Playdate at Ralphie’s House

It’s easy to love A Christmas Story. Even if you don’t love Christmas, the movie speaks to either a childhood that you had or one that you longed for. An amazing blend of a uniquely American holiday experience, a coming of age tale, and a glimpse behind the curtain into a family dynamic that, once purposely bygone, is in an almost chronic state resurgence, the film has provided a laugh, a sigh and a nostalgic sympathetic moan for three decades of audiences. Is it odd, then, to hear that this film was almost never made? And that when it was released, it was not a box office success? Well, both of these stories are true. And maybe I’ll get to them in a minute, but first, let’s talk about why I’m really putting finger to keyboard to write to you today. . . THE HOUSE!!!!

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Though the story takes place sometime between 1939 and 1943, A Christmas Story was filmed in 1982 so it is NOT, in fact, an OLD MOVIE (I tell my children this about so many movies made in the 80’s and 90’s that they have a practiced shared smirk dedicated solely to my idiocy on this subject–what is old). And the story and human characters are lovely, but the vintage setting of the movie is such an important diorama that I feel it’s fair to consider the town itself a “character” since it goes so much further than “setting” in this particular case. Filmed on location in Cleveland, Ohio and Toronto, Canada, the steel yards, working class housing, school house, and department store are so much more than window dressing that they have procured a cult following among movie fans including Brian Jones, an entrepreneur producing leg lamps for sale on the internet to help ends meet when he discovered in 2005 that THE Christmas Story house was being auctioned on EBay. He bought the house sight unseen for $150,000.

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When the new owner arrived, he found that the house (an actual family home, not a movie set) had been used as first a family home then converted to apartments at some point so the conversion back to “Ralphie’s House” took years and a whole lot of dinero (not to mention a fair bit of imagination since this house was used on a limited basis and for the exterior shots, but the interior scenes were actually filmed on a sound stage in Toronto). But now, not only has the house been restored to it’s appropriate midcentury glory, but also a museum dedicated to memorabilia from the original motion picture and a garage containing the Old Man’s car have been built across the street.

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Here’s where I come in. . . YOU CAN VISIT THE HOUSE! It is now a museum and a hands on one at that. You can touch everything, lay down on the beds, dress up in bunny suits, caress the leg lamp, eat at the kitchen table, use the decoder pin, heck there are even bars of Lifebuoy soap and Red Rider BB Guns! This was one of my favorite roadside stops of all time. It costs $10 for the tour of the house and nearby museum, but it was money well spent. They are generous with time and folklore about the movie and characters. I learned a bunch of great stuff and I had an amazing time.

The movie is based on a series of short stories by Jean Shepherd originally published in Playboy and later as a book titled In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. Director Bob Clark heard Shepherd reading the stories on the car radio one evening and fell in love. Throughout his career, he tried to talk studios into letting him make the film, but he had been pigeonholed into the corny horror genre and couldn’t get execs to see him as an endearing holiday story teller. It was only because of the success of his film Porky’s that he gained the leverage he needed–the studio wanted Porky’s Revenge and he parlayed their interest in a second Porky’s into a small budget for A Christmas Story.

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When released on Thanksgiving weekend in 1983, the original reception was lukewarm and the film had been pulled from theaters before the Christmas rush (Scarface and Carrie came out–nothing says Christmas like lots of blood, people). It wasn’t until the rights to the film were purchased by Warner Bros as part of a 50 film deal (it was pretty much thrown in for free so that they could make the 50 film number) and started being played on cable television that it became a beloved holiday tradition. And I couldn’t be happier.

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J-E-L-L-OOOOO!

Prior to my off the cuff stop in to the Jello museum in Le Roy, New York, I knew a few things about Jell-O. I knew, for instance, that Jell-O is a colloidal protein and that the protein chains require denaturation in hot water in order to reform as a semisolid colloidal suspension and that alcohol cannot be heated to an appropriate denaturing temperature without evaporation. WHAT?! O.K. To translate, you can’t make Jell-O shots with ALL alcohol. You have to use SOME water to dissolve the gelatin. This is the universe’s little way of making sure that my Jell-O shots aren’t TOO dangerous to be served at parties. Now, I make them in medical grade syringes, so they SEEM safe, but you can bet your sweet patooter that I have experimented for YEARS to find the maximum amount of booze I can squeeze into those puppies and still make the chemistry work.

