Monday, January 19, 2009

I'll fleece 'em all

Has anyone ever spent 14 hours at LaGuardia? I highly recommend it as means to push your patience to the limit. I do realize that we had a very brutal amount of snowfall last wednesday and that it made flying "dangerous". Fine.

New York does not know what to do when it snows. When it hits, everyone freaks, a state of emergency is declared and the numbskullish behavior begins.

I watched my life slowly slipping through my fingers like sand while I paced awkwardly around the terminal. I was flying on a thrifty airline called American Eagle which had a makeshift outpost next to security. It was almost as pleasing as the waiting room for the DMV. Almost.

We were a raggity group of travelers flying economy from NY to Detroit. A chirpy, midwestern school teacher and secretary were among the group. I listened as the teacher kept going online to modify that week's hotlunch menu and read it outloud to her friend. "Monday will be double cheese lasagna, french fries, caesar salad and fudge brownies. Tuesday is grilled cheese, tater tots, salad bar and fudge brownies. Wednesday will be type 2 diabetes, hypertension and attention deficit disorder...." and so on.

I listened as she rattled off 2 weeks worth of mediocre, vein clogging menus. I turned my gaze upon her as it became apparent she was my age but dressed like my 52 year old mother. She had been thrashed very violently with the midwestern frumpy stick. She was by all rights an attractive plus size woman but it was obscured by a kicky Lane Bryant number, sensible shoes, one of those short, razored, moussed up haircuts and a "purse" that looked like a diaper bag made out of a quilt. I was terrified of ever becoming that. I was born and bred in the midwest and it was deeply ingrained in my heritage. It could happen without my consent or knowledge.

I got up to stretch my legs and go wait in a food line for a change of scenery. "Hmmmm, what kind of health conscious options do I have at the airport? Oh, none? Allright. M&M's and chips it is. Screw these people, they have no idea how incredibly healthy I am all the time and normally scorn this kind of eating. In public anyway. They eat like this all of the time and I am having a momentary breakdown and will bravely do so in public and join the ranks of gross, uneducated Americans. No one will even notice probably."

I fished around in my bag for money as a king size peanut M&M wrapper fell to the floor, ravaged and greedily drained of it's contents. "Oh fuck. When was this? Think, think, think. Oh right, Monday you stayed out really late thinking you had a chance for a fling. You KNEW you needed to go to bed but continued to suck down beer and drag out your time with a person who you know you shouldn't spend time with, got angry about the situation and stormed out of the bar and straight into a pizza joint followed by a trip into a bodega for a GIANT bag of M&M's.I remember now. It's all coming back.Jesus, Brooke. You're not supposed to eat wheat but you drank beer, ate pizza and had about 5 garlic knots at 3 in the morning. NO wonder you have such a bad stomach ache."

I got up to the cashier and quickly exchanged my gross snacks for an apple and bottled water. That would have to be my punishment. Besides, I didn't want anyone to know that I was secretly a fat person. A fat, midwestern person. Dammit, if I was going to pass as a bitchy, sadistic New Yorker I was going to have to try alot harder. They were going home to Detroit, I was going to Detroit to perform.

No one would ever know I grew up there. They would look at me as a style icon sent from the future, poised and graceful, unaware of how confident and coolly put together I was yet demanding attention everywhere I went. I would say things like, "Oh, how interesting... I didn't know things like that happened in Detroit", or "So, you don't have a subway system?" or, "Oh, me? I live in Manhattan. Yes, as in New York City."

I went back to my gate. The flight was cancelled. Snow was wildly whipping against the windows and I could't really make out the runway. Things were not looking promising. I looked at the departures monitor and flights were being cancelled left and right. I had my first show that night at 8pm and even though it was a Wednesday show, I didn't want to miss it and get $50 precious dollars knocked off my paycheck. I started to get angry but then realized there was no point. I just had to be hopeful that I could even get to Michigan that night.

The flight was terrifying as the plane served up a whopping 70 minutes of arctic turbulence and I was a shell of a person when we landed at 11pm---just a cool 13 hours later than anticipated. My parents were waiting for me in the parking lot and it was way past their bedtime. I quickly scurried to baggage claim to get my crap and get out of the damn airport. Okay suitcase, any minute now....any minute now. I watched and waited hopefully for the sight of it but knew in my heart it was somehow in Des Moines or some other retarded place undeserving of the only fashionable attire I possessed. The conveyor belt grinded to a halt and there was a small group of us who were empty-handed and giving each other the "No fucking way" look. We all bolted to the baggage claim office where the clerk was no longer sensitive to the bristlings of enraged travellers. It was very cut and dry. Our luggage had gone to Chicago. We would fill out a form and maybe receive it via UPS the following night.

I took my forms, climbed into my parents car, sprawled across the back seat and immediately started balling. Since I have lived in NYC by myself, this has been the typical greeting and departure hysterics they have come to know from me and think NYC is evil and causing me to lose my already threadbare sanity.

And on top of that, How, HOW was i supposed to gallavant around Metro-Detroit without my suitcase full of NYC garb? I couldn't afford to buy anything new because this pay check from the comedy club would be my sad, meager income for the week and I had already lost a night of work no thanks to La Guardia. I balled even harder.

Now, I know that I was blowing everything out of proportion. Yes, the 14 hour stay at the airport, terrifying flight and lost luggage added up to mental illness for anyone, but my biggest fear/annoyance was aimed at the prospect of seeming like I had nothing to show for living in NYC. The idea of borrowing an Eddie Bauer sweater from my mother to wear on stage the next night was too much to handle. I left the Midwest to chase bigger dreams and even though nothing bigger had happened yet, I could at least appear to be a New Yorker. I could at least wear an outfit that raised questions like, "Is that Joan Jett?",or "Who is this profound post-modern artist frequenting our humble bar?"

The next day I paced around the house waiting for UPS to show up before I had to head to the club. I had unfortunately worn something like a fashionable sweatsuit for travel purposes the day before so that was also not an option. I reluctantly opened my old closet in my childhood bedroom. It was full of prom and homecoming dresses. Maybe....No. I also had a ridiculous soccer jersey I had purchased in England when I was 17. Maybe....absolutely not.

I moved on to my mother's closet and looked at her age appropriate clothing. Sensible, comfortable and well, frumpy.


I realized that I soon would be dressed exactly like the woman I had been judging at the airport. Maybe she would even be there at the club and think to herself, "Now there is a comic I can relate to---I wonder who emroidered the teddy bears onto her vest?" I tried on the sweater vest and thought to myself that this life was easier. It made more sense. Why get dressed up to the nines when life revolved around church potlucks, and watching TV every night with your husband? Everyone was a good person and judged you for your piety and virtue, not how much your handbag cost. I mean, would anyone care or even notice since I would be blending in anyway? Aren't female comedians supposed to be fashion disasters? Who did I think I was fooling anyway? This is where I am from and it was about time I started having a little bit of hometown pride. The urge to eat casserole was overwhelming.

I was debating between a floor length, plaid jumper with a turtlneck underneath it or a spunky,floral 2-piece pant suit when the doorbell rang. It was UPS. Oh thank Christ. I had some skinny jeans and a military jacket to put on and some people to fool into thinking it was my first time here

No comments: