after a week or more of working from can't see in the morning until can't see at night, i barely made it onto an early evening flight on sunday, bound for ATL. i stood in a ticketing line for more than an hour behind some pasty middle aged woman's whiny hyperactive four-eyed brat kid, then endured a royal hazing of the highest order that included everything but a cavity search when the metal detector went off. of course, it was my rings. i refused to take them off. they treated me like a criminal. i had to wait in a tiny plexiglass closet for a female attendant with an irate nigerian woman who was wearing so much gold, she may as well have been a walking jewelry store. she cranked in right away about having to go to the bathroom, which was totally out of the question. and of course, she had no idea why they stopped her. stupid, crazy stuff. actually, once i got away from that little kid, i was fine.
of course, all of those guards and checkpoints and such gives the appearance of security -- but how secure are we in any airport? didn't some journalists smuggle weapons and sharp objects in their luggage a few years ago to show how sketchy the whole process can be? i didn't have a weapon in my luggage, but i did have a pastrami sandwich on rye. it was carefully triple wrapped in foil and placed in a zippered container and refrigerated overnight. when i put it in my brand new red samsonite luggage the next day, it felt like a meat bomb. my friend and i ran out the night before to the carnegie deli to get my 90 year old father's request. his implicit instructions? "find a jew." he came up with his entire family during the first wave of the great migration north when he was 12 and lived in coney island/brighton beach before settling deep in the heart of brooklyn with his mother and nine brothers and sisters. so i guess he'd know.
my first thought was eisenberg's because they've been around almost as long as he has and when it's time for me to have a pastrami sandwich on rye, they are my favorite spot. but of course i remembered to get it late at night when my only two options were katz's and the carnegie deli -- and since neither my friend or i were in the mood to deal with the lower east side and all the drunken hipsters that usually go with it on a friday night, it was a done deal.
i thought about that pastrami sandwich as the woman passed that wand almost apologetically between my legs, and other strategic parts of my body. if they really knew what they were doing, that sandwich wouldn't make it to my parents house. but i knew that it would. i had done this before with fred, the sizeable catfish that my friend caught in my uncle's pond on his farm. once cleaned and frozen, it fit neatly in my luggage. i turned fred into a fried catfish po' boy sandwich and we ate him during a weekend getaway to traipse down a memory lane in central new jersey, in a park that my friend had played in often as a child.
later, i got in line at starbucks like everybody else and told myself over and over that this was the last time i'd do it like this. the next time would be different, if only because i wouldn't be alone. who knows? maybe we'd drive. maybe we'd be somewhere else. maybe we wouldn't go. these were the thoughts that comforted me as i stood at the gate and waited to hear my name, like a lowly stand-by passenger, because they'd overbooked the flight so drastically. i can remember thinking, i knew that ticket was too cheap to be true. and then just like that, i was dozing off on the plane, wishing i'd smuggled something more than a sandwich on board. like maybe two sandwiches. wierd.