Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"What the hell are you driving here?" "We had a small fire last night, but we caught it in the nick of time." "Do you have any idea how fast you were going?" "Funny enough, I was just talking to my friend about that. Our speedometer has melted and as a result it's very hard to see with any degree of accuracy exactly how fast we were going."*

   I regret the decision to write about Planes, Trains and Automobiles in my last post. For those who haven’t seen it because they care nothing about culture or the world in which they live, it is a movie about a man (Neal/Steve Martin) who is attempting to get home to Chicago from a work trip in New York in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. In New York he stumbles upon Del (John Candy) a shower ring salesman who inadvertently poops all over every attempt Neal makes to get home. The two wind up traveling together on planes, trains (though I honestly don’t remember a train part—but I’m sure it’s in there) and also in automobiles. And it’s rough. It takes days. And Del is a slobbish buffoon who makes life hell for Neal, who doesn’t really have the holiday spirit (Thanksgiving holiday spirit, not Christmas) in his heart to begin with. But then it stops being funny and gets sad and I can’t stand it. Intrigued? Because you probably should be.
Neal and Del have an accident. (Photo)
   I regret my decision to bring this movie up because I’m pretty sure I planes, trains and automobiles-ed myself by even mentioning it. It’s like saying Candy Man three times or mentioning the name Macbeth in a theatre. It’s bad luck and/or certain death. I’m Irish, was raised Catholic, and spent the first 28 years of my life in theatres so it’s okay for me to be superstitious to a decidedly ridiculous degree. I have no choice in the matter and can't do anything about it, anyway. Just ask my Tarot deck and my Ouija Board.
   The shit started with a phone call around 12:30 on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. It was Primetime Shuttle calling to inform me that my shuttle would be arriving at 1:05 pm instead of 1:20. That was surprising in and of itself because I’d scheduled the ride for 1:50. So despite being butt-naked and just out of the shower (you're welcome for that imagery) I had to bust ass to get ready on time and having done that, I sat on the couch and turned on My Best Friend’s Wedding to pass the 5 minutes until the shuttle arrived. At 1:25, I called Primetime Shuttle and said, “Hey, not to be a pest, but where the fuck are you? I’m already to the part where Cameron Diaz sings karaoke.” And they said don’t worry, the driver will be there at 1:35. Then the driver called at 1:45 and said he was 5 minutes away. So I went outside and waited and he showed up at 2:10. (He also took a truly asinine way to the airport and had trouble realizing he was driving a conversion van and not a Camaro and nearly killed us about 8 times. Whatever.)
Traveling image: Best part of Thanksgiving. I walked with my family at Neale Woods. Omaha skyline in the background. Traveling on foot seems to be the best mode of transit for me, across-the-board.
   So then I got on a plane to Las Vegas and sat there for four hours due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control. I really don’t know why the flight was delayed so long. They never told me. But the Las Vegas airport is an especially depressing place and flights never leave on time from there, so I don’t know why I keep going back. Oh yeah, and I had to spend my eating money on tampons because…well, for obvious reasons, and the tampons cost way more than normal tampons and they were embarrassing to buy in a way they never are when I buy them at Target.
   When I arrived in Omaha, it was 1:40 in the morning. Normally Omaha's Epply Airfield stops receiving flights around 11:30. It's two terminals and 2 random dudes running baggage to the carousels. Seriously. So I called my Mom figuring she’d be glad that I’d gotten in 20 minutes earlier than expected, but she didn’t answer the phone. Because she was asleep. Which is totally fair because it was 2 in the goddamn morning. But she kept not answering her cell, so I finally called the home phone and no one answered that either. When she called me back at 2:06 a.m. I was relieved because most of the people were gone…and so were all of the (3) cabs. It wasn’t that big of a deal—she’d set her alarm for another day. And my mom doesn’t regularly keep finding projects to work on til 2 in the morning like I do. I blame it on Las Vegas, but more than that I blame it on the fact that I wrote about Planes, Trains and Automobiles right before I flew home for Thanksgiving. 
