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Monday, February 21, 2005

The Adventure, Part I

The first weekend in February, I went on a good, old-fashioned adventure. Oh, sure. I could make the timeworn references to Odysseus and his son, uh, Geoffrey. But that’s not how I am. I’m the simple sort, as plain as a hoe and as unlettered as a yokel. In fact, I enjoy nothing more than to chew on a piece of straw while I sit in wait for a city slicker to happen by. We don’t cotton to no strangers ‘round here.

But I’m getting off the track.

I went for an overnight trip to California. From Georgia. The Firesign Theatre was on tour along the edges of the West Coast and a couple of Internet acquaintances of mine were slated to go to the show in San Rafael. Due to an unexpected upsurge in income, it was decided that I could waste a couple of hundred bucks on the trip out.

First, I had to get a ticket. Fortunately there were still a few left, so I logged on to Ticketmaster. The seat was distant from the stage, but not as distant as Atlanta. I cyber-grabbed it, and proceeded to the next of my challenges.

That turned out to be booking a motel room and reserving a rental car. The motel bragged of offering in-room blow dryers and a view of “the bridge.” “The bridge” turned out to be the Richmond Bridge, not the Golden Gate, and I was able to overlook it entirely throughout my stay. Still, the rate was decent, and the rental car they practically gave me, so no complaints there. I booked them and ventured forth, bold and fearless in a Barney Fife sort of way.

That left only one major hurdle: the flights back and forth. I started looking about three days before I actually had the cash to book anything and was heartened by the low-low prices. The best deal was actually a nonstop on an airline I’ll call Smelta. The world looked pretty cozy right about then, and I allowed myself all the contented sighs I wanted.

That was before the price started going up. The first time, it jumped up by about $80, which matched the jump in my blood pressure on a dollar per point basis. It was still possible, but I started looking to other airlines just in case.

When it jumped another $80 the next day, Smelta was stricken from the list of possibilities, as were any other nonstop flights. Decent prices were disappearing quickly, thanks to a case of the jitters on the oil futures market. Somebody blows up something 10,000 miles away, and I’m taking it on the chin because a bunch of gamblers and speculators are losing their nerve.

When the day that I could purchase finally came, the competition was down to one competitor: We’ll call them North-by-Northwest. The itinerary called for me to fly from Atlanta to Memphis and then on to San Francisco. I had half-an-hour between flights, but that should be fine if everything went well. The theory was sound, but only real life could tell us how good the practice was.

Tomorrow: Part II, “I Run Pretty Good for a Middle-Aged Fat Man.”


Robert G. Margolis said...

Len, m'boy,

Some of us who are no strangers to strangeness (or to cotton--just ask our underwear), have been waitin' for you to comb out your yarns and homespin us this tale. Among other questions we pant under our breath with anticipation on the edge of seats (just ask our underwear) are: is radio really a heartbreak? Don't leave our pants seats with permanent edge: spin on thy tale, till its return to Ithaca--and don't take any cotton nickels from any one-eyed good lookin' guys with a bevy of back-up singers called "The Sirens".

Len said...

I want to thank S.J. Perelman for that entire first paragraph. I don't think I swiped it from him, but it is his peculiar kind of music that was wafting through my head during its composition.

Robert G. Margolis said...

Oh, the other question:

Did you encounter The Vanishing Boy of Pacific Heights? Don't tell me here. Tell it in the story.