Inside My Head

the literary rantings of Angie Frissore

Planes, Trains & Autombiles, Part 1

As we stood in the gate, waiting for the ticket agent to call our boarding zone, I couldn’t help but people watch and take note of our fellow passengers. Not that I didn’t always have this inclination, but anytime Samantha and I were together, these urges were generally exacerbated.

“Sketch alert,” I mouthed, tilting my head in the general direction of two young would-be ladies’ men whose over abundance of cologne could seemingly ignite at any given moment. I was placing my money on a South American heritage.

Samantha turned to get a look at the pair, who by this point had misinterpreted our staring for desire or attraction. Instead, Samantha let out a loud guffaw at the mere sight of misters Rico and Suave. This led me to lose control of the serious façade I had put on, and I collapsed into giggles.

“Ohhhh this is gonna be a fun weekend,” she spit out, through fits of uncontrollable laughter.

“I’ve got twenty bucks that says one of us has to sit next to them,” I challenged.

“You’re on!” Samantha laughed, shaking my hand. “Dude, let’s go, I think that’s our zone.”

We boarded the plane and realized that we weren’t even sitting in the same row. Not that it mattered much, but now I’d have to go over two hours without a partner in crime to witness my musings. I took the center seat in my row, cursing to myself over not getting a better seat.

I watched as other passengers made their way past my row, waiting to see who would stop. Each time another passed, I felt like standing and shouting, Big money, no whammies…STOP!

I saw the Dynamic Duo heading down the aisle and held my breath. As the approached, looking carefully at the overhead compartments for row numbers, they slowed down as they made their way towards my row.

Damn! I knew it! I cursed under my breath and looked behind me to find Samantha, who was grinning ear to ear, having won our bet.

“Excuse me,” the older of the pair said. “We are in this row, but we are brothers….would it be possible to switch seats with you so we can sit next to each other?” The older brother asked, with a distinct Italian accent. Even though I knew it was wrong, and that I’d probably (certainly) be going to hell, I breathed an internal sigh of relief. For unknown reasons, I found Italian men to be far less shady than Latin men.

“You mean you want the middle? You don’t have to ask me twice!” I responded, quite enthusiastically. As I shifted myself over to the aisle seat, I glanced back at Samantha, donning my own grin. Her expression soured as she held her hands out to emphasize her seating arrangements – she ended up smack in the middle of a mother-son pair who were on their way to look at colleges.

Smugly, I sat back in my new seat and got comfortable watching the in-flight cable programming being offered. The two Italian brothers, much to the surprise of no one, were watching Italy in the World Cup soccer finals.

An hour and a half into the flight, I was getting a tad stir crazy. I settled in to a trivia game that was showing on the plane’s entertainment system, taking occasional glances at the score of the World Cup game.

“You pull for Italy?” The older brother asked me. I had to admit I was never one for soccer, but the excitement intrigued me. If I was, however, I’d be pulling for Italy, I assured him.

The rest of the plane was remarkably quiet, save for the dull roar of the engines. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the sight of Italy scoring a goal. Instinctively, the older brother jumped immediately to his feet.

“Yea!!!!” He screamed, forgetting where he was. The other passengers in the cabin did a collective jump as his joyous scream filled the cabin. Once the shock subsided, the tension was cut with a loud roar of laughter over Super Fan and his antics. Unfazed, he politely waved to the rest of the passengers and took his seat, smiling. I looked back at Samantha, laughing, only to see her passed out, resting her head on her hand.

………

The humidity in West Palm was so thick, you could actually see it in the air. Samantha and I stood outside of baggage claim, smoking and trying to figure out what our next steps would be. In order to save ourselves almost $600, we had decided to fly into West Palm and train it down to Miami. The only issue we were faced with, was figuring out how to get to the train station.

We stood there for about a half an hour until we realized that the taxi stand was a good hundred yards away. High-tailing it over in our heels, we took the first cab we could find.

“Nearest Tri-Rail station, please,” I implored of the driver, wondering if he even spoke English. Without a word, we were weaving in and out of local traffic and arrived at the train station within what felt like seconds. I brushed off the driver’s sketchiness and handed him the $15 he insisted on charging us, even though his meter wasn’t working properly.

