[I wrote this one last December while traveling, and didn't get around to posting it. I then either forgot about it or decided it wasn't funny enough, and set it aside. Last week, just after posting "Flightmares", I found it and decided it was good enough, so here you go. I mention all of this mostly so that if anyone notices the copyright date and wonders why, that's the story.
I should also make one thing clear for those who do not already know. My wife's name is Janet. My ex-wife is Jane. And if you think THAT hasn't caused some consternation when writing an e-mail to one or the other... --Liam]
Last essay, you may recall, I spent a fair amount of time making fun of myself. This is a common theme in these essays, indeed some would say that my entire oeuvre consists of different amusing ways of saying "Wow, isn't Liam (the senior) a serious bonehead!"
And yet one of my friends complained that I took it a bit too far, and that I really should be nicer to myself. Of course, the truth is that I'm an egotistical son of a gun, and so if I were to give you my honest opinion of myself, not a one of you would ever want to be around me again.
Nevertheless, since this is the third time over the course of my humor essay writing "career" that I've heard this complaint, perhaps it's time to see if I can write an entire essay without saying anything negative about myself while still meeting the three criteria of a successful humor essay:
- Enough humor to make you laugh, or at least chuckle appreciatively.
- An engaging subject that keeps you reading until the end, and most importantly,
- Enough words to form two and a half pages of length.
Tonight, I'm writing this in a Comfort Inn at the Atlanta airport. Atlanta, you see, is conveniently located at the exact center between Minneapolis, MN and Manchester, NH, if you're Delta Airlines or smoke a lot of crack (which I am not prepared to stipulate are necessarily mutually exclusive conditions).
This past week, Janet and Liam (the younger) and I have been in Powell, WY visiting my oldest two children and my ex-wife, because my company requested that I do something about the excess of paid leave days in my "leave bank", and frankly there was little in terms of vacation bliss that either Janet or I could think of that would equal spending a week with a woman who still owns half of the things I once owned and who regularly speaks of me in terms that, quite frankly, I can't repeat in this essay or I will violate it's first tenet.
And to avoid violating that tenet (in letter, if not in spirit) I will point out that this was technically Janet's idea, so I am not saying anything bad about myself when I point out just how completely bone-headedly stupid it was. (And for the benefit of readers who happen to be still married to me, please forgive that. I really don't want to give away ANOTHER half of my stuff!)
Seriously, though, it wasn't really that bad an idea; Andrew & Katie have been asking almost since the moment of conception that we one day bring Liam out to Wyoming so that they could introduce him to the other half of their family, their friends, and the concepts of "big", "flat", "brown" and "boring" so absent in New Hampshire living and yet so prevalent in that particular area of Wyoming in December.
And the truth is, although being married to each other drove each of us crazy, Jane and I can still be civil and even friendly to each other in small doses, into which category (small) "sleeping at her house for a week" does not necessarily fall, but I digress.
We actually had a pretty good trip, and while there are vast comedic depths to be plumbed in the concept of spending a week around ex-wives and ex-in-laws, some of whom can somehow convey the concepts of "technically polite" and "absolute disgust" simultaneously (throw in the concept of "sucking on a lemon since birth" and you have one person I saw this week, although in the interest of not suddenly receiving a court order for an increase in child support, I shan't identify whom), the truth is that with a single exception, everyone was pleasant and warm and sharing (a bit too sharing, if you include that my former mother-in-law had a bit of a stomach flu, but again to be fair, she postponed seeing us for as long as possible to try to avoid passing it on).
And so we shall skip ahead to last night. Less than 24 hours ago. The nearest convenient airport large enough to support commercial aircraft that are not powered by giant rubber bands is nearly two hours away from Powell in Billings, MT, and in order to make all of the connections necessary to get home, you have to start your first flight no later than 9am, so for the less mathematically gifted, that meant we'd planned to get up at 5am and out by 5:30. Which of course meant that getting to sleep was almost impossible, and along about 3 a.m. I finally managed it… only to be woken up less than an hour later by a phone call from Northwest Airlines, notifying us that for various reasons, our first flight was being delayed by an hour and a quarter, which was going to make us miss our connection, and could we possibly get on the 6am flight instead?
Math again. It's almost 4 a.m. Even assuming we can get the car packed up, get Liam up and be on the road in 15 minutes, we can't get to Billings before 6. Add to that returning the rental car, checking our luggage and getting through the security line, there was simply no way we could make it.
Another choice was to be "re-routed", a process nearly as enjoyable as having a surgeon tell you that they've run out of clean scalpels, and so for your exploratory surgery, he plans to have rabid wombats chew open your chest cavity.
The final option was to delay our return trip for a day and be re-booked on the same itinerary the next day, but as I've already said, we'd been in my ex-wife's house for a week, and so the wombats were looking pretty good.
But here's the thing experienced travelers will tell you: Agreeing to be re-routed is kind of like agreeing to take just one hit of heroine: it almost always leads to another… and another… and another… until you're crawling, wild eyed to any supplier trying to get that next "fix" that will eventually get you, well, home.
And that is how we have ended up in a hotel in Atlanta, paid for by a big-time pusher named Delta when Northwest cut us off. Tomorrow morning, if the gods smile on us, we hope to find ourselves connecting home through Anchorage by way of Ganymede.
Wish us luck!
(Please note: While I promised to not say anything negative about myself, and while interpersonal relationships (and truth) prevent me from being particularly negative about my former in-laws, I never promised not to be negative about the airline companies. If you have any objections to how they are portrayed within this essay, then I have three thoughts.
- First, what's next, not being allowed to make fun of Chicago politicians, al Qaeda and the Tele-Tubbies (three of the most evil forces the human race has yet devised)?
- Second, have you actually BEEN on a commercial flight at any time since Orville Wright stiffed Wilbur a bag with three peanuts in it?
- And third, perhaps you need to find a different source for your humor, such as cnn.com or the repair manual for a 1974 AMC Pacer.
Copyright © December 9, 2008 by Liam Johnson. http://liam-humor.blogspot.com