I’m prone to exaggerate. It’s fine, I’ve come to terms with it. But I’m also kind of a magnet for the ridiculous. Which I’ve come to embrace. The trouble happens when something truly DELICIOUSLY ridiculous happens to me but, because of my natural flair for the dramatic, nobody believes it. Disclaimer–the following account is true. Hilariously, fantastically true.
I stayed at the beach until the very last possible second and rode an island cab to the airport in a wet bathing suit, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame cap and running shorts. In a last desperate attempt to soak up as much sun as possible, I ditched the sunscreen and crisped it up like a teenager so I was a lobster hued, sandy haired, sweaty, hungry, sticky, gin soaked mess. That’s one kind of perfection, no?
When I arrived at the airport, customs was empty and I found that I had ample time in the postage stamp sized airport to change clothes and grab food. There is one restaurant in the St Thomas airport. The menu choices make the cafeteria scene in the Shawahank Redemption look like the marketing photos for the Four Seasons. Given the choices of a six day old grayish green ham sandwich, a ladle full of greasy meat-style bits floating in a vat of rust colored liquid that might have been auto shop runoff, or a hot dog with fries, I chose the hot dog.
Now, I order whiskey neat. I can somehow manage to smile while chugging an entire beer. I sometimes eat a half pound, pretty much raw steak and follow it up with a giant dessert. I’m constantly conscientiously NOT a lady when it comes to food. My brothers would never let me live down,”grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables,” and I kind of hate a salad that costs $12, so, I’m a dude where food is concerned, unless I’m served a footlong hotdog (and I LOVE hot dogs). Then, I carefully slice it down the middle, cut each long slice into ten smaller bites and eat the sucker with a fork–each perfectly bite sized piece coupled with its very own small piece of bun. With my legs crossed. Because I’m a lady. A very classy lady. Eating a footlong hotdog in the airport. With sand in my hair. You would think that the citizens of St. Thomas had never seen a lady eat a hot dog. Someone took a photo of me.
Once boarded, I set about my typical flight/crash/humanity analysis. You know what I’m talking about–you look around you on the airplane and determine if a higher power would ensure the safety of your flight based on the quality of humanity on board. I know that isn’t how it works. I really do. I know that amazing people die in horrible ways every day. I’m not an idiot, I just also believe in a grander scheme–that there is some cosmic thread of karmic riotousness that would prevent a plane full of nuns and chubby cheeked babes from dying in a fireball. I was screwed. With a few small exceptions (I’ll get to that in a minute), the flight was packed to the gills with the dregs of humanity. Worse than that. If you boiled the dregs of humanity, skimmed off the floaties and drained the liquid then cooked the dregs in the rotted fleshy drainoff from Dante’s seventh level of hell, the tasty reduction would be the conglomeration of the passengers on this 7somethingorother7.
The passengers were drunk and sun soaked. Fine, I was a little bit, too, but I haven’t tried to pretend that I was one of the redeemers from the flight either, so don’t get your britches in a bunch. Nobody wanted to sit in their assigned seat so loading the plane was like a hostage negotiation between the b-list of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and a group of gangbangers that was picked up outside of a convenience store. Every person was incredulously entitled in the dumbest and most irritating way with too many oversized carry-ons, touristy straw hats, and unbuttoned shirts showing off proud red beer bellies The undercurrent of belligerence was an acrid fart trapped in an already filthy sky bound tube.
My row of three was a particularly interesting cocktail consisting of a stunning (STUNNING) young chiropractor from Charlotte who had popped down to St. Thomas to compete in a five mile ocean swim to the island of St. John. She was breathtaking in that clean faced, perfect featured, bright eyed, slight build, unassuming smile kind of way and carrying a dog eared little known Bronte novel like it was a baby–pretty much the best and most refreshing cco-rower. . . then our center passenger arrived.
Stumbling drunkenly down the aisle of the plane just as the doors were closing, I groaned when I saw him because I just KNEW he was headed our way. Still wearing his wet Hawaiian print low slung swim trunks and a filthy wrinkled grey t-shit with a faded bar logo, he was barreling towards us belching and smiling at his luck. There were plenty of empty seats, but there was no way that he was going to pass up an opportunity at the hottie in the window seat and I felt some strange sense of responsibility to stay and buffer her the best I could. He crowded into his seat and immediately spread his legs to the 85 degree angle that small peckered men use as an excuse to usurp the personal space of innocent bystanders world round. We get it. You have balls. And now we can smell them, jackass.
He immediately began chatting up Dr. Hottie and, upon discovering her “committed relationship” status, began to do his darndest to convince her that he was the coolest fucking badass alive (those might have been his own words). He started by telling us that he had travelled to St. Thomas at the behest of an ex-girlfriend who loved him so much that she orchestrated the trip in a desperate attempt to get him to marry her (um, likely?). When we failed to be suitably convinced of his desirability by this tale (weird), he decided to enthrall us with his importance and net worth. After producing a battered old laptop covered in college and alcohol stickers with a strip of duct tape covering a crack, he insisted that he was a “Startup Investor.” Yep, he put together financing deals for start-up companies. Oddly, when the knowledge of his assured financial prowess didn’t end in Dr. Hottie’s head in his lap, he decided that, fuck it, he was going to use the remaining two and a half hours of the flight to show everyone what a big shot he was. He ordered a rum and coke. Then another. Then two more. And two bottles of red wine. He consumed the six drinks in the time that it took the attendants to get to the rear of the airplane then started talking about drugs. How great they were. How many drugs he took. How he wished that he had some right now, but had passed out so many thousands of dollars worth at the parties he had attended over the weekend that he didn’t have any left. Then he talked the flight attendant out of another rum and coke.
When we arrived at the Miami Airport, there had been a security breach. We were stuck on the tarmac for an hour. Next to the drunkest creepiest, motherfucker I had ever met. Then he pulled out the ham sandwich. Remember the grey green ham sandwich that I had passed on earlier? Well, he had one. At this point, it was three hours older, a whole lot more squished and certainly no better smelling. He masticated the entire soggy mess without once closing his mouth, stopping talking, or breathing through his nose. Truly. THEN IT GOT INTERESTING.
He pulled a prescription bottle from his bag and shook five or six different colored pills into the palm of his hand, thumbing through them like a child looking for the green M&M. Once he settled on a little orange pill that I think was a Xanax, he used a credit card to crush the pill on the screen of his phone, chop it, divide it into three thin lines and SNORT IT while Dr. Hottie watched with a slack jaw and raised eyebrows. As soon as I saw the three lines forming up, I excused myself to walk three rows back, hoping to be able to inconspicuously photograph it for you, but I couldn’t catch it on film. I was laughing too hard.
Luckily, Prince Charming passed out shortly after. I say ‘luckily,’ not because I wasn’t enjoying his antics, but because he was starting to get a little handsy with Dr. Hottie and she was too nice to give him the bloody nose he so desperately needed.
When we were finally cleared to get off the plane, I had missed my connecting flight and the next available American flights north were unapologetically not scheduled until the next morning so I spent a romantic evening alone in a Miami Courtyard Marriott. I would say that the flight shenanigans were a day ruiner, but remember, I spent the previous five days on a beach in the Virgin Islands reading trashy novels in the sun. . . for free. . . so I figure I can take this smiling, too.
I’m on my way to Washington DC now, let’s see what kind of trouble I can find. 🙂