Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Life, Unlike An Epic Poem

She's My Saving Grace
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

"Have you read Don Quixote?"
"I have, and found myself the hero."
"Be so good as to read once more the chapter of the windmills."
"Chapter Thirteen."
"Windmills, remember, if you fight with them may swing round their huge arms and cast you down into the mires."
"...Or up among the stars."
Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand

My Life, Unlike An Epic Poem
August 6, 2008, En Route to Atlanta:

“…epic poem.”

Suddenly, the slightly stout, yet largely attractive airline attendant at the check-in counter, who I had been ogling with intermittent glances with each turn of a page, interrupted my thoughts as she announced the last boarding call.

Having passed through the metal and explosives detectors without a hitch, I had been sitting, waiting at Gate 93 for FLT 1167 to Atlanta, for the last hour slowly chipping away at my luke-warm breakfast pannini, sipping at my super-sized bananaberry smoothie, while reading a book through bleary eyes.

Albeit tired, I was genuinely cheerful, believing I’d finally learned how to navigate the ever-shifting straits of airport security— no steel-reinforced chastity belts, no firearms—no matter how much you like your right to bear arms, and no foolish attempts at trafficking herbal remedies.

Or, at least, I thought I had learned.

Alas, because the airlines are tightening their belts, squeezing more into less and passing on the pain to passengers, I’ve been forced to rethink my packing strategy.

Hence, I pressed tight corners into all my shirts, stuffed socks into shoes, and expanded my carryon to its fullest capacity in order to avoid the dreaded wait at the baggage claim.

Lo and behold, not only do they charge you for peanuts now, they’ve seemingly shrunk the overhead compartments as well.

And so, to my dismay, I instantly became one of those rather annoying fellow passengers who holds up the aisle, and ultimately, the flight, as I futilely attempted to squeeze, push and maneuver my bag into place, but to no avail.

Eventually, to make this melodramatic recapitulation of my rather mundane moment all the less heroic, I removed my shoes from the bottom compartment of my suitcase and sat on it to compress all the air out of it.

My saving grace was a wiser, older lady in the row behind me who smiled as she pointed out, “You can probably fit that now under the seat in front of you.” Fortunately, I had changed my seat , as I always do, to the emergency aisle, and so she was quite right, as I had an extra pocket of space to the left of my seat, because there was no seat between myself and the window.

I nodded in deference to her benevolence and wisdom and said, “Thank you,” as I easily slid my shoeless bag underneath.

I apologized profusely to anyone and everyone I had inconvenienced throughout the ordeal, and finally sat down.

Closing my eyes, I inhaled slowly, imagining that I had put wax in my ears, silencing the internal sirens of self-castigation. And after exhaling, I buckled, expelling the last of the dissenting demons within, through the false sense of safety that pulling the belt tighter often gave me, well knowing that if we went down, this precaution would merely help the investigative team identify the charred body strapped to my seat.

Albeit, my chance at being the next Sophisticated Traveler of the Year was now riddled with holes, I was relieved that I didn’t have to “You’ll have to check in that bag sir,” after all.

Assuredly, I’ll chalk it up as simply another lesson learned, happy to now know what not to do on my return flight home.


Right before I donned my dunce cap, I had read a bit in my new read, Special Topics in Calamity Physics about prisoners being inspired by Homer—Homer as in The Odyssey, not Homer as in the Simpsons—and smiled, as I am often reminded by such literary references, about the stories, like Joyce’s Ulysses, that have likewise inspired me to entertain the delusion that my life will read like an exciting, exuberant and intelligent epic poem some day.

Yes, perhaps one day, but just not today….


(Ted) Turner loved Gone With the Wind. He loved the romance, the drama, the epic sweep. He called it "a noble movie-the greatest movie ever made." He had seen it dozens of times; more than one guest visiting his plantation recalls being forced to sit through the film with him. Ted pictured himself as a Rhett Butler of the cable age- a brash, handsome, devil-may-care maverick. So, intriguingly, did the media. The Atlanta Constitution once ran an article comparing the two: "Both were tossed out of school...Both are great sailors...Both are full of political contradictions...Both are outsiders in a landscape they dominate." Turner had in fact, consciously gone to certain lengths to pattern himself on the character, admitting that he had fashioned his mustache after Rhett's. He had considered calling his first son Rhett, after a contraction of the initials for Robert Edward Turner, and actually did name his second boy Rhett (although Jane had drawn the line at naming their daughter Scarlett).
Citizen Turner, The Wild Rise of an American Tycoon, Robert & Gerald Jay Goldberg

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