Thursday, October 20, 2005

Laura in Chicago

In my fourth hour at Chicago O’Hare, the first Air Canada flight has arrived, and alarmed passengers burst forth in full scurry. I have just had a lovely meal of fried carbs with cheese goo and cheap booze with my friends from the Carolinas. They are passionate about football, Barbeque, and the Carolinas. This week, they were much more fun than my fellow Canadian traveler, who spent his time in futile anti-Bush and pro-gay marriage debates with Southern (pronounced Suthern) and Mid-Western Republicans.

I have once again concluded that the wireless network at O’Hare, though prevalent, is impossible to log onto. You should not end a sentence with a preposition (onto). I have concluded that, though it is prevalent, it is impossible to log onto the wireless network at O’Hare. I have concluded that the wireless network, onto which is impossible to log, is prevalent? Today I was told by a Texan that my accent was hard to understand. And writing also challenges me. My language skills are clearly in jeopardy.

The man who sits beside me has three wrinkles behind his ear. I wonder if these collect lint. Over dinner, I debated with an overweight Carolinian whether he should get a tattoo of a rose on his back or of a bull (with nose ring at navel) on his belly. There is a lot to consider, including lint, wrinkling and hair. Luckily it takes more than that to put me off my cheese goo.

A man crawls behind the phone booth to plug in his cell-phone. This is because I’ve taken the only prime plug location, with much deftness and skill. Next time, I’ll be in the gold lounge and he can have this spot.

I have just laughed out loud, making me the craziest person in this waiting area, i.e., the subjects about whom I normally write. Please note narrow escape from preposition sentence termination.

A loud fan blows the juice out of my eyes and the hair out of my head. When I lose my hearing, I wonder how much of it will be because of machinery. The rest, of course, will be from my 10” car subwoofer. Pimpin’ ain’t easy.

The man has plugged in a 7 year old cell phone, and must keep his head out and low due to the cord’s short length.

The generic business man, Bob, with graying hair, bulging stomach under wrinkled blue shirt, laptop over shoulder, continues to walk by. Over an over, 5 and 10 of him at once. Where’s Waldo? Bob’s everywhere.

I pilot rushes out from the gate. Sudden onset of fear of flying? Realization that this was not a simulation?

Air Canada is paging an Ottawa passenger, which seems impossible, due to the large and ever-increasing time before our departure. This passenger is probably still in Concourse G with her Carolinian friends, who all stand up when she leaves the table.

I am now cold to the point of slowed movement and stiff joints. I have tried to read my book. Purchased in the Ottawa airport, it’s about a women’s literature group in Iran and the struggles they face. Since I’m a woman, read books, and face struggles, I thought I would be entranced. So far this has not proven out. When I first started to read it, I saw Dean in the airport and talked (ed note: drank) with him instead. But I can’t find Dean now.

The Tulsa flight, whose aircraft is having serious maintenance issues, has boarded. Yet Air Canada remains inactive.

Evidently this waiting area is the love shack, as there are many people cuddling.

A man wearing a huge fanny pack with his tight jogging pants has a blackberry holder on his belt, but the blackberry in his hand. Furthermore, he holds his other hand up to his head, making the phone signal. Why not put the blackberry in the fanny pack, the fanny pack in the bag, and the bag in the hand. Ultimately, I recommend putting the joggers in the garbage and wearing the khakis which are undoubtedly in the bag. He has now left, obviously to do this.

Fanny pack man has come to talk to the woman across from me about blackberries. Then his life story begins. She does not care, as she just wants to cuddle with her husband. It is a travesty that fanny cannot berry.

The agent at the gate is on the phone. “Hello, just calling you to let you know that the planes are not leaving. Well, the main reason is that we want Laura to be tired and grumpy for girls’ poker night. Really, there was a runaway pilot? He was probably frightened of the business men.”

The cuddling couple across from me speaks lovely Franglais. The man has a good sense of style, and is not afraid of jewelry. I am jealous of them, but luckily his jeans are wrong and his hair is scruffy.

I continue to think I recognize the business man. But that’s because I’m crazy.

Behind the face-smears on the window behind me is a pickup truck. In the back are 5 purple rubber gloves and a spray-bottle. Theorizing on the cause of this occupies a good 15 minutes for me. All that’s left of Michael Jackson impersonators after being sprayed with “quick-dissolve spray”? After a dish-washing party with an amputee? Making balloon animals?