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Just a typical Saturday night. . . 

I also knew that Jell-O makes me smile. I mean, honestly, it has SUGAR in it, it can turn a boring party RIDICULOUS, and it JIGGLES. If I had a personal crest, those three all caps words would be on it. Take note, ballad writers, put ’em in the ode. So, I knew some stuff, right? Well I could never have guessed at the weird fun I was yet to learn. . . .

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Auspicious?  No, not really what I was expecting, either.  But then again, we’re not dealing with Disney here. 

Jell-O was patented by a man named Pearle (Pearle Bixby Wait) late in the 19th Century. He was a carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer by trade (does this sound like the 1800’s version of Breaking Bad to anyone else?), but he and his wife experimented with a method of mixing powdered gelatin with sugar and fruit flavoring to make a dessert style food. Gelatin itself has been around since at least the 15th century but since it is actually made by boiling animal bone, bladders and hooves and has to be purified through a very lengthy and complicated process, it was typically a meat flavored food for the wealthy (aspic–also known as as-puke – oh, maybe that’s just me). When vegetarians you know don’t partake in your Jell-O Pretzel Dessert Casserole at the company potluck, now you know why. A little known fact is that Peter Cooper (the inventor of the first steam powered locomotive) patented the first powdered gelatin, but Pearle, well, he perfected it by adding sugar.

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Why Daaaahling, what a lovely rack you have!  I mean, your Jell-O rack, of course.  🙂 

The museum itself is, I am sorry to say, not all that comprehensive (maybe they are still reeling from having to remove so many exhibits spanning from, let’s say 1974 to 2011 when your and my favorite “Drug ’em, Love ’em, and Leave ’em” television star was the face of the entire product line) but it was an interesting romp. Jell-O was manufactured at the site from invention through 1964 and visitors can tour the infamous birthplace which shows the journey from hoof and bladder to dancing dessert, see historical marketing costumes, marvel at the kits used by traveling salesmen when Jell-O was sold door to door and store to store, and stare flabbergast at an enormous collection of Jell-O molds. After the museum, Jell-O enthusiasts can walk the “Jell-O Brick Road” to see the remaining Le Roy sites of historical Jell-O importance.

I was born the year that Bill Cosby was made the official spokesman for Jell-O, so I have never known another face, but I loved seeing advertisements starring Colonel Klink and the rest of the cast of Hogan’s Heroes, Carol Channing, and the stars of The Lucy Show in spectacular 1950’s form serving it up family style. Even Jack Benny, who wouldn’t stop his show for advertisements, was sponsored by Jell-O with hilarious feigned irritation at Don Wilson’s interjections.

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Do I like this doormat?  Yes.  Do I think  that a white doormat is a good idea?  Noooooooo. 

My visit to the birthplace of Jell-O prompted further gelatin research and some hilarious pop culture references that I had forgotten came out to play–The Simpsons, SNL, MAD TV, and Mormons. I had forgotten the hilarious and strange Mormon-Jell-O connection. Apparently Utah consumes more Jell-O per capita than any other state and Jell-O is the official State Snack Food. If you are wondering whether you should choose state of residence based on best state snack food, give it up now. Apparently only Utah has such a designation.

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I bought these citrusy shirts for my zesty kiddos.  

Fun takeaways– Weirdest actively produced Jell-O flavor? Mixcheif Juice. What is that?! Weirdest discontinued Jell-O flavors (heretofore to be referred to as Jell-O Flops)? Italian Salad, Celery, Coffee, Seasoned Tomato, Maple Syrup, and Bubble Gum. Jell-O Brand does not condone either the making of Jell-O shots nor Jell-O wrestling as these activities tarnish the “family friendly” image of the company (*cough* Cosby *cough*). For the record, I personally condone both of these activities. With fervor.

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Wait!  I thought that the DIDN’T condone Jell-O wrestling. . . 

 

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That Time I Almost Peed on the Rug

There are fourteen two story outhouses in the United States. Fourteen. I’ve seen a few. I’m not going to say that “See All 14 Two Story Outhouses” is on my bucket list, but I’m also not prone to missing an opportunity to shenanigan around in an iconic latrine– especially the only one that is technically built like the proverbial brick shithouse.

