You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy™
What Goes Up….
I’m at Gate 24 in the Denver International Airport. The departure area is a human waste basket of legs and arms and
bad wardrobe selections.
Spandex and Hawaiian shirts and who authorized the wearing of Yoga pants in Public?
As I scan the concourse, I am amused at the size of bags people are planning to take on board.
Is that a carry on or a shipping crate headed to a UNICEF relief effort in Equator.
Southwest promotes an attitude of Free to roam Around the Country. But in the Gate area, roaming anywhere is next to impossible. The gaggle of body parts and carry on luggage has made this section of Earth a game of biological twister. Everywhere I look there are children covered with phlegm. I see gaggles of old men with bad knees stretching their legs into the walkway forcing pedestrians to jump over hairless ankles and black socks with sandals.
I’ve been in Denver for 3 days. I’m a bit hung over and my equilibrium is questionable. I am people watching through blood shot eye portals in quite possibly the greatest spectacle this side of Caligula meets Burning Man.
I watch a toddler sitting on the arm rest. He is chubby and wearing a Predators T-shirt for fat kids. His face is covered with the meal he ate an hour ago. “Who feeds their 2 year old Sauerkraut and Spicy Mustard,” I whisper to myself, looking at the stain on this bag of flesh’s face.
The child is on the 3 inch arm rest, rocking ominously back and forth, like a delicate egg ready to crack.
The boy’s father is standing by. But Super Dad is lost in a visual sea of excess. So many people, pushing through the crowded gate have taken this young dad’s eye off the prize.
Suddenly. THUMP. WAAAAAA.
Oh Crap. The kid falls off the arm rest. I watch him go down like a ton of bricks hitting the floor.
It’s only 2 and a half feet. The kid smooshes into the hard floor like soft clay being thrown against a battering ram.
I watch the little boy. He is dazed. He did a full Greg Louganis backward off the chair as his tiny melon smacked into the concrete floor covered by only a thin layer of soiled carpet.
“Maybe the bacteria broke his fall,” I utter to myself as super dad bounces into action.
He scoops up the mustard faced tear sack checking him for signs of paralysis and lice.
The little boy with the Predators Hockey T Shirt stops crying. He’s a bruiser this kid is.
No blood No foul.
His dad dusts him off and puts him in the same chair as baby sister.
“I don’t want to sit next to Simon,” the little girl with the runny nose says, her eyes never lifting from the Ipad nestled between her dirty knees.
Suddenly the Gate Attendant snaps the microphone. There’s a crackle and I struggle to hear the thunderous distortion that sounds like two tin cans mating in a meat grinder.
“Well folks. We’ll be boarding in a few minutes. I’d like to get all the A passengers to line up.”
It’s as if someone was giving away free money.
People jump out of their seats and move toward the poles in the middle of the boarding area. The metallic columns have cryptic numerical symbols, giving the line an esoteric Stonehenge quality.
“We are not alone,” I think to myself.
The human castaways with no souls and UNICEF cargo boxes hop up like field mice being chased by a cobra.
“What number are you?” I hear a blue hair ask a punk rocker with a guitar strapped to his back.
“I’m A 33,” he says staring at his boarding pass.
The confusion of people jockeying for position between the posts is one part Indy car pass on the back stretch coupled with the sidewalk shenanigans of the Macy’s Thankgsiving Day Parade.
I have yet to move. I am still near the seats that border the concourse. Here all hell is about to break loose.
I am watching a tall man with two huge cups of Starbucks Coffee stand. He eyeballs the cluttered path through the sea of confusion toward the esoteric Southwest Totem Poles.
The man is about 60. He is tall and fit. He has a bag over his shoulder and his arms are extended as he balances two enormous cups of coffee.
He looks to be toting Venti Grande Super Duper Big buckets of over priced Airport Coffee. He is a caffeine laden Frankenstein, moving ominously forward. His arms are erect, locked at the elbows, protruding into the zone of crazy where gate slouches and random passengers blowing down the causeway intermix like so much lint pushed by the breeze.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see the accident as it is about to happen.
A man in his 20’s is galloping like a gazelle along the periphery of the zone. He is not a passenger flying to Nashville. He is a sprinter, a hurdler, a man whose thoughts are far far away. He is heading somewhere at a fast jog, his mind on a shuttle or a train or a baggage carousel in the distance.
I watch him jump a child, maneuver past a black sock sandal, then…
Gazelle Man smashes into Coffee Frankenstein with a tremendous thud. The sound is that of two human chests rapidly decompressing and the sound of expensive coffee evacuating its confines at an exponential rate of confusion.
In slow motion I watch the boiling hot brown liquid float in the air. It is a gelatinous goo of soft edges and playdough like calm. It’s as if the coffee, now suspended in mid air is dancing an undulating rumba in zero gravity.
I watch as Frankenstein recoils and stumbles to keep his balance. As he steps back awkwardly, the tall, venti, grande, super duper coffee cups of blistering hot airport java leave his hands. I watch his fingers grasp at air as the cardboard cups take flight into the slow motion mix of undulating brew and free falling gravity.
The Gazelle man is stunned and stops in his tracks.