Montreal flight is 2 hours late and fanny pack man still doesn’t make it on before the final boarding call. I think it takes a long time to drive from Chicago to Ottawa but it’s looking like this is something I should have considered.

I have bit into the apple I took from the hotel’s breakfast buffet. I hope that its juices evaporate to moisten my eyes and that its healthy goodness balances the cheese goo.

Of the 6 other women in this waiting area, only 1 does anything to her hair in the morning. My hair takes me 20 minutes every morning. Over the next 50 years, this will take 6083 hours, or 253 days. Is credibility in business worth it? And yet the business man who continues to walk by is often unkempt. The male life expectancy is shorter for other reasons, or this would not be fair. I wonder how much of my life will be spent in airports.

Speaking of unkempt, an unshaven greasy man in a purple shirt runs over the cell phone man’s feet and suitcases fall everywhere. Instead of “I’m sorry”, purple man chooses a “Oh dear, oh dear” as his response. This was likely a suave pick-pocketing maneuver of a spy.

In a sudden spurt of intelligence, I’ve moved one seat over to mitigate the effects of the fan. For warmth, I am cuddling with both laptop and power supply (recalled due to potential over-heating).

A man rushes by and walks into a chair. He turns and apologizes to it. He’s a Canadian.

My brain has started to ooze out of my left ear. This likely started earlier, when I was confused as to which rental car agent walk talking to me. Passers by remark on this being the second strange event of the day after the fleeing captain.

A man swears at the garbage-collector lady when she tells him in Spanish that she knows nada about where to catch the shuttle. There are three Air Canada agents waiting 2 feet away behind the desk.

It is 9:30 (flight now 2 hours late), and the construction crew have started to do work in the area outside of the gate. Why now? Concerns that an earlier start might, say, cause delays? I consider leaning over the barrier and watching for entertainment. Update: two other waitees chose this option, so I will not be a follower.

A hybrid business man/leisure traveler has sat next to me to eat his meat bits. These are made with the fingers of chickens and dipped into white goo, which matches his shoes. He is not wearing his wedding ring cause he’s trying to pick up on his business trip. Luckily, the chicken finger move doesn’t work on me. Though I am considering when a fourth meal for today would make sense. The food stalls are too far now, though, and my feet too large.

The Montreal flight, which boarded 30 minutes ago, continues to sit at the gate. Waiting for the runaway pilot? Missing 5 purple gloves?

Sucking noises are made as part of the meat bit eating. This cancels my hunger. Man stares at me to induce conversation, a second failed maneuver on his part.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Laura in Dallas

Due to a mechanical problem in the new Embraer 175’s lavatory, Air Canada has given me a free drink. This is likely not worth the 1.5 hours of sleep I’ve lost, though the fact that the flight attendant recognized me and thought it was “good to see me again” didn’t hurt.

Things I learned this weekend playing Trivial pursuit.
1) A baby beaver is called neither a beavlet nor a wee-beav, but a kit. I think.
2) A “button hook” is a football play.
3) An allen-key hole is a hexagon, not an octagon.
4) Barb will always beat me at Trivial pursuit until they invent a geography category.

This plane is filled with business men named Bob, but Bob is now dressed in a loose ugly T-shirt (sports slogan) to cover the protruding belly, jeans, and running shoes. This is because it’s an evening flight, and Bob’s suit is in his luggage, stowed in overhead bins, heavier items under the seats in front of Bob.

The package of cashews I just ate has 300 calories, and 40% of my daily fat requirements, so I’m relieved to learn that I won’t starve.

The seat in front of me says: “Coming soon to this space in front of you: a digital audio/video system YOU can control.” That’s right, ME. I do not know why I don’t always spell that with capitals, like I. ME. Please give ME another drink. This delay is too long for ME, please give ME lots of airmiles. Please buy lots of optical equipment from ME.

The man across from ME is playing Free-cell. I may do the same. I just finished playing a free-download game involving popping groups of colourful bubbles to makem’ disappear. Very complex and strategic.

In the extended portion of Toronto’s Terminal 2 there is a restaurant called Quayside. This fact introduces two topics for debate. 1) Should a restaurant called Quayside exist if it serves no seafood products whatsoever? 2) How many dishes need a restaurant serve before it is actually a restaurant. And if the number is insufficient, is it a bar? A restlet? A wee-rest? Or a kit?

