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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mykel and Sid go to Tennessee Part 2

FRIDAY, APRIL 17: My last trip... to Trinidad and Venezuela... had a little different feel than this one. When I arrived in Trinidad, the morning paper was scary. Murderers set free. Dengue fever. Every spooky thing you can imagine.
Knoxville too has spooky headlines. Check it out... the newspaper office might be haunted, says a local paranormal team. And worse yet. CARS ARE GOING TOO FAST IN WORK ZONES. SLOW DOWN! YOU MIGHT KILL SOMEONE!

I have my biscuits and gravy breakfast. It's one of the reasons I come to The South. It's good, but not as great as I expect. Something a little bland about the gravy. Needs more lard or something. I donno... but the trip is young. 

Despite the blandness, it's the best breakfast I've had in months. Looks like you can just suck it in, huh?

Beats the usual raisin bagel and butter on the subway.

After that it's garage sales, then two tiny tacos in a local REAL Mexican place. [NOTE FOR GRINGOS: Tacos do NOT have hard nacho shells. They do NOT automatically come with cheese. They are NOT chicken or beef.] I have a tongue and a cabeza. 

The rest of the day is thrift store to thrift store. Piling up books, I buy another suitcase to hold 'em all those Amazon hopefuls. I'm still unsure of how I'll be able to keep track of them. That database program, you know.

Chad's the tourguide for the day. And before long it's time to pick up Sid at the airport. Chad asks if I want another taco before seeing Sid. But the name of the restaurant is Taqueria. Sounds like Taco + diarrhea. Mmmm. I don't think so.  

We stop for a beer, then find Sid, waiting for his bag after the others on his flight are long gone. Somehow (of course) his bag got separated from the rest. Maybe it's the bag full of Furbies. I can imagine how that must look as it passes through the x-ray machine. 

From baggage to a discussion with Ashley, the car rental agent. I need to make minor changes to my rental agreement. Do we discuss the rental agreement? Nope. We talk about Ashley's Spinal Bifida child and how it's a miracle of God's love that the kid walks when the doctors said he'd never do that. How it's a sign of God's love that the poor cripple can take a few steps. I do not ask her about the God's love that gave the kid Spinal Bifida in the first place. Nor do we discuss why the car rental agent is talking about her child's handicap with complete strangers... customers... in the first place. This is THE SOUTH. They do things different here.

At the airport, Chad asks if we want to go out, or to go to “a bonfire” at his girlfriend's house. Previously, he told me that his girlfriend's divorce had just been finalized. There had been some problems and it's been a while since... you know. One of the many lessons I've learned from traveling around the world for these 65 years is RESPECT THE NOOK. It's the number one rule for the global traveler. So I say “sure, we'll go to the bonfire.”

Rachel lives in a big house built in the 50s or 60s. It looks older. Sid asks her if she's ever felt A PRESENCE. She says not particularly. He's disappointed. Oh yeah, there's also a huge pit bull, Cain.

After a fire in the back, without ghost stories, but with screams from the park behind Rachel's house, we turn in for the night. Sid gets a double bed for himself. Chad gets Rachel. I get the pit bull. 

TURD REPORT: Silly string

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mykel and Sid go to Tennessee


 THURSDAY April 16:

I'm on my way to Knoxville. Sid arrives tomorrow.

It's the last day of Passover. It ends at sundown. Tonight I'll be having my first beer in a week. My first slice of bread... maybe even cornbread. And tomorrow CHEESE GRITS. Hooey. Right now, I have nothing. Since I woke up, until right now, 1:30PM. Nothing. 

Ah, but in the plane they'll have peanuts... or potato chips. So I'll have a snack on the plane. I'll be all right.

 [NOTE FOR THE GOYIM: During Passover, Jews don't eat any grains except that from Matzo. So no rice, no wheat, no corn, no barley. No beer, no bread, no pizza. Passover lasts for eight days and begins and ends at sundown.]

 As usual, I start writing this in the airport. I'm 3 ½ hours early for the flight. Good thing too. The day started last night, with a microsoft security update. I shudda known. Sure, you can run. I don't want the confictor to get me, do I?

 It takes forever... and I fun a Microsoft security check just to make sure. All ok. Fire up the old database program-- a DOS legacy. Does everything I want it to do. Holds my business, personal files, contacts, everything I need. And now it doesn't work. 


 I reboot.


 I reboot.

 You get it. 

 All that info, lost? Well, it's in there, but in a form only this program can read. Fuck, microsoft ruined it. Last minute, no time to work out the problem... if it can be worked out. OK OK, I'll buy a new program hundreds of dollars. Lets get out of here. 

 My bags are packed the night before... they always are. I'm gonna spring for a taxi this morning. I've got a bag full of books. This tour is gonna cost me, but it'll be fun. Yeah right. 
 I'm starving. What am I going to eat? It's the last day of Passover. No bread until sundown. No pizza. No sandwiches. Not toast. No beer!!!! 

 No taxis. 

