Tuesday, March 25, 2008

jfk >burbank

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I took a Xanax on Easter night and managed almost six straight hours of sleep. A small miracle. I even missed two text messages and two phone calls during my deep slumber. I never sleep through the sound of my phone ringing unless I turn the ringer off. The pharmies worked.

I woke up refreshed and packed the last 5% of my stuff. I got a call five minutes before the car service was supposed to arrive. It was the company telling me that the driver was downstairs. I didn't get my usual driver. It was a different guy. We didn't talk much, which was fine by me. I was too baked for chit chat. All he did was listen to the radio on the way to the airport.

And it was a beautiful morning. The sun poked its way through the sky and spewed various orange, yellow, red, and pink colors. It was around 6:05am, but Manhattan seemed so quiet and peaceful.

We arrived at JFK in 35 minutes. No traffic. But I gave the driver a $15 tip anyway. Mostly for leaving me alone.

Security line was backed up. As usual. I eventually got through with no problems. I grabbed a croissant and a water. I had well over an hour to kill. I read the newspaper and sat down at a different gate and people watched. Most people at airports take more shit than they really need to be taking.

* * * * *

"Could you hold this for me for just a sec?"

I glanced at the her engagement ring as she handed me her purple overcoat. An anxious line of passengers waited as she nervously shoved a generic black carry-on bag into the overhead compartment. I handed her the purple overcoat and she tossed it into the empty seat by the window.

She was in her late 20s and looked like the actress from the Scary Movie flicks. For a second I considered that it very well could be that same actress. After all, I was on a JetBlue plane bound for Burbank, California where most of the Hollywood corporate offices were located and where the studios churned out artistic feces for mass consumption. My brother once sat next to a random actress on a JetBlue flight from Las Vegas to New York City. Why couldn't that be happening to me?

I had been sitting in the aisle seat and stood up so she could scoot by. I realized that she wasn't that actress and simply a random chick who looked like someone famous. She plopped down a stack of magazines in the empty seat between us. Bridal magazines dominated the stack. She also slid a Lonely Planet travel guide for Bali into the seat pocket in front of her.

"Lemme guess," I said. "Honeymoon in Bali?"

She smiled and picked up the guide book. "How did you know?" she said as she fanned out the pages in a dramatic fashion like a game show hostess.

"Bali. Now that's a very romantic location. Magnificent and ravishing in the same breath. You're going to have the time of your life. Just don't go during the rainy season and keep your eyes open if you go to Kuta. Fundamentalist Islamic terrorists target tourists there. Especially Americans."

The once smile unfurled into puzzled look that quickly morphed into panic. That's when it hit me. At some future date, that young woman was going to walk down the aisle and gamble the rest of her life on a coin flip. Marriages in America these days are coin flips because about 50% of them end in divorce. Plus, she was about to take the biggest gamble of them all and book her honeymoon in a resort town that was bombed twice since 2002.

My flight was full with a handful of L.A. Douchebags and other industry types. There was so much botox on our plane that I thought the plane was going to explode over a corn field in Iowa.

I watched my new favorite show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Or is it Disasters? Anyway, he got on the main chef's case for mixing salmon and strawberries in a salad. He only made it because his girlfriend thought it was be a great idea.

I watched a bit of Rattle and Hum on VH1-Classic. Wow, I'm starting to get old if U2 is considered Oldies music.

My flight managed to be a few minutes early. Nicky was still driving up Laurel Canyon when I called her from the tarmac. By the time it took my luggage to get spit out twenty-eight minutes later, Nicky was pulling up to the curb at Bob Hope Airport. Perfect timing.

We grabbed a quick lunch at Mexicali, one of my favorite restaurants in L.A., even though it's located in Studio City, which is technically The Valley. Nicky loathes going to The Valley, but Burbank is a little closer than Long Beach so she sucks it up.

While we drove out of the parking lot, I started to think, "Wow there's a lot of fake tits today."

Then I remembered that I was in the shadows of Hollyweird.

When we got back to the apartment, the girl next door was practicing her singing. She pays the bills waiting tables and spends her free afternoons singing. Her talent falls somewhere in between a sensational happy hour karaoke singer and American Idol finalist. She might have been the hottest and most talented girl from her hometown in Wisconsin, but in Hollyweird, she's just another waitress.

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