The man across from me got a free rum & coke from Air Canada, but only drank the coke. (Ed. note: I would only drink the rum). He is taking the rum home for his wife as a gift. In return, she’ll buy him more sports T-shirts and help him match his belt to his shoes.

In Toronto, there are more good-looking people (per-capita, based on scientific studies) than in Ottawa. Why is this? First, there are more hard-core career-oriented people, who groom and dress up for work every day. Secondly, there is more fashion going on. This leads to metrosexuality, which is a movement to promote grooming among men. In fact, I know several who can match their own belts to shoes. Finally (third, if you lost track), there are more single people, partially because of their career-orientation, partially because of their urban, non-traditional values. Thus, they are more prone to maintaining their looks to attract members of the opposite sex. Don’t blame me for prejudice here, I’m quoting studies[i].

Meanwhile, the rum man next to me, who has given up on Freecell, is cleaning his watch by licking it.

Last week, in Shaumberg, Illinois, Angela, a Latina colleague, attempted to teach me to dance to regeton music. My dreams of a Latin dance career were dashed. My spelling of regeton is also questionable.

The meaning of the “seatbelt sign” eludes many. They debate over whether it means a) everyone else should stay seated with their seatbelts fastened or b) I too must abide by said sign. They circle a) on their mind’s multiple choice card, and go the washroom, filled with pride.

In Toronto, I was not immediately able to seize the pole of power, into which you plug in your laptop. Luckily, I’m a vulture, so I got an extra (4 extra hours) battery from Anne-Marie in HR, who got it from a laid-off person. While at the pole of power, I shared the waiting area with a woman doing yoga while her kids ran around. Sometimes it’s tough to juggle priorities.

I have won freecell, yet sheer glee eludes me.

When I arrived in DFW terminal D, I thought it might become my new favourite place. Chairs in the waiting area are in pods, walls carpeted, muted colours, shiny floors, and Asian influence. (Ed note: I have not been to Asia).

When I returned for departure, the only line was for Texans going to Cancún (Funjet Vacations). They stood in the middle of the check-in area, 2x2 in a tight, self-defined space, as if encircled by an electric dog fence. Questions in Laura’s 5am mind: 1) For what do they wait? 2) Why do Texans go to Cancún in October?

Through security, my feelings for D were confirmed. While the old terminal has distant McDonalds and Burger King for breakfast, this one has an Einstein Bros. (EB). Brief interlude on EB: It is a good bagel place with yummy whipped cream cheese. Flavour of the month: buttery pumpkin. This stuff, especially compared to average Texan food, is poetry-worthy, melted creamy goodness with a light bubbly texture. (Ed note: as I write this, my arm rests on the roll of fat that hangs over my pants). So imagine my elation in terminal D. Then imagine my disappointment (ok, strong apathy) upon learning that neither flavoured cream cheeses nor cappuccino is available here.

A headline on the paper says: Sex offenders go missing after Hurricane Katrina. I guess it was previously supposed that said offenders were not prone to having their homes flood and drowning like others? Or perhaps we’ve learned that sex offenders dissolve? Have we searched playgrounds near the superdome? Essay question: Don’t we want them missing?

My thoughts on sex offenders are interrupted by a mental review of why cream cheese should always be whipped. It just shows you care.

Inventory of plane: 9 white business men, 2 WB women, 1 couple (they work in high tech) going on first trip together, home to meet his family, 1 Indian mother and daughter returning from trip to visit son/brother in Dallas, one spoiled blond who saunters onto plane 5 min after final boarding call wearing pink JC joggers, 2 male pilot types, 2 female flight attendants, black luggage, blue seats, 2 lavatories (currently functional), food trolleys. Embraer 175 still filling in for regional jet.

The sun rises over the Dallas horizon, reminding me of an oil slick. Art imitating life? It is announced that for $2 I can purchase a pretzel stick with honey/mustard dip. It is 6:50am. The man behind me makes slurping noises; though no food has yet been served he’s clearly excited about the honey/mustard combo.

I am performing a stress test on my luggage to determine it’s Asia-trip suitability. There is a board game called cocktailopoly (Ed note: I don’t have a problem) which is squished in there diagonally, causing much stretching. Will the suitcase last 2 flights burst-free? The suspense is bewildering.