“Abby….” Samantha whispered. “Do you notice something odd here?”

I glanced around and couldn’t help but see that we were quite literally the only whites in the entire station. Being from the Northeast, this was not new to us. What was new, however, was the shocked looks on the faces of the crowd to see Samantha and I arrive, looking polished, ignorant and vulnerable.

I shook off the uncomfortable feeling and lead us into the station. After waiting for a good six minutes, a heavy-set, obviously exasperated ticket agent looked at me expectantly.

“We’d like to get on the train,” I begged.

“Well y’all can’t get on this train,” the agent barked.

“This is the train to Miami, no?” I asked. “We’re heading that way.”

“I say you can’t get on this train,” she repeated flatly.

“But…..I have money,” I said sarcastically, waving a fistful of fives around madly.

“Ma’am, this is the Amtrak train. Y’all can’t just get on an Amtrak train without a ticket. You can buy a Tri-Rail ticket though,” the agent snarled at me.

“Ok, that makes sense. You know, life would’ve been easier if you’d just said that in the first place,” I barked back.

“Don’t take any guff from these swine,” Samantha uttered, startling me with the clever reference. I shoved our money into the ticket agent’s chubby hand and grabbed the two tickets she all but threw at me.

An elderly white man approached us, with a surprisingly friendly demeanor.

“You girls heading to Miami?” He asked. We confirmed where we were heading, and the man pointed to the other side of the platform. “Well y’all might want to hurry up over to that other side there, as that train’s gonna be comin’ in any second now.”

After thanking the helpful man profusely, we raced up the steps and across the platform to the outbound side, just as the train was pulling in.

“Ya know, I’ve seen people run that faster,” the train conductor joked.

“Not in three inch heels, buddy,” I quipped with a grin. We boarded the train and in moments, were finally on our way to Miami.

……..

“I let you out here,” the cab driver announced, in a thick French accent. Shocked to find a French-speaking taxi driver in Miami, I had kept Samantha thoroughly entertained by my translations of the driver’s cell phone conversation. “No sense in chahging you to wait.”

Relieved, and a bit surprised, Samantha handed the driver our cab fare (including a hefty tip) and we were off. As the first few raindrops of an impending thunder shower fell, I did my best to keep up with my friend as she ran towards the stadium, skillfully navigating her way through the standing cars along the highway off-ramp. It wasn’t that she was that anxious to see the game, but her urgency was born out of a desire to not ruin her hair in the rain. Uber-tomboy that I used to be, I had made the wise decision to sport my Sox hat.

After much commotion, we made our sweaty way into the stadium. We had narrowly avoided incident after some guy accidentally stepped on Samantha’s foot, setting her off in her already tested state.

We stopped at the first vendor we could find so that Samantha could buy a hat, successfully ending her pre-game tirade. Grabbing a few beers, we headed in to find our seats. Hordes of Red Sox fans crowded the stadium, and I couldn’t help but notice that Miami fans were few and far between. Miami even had cheerleaders in some desperate attempt to increase drawing power.

Somewhere around the fifth inning, with the Sox pretty much guaranteeing a win after a major home run, a very inebriated Skippy called me.

“Dude….” he slurred. “You’re the reason he just hit that homer. You’re good luck for them – you must be!” Skippy was always very, very passionate about his baseball. “A coupla buddies of mine are at that game…lemme find out where they are and I’ll call you back!”

“Who was that?” Samantha inquired, still attempting to dry herself off after wearing half of my neighbor’s beer.

“Skippy,” I replied. “For some reason he seems to think we’ll be able to find his friends here.”

“Which friends?”

“Who the hell knows? That’s the kicker in all this. I have no idea who these idiots are.”

After a few minutes, Skippy text messaged me.

They are in section 9A.

I immediately called Skippy back.

“Are you serious?” I asked. “We’re right next to that section.” He hung up the phone to get back in touch with his friends.

They’re gonna stand up, Skippy texted.