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The historic Howe House and Museum in Phelps, New York is the proud owner of this nation’s only brick two story outhouse. In addition to its solid brick construction, this particular privy also boasts a three and three system–three holes up and three holes down–of graduating size. They are the Mama Bear, the Papa Bear and the Baby bear of Goldilock’s crapper dreams. In naming unique features, there was also some bragging about attachment (that it is attached to the building, which is rare for an outhouse) but both entrances are outside of the building and the largesse of the existing kitchen space (which is the portion of the home attached to the room of requirement) coupled with the age of the home causes me to discount any benefits that “attachment” might have added, since you cannot enter the facility from inside, you must still brave the elements (sometimes across a slippery roof) to, um, evacuate.

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Most outdoor lavatories are hole bound meaning that falling, um, objects, end their descent in a large cavity in the ground. While this inauspicious ending was most common, it led to eventual mandatory relocation of the powder room once the earthly receptacle overflowed. This comfort room was a considered a modern marvel as it was equipped with a tray liner which would be removed by household staff regularly and scraped into an offsite repository thus preventing any eventual physical need for attached commode expatriation.

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The Phelps Six Holer (they’ve yet to name the john officially, so I’m brainstorming here) is no longer open for ‘business,’ plainly speaking and, though I am a rule evader by nature, the maintenance level and restoration of this particular loo did not invite me to push this particular envelope BUT, I had not known that prior to making this potty a destination on my route. My VERY LONG route. The route upon which I had consumed almost a case of lime flavored fizzy water. Which wanted to give a novel litter box a little whirl. Really. Now, I had mistakenly assumed that the two story throne was the primary attraction of the building. I mean, why else would a tourist pull off the expressway and drive down the main street of Phelps? Well, let me tell you a little secret–the docents at the Historic Howe House and Museum think that the magnificent poopatorium is but an annoying barnacle on the butt of an otherwise lovely HALF HOUR long tour of a partially restored old house where each room contains a curated collection of ennui inducing curiosities.

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Now, before I tell you about these roomfuls of curated artifacts, I would like to restate that I HAD TO PEE. BADLY. I wince/smiled through an introduction to the history of the house and a peek into the genealogy room where the history of every family in the city of Phelps can be researched. I clandestinely pee pee danced through the oral history of the Howe family and tried to look interested in their portraits and family tree. I alternated crossed legs in a room filled with doll houses made to represent the various historic residences in the city of Phelps. I almost peed in the kitchen sink. There was a touch and go moment when my guide tried to tell me that the outhouse was not available for public viewing–that it was just somewhere where they stored cleaning supplies and empty pails (the humor of this was lost on her and I didn’t have the heart to explain or giggle besides, I was sure that giggling would be disastrous at that juncture). I am not sure whether it is my ridiculous capacity for sweet talk or the desperate and ridiculous look in my floating eyes, but she did finally take pity on me and show me the interior of both stories of the iconic head.

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I wish that I could share with you some artful and transcendental photography from dramatic angles that is professionally lit. What you get, however, are the clandestinely shot grainy snaps taken with my smartphone, of an unlit room, on a grey rainy day, whenever my guide looked the other direction for a millisecond–around a bevy of dirty mops and precariously stacked debris. In the end, I chose not to avail myself of this unique can, but to avail myself of the hospitality of a gas station toilet up the street. What can I say, apparently my wild conjectures about sneaking in for a trespass tinkle didn’t hold water.

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P.S. If you were counting (or if you weren’t) that’s twenty, yep, TWENTY euphemisms for bathroom–which I chose not to use since there was obviously NOT a bath. I also avoided all terms that inferred running water would be present. I really can’t figure out how I managed to marry a normal person. What was he thinking? Truly. He should get a medal.

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Kidnapped a Friend

I have kidnapped a friend. I think that I’d be great at improv, because when I commit, I COMMIT.

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My great friend just hit U.S. soil after a long deployment somewhere unsavory (or very savory–depends on your point of view, I guess) and as soon as her debriefing finished in Nevada, she grabbed a flight home to Ohio to see her family. Now, I consider myself family, so I assumed that I would be invited.

Travel is addictive for me and my trip to St. Thomas was exactly the heroin hit I needed to drag me back into the abyss. I needed to stay home for two days, mostly for laundry and urgent care needs–I had to get a tetanus shot. A SHOT! Can I say that I was a soldier during and a toddler after? But once I had run a load of laundry and assured my husband that my self destruction was in check with a sufficient injection of prophylactic and a bottle of what I’m sure are equine anti-biotics, I packed a knapsack, hugged my kiddos, and hit the road.

