Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Between me and paradise

               My holiday plans have taken a turn.  My brother is Active Duty Air Force and was transferred to Hawaii with his family this summer.  I know, right?  Out of his 13 years in the military, he has been stationed in Biloxi, Australia, the Azores and Colorado Springs.  That only glitch in this almost perfect list was the bustling metropolis of Enid, Oklahoma.  Their time in Enid is referenced somewhat like that random cousin in jail.  We agree that it is unpleasant and only refer to when pressed and even then in code.  For people who have often lived on the edge of poverty, we've had a number of relatives on extended "vacations".
              Anyway, my sister and I had discussed going to my brother’s for Christmas this year.  However, two things put a crimp in those plans.  The first was the cost of the tickets.  Now, last year I took my sister and niece to Hawaii with me when I had to visit Honolulu for work.  The trip was their Christmas/Birthday/Valentine's/Easter present for the next six years.  My previous job afforded many opportunities to travel.  Your tax dollars at work and I thank you.  Traveler’s tip:  the week after Thanksgiving is the best time to go to Hawaii.  Ticket prices are reasonable and the island is practically empty of tourists so no waiting in lines for the exciting performances and crappy food at the luaus and no need for reservations at the overpriced restaurants.  Also, if you're ever in Cheyenne, Wyoming I can recommend an excellent cajun restaurant.
              The second, and main, reason is the disaster that would befall my family should my father ever come into contact with airport security.  Now, I will admit that I have never traveled with my father outside of a multi-state car ride as a child with my mother driving and my father riding shotgun, parrot on shoulder.  We have had our share of unique pets who have left our home is various ways, mostly through death.  This particular parrot, Seymour, took his leave in the avian equivalent of a teenage girl eloping with a biker.  He flew away one day when the door was accidentally left open and we saw him a few weeks later, circling the house with a hawk in tow.  I guess he came back to rub it in our face?  Can a bird flip ‘the bird’, I wonder?
              In his defense, my father has traveled by train successfully.  But if you’ve ever taken an Amtrak ride you know that you can walk onboard the train with a see-through box of Ebola-riddled gibbon monkeys holding placards that say “Death to America” and as long as you have your ticket punched at some point on the ride and don’t talk in the quiet car, you will be left to your own devices. 
              When I close my eyes and imagine my father attempting to travel by plane, this is the scene that unfolds:  Not wanting to tip a porter to curb-check his luggage, he walks inside thinking he can just get on the plane and immediately becomes distracted by the smell of bacon wafting from the concourses. 
Not having the patience to stand in line to check in for his flight (“I bought my ticket, what else do they need?”) he will loudly disparage the moral fiber of not only the airline employees but various members of their family tree.  He will also demand to know the source of the bacon and an ETA on when that bacon will become his.
Since I have to check in (because the wardrobe for a week’s vacation, for me, consists of more than 2 pair of underwear, a Costco sized bottle of antacids and a bag of insulin needles), I ask for his ID so I can get his boarding pass as well.  The thought of him trying to manipulate the self-check kiosk without setting something on fire or accidentally launching the space shuttle is hilarious.  The man has never purchased, or even touched a computer; much less learned how to use one.  Why do you think I write this blog without restraint?
Once I get him to understand that it is a law that they must see his ID to get his boarding pass and will then have to threaten him with a bacon-less future in order to keep him from openly maligning the character of every member of Congress and police force as we head toward yet another line to get to security.  Now, in his defense, most members of Congress have no discernable character to malign but the activities he would ensure all listening they have willingly participated in, would strain the credibility of human endurance.  Cops on the other hand are upstanding citizens whom I admire, at least as far as they know.
Entering security, he would have to remove his shoes, which is possible.  However putting them on would require a series of ropes and pulleys that I feel sure would not make it past the screeners.
Hopefully they won’t ask him to remove his suspenders because they have metal parts.  They are only semi-successful in keeping his pants in the general vicinity of where they need to be to keep a public indecency charge off his record.  One of the reasons his previously mentioned tiny almost-butt is so readily available for photo ops is that in order to get underwear that fit him in the waist, we must battle so much superfluous fabric we could incorporate knife pleats and still have enough left over for a matching poncho.  You would think that with all the extra material and the lack of buttock, there would be little chance of a viewing, so to speak, but these cheeks act not unlike an overachieving middle child, desperate to be center stage.  I wish I could come up with a strategy to combat this issue.  However, as I am not comfortable discussing this predicament with my local seamstress, we simply accept this as a reality and take our chances with the possibility of an eclipse.  I am not referring to the vampire movie, although the skin tone is roughly the same.  Well, if I’m being honest, that vampire dude has a rich cocoa tan compared to mi padre.  If he only moons me, I can take it.  As I am 1/16 Native American, stoicism runs in my blood, people.
Even if we successfully navigate the previous procedures, I can assure you at some point before we board the plane, he will tire of the entire process and loudly proclaim, “What do they think I am a terrorist?”  At this point the FBI will arrive and I will have to forgo my traditional Snapple and kettle chip breakfast to accompany him to the airport “jail” to assure the authorities that he is (1) not crazy enough to be locked away and (2) not a real threat to anyone unless they have a sense of smell and/or are offended by racial epithets involving turbans.  Of course, I could always deny I know him and due to my East Coast travel wardrobe of jeans, loafers, button down and sport coat with pocket square, I think they would believe me.  What’s the point of overdressing if it can’t get you (1) a free upgrade or (2) a place above suspicion?
Of course, if he did land in jail, his “vacation” if you will, I would need to get a refund for his ticket.  Is having a crazy father covered as an “Act of God” in my travel insurance policy?

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