M. Giant's
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Tuesday, October 15, 2002  


Here’s what I hate most about flying: for some reason, we always have to get up obscenely early in the morning to catch our flight. I prefer to acknowledge the existence of only one five o’clock per day, thanks very much, and when I’m throwing our suitcases into the car on the wrong side of the wrong five o’clock, it makes me a little owly. Our plane’s not going to be in the air until after sunrise, but I have to be behind the wheel when it’s so early that dinosaurs are still roaming the earth.


One of the many reasons we like having Dirt and Banana for friends is because they live much closer to the airport than we do. So we drive to their place and park our car on the street in front of their house, which is cool because they charge us a lot less than the airport parking ramp does. From there it’s just a short Big-Wheel ride to the main terminal. Usually that’s pretty neato, but on the morning we left for New York we were sitting in our car waiting for our cab (Dirt and Banana don’t deserve to have us hauling them out of bed to cart our grumpy pusses to the airport at that hour) with the engine running and the heat on. See, when it’s that early in the morning, the sun hasn’t coalesced enough to reach critical mass for nuclear ignition, so it’s a bit nippy. That didn’t stop a predawn neighborhood watch guy from approaching our car all skittish-like and wonder what the hell we were up to. We calmly explained that we represented a neighborhood Al Qaeda cell and we were just going to spend a relaxing morning picking off commuter jets with shoulder-mounted SAM missiles. Okay, not really, but the guy needed a little talking down. People sitting in their own idling car on a public street with the license plates clearly visible and the daytime running lights on are clearly up to no good, you know. That’s just too sneaky by half.


Here’s a question: whose brainwave was it to not open any of the stores in the airport before six a.m.? Maybe they wouldn’t get a lot of customers, but there’s an old joke that’s germane to the situation: it’s the Great Depression, and a guy has set up an apple stand on the sidewalk. His sign says, “Apples $50,000.” A guy comes up and says, “How many apples do you expect to sell at that price?” The apple seller says, “I only have to sell one.” My point? People in the airport at 5:30 in the morning are prepared to spend a lot more money for a cup of coffee than they will be four hours later. Hell, I would have bought a cup, and I like coffee about as much as I enjoy spent matches.


Our cabdriver from LaGuardia asks if we’d object to taking the Queens Midtown Tunnel into Manhattan, since the Triboro Bridge is under construction. My wife decisively Picards her approval. The driver asks us where we’re coming back from. I guess we don’t scream “tourist” from every pore of our bodies after all. Maybe it was Trash’s quick response to the driver’s suggestion, but I resolve to cut down on the cursing anyway, just in case. After Trash explains that we are not returning but visiting from Minneapolis, the cabby lights up. He talks about the Twins, who at this point are still in contention for the American League pennant. He even assures us that now that the Yankees are out, New York is firmly behind our guys. I don’t know how he can speak so authoritatively about the hopes and dreams of nine million people, but given the outcome of the Twins-Angels series, thanks a lump, New York. He’s not done, though. He wants to talk about our soon-to-be-former governor. He wants to talk about our weather. He wants to talk about Duluth and Beaver Bay. He wants to talk about that embarrassing “Minneapple” nickname that some wag came up with years ago. He wants to crown Minnesota the Capital of the Upper Midwest. I just want to point out to my wife that that’s the United Nations building we’re driving past, but since Garrison Keillor up there isn’t taking a breath, all I can do is fingerspell “U.N.” and point. I’m not even kidding. By the time he drops us off at our friend’s apartment, I expect him to be wearing a T-shirt that says “Don’t blame me, I voted for Mondale.” He offloads our bags, tells us it was nice talking to us, and wishes us a pleasant stay. After that I can only assume that he goes right back to the airport to hop the very next plane to the Twin Cities. Trash and I wonder briefly if we should have picked up Twins hats before coming out here. “New York City luuurves Minneapolis!” I crow. Trash just hopes that New York City doesn’t start stalking Minneapolis. That would be creepy, with the Statue of Liberty sending all these gooey mash notes to the Mall of America, and the Empire State Building calling the Wells Fargo Tower its “soulmate,” and Shea Stadium buying giant panties for the Metrodome and what have you. At this point it occurs to us that we need a nap.

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