We all watch as time speeds up and the cups of coffee hit the hard petri dish carpeting like a corpse hitting the floor in Cartagena.
The ocean of black steamy liquid explodes across the floor, blanketing the carpet and splashing across white socks like the Exon Valdez losing a cargo hold of oil.
Frankenstein is stunned. His arms are still extended, his fingers cupping air that was once a cup of java and caffeinated deliciousness.
The Gazelle is obviously sorry. His face is woven into a frown with a trace of esoteric disbelief.
He reaches out to catch the coffee cups that are now rolling under the seat of the children watching Dora the Explorer.
A sea of black coffee is now seeping into the carpet, as well as the white socks of a couple who did nothing more than choose the wrong place to sit.
The Gazelle stairs at Frankenstein and I see his eye brow furl like Spock on the Bridge of the Enterprise. It’s a moment of scientific discovery, a nebula full of electrical mutants that must somehow be explained. But there is no time.
Somewhere in the distance there is a baggage carosel or tram or girlfriend to rub up on.
The Gazelle man raises his hand weakly in the universal gesture of “oh well,” and he begins to hop away.
“Sorry,” he says, his words disappearing into the vacuum of another gate announcement that people with dysentery can board now.
Frankenstein stands there helplessly, the cups blowing in the breeze created by the artificial wind of so many people not caring and passing by.
I laugh and take my position at the end of the dysentery line.
Nothing gravitationally improprer will happen for another 5 minutes.
That is until I take my seat in row 4.
Ahead of me is a blue hair. She is happy as a clam. She is a tiny lady with hair that would combust in a moment if someone rubbed a piece of flint on her tray table.
She is wearing an old lady blouse and old lady pants from the Sears Collection.
She is all of a hundred pounds, a China doll of a human, who almost doesn’t look real in the large Southwest Seat that is surrounding her like a bumper car of comfort.
I watch as she opens up the food box covering her legs like a quilt made of Styrofoam.
I can make out the image of a massive omelet, overflowing the sharp edge of the food container.
Somewhere in the black market of this aeronautical den of inequity, the old woman struck up a deal with the devil, sold her soul, and obtained a breakfast so spectacular, I swear transparent angels are floating above the simmering steam filtering into the cabin air.
The woman pushes her white plastic fork into the creamy ensemble of eggs and cheese and delectibles so tantazlizing, some of the ingredients are probably on a wanted poster in Isis Control Afghantistan.
before I can become jealous, or work up the nerve to reach over the seat back and scoop my hand into her box of eggs, it happens.
Once again the evil that is gravity rears its recalcitrant head and attacks.
I watch as the hefty flight attendant with the large shoulders and hamhock arms struggles with something in the overhead bin.
What’s going up there, I suddenly think to myself.
The flight attendant casts an ominous shadow over the tiny woman. It suddenly feels claustrophobic, like the final eclipse of the apocalypse.
I can’t quite see from my seat in the middle of the row, but the flight attendant is adjusting luggage. My view is obfuscated, but I can tell from the way the gunga din attendant is straining, leaning, pushing and pulling, something is not right.
Square Peg in a Round Hole I am about to yell in gest.
There is no time.
Suddenly a large purse emerges from the bin.
It is the size of a small home printer from the late 90’s.
I don’t know what is in the bag, but it looks solid and it is accelerating rapidly, using every bit of Newtonian Force it can muster in the 3 foot fall it is about to make.
In the beat of a butterflies eyelash it is over.
The bag full of lead and heavy metals hits the Styrofoam box as if it were an Olympic event and this was the bullseye.
Eggs dislodge in a geometrically diverse pattern. It’s a CSI moment where egg spatter is now cause for investigation.
The old woman raises her arms, her box broken, her eggs a biological disaster of disgust.
The chunky armed stewardess is remarkably calm considering the car wreck of breakfast foods now dripping off the old woman’s blouse.
She picks up the bag and shoves it securely into the overhead bin.
She reaches down with a napkin and dabs the old woman like a momma cat giving the passenger in seat 3E a tongue bath.
I see a chunk of creamy egg on the arm rest. I am suddenly tempted to slide my finger under the simmering deliciousness that has been separated from the heard.
I cannot see the old lady’s face. I imagine she is in shock. Who wouldn’t be?
Afterall, she was lobotomized by an insensitive stewardess throwing bowling ball sized handbags into cartons of food.
Who would not be traumatized by such an act of culinary terrorism?
Suddenly my thoughts are no longer with the little old China Doll. I no longer care. I am now concerned with the complexities of pushing the end of my seat belt into the other end of my seat belt.
Where is that life vest again I wonder to myself.
Gravity is calling.
I’m slightly concerned and feel like asking for the pilot’s resume and the most recent mechanical inspection of this 737.
The doors shut and my ears pop. Uh oh!
Fate is now in the hands of an enigmatic God who uses gravity as his personal jester.
I hope all that is suppose to fall today has fallen.
I’m not sure what aeronautical principles keep a million pounds of aircraft aloft, but I am hopeful that whatever makes this thing fly, works for the next two and a half hours.
You are now free to walk around the cabin.