Great Day


Man, what a day. It was my 38th birthday to be exact, and I was heading to San Francisco for ACEP Scientific Assembly.

I was up at 5:30 that day, in the shower and ready by 6:45, unusual for me. I hate mornings. I went over to my husband who was still sound asleep to tell him goodbye, and the poor man rolls over and before he even wakes up he mutters, “Do you have your phone charger?” Then, “Do you have your Relpax?” (I have horrible migraines.) Does this guy know me, or what?

So we load up the car and off we go. My friend and fellow emergency physician Beth Phillips drove, and we hit Birmingham airport in good time. And that included a Chik-Fil-A stop. It was in the parking lot that I had my first funny of the day.

There is only one elevator working. Great. Because that’s a good idea in an airport parking lot. We get on with our ginormous bags, thinking it won’t be crowded. Then – what the hell? – three more people get on. The elevator stops and everyone gets out while I hold the door open button. But the frickin’ thing closes with me in it! So I start to cuss in German and I can hear my friend laughing my entire trip back up to the fifth floor.

Going through security, I provoked an impromptu singing of “Happy Birthday” by two of the TSA agents checking bags who happened to see my ID. Kinda like at Applebee’s or Benihana.

Finally we board (30 minutes late), and we find our seats and get settled. We people-watch as passengers are trickling in, and we notice a few things.

First there was a lady in the seat in front of us who had some questionable earrings. They were little tombstones with the letters “RIP” engraved. Now, I’m not usually superstitious and maybe she was just wearing them for Halloween, but I’m pretty sure that is the one piece of jewelry you should NOT wear on an airplane.

About this time, Beth, who was sitting in the aisle seat, turned to me and said, “Did you see the inmate?”
“Uh, nope. Missed that one.”
“Yeah, he was wearing shackles on his ankles!”
“Well, damn!” I told her. “When there are inmates on planes in the movies, it never ends well for the regular passengers!”

So let’s recap. We have RIP Lady, and now there is an inmate on the plane who probably has carried some microscopic laser key in the filling of his #18 molar. He will use it to escape the shackles and then stealthily take out the federal marshal with him and hijack the plane with his gun-disguised-as-a-shoelace. Fantastic. At least it will make great fodder for my Twitter feed, I pondered.

Finally, a lady runs on the plane with another, much more well-endowed lady, running (jiggling, actually) after her. I watched with wide eyes and jaw dropped as the second lady (an airline employee) ran up to First Lady and threw a large green feather boa around her neck. She jiggled back down the aisle, and seconds later she reappeared with a black headband she jammed down on First Lady’s head. She was gone as fast as she appeared. Never figured out what that was about.

We land at DFW, and after making the 14-minute connection (score!), we were able to settle down in our seats. After a pretty uneventful trip, except for trying to control our riotous laughter while watching “Horrible Bosses” on my iPad, we landed at SFO.

Beth and I check in at our hotel, the Intercontinental. We get to our room, and there is a little letter for me from the manager. And – I hope – complimentary cashews and fruit. At a place like this, they probably charge like $8 for each individual nut. As I wondered if I’d just eaten $16 worth of nuts, I realized that I’d never gotten a personalized letter from the management before! What’s more, I can actually afford a Diet Coke from the mini-bar! Looks like I’m moving up in the world.

The fun continued at the bar. C’mon, I only had one drink. It was some sort of concoction with rum and lime and mint, and it was yummy. I really wanted another one, but my husband’s voice echoed in my head, “You’re too little to drink that much.”

I proceeded to order what was either fried thymus or pancreas (aka, sweetbreads), and an entrée with wonderful pink carrots. I had no idea there was such a thing as pink carrots. I also had no idea I’d be willing to eat what is essentially fried glands. But they were tasty. It made me feel a little Hannibal Lecter-esque. All I needed was the fava beans.

So my 38th birthday was chock full of new experiences. I went to a city to which I’d never been, I was serenaded by TSA officers, I witnessed people tempting the fates on air travel, I ate fried and sautéed glands and possibly several hundred dollars worth of cashews and diet Cokes. And, I’m sure it won’t end there.

I wonder what they are charging for the pistachios.

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