Friday, March 14, 2008

A Ghost Near The Big Apple

I recently returned from a trip to New York City...en route to Great Neck (Long Island). I had to fly there to train some lovely ladies and one sweet gentleman on how to use our software. I was totally psyched. I arrived at the airport and cleared security in time enough to make my way through the first few chapters of the Spellman Files.

I also did a fair amount of people watching. I was compelled to observe a couple of young New York lovers desperate to flee the vast snowy wasteland of the middle of fucking nowhere. I knew they were New Yorkers because he had navy blue sneakers that were accented with gold spray paint and she was adorned from head to toe with various items from Madonna's Desperately Seeking Susan line: over sized sweats rolled down into low riders, a sheer black wife beater, threadbare enough to see the outline of a black bra, and a navy blue hoodie. She was also compelled to go bare foot at the merest glimmer of an opportunity.

I could tell they were lovers because they couldn't not touch. He was tall, gangly and carried off aquiline features. She had a long chin and a Mediterranean swarthiness. They would anxiously watch the counter and glance at their cell phones, hoping against hope they'd get a seat on this already over-booked flight.

They were successful, but I don't know how, because I was momentarily distracted by a gaggle of young hippy-types, gambolling into the terminal. The ladies found a seat while the fellows engaged in an early Monday morning session of hacky-sacking in front of the men's room. I watched as they played grab-ass and eventually let the "sack" get away from them, which a former hacky-sacker turned middle manager passerby gamely kept in play. He got the obligatory cheers of surprise from this gang of ragamuffins, who are the type to believe that any one in the establishment is, by default, devoid of the type of creativity it takes to keep a bean bag aloft.

But I judge...

When I found my seat on the plane, I was surprised to see the young couple already snuggled in a pair of seats a couple of rows ahead of me. They were writing in a journal and trying to take from each other. I became bored and settled in to take off.

This is the point in most flights where I start to pray. When the plan starts to taxi, I begin the Lord's Prayer. It was a little bumpy getting to the runway, as most of the gate areas were covered in snow. But the runway was dry. We began to lift off and I saw the Fighter Squadron restaurant in the distance and had a wave of genuine and artificial nostalgia. I love these restaurants and I've had good time there. But I also strangely long for the days of WWII.

We began to ascend and I turned to my travel companion, a seasoned trainer and a helluva a gal, to express my relief at such a smooth take-off. But I couldn't speak. The angle of the plane increased and I felt my eyeballs begin to slide from their sockets and darkness creep into my periferal vision. I guess I'm passing out, I thought. And I began to slide away. But the thought of passing out and drooling on myself shamed me into awareness and I settled in to look out the window.

A Diet Coke and three mini pretzels later and I was feeling myself again. I read my book for awhile and eventually the pilot announced that the people on the left side of the plane, like me, would get a good look at Manhattan as we made our way to LaGuardia. I closed my book and pressed my forehead against the window. I watched as suburbs unfolded and I noted the abundance of football and baseball stadiums tucked in crowded neighborhoods. Things became more industrial and I could see a lot of water. "In the unlikely event of a water landing..." my mind replayed the recorded safety announcement. My mind is kind of a bitch that way.

In the water, I saw the Statue of Liberty but it took me a while to figure out what it was; it was so tiny. I was pretty far up, but still... My eyes lifted and beheld the skyscrapers of Manhattan. I tried to get some perspective by recalling the Cleveland skyline and figured I could fit eight of them here. I looked back at the Statue of Liberty and was slightly disappointed at her diminunization. I'm sure she was much more impressive approaching by ship back in olden times. I wondered what immigrants think these days as they make a similar approach. They must conclude that liberty, in this country, is dwarfed by commerce. And they'd be right.

We landed without incident and made our way to the baggage claim area and reunited company with the young lovers, looking relieved and at home. She dialed her phone and whispered to him, "Did you fart?" He nodded and she smiled and walked away to begin her conversation.

At this point I broke away from my voyeurism, ready to end their adventure and begin my own. In Long Island.


  1. Many questions spring to mind...

    What did you do during WWII? Were you a riveter or test pilot?

    Why the Lord's Prayer? I would assume that The Act of Contrition is more appropriate.

    Did she dial the young man on her phone to inquire about the smell, or was she dialing some other person to report a gas leak?

    And by the way, water landing is about as big of an oxymoron as there is.

  2. "They must conclude that liberty, in this country, is dwarfed by commerce. And they'd be right."

    that's one of the most concise things I've read in an age. This x-plains why you've been so quiet online lately!!

  3. I went to school in Great Neck. I met Pezda in Great Neck. I do not miss Great Neck.

  4. I always pray at take-off, and I often feel I'm about to pass out, too. But I never let that stop me from traveling.

  5. reread this. Watching young lurve is both fascinating and slightly nauseating. I watched some of that o'er at the ski resort, but it was interesting 'cuz both were wearing about 12 layers of clothing...

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  7. SD: Many answers...

    I was a spy, of course.

    The Lord's Prayer is the one I know best and comes automatically to mind when under duress.

    I believe she was trying to find a ride.

    You're absolutly right about that.

    Cap'n: Thank you...I'm always striving for the concise.

    EG: I can see why it doesn't suit you: It is insufficiently full of hip.

    Beth: That's next on my list...

    BSUWG: Yes, it's as nauseating as it sounds.

  8. Imagine how dwarfed the one on the Seine feels!

  9. They must conclude that liberty, in this country, is dwarfed by commerce.

    I loved that. I also love farting.

  10. Water landing, my ass....

    I'm glad you got to see bits and pieces of New York, I'm almost jealous!
    And I"m glad you made it to and from without incident.