United is such a tease. They love to set these ridiculously short connection times just to get the ol' blood pressure skyrocketing. Landing in Chicago about the time my connection was boarding, I raced from terminal B to terminal C just in time to jump in at the end of the line. I handed the gentleman my boarding pass. He slid it into the machine and I heard a buzz. Not a good buzz. A tv game show you-just-lost-a-million-dollars bad answer buzz. A buzz warning of something wrong that is going to take a while to fix and visions of already jam-packed overhead storage ran through my mind. Damn! What now!? Then the gentleman smiled, ripped up my boarding pass, handed me a new one and said "Merry Christmas!" Completely confused I looked down at the boarding pass. Seat 6a. SEAT 6A! Business class!!! Free upgrade! YEAH! I did my little happy dance and bolted up the tunnel.
For the first time that I can recall, everything went smoothly. No lost laptops, no missed conections, no leopard spotted undergarments flying out of my carry-on at security, no circling over Wisconsin, no lost luggage, no stolen items from luggage, no bursting into tears at customer service, no running out of fuel, no confiscating of mascara, no freezing next to the emergency exit, no cranky flight attendents. Plus... I was upgraded to (begin to) make up for all of the above happening to me on my last flight back to Paris. Amen and pass the complementary cocktail!
On my last trip back to San Francisco for Thanksgiving, I made a brief detour through Atlanta for the opening of the latest, hottest, hippest joint in town. One of the owners is a former co-worker from a Very Large Software Company just down the road off 101. Not realizing that it takes the same amount of time to fly from Frankfurt to Atlanta as it does to fly from Frankfurt to San Francisco, I arrived in Atlanta bleary-eyed and exhausted but no rest for the weary. A quick stop at the drug store to replace my confiscated mascara and face lotion (I love flying!), a quick change at the hotel, and it was off to opening night. Click here to get down at the Lowdown....
This is an article submitted to a 1999 Louisville Sentinel contest to find out who had the wildest Christmas dinner. It won first prize.
As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them.
What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings were overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.
One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown. If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You're kidding me!" "Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.
I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.
Finding what I wanted was difficult. "Love Dolls" come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for "Lovable Louise." She was at the bottom of the price scale.
To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination. On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours, Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.
The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.
We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner. My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked. My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll." "Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut. "Where are her clothes?" Granny continued.
"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, to steer her into the dining room. But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?" Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on, Granny, hang on!"
My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, "Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?" I told him she was Jay's friend. A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.
The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.
The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants. Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.
It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.
Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health. And Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies.
These leaves were so beautiful, this picture (or more likely the person taking the picture - me!) doesn't do them justice. The red were so vibrant and the greens so deep, I stopped, grabbed my camera and started snapping. You don't see that too often in downtown Palo Alto. Paris, yes. Palo Alto, no. Hence the look of surprise on the people walking by.