(**Note: I have not checked the spelling of LJ usernames used. I'll fix them when I get back. Promise!)
Maybe I look at life as one giant adventure, and that's why I'm lucky enough to have so many small ones in my journey. This past weekend, I had my first adventure before I left the ground.
Tina dropped me off at the airport after stewing in discontent for the entire car ride. I'd obviously done something wrong, as there was more than enough silence for me to get the hint.
I stepped out of the car, gathered my luggage, and was given the obligatory kiss. I winked and gave a grin, which was greeted with rolling eyes that disappeared back into the car and sped away.
I turned to the Skycap desk and handed my ID across for baggage check and my boarding pass. I received my pass as he took my luggage, and I tipped the man. I spun around, knowing I was late, and strode into the terminal.
About 100 feet into the terminal, before I reached the first security checkpoint, I glanced at my boarding pass. I stopped in my tracks for a moment when I realized that I had picked up the wrong pass somehow, despite having given my ID to the Skycap man. Yes, the first name was "Michael," but the last name was not "Dangler." It was "Dattoma." I checked my baggage claim ticket and found the same name there. I realized that my luggage was checked under a different name, and I was slightly confused.
I looked over to the ticket counter first, thinking that they might be able to resolve the issue. While I thought this idea might be excellent in theory, in practice it appeared that the line to that counter included the entire population of France (and I logically deduced that they were probably dirty and smelly as well).
Looking at my other option, which was to try to slip security and go through the gates anyway, I was unsure what to do. I knew I was already a bit late, and so I went for the simpler option: slip security and hope our tax dollars are being poorly spent.
I entered the line, handing my boarding pass and ID to the first security guard.
He looked at it for a reasonable amount of time, giving it what appeared to be due scrutiny and comparing the two documents. Suddenly he smiled, and handed the pass and my ID back, waving me through. I smiled and shuffled closer to the security gate.
The line moved slowly, but I reached the front soon enough. There, another man reached for my pass and ID. He looked tough, and I expected him to send me back to the ticket counter with a dark scowl. Imagine my surprise when he squinted at my documents, double-checking that they matched, and then smiled and said, "Staying in Chicago?"
"Nope. Transferring. Ending up in Kansas City."
"Oh, well. That's nice. Have a good flight." He returned my ID and pass with a dumb grin.
There was one last line of defense: the lady who checks your passes as you step through the metal detector. She looked like the security type. She would have looked perfectly at home in a police-fetish photoshoot.
I handed my pass to her, and pulled my laptop out of the case. I emptied my pockets and pulled off my shoes. Finally, I stepped through the gate.
Maybe I'm paranoid, or maybe I knew I was doing this all wrong. Either way, I expected sirens and men in riot gear to come flooding out of the doors behind the x-ray machine. But non of that happened.
Instead, I was given my ID and boarding pass, and asked to move along.
At this point, I didn't know what to do. I suddenly realized that the real Michael Dattoma was probably sitting in a dark room, tied to an uncomfortable chair with a light beating down on him, trying to explain that he actually had not picked up his boarding pass, and that he really needed to board his plane.
Worse, if he already had a pass, and I tried to board the flight with him already on board, how long would I be stuck in CMH waiting for them to realize that I was not actually a terrorist?
I sat at the gate for a while, mulling this over. I went back and forth over what to do and how to do it. Finally, I decided not to test security further than I already had (as even my luck has limits), as it would only potentially screw myself, Dattoma, or both of us out of our flight to Chicago, and walked up to the lady at the gate counter.
I showed her my ID and my pass, and explained that I'd gotten the wrong pass and had just now realized it. She compared the two documents, first my boarding pass and then my ID, and exclaimed, "Not even close!" and printed me a new pass. She explained that I had gotten a reprint of Dattoma's pass, but she never asked me how I got through security.
She handed me the new pass, and half an hour later, I was on my way to Chicago.
I would like to take a moment to recognize the CMH security, so please, wherever you are, take a moment to give a round of applause to the following personnel:
- The Skycap guy who gave me the wrong pass initially and checked my luggage poorly.
- Security Guard 1, who knows how to look like he cares.
- Security Guard 2, who is looking for terrorists to befriend.
- Security Guard 3, who could do well in the fetish modeling industry, but not so well in the air security industry.
My flight to Chicago was generally without incident, as was the flight to Kansas City. Landing in KC was another matter, though.
Hoping as I was to be met by copious boobies as I exited the gate, you can imagine my disappointment when I strode off the plane and saw not a single bared breast. Sighing, I hung around for 5 minutes right next to the gate, remembering that capriciouslass said she'd probably be a bit late. So I wandered off to the baggage claim (a pattern established at Desert Magic). I then wandered back to my gate and plopped down in front of the glass and waited. I watched, looking for a few specific things: 1) boobies, 2) women with no boarding pass and no baggage, and 3) more boobies.
