Friday, January 11, 2008

FOUR STATES, THREE THOUSAND MILES,
TWO LITERS OF COFFEE, ONE DAY:
Of Airport Love, Divorce, and Big College Football

PHOENIX (ZP) -- I was in love.

Instantly.

The Oh my dear God! Those eyes could melt titanium! kinda love that one finds in places like airports, retail stores and gas stations. The sort of youthful, downright childish lust that perpetually reminds all human beings that, well, our bodies were meant to respond to stimuli beyond the realm of the rational mind.

She handed me my coffee, smiled, and asked if I could wait a few seconds. She was about to take her break and asked if I had time to talk, split a muffin.

Of the tens of thousands of weary, caffeine-deprived travelers who'd passed through that Sky Harbor terminal Monday morning, I was the only one who'd pointed out that she had the most enchanting eyes.

Nobody had ever, EVER just randomly said that to her, and, well, my compliment made her smile more than the pushy New Yorker who, moments before, had insisted that her iced mocha was too cold and who wanted to complain to the corporate office...

Most guys, you see, don't use words like enchanting, to airport baristas or to any other woman, for that matter. Hell, I rarely use the damned word in casual conversation. Fucking hot is usually the most a guy - any guy - can muster from behind the veil of instantaneous libido.

I don't know why I said it, actually. The phrasing just spilled over my teeth and past my lips, into the air and through her hair, into her ears and brain.

And no, I wasn't the first guy to compliment her. I was, however, the first male under the age of 65, completely sober, to compliment her on something other than tits or ass - very few male customers had ever so much as talked to her face as she served up their lattes and cappuccinos.

I was in love, instantly, for a whopping 15 minutes. Knowing it wouldn't last, I tried to make the most of it, to cram the whole ritualistic courtship bullshit down into a lusty affair of casual conversation. We chatted, split a low-fat blueberry muffin, and then, like that, she took her enchanting eyes back behind the counter and went back to work.

C'est la vie, my friends. C'est la motherfucking vie.

Somehow, even though I live all the way on the other side of the continent, I ended up with a phone number and an email address scribbled onto a dirty napkin - in case, she said, I want to hang out or something next time I fly through Phoenix.

Go fucking me.

I spent the remainder of my hour-and-a-half layover wandering around the terminal, feeling like, well, a complete stud, shooting complete strangers the How you doin', baby?, the look so many guys tend to give off at times of personal satisfaction.

I made a complete ass of myself, I'm sure.

Pays to give a woman a compliment, though.

I've been digging through every crevice and crease in my laptop case since I flew out of Sky Harbor, hoping beyond all hope I didn't throw away that goddamn napkin.

I fly through Phoenix often, actually. And I've been known to accidentally miss connecting flights, simply to hang out or something.

- MORE -

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (ZP) -- He fidgeted with his boarding pass and passport as she explained the situation.

They'd taken one final holiday together, a trip to Florida and Georgia to visit friends. They broke up, officially, in Atlanta on New Year's Day, an amicable and supposedly mutual split after ten years of dating. It wasn't working for either of them and, well, they both knew it.

She took a drag off of her cigarette as we chatted, just outside of Douglas International Airport, hunkered down for our long layovers with cups of three-dollar coffee and our smuggled fire and tobacco. And he stood there, listening, hardly saying a word.

She added that she'd already moved into her own flat back in London, where they both worked, and that, well, she held know animosity towards the fact that he'd been sleeping with an Ethiopian/Briton colleague - she'd been seeing someone else, too.

Stereotypical Frenchwoman - cold and blunt in casual conversation like a German, nonchalant and whimsical like an Italian. Her English was more Canadian than British or American, a fact that she attributed to her years as a college student in Montreal.

The ex-boyfriend, a perfectly bronze Duala, originally from Cameroon, added that he, too, had studied in Montreal, that they had started dating in college and that, yes, it was a mutual breakup. He rolled his eyes and dug through his pockets for chewing gum - he was, he said, trying to quit smoking.

He seemed more than a little annoyed by the fact that she'd brought up his relationship with the Ethio-British coworker, that they'd broken up while on holiday, and that, well, everything was just peachy now that they were just good friends.

She and I talked for a good hour, until the time came for the pair to board their next flight - they were heading to up to New England to visit his brother, who she had also once dated...

And people say my love life is strange.

- MORE -

DAYTON, Ohio (ZP) -- For some Americans, college football is a religion.

And for some, that religion reaches well beyond the frontiers of faith, well into the realm of puritanical insanity.

"OH MY GOD! WHAT'S THE SCORE?!? ANYBODY KNOW THE SCORE?!? ARE THE BUCKS STILL LEADIN'?"

There is nothing quite like watching a very large man sprint across an airport terminal, sprinting for dear life and risking a massive coronary, the cold steel blue industrial carpeting slowing down every step with its damned gravitational friction.

And, no, by the time our plane had landed, the Buckeyes weren't still leadin'. They were headed, in fact, to that wretched little place, to where every overrated football team ends up, where the hype and fanaticism ends and the gridiron starts - a solid, painfully embarrassing loss.