One flight attendant says to the other that she forgot a trolley on the bridge. I guess this is like when I forgot my fake Chanels in my hotel room. So please decrement the trolley count in airplane inventory.

The man in front of me is buying salsa and chips. It is now 7:02 am. He must not like whipped cream cheese. Freak. He is now taking pictures of the sunrise, the clouds, the fog, and getting too excited and coughing. So we’re down to 8 white business men, 1 leisure traveler TBD.

In the lavatory I notice that my eyebrows are unruly. I hope this doesn’t impact my ability to traverse customs.

Upon opening hand-cream bottle, it explodes all over me (due to pressure change). Is my body affected in the same way? Eyebrows now tamed, skin moistened.

In my wallet there is a receipt for hot tea from a Marriott cafeteria. I do not drink hot tea, nor have I stayed in a Marriott recently.

In changing my watch, I erroneously moved the date ahead 5 days, speeding through time.

Update: I now believe that regetón has an accent on the ó.

[i] Footnote: Studies showing people from Toronto are good-looking. TBD.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Laura in San Francisco

I have changed my pants twice since arriving at the San Francisco airport. The story goes like this. First, I bought a good cappuccino across from my hotel. Then, in my excitement, I spilt much of it on my pants while driving. Upon arriving at the airport, I changed to a brown pair of pants (would disguise future spillage). But then in the air-train, I was uncomfortable due to a lack of matching. So I changed again. This is obsessive compulsive behaviour, but note that I’m not prone to excessive hand-washing or door-locking.

I cannot find anything to buy with any nutritional value. So, if I get hungry on the plane, I’ll eat my magazine. It’s Spanish, like tapas. (I buy Spanish magazines because they take much longer to read). The lady in front of me buys a San Francisco spoon holder. (To clarify – a thing to rest your wooden spoon on while cooking on the stove. It is more comfortable for the spoon, I guess.) Anyway, the purchase of a SF spoon holder signals a new low for capitalism.

Update. A food stall opens, selling exclusively carbs, across from the book stand selling exclusively anti-carb diet books. The lady next to me in line speaks to a croissant. Do croissants understand English?

I have accomplished one of the highest airport feats of strength, which is to locate and seize the elusive plug in the waiting area. Strangely, no one congratulates me. Similarly, my Air Canada Prestige status goes unnoticed.

I begin to doubt my pants decision once again, because I think I would have fit in more with the clashing outfit. Many people comment on the smell of hotdogs while passing the carb stand. This is one of those inner thoughts to not share out loud, because everyone else can smell the hotdogs too. Except my friend who can’t smell post-nose job.

I have left my fake Chanel sunglasses in my hotel room. Despite the successful shopping of my trip, this fills me with sadness. How will I replace these?

The woman across from me wears a purple shirt with silver glitter. As if, at any moment, Prince Charming is going to arrive and she’ll be ready for the ball. Dancing may be a different story, however, since her feet are swollen to the size of pigeons. I will try to steal Prince Charming away from her, ha ha.

The second set of Amish/Mennonite people I’ve seen walks by. I didn’t know that San Fran was a hot spot for them.

The spoon-holder woman eats carbs with orange juice. There are crumbs on her table, indicating that should buy a San Francisco crumb catcher. Those probably sit next to the thimbles.

A man in the corner (who, I admit, has also accomplished the laptop power feat), has a huge head. This is accentuated by his tiny cell-phone. Poor choice. He argues loudly with his wife as to why the power has been turned off and why alarms ring throughout their house. I think she should have called someone else.

A girl plays pick-up sticks on the floor. I expect jacks is next. Or maybe hopscotch.

Surprising how many people have not mastered the suitcase with pull wheels. You cannot push it, that will not work.

A security advisory announcement suggests that one should keep possession of ones bags, and take the elevator with one’s luggage cart. I have several more suggestions for the advisory. See above.

A poster announces new flights to Barcelona. I hope I end up on one.

During the fight to SF, the man next to me kept leaning into my personal space to look out the window. While feigning sleep, I use a spasmodic elbow movement to knock him upside the chin, causing him to bite his tongue off. That should teachim.

The flight crew lines up at the carb stand. This is a bad sign for food on my 5 ½ hour flight.