I waited about 15 minutes more, and none of these things materialized, so I tried to call capriciouslass's cell phone, but I got voicemail, where I left a brief description of where I was and what I was wearing (sorry, it wasn't that exciting).
I went back and sat down, and shortly after I saw my welcoming squad. I saw kittenpants first, as I recognized her from her LJ user icon. On her left, I saw who could only be capriciouslass, looking every bit the mad scientist I thought she might be. Both were dressed in Renaissance Faire garb, and it was over the bodices that the breasts came into play. There was plenty to look at, I assure you, but I was not the only one whose head was turned. Apparently, airport security had no idea what to make of them, and the guards just looked at them with confused expressions.
Apparently, I was sitting right in front of the stairs they had come up, and we were all a bit confused as to how they had missed me and I had missed them. They'd wandered from one end of the terminal to the other, and were just now getting back to the beginning. Regardless, they found me, and we trundled off into the parking garage.
They fed me cake (with a good amount of rum) in the car as we drove off to capriciouslass's lab. It was out in the middle of nowhere (like much of Kansas City appeared to be).
We wandered in, and I got to see her lab, which was very mad scientist looking, with a nifty sign displaying what the Chaos Level for the day was. That day was, apparently, Chaos Level 5. We were given a tour, and then wandered out to the car to go to pick up saffronhare.
As we drove down to Overland Park to pick her up, we realized that no one actually knew how to get to her office. Apparently, everyone was supposed to know, but no one did. This caused a good amount of confusion (imagine that), and we decided to just play it by ear.
We exited the freeway, making a (wrong) guess as to which way to go. Fortunately, as we were making the wrong turn, kittenpants saw the office from the road, so we were able to turn around. When we got to the correct street, we found that it had been dug up and was not a valid turn, so we had to try a round-about way to get there. Fortunately, capriciouslass is a pretty good navigator, and she got us to the door with no problems.
We went in, and asked the receptionist if we could see saffronhare. She commented on kittenpants' and capriciouslass's outfits, asking where we were going. saffronhare eventually came out, and identified us as her kidnap squad. We went back to her office as she finished up quickly, and then we headed out.
Our next stop was Whole Foods, where zylch works. We surveyed the frozen foods aisle (which was very well organized, though I was looking for the freshest peas possible, and figured they must obviously be at the back), and eventually we decided to sit down and wait for her. We hung out in the cafe, and she eventually found us.
We walked over to a really nice Italian buffet, at which I planned to eat too much. We grabbed a table, and waited for triadruid and featherynscale. We started eating, and triadruid showed up about ten minutes into the meal. Of course, his arrival heralded the end of my time as the only man at a table full of beautiful women, but I think I managed to hide most of my disappointment.
A bit later, featherynscale showed up, and she sat down and ate with us. We ate and talked, and I got to know them all much better (placing faces to lj usernames is always a useful exercise), and I now understand their posts much better than I did.
We broke up shortly after, featherynscale and triadruid going back to work, and a few of us went over to saffronhare's house (after dropping her off at work again) and I got to meet agrnmn. I also was privledged to meet the Dingo, Princess Boredom, the Dragon, and Coatl, all of whom seemed pretty cool (and quite the handful). We talked for about an hour, and kittenpants wandered off to got to sleep, and then capriciouslass and I went back to her place so I could meet both the Younger Chaos Producer (YCP) and the Older Chaos Producer (OCP), her kids. She printed me off directions for Sunday (as well as a copy of the rules for K.U.R.S., which we might have to play when I'm next in town), and then took me back up to the airport, YCP and OCP in tow.
We got to the airport a little before 6 PM, and they went into the terminal with me. YCP had his GameBoy and was stuck in that, and OCP was bouncing off the walls in a kind of controlled chaos (it was really, really fun to watch).
When my mother and brother were almost in, their free time began to run short in the garage. For all they'd done for me that day, I would have felt very bad if they'd had to pay to park when all I needed was to be dropped off, so I reminded them of the time, and said I'd be fine waiting. They left, and I sat down and waited for my family to get off the plane.
Apparently, even though I was at the right gate according to the boards, they got off at a different gate and came and found me. We went out to the rental place for the car, and Mom asked how my flight had been, and wanted to be sure I wasn't waiting too long. I told her that I had only spent about an hour in the airport (much improved over the 12 hours I'd spent there 6 months ago) out of the nine hours between our flights. She was happy to hear that, and I probably looked like I'd had a very fun and relaxing day.
We hopped into the car, and drove out, spending the next few hours on the road. About half-way to Salina, we encountered a nasty looking storm cloud and very high winds, and so we ended up stopping in Salina around 10 PM.