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I choose travel routes based solely on the “Interesting Shit” factor. This means that I don’t care about travel time, don’t care about tolls, never plan further than the little red dots of crazy excitement spaced along a line that heads generally in the direction that I am going and then hopefully arrives somewhere in the vicinity of my destination. All in all, I NEVER sweat the small stuff. If I get hungry, I eat. If I need gas, I stop. If I get tired, I find a hotel. It’s a Pam Style Road Trip. This meant that, instead of the two shorter routes, I chose to take I90 to Ohio–through Mass, up along the northern border of New York, a quick jaunt through Penn, and down along Lake Erie to my final destination outside of Toledo. A twelve hour trip on a good day, I was pretty sure that I could add in a couple of roadside stops to make it a solid 15 hours.

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The trip, titled, “Kidnap Sarah” in my GPS passed so many interesting sites that I had to hit social media for a weigh in. I narrowed my options to: The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, Betty Beaver’s Fuel Stop, The International Boxing Hall of Fame, Angel Was Here — an angel statue in the VERY place where The Book of Mormon was dug up, A Two Story Outhouse, The Longest Covered Bridge in the U.S., The Jell-O Museum, The house where A Christmas Story was filmed, The Flintstone house, The World Capital of Duct Tape, and The National Hot Dog Bun Museum. The weigh in of friends and family did absolutely nothing to help make my decision. They were all over the place and I really only had time for a couple of stops! As it turned out, the decision was made for me by daylight savings time–it got dark right before five–so I stopped along the way until I ran out of daylight then powered through to a cold beer and lots of Sarah hugs.

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I’ve reviewed each attraction that I was able to see (just click on them here to read) and I was able to hit quite a few: The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (closed), Betty Beaver’s Fuel Stop, Angel Was Here, Two Story Outhouse, and The Jell-O Museum, but I was strenuously disappointed to miss the house where A Christmas Story was filmed. Strenuously. Soooo, after spending two WONDERFUL days pretending that Sarah’s family was mine (It was easy. Her family is the same kind of loud, hilarious, ice cold beer and hilarity filled good time that mine is, kinda made me homesick.), we set back off together in the opposite direction! I usually don’t advocate taking the same route twice–how can you possibly absorb the entirety of the world if you are always rutting the same path–but I really wanted to hit a couple more destinations AND I discovered that an old high school friend that I hadn’t seen in TWENTY TWO YEARS was living in Niagara Falls, NY and I wanted to catch a very long awaited hug. This meant that, on the way home, I was able to see the house where A Christmas Story was filmed, The Flintstone House, and Niagara Falls (not only did I get my hug, but it turned out that I had stopped by on her birthday!).

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I stumbled into my entryway at about two a.m. on Monday night, gave my hub and kiddos a smooch and got on a train later that morning for Manhattan. But that’s a different story for another post.

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Angel Was Here Monument

I’m not Mormon, so my adding the Angel Was Here Monument to my “Road Trip Bucket List” seemed like a strange choice to some. I entertained a lot of ‘Whys’ and requests for explanation so here’s how it breaks down: Despite the fact that I don’t have one, I enjoy religion. I really do. It fascinates me. I am entranced by how an entire population can believe with every cell of their being in one thing while their neighbors believe something almost exactly the same, save one minuscule difference and that one minor difference makes a universe of separation. I love the captivating conversation created by discourse among intelligent people who can compare their polarity in a compassionate way. While I am NOT a Mormon person, I have found that people who ARE certainly make the global conversation interesting and always in a solicitous way. And I’m intrigued by the idea of an American Mecca, of sorts. That there might be a sight of religious importance in the United States. Add to this the fact that if a kooky place is open to the public, I’m in (but if I have to break and enter in the dead of night, all the better).

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Tucked into the countryside outside of the picturesque little village of Palymyra New York is the Hill Cumorah–the very spot where Joseph Smith claimed to have found the golden plates that he later translated into the Book of Mormon. I have studied this story a lot, more probably than most people who associate themselves with the sect and I could pontificate about the origin of the Book of Mormon for a while, but this is not a story about that. This is a story about a place that began its life as a humble wooded hill outside of an otherwise unremarkable town and became a spiritual Mecca filled with mystery, controversy, wonder, contemplation and contribution to the global conversation. And that, my friends, is something that I can get behind.