Within a few minutes, we noticed two Skippy-looking guys with Sox hats on standing around scouring the crowd behind them. I waved.

“How do you know it’s them?” Samantha asked, puzzled.

“Because they look like potheads, and they look like they’re looking for someone,” I noted. These two definitely looked like the types to associate with Skippy. I wondered what that said about me.

 

……

 

After several beers and one replacement beer (best way to score free beer – inadvertently have someone spill theirs on you, and their conscience forces them to purchase an apology beer), the game ended.  The Sox had, not surprisingly, destroyed Miami and Samantha and I missed no opportunity to taunt the locals as we departed Dolphin Stadium.

“Dude, they have to share their stadium with their football team.  If that doesn’t say sally skirt, I don’t know what does,” Samantha lamented drunkenly (and at the top of her lungs).  “Let’s get the hell out of here before we turn into pussies too.”

The main problem with baseball in a city like Miami is that the more we harrassed the drunk male Marlins fans, the more they seemed to think we were flirting with them.  These were not true fans.  Back home, someone’s girlfriend would’ve kicked our asses.

I did my best to keep Samantha from passing out in the cab on the ride back to the hotel.  What seemed like such a short trip to the game was taking forever coming back.  Once we arrived at the hotel, we made a beeline (again) to the bar.

“Manuel, my favorite barkeep,” I announced as we crashed a group of posh club-types.  We were drunk, we were dirty, we smelled like sweat and beer, but we were paying guests, and Manuel knew it better than anyone.  “Lay it on me, brutha.  Give us two of your award-winning dirty martinis.”

“Anything for my favorite beautiful Boston girls,” Manuel flirted back.  Damn, he was a good bartender.  We took our $12 cocktails out to the patio clumsily.  With every drop from my glass, I cried out.

“Crap! There goes a dollar.  Shit – fifty cents is on the rug!”

We sat down on the outdoor balcony, surrounded by the relaxing sound of resort waterfalls.  Samantha was over the top at this point, and soon spotted a choice victim for the evening.  A well-dressed, handsome European man was dining by himself on the balcony, two tables from where we were sitting.  She sipped her drink, staring at the man and smiling, waiting for him to notice.

“You look like a total psycho,” I commented, giggling.  “I’m sure that will totally win him over.”

Finally, the man felt the heavy, creepy gaze of Samantha’s drunken stare and looked up at us.

“Cover me boss,” Samantha quipped. “I’m goin’ in.”  And with that, she was gone.  She had taken a seat next to the man and began shamelessly flirting with him.  I took out my cell phone and dialed The Southern Man.

 

“Hey Abs, how was the game?” The sound of his voice made my drunken heart swoon.  I gave him the details of our trip so far, and longed to be sitting next to him on his couch.  The martini was going to work quickly, and I soon became a gushing, romantic mess in a desperate attempt to cover the fact that I was sitting on a resort balcony in Miami, Florida surrounded by palm trees and waterfalls, drinking a ridiculously expensive cocktail by myself.

I gave him the play by play of Samantha’s escapades as she drunkenly (and quite obviously) gave me a distant thumbs-up.  All I wanted was for the Southern Man to be there with me.  I hated the fallout of seeing him…I always missed him more than ever just after my trips to Houston.  It had only been a week, but I knew it could be up to a year before I could see him again.

An hour and a half later, I hung up with the Southern Man.  Samantha was still working her magic (or attempting to) on the lonesome diner, and I was overtaken with melancholy.  Suddenly, a tender voice came from behind me.

“Are you okay?” asked Pablo, the resort worker/cabana boy/waiter asked me, with a concerned look on his face.  I looked up at him with a sad smile, appreciating the sincerity of his question.

“Yes, Pablo,” I responded. “Thank you.”

“Another drink for you?”

“No, Pablo.  Thank you.”

He gave me a knowing smile and headed back into the hotel bar.  Samantha returned, giving me the low down on her new friend.  Loudly.

“You know he can hear you,” I pointed out.

“Really?” Samantha laughed, in a loud raspy ‘whisper’.  “Okay, we should go.”

 

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October 22, 2008 - Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , ,

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