Monte Carlo by way of paranoia
“Daddy, I go with you.”
That was the last thing my son said to me as I hopped out of our family-mover and headed for the Delta gate.
“I love you, buddy,” was all I could manage before ripping off the band-aid and running away.
With a 3:30pm departure, I knew something was wrong at 3pm when my plane wasn’t at the gate. Advice to people who don’t like travel hassles: Never fly through Atlanta. A South African agent (she might have been British, but I choose to think otherwise) offered me a few options. I could go home and leave a day later or gamble on making my flight in Atlanta. Thinking back to the goodbye at the gate, I chose to gamble. I didn’t want to say goodbye again.
The gamble–at least the one the gate agent suggested–only paid off in a sweat-soaked shirt. My connecting flight was gone-daddy-gone.
There are a few things I can’t write about here (at least now) regarding my travel to Monte Carlo. Suffice it to say, I was taking a round-about way to get here. Missing my flight was throwing a huge kink in the kinkiness. If I were to gamble again, the stakes were much higher. Somehow, I turned on a Jedi Mind Trick function at the back of my brain and managed to convince three people to do things they didn’t want to do:
1) A stewardess to put my carry-on in a pilot’s compartment instead of in the gate-checked luggage compartment
2) A real jerk in 2A to put my backpack under his seat. He was so shocked by the suggestion that he forgot to say no.
3) A re-ticketing agent to send me somewhere that wasn’t anywhere near my destination.
“I’d like to go to X,” I said.
“I’m not sure if I can, but I’m just going to go ahead and say no,” she said.
“You’d rather send me to X, though, right?” I said.
Seconds later: “You land in X at 1:20pm.”
The gamble was on and I was bluffing like a sonofabitch.
I calmed down with a beer and some southwestern eggrolls at an airpoprt Chilis while I watched the end of the UNC-Georgetown game. While I wandered the airport, the same scene repeated itself over and over. Every gate I passed seemed to be full of nothing but soldiers. One entire gate contained nothing but military fatigues. The fatigue, it was clear, rested on more than their clothes. In the back of a bar, a dozen other soldiers drank.
“We have a toast,” said one of the younger soldiers, raising his glass. The rest of what he said was lost to the ambient noise. An older soldier raised his glass, but his face told the real story. What that real story, is however, is lost on everyone else.
Eventually I made it on-board my plane and set out on the journey I can’t discuss. Paranoia set in several times, though each time it was unwarranted.
Now, I’m 24-hours on the ground in Monte Carlo. I’ve been hugged by many old friends and expect to see more tonight. I write this from my balcony as the Mediterranean crashes on the shore below me.
The view from my balcony
The balcony, you say? The one on which I was locked out of my room last year? Well, yes. As it turns out, I may have been the first, but I was not the last. There are now instructions hanging on the door for people like yours truly.
Here’s to me not making an ass of myself before the next post.
For an official version of my arrival, visit here.