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The hill itself is approximately five miles outside of Palmyra in a rural area along State Route 21 where the hillsides are dotted with adorable small scale farms. Lazy cows stare at you and fat brown horses laden with ennui swish their tails as you drive by. It is certainly an unassuming location for a hill that has changed so much of the cultural landscape of the world. I would like to interject, at this point, the fact that Google Maps believes that the road that runs through the center of the city of Palmyra is State Route 21 when, in fact, it is State Route 31. When given the request to be delivered to 603 State Route 21, Google Maps repeatedly directed me to a dilapidated Dollar General. Google was so certain, in fact, that the Angel Was Here monument was located in the Dollar Central that I went as far as to go inside and check. After all, I’ve seen weirder things. Upon discovering that the Angel was not, in fact, available for purchase for less than a dollar, I was kindly re-directed by the owner of an antique shop across the street and was on my (corrected) way.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has erected an imposing statue of the Angel Moroni at the crest of the hill. The base and pillar that the statue top are rife with secular significance including four panels depicting the story of the Book of Mormon and the “shaft” (their word, not mine–I prefer ‘pillar’ when referring to a religious monument, but ‘shaft’ is the term chosen by the church and engraved in bronze for posterity) decorations are symbolic of the administrative pattern of the church. There is a sizable area of built in stonework benches and gazing areas as well as a short staircase that leads around and down the hill to a spot with a better vantage for photo opportunities. At the base of the hill, the church has erected a visitor’s center–much better in my opinion than a temple which would prohibit non-practicers from meeting the pleasant guides and asking questions about the monument and the history of the church.

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All in all, I found the Cumorah Hill Monument to be clean, beautifully landscaped and maintained, and well attended by courteous staff (day and, I have to admit dead of night when I snuck back for a second time in the dark with much late night cell phone flashlight bufoonery). I don’t know that I would plot a trip CENTERED on this site, but I certainly recommend turning off the freeway if you find yourself passing through upstate New York on I-91. It’s maybe a lovely place to stop and eat your sandwich.

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Ridiculous. Squared.

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.

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Witnessed. On the beach. It’s hard to tell, but thats a zebra shorties and a cheetah shorties. Rawr!

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?

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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.

Actual portrait of my ACTUAL hot dog.

Actual portrait of my ACTUAL hot dog.

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.

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Cheers.

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. 🙂

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Dash Away Fall

The leaves have mostly fallen from the trees. The hangers-on are starting to look a little forlorn–like desperate girls still at the bar for last call, vibrating with an embarrassing hope that it is hard to look at. In deference to their humility, have spent the last week focusing on the ground and at the drifts of golden splendor there, but the weekday drudgery of joggers and commuters has taken a toll there, too and I find myself with nothing fun to look at. . . . so I think that I’ll go away.

This morning, I grabbed a flight south. If I can’t keep the sun in my pocket, I’ll chase it for a while, I think. I’ve packed a bathing suit, two shirts, and a pair of running shoes. My sad little carry-on was more than half empty, so I threw in a hat and a cotton dress then a bag of food. I’m hoping that where I’m ending up doesn’t have a customs department that would take away a lady’s Honeycrisp Apples.

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I’m writing to you from the first leg of my flight–a commuter jet full of business travelers in crisp striped shirts and navy suit jackets with garish brass buttons. My giddy demeanor is as dead a giveaway as my PEZ t-shirt and camo tennies that I am up to no good and even less business, that’s for sure. If you’ve travelled with me, you know that I positively quiver with joy. It is right at the surface every second threatening to overflow on the floor. It is interesting to see the change in the serious travellers’ demeanors when I let it shine on them. It’s like they are embarking on an adventure with me. I almost convinced the elderly gentleman next to me on the plane that an island was a much better priority than a business meeting in Philadelphia–I never promised to be a good influence.

The sun is shining through the into the plane and beckoning me like a window tapping Peter Pan. . . . “Come on, Pam! Let’s fly away on an adventure.” Like the proverbial Pa in his cap, I can always be counted on for tearing open the shutters and throwing up the sash. . . dash away. . . dash away. . .fall. 🙂

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