Have you ever had a dream that you are in a giant parking garage, and you can't find your car? You wander wander wander looking for it. Your car is silver. In the dream all the other cars in the lot are silver, too, which makes it even more infuriating. You think you see your car and you get closer, but no, this car isn't your car, because your car has a dent in it and this one doesn't. You keep circling, all the while looking over your shoulder for Ted Bundy types who may lure you over by asking you to help them put their luggage in their trunk. You can hear your footsteps and it is really spooky. You have checked every car in the green section of "F28" twice, and none of them is yours. You are all alone in the parking garage, the sad, somber parking garage, and you can't find your motherfucking car.
This wasn't a dream, people, this really happened to me last night. I drove my friend Orla to the San Francisco Airport, parked in green F28 near the United section, and we got out and proceeded to look for The World's Greatest Airport Lounge before she got on her flight home to Connecticut.
When we first arrived, our mood was up. Who wouldn't be in an "up" mood with a fun-lovin' redheaded Irish chick in tow? Orla is a gem; the one person who did "half-speak" with me for an entire year. By this I mean we would say half of words, like instead of "ridiculous" we'd say "ree-dick," or instead of "hilarious" we'd say "hill-air." Whatever the word was, we'd cut it. It drove everyone else craze but we didn't care. It only backfired a few times, like when a co-worker's parents were visiting and Orla was eating some chips in front of them. She couldn't stop munching, and let out, "Well, I'm a-dick!" (Addicted.)
"Make sure you get a reece," she told me, refering to a receipt from the parking attendant.
So like I was saying, Orla's a nut and we are quite the pair. Between the two of us we made three friends from the car to the check-in desk. First there was the guy in the elevator who had the Joy Division T-shirt. Then there was the guy in the line who had tattooed calves and a big duct-taped cooler full of meat. Then there was a pilot. He had what can only be described as an Air Force mouth chiseled, confident lips able to gingerly relay the long vowel sounds that go into the phrase, "Goose, them bogies are like fireflies all over the sky!"
"Ooooh, a pilot," said Orla, who will flirt with any organism above unicellular.
"Yes ma'am," he said to her with a tip of his hat. We asked him if he knew of any good bars in the area. You know, near the United check in and all. He didn't, but suggested the International terminal.
At this point we were ready to chat up some fellow travelers but still hadn't seen one dang lounge yet, despite many repetitions around the terminal. First we tried the mezzanine, which was basically a walkway to a Peet's and a Burger King. No luck. Then we went back down a level and tried to follow the signs to the Anchor Steam Brewery (Gordon Biersch is there, too!).
"Sorry, you can't go past this point without a ticket," said an official-looking dude. I kindly asked him where the bars were that you could go to if you didn't have a ticket. He didn't know of any. I realized at this point that the terrorists have indeed won. No longer can we hang out in an airport bar without first paying hundreds of dollars and being searched. "Totally ree-dick," said Orla.
"Yeah," I rejoined, "Way lew-dick." (Ludicrous.)
Finally, we made it to the international section and found a food court. Behold, red-faced foreigners were drinking beer and wine! Where ever did they find such things? (Turns out the lady with panini stand was selling it.)
We sat down and took a load off. I had been carrying Orla's tennis rackets and golf bag around and my dogs were barkin'. We snuggled into a Naugahyde booth in the center of the vast room. People were scattered here and there, and a table full of cops were to the left of us on a coffee break. Very depressing. Not exactly what I had pictured for our fun night out at an airport lounge. Goddamn Osama bin Party Pooper. We had spent so much time trying to find a stupid bar, though, that we were too tired to mingle anyway. Our evening, like our use of half-words, had been cut short.
"It's OK, St. C," she said to me, "I still had a fan-tas time."
I gave Orla a big hug and saw her off, then I headed to my car. Sort of. You know the rest. I spent another hour looking for it. I had just reached the tears stage of frustration when I realized that I had been on the wrong level. It was green F28, yes, but it was green F28 Level 2 that I wanted, not Level 1. Goddamn terrorists.