 OK, I drag the books down the stairs to the subway. Up stairs along 32nd Street, to Penn Station. Penn Station to the train to Newark Airport. Worry about all that information lost. What am I going to... AIRTRAIN TO TERMINAL C. 

 Once in the airport I strip. Not completely, but I'm always annoyed at holding people up by taking off the combat boots, belt,.... wait... I gotta take a piss. IF BAGS ARE LEFT UNATTENDEND THEY WILL BE REMOVED BY AIRPORT SECURITY AND DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. 

 Pack up my computer, dragging my book-filled suitcase downstairs to the bathroom, parking it directly in back of me at the urinal.

 Back, I shake the drops from my pantslegs.

 At security check-in, I struggled in the line, belt and boots in one hand, the book bag in the other, the computer in the third, and my boarding pass and drivers license in the one left over. Yeah right. I was pushing stuff with my feet, running stockinged back and forth to get to the gate. 

 “Your ID and boarding passes are all together,” says the huge woman who checks me in. She hands back my datebook. 

 I get on line for the x-rays. I reach into the datebook to pick up my drivers license. There is no driver's license. Oh, I put it in my wallet. 

 I fish for it while pushing my computer, boots, belt, suitcase, along in line. It should be right... nope. How about... nope. The people behind me are tsk tsking. Tongue clucking like I want to rip it out through the anus. 

 “Just pass me!” I yell at 'em and frantically run back to the fat lady.

 “I think I...” I start.

 “Yes you did,” she says. “I'll get it and meet you at the security gate.”

 It's in my pocket right now. I did not kiss the fat lady, but I should have.

 And today I think, as often I think, that each person must live in his own private hell. Whose plane leaves from those gates NEAR the entrance? Some people have to be taking those planes. If everybody's plane always leaves from the furthest-- least convenient gate-- who takes the others? It must be that each of us has a world where everyone else is better off. 

  The plane leaves on nearly time. I'm going to Cleveland first, then changing for a Knoxville bound one. With the first rumble of my stomach, the stewardess arrives with her little bag of snacks. “Pretzels, sir? Would you care for some pretzels?”

 Pretzels???? Jeezus H Christ! Of all the possible snacks. What did they do, a Passover special? Let's see we got potato chips, nuts, fried plantain chips, fruit, raisins. Hmmm, it's Passover. What's the one thing Jews won't eat? Got it! We're serving PRETZELS!

 I'm telling you. Everybody is in his own private hell. Custom tailored. God spends a lot of time on us! She cares.

 The plane from Cleveland to Knoxville is about the size of my... er... apartment. In any case, it's tiny. One narrow row, two seats on one side, one on the other. No room for my bag of books. Last minute bag check? Those things NEVER end up where they're supposed to. I imagine waiting around who-knows-where for my bag to return from Uzbekistan. It doesn't happen. 

 I land in Knoxville, pick up my bag, and... there is nobody. Chad? Chad? You were supposed to meet me. Maybe he's in the main meeting area outside the gates. Nope. Maybe he's downstairs at the baggage claim. Nope. I call, get voicemail. 

 “Hey Chad, it's Mykel, I'm here!”

 Ten minutes later, I text him. 


 I press the send button, 

 The hands on clock on the wall at the airport move. I watch them. Then Chad arrives.

 “Sorry about the calls and frantic texting,” I say, after we hug hello.

 “Calls? Text?” he says. “I don't have a cellphone. You got my home number. I didn't come from home.”

 What happens to text messages sent to regular phones? Are they condemned to drift endlessly through eSpace? Is there a text limbo, where they reside until they can finally return to earth when the recipient gets a cellphone? 

 “Dad's got the beer all ready,” Chad says. “And he's makin' shrimp pasta!”

 I check the sky. It's as bright as noon. “When's sundown?” I ask.

 “You got a couple hours yet,” says Chad. “Why?”

 “Let's go to a liquor shop,” I suggest. “We'll pick up some wine for dinner and... and I donno look around.”

 I explain the daylight problem. 

 Still, we arrive at dinner with wine in hand and still an hour to go to sundown. Dad greets me at the door. “Welcome! The beer's cold.”

 I hand him the wine. He doesn't seem very happy:

 It's all uphill from there. After the wine, dinner moves to salad, and then IT'S DARK!!! FAT TIRE BEER, SHRIMP PASTA, HOOEY. 

 Here's me and the family AFTER DINNER:

 Later, Chad and I go out to a local bar to make up for lost beer. I wish I'd taken pictures. There were a lot of fat white people in a very old bar with lots of wood. The music was overwhelmingly LOUD 80s rock and soul. But the atmosphere seemed friendly enough. I expected more blondes, but Chad said that they die their hair black. Just the opposite of NY. Then bedtime.

TURD REPORT: Whenever I travel, something happens to my digestive system. I don't know what it is... and it's not predictable. Since my digestion is a big part of my life, a travel report would be incomplete without it. Today: hamster pellets.

for more than you'd ever want about Mykel Board, check his website