got on a lovely and loud conversation about how they should all play poker when they arrive and then have "2:30s" which I wondered if it was like elevenses in The Hobbit and I later discovered this fellow was a LOTR fan (the movies, of course, not the books). He was incredibly loud and kept repeating his conversation to his guffawing companions seated across the aisle as if they and the surrounding eight rows had been rendered deaf upon entering the cabin. LOTR guy kept reflecting "Man, I could SERIOUSLY use some vodka here" at intervals, so I nicknamed him "Fat Vodka" and his Tonto-sidekick across the aisle appropriately, "Across the Aisle Guy". Across the Aisle was a bigger yes man than some members of the Bush administration and I think that gives everyone a sense of his level of commitment to Fat Vodka.
We then heard from the captain that while we were moving slowly, we were number 24 in line to take-off (insert groans and vodka expletives here), but everyone settled down the way a large group from New York/New Jersey does which is to degrade and berate the authority figure, i.e. the Captain. ("I just get out on the f*#@ing turnpike whether or not the guy ahead wants me to go!") After about a half and hour, we got another apologetic message from the Captain (who had a charming English accent which was also another feature of the brutal mockery) stating that the airport had been shut down for a half and hour due to bizarre high winds over Teterboro Airport. He said he had never seen such radar readings in all his 23 years of flying and that he'd let us know as soon as we were back in line, but people could stretch and use their cell phones. A massive outpouring of ungenerous emotion ensued with people in bizarre pseudo-British tones saying, "I've never seen wind before!!!" with that mincing tone Americans like to assign to the British whether they have that or not. We did finally take off, thank goodness and people seemed to settle down after they dimmed the lights, kind of like when you throw a towel over a bird cage.
I was busy reading and listening to my iPod (Bose headphones are worth their ridiculously high price tag in my opinion just for the noise canceling) and trucking along in our flight. I was shutting my eyes and trying to sleep periodically and feeling sorry for the flight attendants who had a tough time with the passengers serving the snack. People were really hungry from waiting so long and a little cranky (I had a snack stash in my purse and a big bottle of water - a seasoned traveler, ahem). The flight was a little rocky at points and the drink cart got stuck uphill right before Fat Vodka. An attractive young flight attendant was pushing it and the two of them appeared to enjoy obviously checking out her ass and then guffawing some more with one another. A definite "ewwww" moment. There was only about 30 minutes left to the flight when Fat Vodka decided (this was around 10 pm at this point) that what was missing from the flight was his obnoxious and offensive music which demeaned women played from his laptop and shared with Across the Aisle guy. I let them have one song and a final moment of obliviousness before I took off my headphones and leaned forward.
I said quietly, "Excuse me, guys, I'm curious, how old are you?" Across the Aisle guy got it right away and sarcastically replied, "oh, does it matter?" and I said, it did, because I took care of teenage boys all day long and "They seem incredibly mature compared to you. Do you honestly think that anyone wants to listen your music? Or hear about how you plan on gambling later tonight? Or about how you 'need' vodka? Or witness you checking out the flight attendant's ass? If you could develop an awareness that we've all been able to hear you and you need to be more cognizant of yourself, I'd appreciate it."
Fat Vodka was searching for words but Across the Aisle guy was super sarcastic when he said, "Gee, could you be less offensive?" To which I said, "Yes, can you?" Fat Vodka had found his tongue and chimed in, "You know, if you had just asked us nicely to turn down the music, we would have. You didn't have to be so condescending." I had to do my observational technique - "I'm really sorry if I misjudged you and apologize if that's all it would have taken, but absolutely nothing the three of you have done since the gate at the airport has given me any indication that you have thought for a moment about anyone else on this flight but yourself. Try being a good citizen; we'd all appreciate it." And I snapped my headphones back on.
For all their protestations, they ignored me but immediately shaped up, talking suddenly in a much less "dude!" tone of voice and instead of comparing cheap liquor brands, embarked on a fascinating book/movie conversation centered on baseball. A nice change and I was happy to help.
We landed, and I got my bag (first off the plane) and went to the shuttle. It was after 11 pm at this point and I was so, so exhausted. The shuttle people seemed a little iffy and disoriented so I decided to splurge and get a cab. The cab driver was a friendly man from Haiti who expressed shock and amazement that I didn't like the warm weather and then proceeded to grill me about why I didn't have children. For the 20 minute drive to the hotel, I had to hear about how it was my "duty" to perpetuate mine and my husband's "blood" in the form of a child. Guy was deeply saddened that he and his wife couldn't have a child (she's 41 and too "old" according to him) and so it seemed pregnancy had somehow defaulted to me, which seemed interesting. I did some agreeing, gave him a big tip (maybe they'll do IVF) and entered the hotel.
The Westin is the most gorgeous hotel I've ever been into. I've been at more expensive hotels (although this one is very pricey, I'm getting a great deal subsidized by the conference) but never one that was beautiful and elegant in a rich but understated way. I got my key (everyone is super friendly) and went up to my room. The bathroom, ah the bathroom!!! An oasis in a world of cares, every librarian I spoke with said they had taken multiple pictures of the bathroom and you can see why, right? There is the best makeup mirror ever sitting there on the vanity - it has an inset super magnifying mirror so eyebrow plucking (which is a risk in my dimly lit apartment) is no problem. I literally cannot wait to try the bathtub and actually went through a whole mental dilemma where I tried to figure out how I could get a decent night's sleep and also take a bath for a few hours. The numbers sadly didn't work out so it will have to be a Friday night thing. The little soap is a leaf and the toiletries were really good smelling (the W Hotel in Seattle is the only one to beat them) and I just felt so super pampered.
And the rest of the room was no slouch either. The Heavenly Bed is well named and I love having a sofa!!!
My view of the canal isn't too shabby (this taken the following morning obviously, it was light out by then). After calling Ethan and having him not worry anymore about me, I went into that heavenly bed and fell fast asleep.