Update: Spoon holder store and carb stand compete for popularity. Various forms of chili-dog infiltrate the waiting area. Pick-up sticks girl is now bare-foot and playing cards. No adults under 200lbs are in sight. Several men have breasts larger than mine, yet I’m not jealous. I pine over my fake Chanels.

A man’s chili dog leaks onto his pants. I feel his pain. He has no alternative outfit.

I recognize the flight attendants from a previous flight. It’s like Groundhog Day. I have now succumbed to chili-dog hunger.

In the Ottawa Airport at 5:00am I saw 2 people I know. I would prefer to see some now. But they are unlikely to show up.

Just realized that the man with the huge head might be ideally-suited for the woman with the huge feet. Should I introduce them? I’ll let fate take its course. Wonder if she would like his mutton chops.

I have become delirious about chili dogs, which is a first. Also have now been relegated to sitting on the floor. Mutton chops looks on, bemused. Correction, I imagine the bemusement. Fantastic examples of bed-head are demonstrated by arriving passengers, many of which head directly to the chili-carbs, as if that’s what they’ve come for.

A child walks by alone, with no apparent parents. At least she has shoes.

A man wears green flannel pants. Probably had to change into his PJ’s after a chili dog accident.

Between them, a couple has 8 carry-on items. A strange outlet for their rebellion against societal norms.

I have not yet seen any famous people, despite my search. I have made a mess on the floor with my scone crumbs, but my pants are thankfully unscathed.

A woman with good hair and sunglasses files her nails. Since my jealousy is multifaceted, I make a mental note to put an emery board in my laptop bag. Other than laptop stuff, it currently contains makeup, mirror, hand cream, cell phone ear piece, comb, band-aids, case of pills, 3 pkgs of crackers, Kleenex, work badge, car keys, business cards, another mirror (oups, vanity problem), another case of pills (drug problem), mints, purse, tickets and passport.

Speaking of societal norms, the amount of sugar in the North American diet is shockingly high, once Jeff M. (Cox account prime) gets you to think about it. My day starts with a cappuccino with sugar and a sweet buttery scone. Carb sandwich with sweet iced tea for lunch. Seeking the healthiest item in Philly’s food court, I go for the smoothie from Chuck’s Salad and Turkey stand. It is mostly orange sherbet. The lettuce has all been victim to some terrible accident and nasty ranch dressing, so I’m forced into a sweet piece of cheese pizza. Diabetes is forthcoming. While contemplating the sugar content of our diets, I also wonder how often Paris Hilton gets her roots touched up.

In Philadelphia, I’m shocked and saddened to discover that my Spanish magazine has a whole article on sunglasses, including Chanel. Correction: photo essay: Gafas con personalidad. Shock and sadness are likely not appropriate for waiting area, so I revert to acute boredom.

There are only 9 people waiting at my departure gate, a bad sign for the flight’s ultimate punctuality.

I am sitting next to the Automatic External Defibrillator. This is a good sign. My heart attacks should be prevented before they begin. Slightly concerning is the fact that a man seems to be throwing garbage into the room for the Defibrillator. So maybe it’s wireless.

A man is freaking out and yelling at everyone in the Ottawa waiting area due to his vacation having been screwed up. He seems to have been unable to identify his boarding pass. I hope he does not sit next to me, I will have to feign sleep.

An announcement asks that if anyone finds an employee ID to please return it. To me, this sounds like a major security breach, but I’m more concerned about the yelling man.

The staff loiters around the defibrillator. They must know it’s good for them. Meanwhile, an acute pain in my head indicates that I have a blood clot, which is a drag.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Laura in Atlanta

Brian’s tray-table takes a surprising plunge from its full upright position. Luckily he has finished his apple juice, so neither the Zara shirt nor my baby blue leather jacket are soiled. In order to be travel-savvy, we’ve read’s latest information before departing. We are in the exit row, so we might need to use this information:
If you are sprayed with an unknown substance, stand and think about a cool design for a new tattoo.

Brian is reading Men’s Health magazine, and I’m reading emails. He reads this because of the gorgeous men. Correction. I look at the gorgeous men while he “learns about health, fitness and fashion.” I started with 41 unread messages, am now up to 42. I’m not sure how, but email reading is not going as planned.

I thought I was prepared to help with emergency maneuvers if required, being seated in the emergency exit row. However, as the plane turns, sun shines into the window, I’m blinded, and flail about while trying to reach the window cover to protect my eyes. It’s like walking into a door that clearly says: “Pull”.

