Slouching toward Philadelphia
April 9, 2006
Hi. Me again, back at the airport–the Philadelphia airport. Remember? The one where you just dropped me off, the one where we just had a knock-down drag-out about whether US Air is in Terminal A West or Terminal B? Don’t worry, I forgive you for saying the sentence “I know they don’t have airports with more than one gate in Nashville . . .”
And yes, I’ve got my earplugs hooked up. There’s a woman sitting across from me who is saying something really fast into her cell phone. She looks like her eyeballs are about to pop out, and I’m just dying to find out what’s eating her. But I’ve LEARNED. I’m not listening to THAT. No more eavesdropping for me, no matter how tantalizing it looks.
We are seriously behind on some blog business, namely announcing the winner of the photo caption contest. You allude to some elements of our trip Thursday night from New York to Philadelphia, but I don’t think you’ve really captured the night properly. Maybe if people understand the dire circumstances under which we have been operating, they’ll forgive us. It was like a combination of Escape from New York, The Amazing Race and A Clockwork Orange.
What kind of portent was this, as we drove through Times Square? Surrender, Dorothy! Why did we not turn back immediately?
Why didn’t we look here to find spiritual sustenance for the road?
Stop and Slop
We sort of forgot to eat on Thursday, and by 10 pm, the pickins were limited to cigarettes, gasoline, and curly fries. Anybody can guess where we ended up: the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Service Plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike.
We pulled up, and we saw this:
Those are human legs poking out from under that taxi.
We paused for a moment to remember Alexander Hamilton and his contribution to our country’s economic robustness.
We bought curly fries. And two hamburgers that were made no more than three days prior to our arrival. We gotta write up that special sauce recipe you invented at the Roy Rogers Fixin’s Bar: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and horseradish, all what-the-hell squirted from those Alaska Pipeline-quality spigots into a big gooey slop.
Eat It and Beat It
It got later and later and later. Our car, a Buickiac Gran Tostada Sport Edition, had so many buttons that we still don’t reallly know whether we were operating the defroster or launching a Stinger missile. I despise that car so much that my hands are shaking even as I write this.
Our vision started to blur. We clung to Amber’s Mason-Dixon Road Trip CD as our sole link to reality. When we ran out of that, we turned on the radio and discovered that we really do know all the words to “Love Train” and “Last Train to Clarksville,” and that it doesn’t matter whether you know the words to Earth, Wind and Fire because it’s mostly just inchoate howling anyway. One solemn vow we made was to cook up the ultimate Singalong CD, so everybody please suggest the best songs to sing at the top of your lungs in the middle of the night to keep you from falling asleep while driving a rented Buickiac Gran Tostada Sport Edition. Don’t suggest “Bridge Over Troubled Water” because we’ve already put it on the list. K. C. and the Sunshine Band: ditto.
Ooo-ooh, That Smell
Bad Smell No. 1 hit right in there around Elizabeth, New Jersey. We’re grateful to Elizabeth for making so many important solvents and compounds that we use every day, but jeez louise I don’t think my cerebral cortex is ever going to be the same. Every once in a while we’d get a new killer smell, and eventually we kept track of them, because each had its own special quality and also because we were delirious:
No. 2: Something that has died + wet mohair note.
No. 3: Turpentine + nail polish remover + lighter fluid + super glue.
No. 4: Pond slime + old flip flops.
No. 5: What the inside of the Mayflower smelled like. Bilgewater + mildew.
By the time we got to the Pennsylvania state line, we felt bad for New Jersey. Don’t get me wrong–Nashville is plenty whiffy if you hang out by the old meatpacking factory on Second Avenue. And I know that most of New Jersey is a freakin’ garden state. Pennsylvania jumped right in with what had to be the worst of all, right as we crossed that really tall bridge: No. 6–Doom. The smell of doom. The scent of our own mortality! Drive faster! Quick! By the time we made it to our destination, it was well after midnight. We were running on fumes.
When finally hit the hay, we looked up, whereupon we discovered these guys:
who spoke to us and said, “Hi! We kept a light on for ye!”
The Winner of the Caption Contest
It wasn’t all bad. We remembered that, thanks to my blogphone, we could read the entries to the caption contest. So I started reading them aloud. At this point our blood oxygen levels were so diminished by all the bad smells that we found all the entries hysterically funny. We’d like to give prizes to all, along with a box of curly fries from the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Service Plaza. But because we had to pick only one, the book and the dishcloth cotton go to Carole:
Ann: I wonder, if Kay keeps that thumb out long enough, if the Flying Fingers van will come and pick us up.
A new contest:
Here’s a row of buttons right in the middle of the dashboard of our rented Buickiac. The contest: Name The Function of These Buttons. Please note that we have no idea what their actual function is. Deadline is Sunday night, 8:48 pm EDT. A copy of the book to the best interpretation of these cryptic, Mayan hieroglyphs.
NEXT TIME: HIGHLIGHTS! We’ve had an AMAZING JOURNEY! So much to tell you!