An Omaha gas station. Also loosely related to travel.
   Then on Saturday I ate lunch at Runza. If you’re not from Nebraska, there’s a good chance you don’t know what Runza is. Don’t worry about it. It’s kind of embarrassing, but all you need to know is it’s a fast-food place and my best friend Michelle wanted her boyfriend, Danny, to try it since he’s not from Nebraska, god love him. So I met them and ate Runza and then left and promptly backed into a car. Now, I didn’t back into the car going very fast. In fact I was going about .25 miles per hour. But I backed into a parked, empty car and then parked and got out to survey the damage. I circled the damn car and inspected it’s rear-end and saw no damage. While I was doing this, a family inside was watching me and laughing. I thought that was mean. But I saw no damage to the car so I left.
   Well, the highly-amused family of four must’ve been madder than they looked, because I guess they took down my license plate number and four hours later the cops showed up at my parents house looking for my mom.  I asked what they were there for and they said it was for a hit-and-run. And I said, “Oh, that wasn’t my mom. I guess you’re here for me.” And then they said they weren’t going to take me to jail (perhaps only because my mom said, "You officers aren't going to take my little girl to jail, are you?"**), but that they probably should and they gave me a citation and now I have a lawyer and I’m a big-time criminal. IT IS ILLEGAL TO HIT A PARKED CAR AND NOT CALL THE POLICE, REGARDLESS OF DAMAGE. Lesson learned. I’m an idiot. Again. Still?
   Did I mention we were on our way out the door for my dad’s birthday dinner? Happy Birthday, Dad! Guess what? I’m still a fuck-up at 30. Thanks for working hard every day so I can go out and raise your insurance rates during one of the 20 days you see me each year. Let's go eat fancy dinner!**
   My lawyer (that feels kind of grown-up to write…in a sad sort of way) says that it’s good that it was 1 in the afternoon at a Runza and not 1 in the morning at a Taco Bell, because the cops had/have no reason to think I was boozing it up and then running away. He says lots of people in Nebraska get drunk and hit cars and then go home and by the time the cops catch up with them they can say they got drunk at home. I was not drunk or drinking, but the whole event made me want to start drinking. And it cast a dark shadow on my favorite week of the year and I still feel really bad all-around. And I didn’t have the heart to write about it until now. I’m remorseful and, as is so often the case with me, full of self-pity.
   And I can’t help but think about scenes in movies like the one in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles where Del falls asleep in the rental car and somehow simultaneously starts a fire and ends up driving into oncoming traffic and they barely escape with their lives. Where’s the gruesome, icky and yet somehow also monotonous aftermath scene in the police station and the follow up scene in the lawyer's office? These events seem funny in the movies, but they really suck a whole lot in real life. And you know what else, they’re embarrassing moments that stick in your brain and run like reel-to-reels for days and days on end.
   Today I flew home to Los Angeles. It was uneventful, thank Shiva. I did however see the following text exchange on the phone of the woman seated next to me:
Incoming: I need drugs. And help.
My seatmate’s reply: Drugs I got. I don’t know about any help.
   Needless to say, I think I’m pretty much traveled out for this year. Since January I’ve been to Denver, Phoenix, Omaha, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Omaha again, Chicago and now Omaha. It’s a miracle I didn’t relive that entire movie. My luck has officially run out. I’m a grounded eagle. I may never fly again.
   P.S. Sorry for being such a Debbie Downer.
*An interchange between a State Trooper and Del in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987). 
**Despite my failings as their daughter, my parents are truly amazing, supportive, incredible people who keep loving me and being nice to me anyway. Which I don't think they are legally obliged to do at this point, seeing as I'm well over the age of 18. So my Negative Nancy attitude aside, I think I have to acknowledge that I'm VERY LUCKY INDEED. 
***As a tie on to this more-sane (saner?) train of thought, I'd like to tack on this link to Gabe's recent blog post, which put things Thanksgiving- and other-related into a bit of perspective.

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