A mere five minutes behind the Ohio State football maniac, a certain Louisiana State University alum, tired as he was, stopped to ask a lone custodian about the score of a certain national championship game.

And that LSU-educated librarian sighed when he heard the score, 24-10 at halftime. He really didn't give a shit about a silly football game. He was tired, still had an hour drive back to his Oxford Fucking Ohio apartment, and wasn't sure, exactly, where he'd left his pickup. When he got back into town, he planned on swinging by a pub to catch the last few minutes - if he wasn't too tired.

For those unfamiliar with the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) or American football, just think - Big Brother meets World Cup. It's less about true competition than your average pie-eating contest, a live-action role-playing game for the benefit of an army of obsessed fanboys and fangirls, a handful of overzealous boosters, and a few university financial planners.

Big Time College Football's "national championship" is nothing more than two teams playing in a game because several supercomputers and less-than-objective polls declared them worthy of a shot at a championship. One shouldn't put too much stock in a system designed around making sure the popular, well-funded schools get to sell more merchandise or to earn millions in television revenue.

Or, to put it another way, the BCS National Championship Game is nothing more than one big, sick joke, a disgrace to the spirit of athletic competition. And, well, the LSU Tigers would go on to wallop THE Ohio State University Buckeyes 38-24, becoming the first two-time big, sick joke BCS champion of the new century.

Yay. Geaux Tigers. Too bad there's not a playoff system beyond a few polls and a couple of statistical algorithms to back up that championship.

As the tired librarian made his way towards the baggage claim, he wondered aloud if the man realized how downright strange he looked, with his laptop case slapping against his girth, sweat pouring off his brow, as he raced towards an update and into the realm of hype addiction.

The woman next to the librarian laughed.

The fat man who'd just set a new Dayton International land-speed record was her husband.

She didn't see what the big deal was - her alma mater, Michigan, had won its bowl game the previous week - she liked football, sure, but forgot to watch her team's 41-35 win over the University of Florida. Instead, she'd spent New Year's Day shopping for new clothes for their grandchildren.

And for those who don't know, or who don't care, his Ohio State and her Michigan football squads have been duking it out since 1897, making the now annual meeting one of the oldest and most storied rivalries in North American sports history.

"Oh, this is mild. You should see him when Wolverines are in it. We don't speak for weeks. I can't even watch the game with him anymore..."

The librarian laughed nervously, grabbed his leather bag from the turnstile.

For some reason, as he drove home, he couldn't help but feel sorry for that poor woman.


- # # # -

13 comments:

zydeco fish said...

Enchanting is a good word, and I can see why she liked it. It just sounds nice too.

librarianwoes said...

"Go fucking me." LMAO!!

... The first week I met the woman who would eventually become my wife, she had to leave the State to attend a convention in Chicago. When she arrived in her hotel room that evening, she found 13 long-stem red roses and a card that read, "enchanted" waiting for her, courtesy of me.

Jessica said...

J
I know just that swagger you speak of. Since I am in the throes of a new, wonderful, and sex-infused relationship, I often find myself nearly strutting. All-of-a-sudden, men are looking at me, smiling, waving - when men have NEVER looked at me. So, yeah, swagger away....
J

Bridget Jones :) said...

hey you really do chat online. cool:) if you're out tonight i might say hi so behave :P

The ZenFo Pro said...

ZF:
A great word, man. Been a while since I've felt comfortable enough - moreso with myself than my surroundings - to use it.

Woe:
Lol, you know, your story gives me a bit of hope, buddy.

Jessica:
Oh, for fuck's sakes, isn't that swagger just wonderful??? I miss, really, being that free.

BJ:
Well, I was out well past last call...

Where were you???

Coyote Mike said...

I always think those sort of lines, but I never try them. We may be matched in many things, my friend, but I am not the guy all the ladies swoon for. Well, that and the fact that drunk chicks don't break into my apartment. :P

If you think football fans in Ohio are bad, try Nebraska. Oh, yeah, we have the reputation for being the nicest school to play as a visiting team, but if the Huskers lose, it seems the whole state goes into mourning. I liked to work retail on game days because there would be no customers, but lived in fear of a loss because then hordes of pissed off folks in red would come charging in, wanting videos (and wanting them NOW, dammit!). On the other hand, game day is the best time to get my grocery shopping done. Even walmart is empty, and if it is a morning game the shelves are still pretty well stocked.

I am one of the few Nebraskans that not only owns no Husker gear, I own no team gear of any sort. Hell, I don't even own a red shirt :P

Cooper said...

Is melting titanium a good thing? Guess it's better than melting uranium...

"C'est la vie, my friends. C'est la motherfucking vie."

This is a line I have to use one of these days. Maybe tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is Kate and I just wanted you to know that after seeing you "in action" last night at Mac and Joes I've changed how I view/read you and your site.

First, I think it's a sign of total direspect and immaturity for a person in your job to take part in some things and conversations. I watched last night as you and two other guys laughed when a bartender squirted water on two girls trying to get their shirts wet. the guy with the hose evn got one of my friends wet. Not funny and definitely inapropriate in a town where women are sexually harrassed by guys all the time. I've had friends who've had that happen to them at parties.

