Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Educating Joe

Air travel is really getting on my nerves and all these new rules and regulations just make no sense to me. So, there I was at London Heathrow to catch my flight to Brussels and I had one of those e-tickets so I could avoid the check-in lines and just help myself. I am all for DIY customer service as I tend to get better service just doing it myself. So, after a gruelling 15 minute journey on the Heathrow Express from Paddington, I found myself in front of one of those check-in machines and without being asked my preference, I was issued a boarding pass for seat 15F. I may be old fashioned, but I prefer single digit seating. Do you think they care? No. Then, as though I had nothing better to do during my 3 hour wait for my flight, such as shop for all sorts of duty free goodies, I had to stand in a non-moving line to drop off what a few short weeks ago would have been my carry-on.

That line took 45 minutes, twice as long as the old check-in process where a real human used to offer mediocre service with a forced smile. At least you got to say if you preferred a window, aisle or single digit seating. Standing in line, I did notice a large number of rather plump, lesbian looking lasses, which made me feel suddenly safe. I figured if anything mechanical should happen to the plane, who better than a lesbian to get it sorted. Power tool Barbie who comes with her own beer belly, greasy fingernails and 24-piece socket set. I finally managed to check my cabin approved suitcase and then, as though I were at Disneyland, had to stand in yet another line, this time for security. I don't even know why I bother getting dressed. Take off the belt, shoes, ring and wristwatch, and toss out all grooming products. Asking a gay man to toss out his grooming products is unforgivable. What is a gay man if not properly producted? Productus ergo sum.

And then come the pieces that make no sense… A man is only allowed to take on one piece of carry-on. A woman can take two, provided one of them is her oversized handbag, or worse, infant child. I am sure my luggage is far less annoying on the flight than that 6 month old the mother refuses to check in. And then, as soon as one gets through the security check, there is a full Boot's Pharmacy just on the other side where one can purchase all the things they have just tossed out. I don't understand and am hoping someone can explain all of this nonsense to me. If we can't take toiletries, fine, but don't make me toss them and then allow me to purchase them in the departure lounge.

So the clock ticked and sands went through the hourglass and soon I was on my way to Brussels for the rest of the weekend. Joe picked me up and whisked me into the city where we were almost immediately summoned by Nik to have some pre-dinner cocktails, but Joe and I had to bring the basil and mint. Normally that's not a problem, but it was a bit late and the shops were closed. We knew that to fail could mean no cocktails, so we had to be inventive. Joe used his very best Egyptian at the local Egyptian place and they promptly gave him enough mint for 2 days worth of Mojitos. We went to a few night shops before we found one where we were able to purchase a wilting basil plant. We were now armed and ready to get dangerous. Once again Nik proved his mastery with a blender and we were soon clinking glasses and filling Joe in on our London excursion while passing time before our dinner reservation.

Dinner meant champagne and grappa, followed by Mojitos at Guru. I didn't like that place at all and made sure to be annoying enough as to get my way and soon we were just off Grand Place, having drinks in the street, running into friends from Amsterdam who were also unexpectedly in town for the weekend. This went on until the very wee hours and Joe and I took a taxi back to his place only to realize he had left his keys in the car which we had stowed outside the restaurant. That meant walking and complaining. I am very good at doing both at the same time, just ask anyone. After 3 hours of sleep, I was wide awake and ready for brunch.

We all met at Tea and Eat where we had eggs any style, coffee or tea and assorted fresh juices. I was in brunch heaven. We ate and ate and the hours ticked by so slowly and relaxed and before we knew it, it was time for post brunch cocktails so Joe, Graham, Robert, Kris and I found a terrace in the drizzle and promptly ordered Mojitos Barramundo (topped off with champagne) and made fun of people. I try not to be judgmental, I really do but I was told by Graham that one should always play to one's strengths. Wise words from a wise man.

Unfortunately, there was furniture that needed moving and so we cut the cocktails short and sped off to assist in relocating one rather large sofa. I don’t carry but I expertly laid the blanket down on the ground and made sure the automatic lights stayed on. I left the lifting to Joe and Nik and gave them oohs and aahs of approval. Actually, I made up cheers for encouragement… “One, two, three, four, get the sofa out the door…” I was actually convinced that they would get the sofa lodged in the stairwell, so on the first trip I made sure to go down in advance so as not to be stuck in a house with no tapas or lemon stuffed olives. Soon, the drama of moving that blasted sofa was behind us and we all converged on Nik’s place for Cosmos and Mojitos, gourmet pizza, Absolutely Fabulous and season 2 of Desperate Housewives. None of could believe that Joe had not ever seen one single episode of AbFab - He had never heard the names Edwina Monsoon or Patsy Stone. Who knows what other dark skeletons he has in his closet and I am convinced we have our work cut out for us.

All good things ultimately come to an end and soon it was tearful goodbyes all around with promises to do this all again real soon.

1 comment:

  1. nik gantchev26/9/06 15:42

    Out of a very very annoying 4-hour flight from Zurich to Amsterdam (via Brussels, mind you) I am now comitted to share a bit of joy with all ya faithfull: How to mix and match Frozen Berryjitos:

    1 generous part Havan Club (forget clean Baccardi -it's too cheap), half a part Razz, dash of Skyy vodka, as much lime as you have lying around, and a generous bunch of fresh mint leaves (like the ones Joe sourced from the Egyptian restaurant).

    Fill up a blender jug half-way with ice, mix the rums and vodka and while blending add the lime juice and mint leaves. Blend at high speed until the mint leaves are finely chopped ..... serve in chilled lime-sugar rimmed glasses and top up with fresh berries ....

    How very yummmmm!