We have begun our initial descent and I’ve read only 1 day’s worth of email. Brian, on the other hand, is on page 40 of his hot man magazine.

The second flight has finished boarding, and a man in a split-pea green shirt starts making difficult requests to the flight attendant. Since Brian and I are over 6 hours late, we take control of the situation. I get the man in a head-lock and Brian helps topple him into the seat row. With a clever use of the arm-rest and a dual seatbelt maneuver, the man is trapped and take-off is not further delayed. All the while, Brian and I still look stylish next to split-pea green.

Brian nearly has a hissy fit when he realizes I’ve mistakenly used his seatbelt, but manages to stay calm due to fear of his character having too many flaws in my novel.

The flight attendant explains the emergency procedures: “Do not initiate an emergency exit unless told to do so by myself or another crew member. We’ve had people see something funny outside and get out onto the wings unnecessarily.” Once again, stupid people are responsible for my safety.

You should not wear heavy metal accessories while travelling. Accessorizing was very traumatic to a small child had to take off his suspenders to get through the metal detector.
A grown son squishes his face between the seats to talk to his mother in the row in front. He is older and married, but evidently prefers his mother to his wife. In this excitement, she realizes she’s missing her large gaudy brooch. While she should have been elated, she gets the flight attendant to announce the loss, only to find the pin under her large, gaudy ass. Keep the accessories at home.

The man in front of us has just sneezed 14 times consecutively, which I expect will cause brain damage. Similarly, Brian is getting brain damage by reformatting Powerpoint slides.

Waiting for the flight home, Brian smells like airplane fumes, and while he’s working on slides I’m reading People en Español. To practice my pronunciation, I read out loud, which yields numerous Silverstone threats but nothing more. I have learned: grey hairs = canas and gotear = to drip. This from a hair dye ad.

A woman walks stocking-footed, carrying her boots in her hand. Brian swears at his charts, though maybe he’s upset by her feet. Obviously, the woman is not from New York or Paris. Brian thinks I should dye my hair 6RB form L’Oréal. Clearly, his opinions are inhibiting my people watching.

Our flight is delayed until 8:20, yet due to confusion with military time, the board says 21:26. While the delay may indeed be infinite, the cookies Brian bought alleviate my pain. I am trying to drink water form a squirt spout, which is like walking through rain without an umbrella.

There is a woman with a three piece baby pink travel suit. Due to lost luggage, I was forced to buy a fuchsia sweater at Wal-mart. Editor’s note: the word fuchsia is Brian’s. Brian suggests I’m jealous of the three piece travel suit. I’m not in tune with my emotions enough to know.
There is a plane waiting, but it may be still sitting there from the previous departure at gate E29, 45 minutes ago. I’d like a hairbrush. Or to win a trip to Fiji. The captain has arrived to the gate. It seems that, coupled with the waiting plane, we have the right ingredients for travel, yet my butt remains grounded.

Update: cough is worse, water continues to spill, and Brian takes abuse as a result. Correction, I hit Brian due to excitement of captain’s boarding awaiting aircraft. Concerned it’s the Toronto flight. Brian kicks his feet while he coughs.

Our Canadian military wears green camouflage in the desert. A man waiting at gate E29 wears beige camouflage. Was there just a major distribution problem? Departure time on the screen is now in the past. Hopefully Delta has the technology to board & depart 5 minutes ago.

Continued attempts at the squirt spout, this time water all over my face. Brian narrowly avoids a cookie-related hissy fit.
Update: the pink suit is complemented by a bag with fruit pictures all over it, a pink scarf, white shoes & socks and a straw hat.

I momentarily took over Brian’s computer today, and on his behalf responded to an email from Rob Casey. I suggested on Brian’s behalf that they best meet at 2:30 am, moving their relationship from professional to personal. When Brian got back to his computer, an instant message said: “I don’t think you’d want to see me in my jammies, not pretty”. Yet strangely, Brian does not find this unusual. I’ve begun to wonder about the true nature of Brian and Rob’s relationship.

While discussing the past days’ events, Brian and I assess whether we smell like cigar smoke by smelling each other’s leather jacket sleeves. A man (who eludes my ridicule by looking normal) gives us a look as we’re sniffing, and we cower at the thought of his trip report.