Second, I was offended personally by some of the things that you and your party were talking about. You made fun of disabled people, minorities, rich people and other groups. The amount of profanity and abuse was unbearable! You should bebetter behaved in public, since there are students who read this and think you're better than that. Lead by example, man!

Sorry for the long response but I didn't want to send you an email. You're totally not who I thought you were so I'm not sure I'm comfortable reading this anymore.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Mike:
Lol, neither am I, really. Hell, I'm kinda an ugly pug - always have been - with some serious self-esteem issues. I never say things like that, normally, out of the blue.

Ugh. I remember Nebraska fans from my time in Colorado. The folks in Boulder weren't any better behaved but, wow, Cornhuskers take the cake sometimes.

Coop:

Lol, well,titanium melts at 3135°F, roughly 400 degrees above the melting point of steel. Uranium melts at a lukewarm 2070°F.

Heh. that's hot. :)

Actually, while on the subject of lustful hard sciences, since Pluto is no longer a planet, does that mean that Plutonium is somehow less dangerous, or needs to be voted off the Periodic Table?

Sorry. Very bad nerd joke.


Anon:
Well, first, thanks for the feedback and critique of my evening out with friends. But I can make no apologies for what you believe was offensive, nor can I change the course of the evening. If you decide to quit reading this silly blog, well, that's your business. Again, sorry if you or your party was offended, but I make no apologies for it.

This morning, reading your comment, I had to dig back into my memory to figure out what could possibly be offensive to outside observers...

1. The Two Girls, Spraying Water, Laughing Guys:

Two female undergrads, who I've known for a few years now, were celebrating their new-found ability to drink legally in the U.S. - they both recently turned 21.

The not-so-wet teeshirt contest is actually a "fuck you" sorta shot, called a Tsunami, done for shock value. One pours a shot, then, as the customer finishes, the bartender uses the fountain dispenser - i.e. "the gun" - to hit the person with a quick spray of water - thus, the tsunami. It was invented in said bar, years ago, as a way of venting frustration over the failure of some folks to tip, or to seek revenge on shitfaced, whiny bar customers.

I wouldn't call what happened sexual harassment, though one of the laughing guys did go home with one of the birthday girls - the guy who recommended the shot. He'd been buying her drinks all night, actually. Guys tend to do that with their girlfriends, esp. after more than a year together...

Trust me. He sexually harasses her all the time, sometimes for hours upon hours, that dirty, no-good "hey, make sure you squirt her tits" harasser.

2. Offensive, racist, sexist, un-PC conversation topics:

Um...have you ever been to said bar before? It's probably the last place in Oxford that oozes that sort of crude, honest, banter.

Yes, you will hear one guy yell "Hey, you dumb mulatto!" at a biracial guy, and hear the biracial guy yell "your mom's a fucking whore, with a pussy this big...!" right back. That's the norm. The two guys are friends and coworkers, and, well, everybody makes fun of everybody else. Helps keep the peace, actually, diffuses tension, and, believe it or not, builds camaraderie.

Or you're likely to hear jokes about Hispanic employees needing to get a green card or to "the Bengals will go to the Super Bowl when your people quit picking lettuce." Or you may hear gay patrons telling straight-laced conservative patrons to "suck a dick, faggot" elderly gentlemen discussing visits to prostitutes in Southeast Asia, and, yes, everybody's mother, father, weight issues, eating disorders, physical disabilities, etc.

It's a bar, lady. Not a seminar or church, nor is it the hallowed halls of government or some bubble-wrapped field of dreams.

You may even witness a certain part-Roma, part Cajun, all-Southern librarian making fun of a woman known for telling people, "I love my big, fake tits," being made fun of because I'm likely to steal, eat babies, or turn people into werewolves because of my "Dirty Gypsy" blood, or fielding insults that inquire about my sister and I's incest history.

And what, exactly, is one supposed to do or say when a very liberal female friend starts going on and on about the fact that your "fucking cock" has apparently been wagging in their face all night? Take advantage of them? Correct their language at one in the morning?

Yup. It's just that kind of place. And not for the faint of heart - or stomach - after nine on any given night. Scares the living shit out of a lot of folks, so most regulars try to keep it down when the kiddies are back in town.

Again, sorry for the offense you obviously took, but I can't make any apologies, especially where I feel there was no wrong committed, given the social norms for the environment.

And I think I was rather well-behaved, actually. Responsible enough to get myself home, make sure others had a ride and didn't make mistakes.

Coyote Mike said...

Your anon person is a bit odd. I'm not sure how telling someone "I'm no longer going to read your blog" is supposed to be a punishment. It's like saying "I'm no longer going to walk past your window and peek in to see what you're doing."

The ZenFo Pro said...

Mike:
Oh, odd is one thing, but, well, the quickest way for a local blog reader to get under my skin is to pull the "I saw you doing this" thing and then to try to turn it into some sort of political statement.

Lol, I'm not Sears. I don't have a customer support center. Jeez, I'm just a dude.

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