On Saturday morning, we were eating by 6, and on the road by 6:30, after my mother got a very bad cup of coffee from McDonalds. We drove north toward Concordia, and then west toward Beloit, and eventually rolled into Downs around 8:30. We made very good time. We got back into the car after saying hello to everyone, and drove over to Osborne for the wedding rehearsal (despite how little play it may get in this essay, that is the main reason I went out there: to see my Uncle Ken get married). Everything went off without a hitch, and I was given my uncle's Bible to read from.
The day passed pretty slowly, and I managed to catch a catnap. We I woke up a bit before three (wedding at 4 PM), and was sent down to my Uncle's to pick up some wine and coolers. I knocked on his door, and got to meet his new puppy, Missy. She sneaked up behind me and I felt something nudging me in the back of the leg. I had no idea what it was until I turned around and saw her below me. She's a really shy dog, but unafraid, if that makes any sense.
Anyway, my uncle called for me to come in, and so I did. I stepped through the door, and into the kitchen, where I met my uncle in his towel and nothing else.
The most amusing thing was what he said next: "You aren't dressed yet?"
I rolled my eyes. "Well, I figured pants and a shirt would be an okay start. You look a bit lost, yourself." I think he suddenly remembered his towel at that point.
I grinned and grabbed the wine and started moving stuff out to the car. I got it all loaded up and drove it back to my Grandmother's house, and turned the keys over to my Aunt Patty so she could take it to the correct place.
I dressed quickly, and grabbed the Bible. I practiced a few more times on the passages I needed to read (1st John 4:16-19, and Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), and was out the door.
We got to the Church in plenty of time. I sat where I was supposed to be, and kinda hung out behind the altar.
The processional went off fine, and everyone got into place. Then the pastor called my soon-to-be Aunt Jeri by a different name: "Theresa". Now that doesn't sound so bad, and one could even laugh, except that Theresa is the name of a former girlfriend of Ken's. We got into the service, though, and it came time for me to read. I stood up, and read my biblical passages. I still kick myself for stumbling once over the word "hath", but I got it down pretty well.
I sat back down, and the couple lit the unity candle. Then we got into Communion, and suddenly, after all this talk of uniting the happy couple, after vows, and after everything else, they had to go sit apart. It was like the pastor was divorcing them already! I was shocked that they had to take communion 15 feet away from each other, and apparently I wasn't the only one.
Half the wedding party wasn't even served Communion, and the whole thing was just a debacle when my Aunt Mary was asked to take Communion in a way that she just didn't think was right! They were dipping the host into the wine, and apparently they don't do it that way at her church, and so she refused it. Not a real problem, except that she was first in line, and she had to explain why to the deacon! Fortunately, one of my family members trundled her off before she could make a huge scene.
Beyond that, the wedding went all right. We processed out, and the ushers got confused. There was speculation that this was the pastor's first wedding, but we didn't say anything.
After this, we went to the church next door for dinner, and it was mighty good. I took my Aunt Mary home (in her scandalized state after Communion, it was pretty easy), and then I headed out for the reception.
I stayed at the reception for a few hours, till about 10:30, and then I took my Grandmother and my Aunt Isabel home, where I crashed on a couch.
The next morning, we woke up, and went to a very nice breakfast in Downs with some excellent french toast. We said our goodbyes and made a mad dash for Kansas City.
We stopped down just after Topeka to call featherynscale, so I hit up some payphones. I called her up and left a message on her machine, or so I thought. Fortunately, I'm paranoid, and so I called saffronhare and tried to talk to her, but when someone answered (I assume it was agrnmn), he obviously couldn't hear me. Fearing the worst, I tried all the other phones in the place, but they were all out of order. I went back out to the car, and my mom gave me a cell phone. Why she didn't give me that in the first place, I have no idea. Anyway, I called featherynscale, and left another message, and then called saffronhare (this time getting ahold of her and being able to speak, not just hear). She said she'd get ahold of everyone else (whoever that was), and they'd meet us at the designated place.
Well, we got to the restaurant in Kansas City exactly as I figured we would (remarkable, really), and waited around for others to show up. Around 30 minutes later, bother featherynscale and triadruid walked up, and we went inside to eat. I introduced my mother and my brother, and we sat down. We ordered mushrooms on the recommendation of both featherynscale and triadruid, and they were almost disgustingly good. I'm very happy I tried them (thanks!).
We then had our meals, and made small talk over lunch. As we were about to leave, featherynscale picked up the check. I didn't quite know what to say, so this will need to suffice:
"You rock, my mother wanted to say thank you again, and I'd go out on another lunch date with you anytime, but I get to pay next time! :)"
After that, it was off to the airport, and back to Columbus. The parents got in just fine, but I got delayed in St. Louis due to storms for about an hour. I finally rolled in at 1:10, Brian having picked me up at the airport, and I collapsed into bed very hard.
It's one of the best weekends I've ever spent in Kansas, thanks mostly to the people I've met on LJ. I'm amazed at how cool they are.
I'll be at Wellspring for the next few days, so completely off line. See you on Tuesday!