Thursday, July 28, 2016

Out of Heidelberg

To be honest, I was a little surprised that we managed to get to the airport this time without any last minute hiccups, like finding out six days before your flight that your children do not have valid passports. Or having your patient-challenged wife check the Homeland Security ESTA application the night before flying and noticing that a) you got her birthday wrong and b) you used her maiden name. This is the same wife, by the way, who managed to break two of her toes two days before our last trip to the States.  But I digress. My point was that it was nice to finally board an airplane without anyone doing anything silly. Well, almost.

After vocally encouraging silly posers to 'get on the plane and stop embarrassing your mother', I found my seat. As luck would have it, I had a seat on my own and Angie was stuck in the middle section one row back with the boys. By luck, I of course mean that I did the online check-in last night, which included seat assignments, and I thought that Angie would enjoy the bonding time with the boys. Nine and a half hours of bonding, to be exact.

Shortly before takeoff, I noticed a curtain separating my seat from the front section. Just above the curtain rod was a sign that said "STOW DURING TAKEOFF". Since we were taxiing out, I thought I would simply do what the stewardess had obviously forgotten to do. I started to slide the curtain to the stow position, but as soon as I touched it, the whole thing came crashing down.

The stewardess, who was buckling herself in, whipped around and gave me a look that told me that she is obviously married. I shrugged my shoulders and turned to Angie for support. She didn't have a whole lot of that, but she did whip out her camera and cackled loudly enough for the pilot to notice.

I tried reattaching the curtain, but the stewardess started angrily snapping and motioning for me to put the curtain down. Luckily I am used to women snapping orders at me, so I dropped the curtain to my feet and patiently waited for takeoff.

Shortly after takeoff, I noticed a wagon coming down the aisle serving champagne and an option of two snacks. As it got closer, I could see that one was a nice looking chicken-pesto dish and the other was some type of beef in a red wine sauce. My mouth was watering and I was about to turn around and ask Angie which dish she was going to have when the cart stopped at the row in front of me and then returned to the front of the plane.

Some people learn something new every day, but my brain has been 99% full for some time now, so I'm still surprised on those rare occasions when it does happen. Angie never is, but I tend not to dwell on what could possibly surprise her brain. Anyway, what I discovered is that the curtain that my muscular biceps had inadvertently ripped out of its tracks was actually there to separate the Business Class from the common folk.

When we landed, Angie and I, but mainly Angie, were running a tad bit short on patience. When we got on the AirTrain to get from the terminal to the rental car, Tommy asked what would normally be a normal question.

'Papa, what is an AirTrain?'

'It's a TRAIN that's in the AIR!'

Maybe it was my tone, but David giggled and Tommy suddenly stopped asking questions. 

When we got to the rental car hub, we told the boys to sit on the bench and behave. I guess we should have been more specific, because Tommy interpreted our instructions to mean that he could mount his new suite case and zip around the waiting area making race-car noises.

For better or worse, Angie and I are used to tuning out disobedient children, so we ignored Tommy Samsonite and went to pick up our rental car. I had booked this online with Advantage and was quite proud that, after spending multiple hours, I had found a deal that would cost $1,500 for three weeks, with unlimited mileage and insurance including Angie as an additional driver, in case I decided that cruising on the sidewalk would be fun.

'Hi, the name's Johnson - I'm here to pick up our rental car.'

'Do you want unlimited mileage?'

'Yes, I already booked that.'

'Mmh. I don't see that. Would you like insurance?'

'Yes, I already booked that.'

'Mmh. I don't see that. Would like your spouse to be able to drive?'

'Not really, but I already booked that.'

'Mmh. I don't see that. Your total is $3,000. How would you like to pay?'

After nearly ten minutes of arguing with the staff that their offer was nowhere near what I had booked, we walked away. Then we went down to Budget and asked for the same exact deal.

'No problem, Mr. Johnson, that will be $1,530 and your spouse is, of course, covered without charge.'

And with that, we were on our way to Jen and Doyle's, the coolest kid-less married types in New York. The boys were dead, but they managed to keep it together for pizza.

I was dead, too, but managed to keep it together for beer. 

After a delicious culinary welcome to New York, we made our way back to Jen and Doyle's. Peter had insisted on bringing his oversized pizza pillow with him, so he was all set. Luckily, David and Tom found an acceptable alternative. Her name is Olive.  

Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we flew to New York to visit Doyle and Ms. Jen.
David: That we came to New York with Doyle and Ms. Jen.
Tom: That we went to visit Ms. Jen in New York.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That we had to fly for more than 8 hours.
David: That Tom was annoying me in the car.
Tom: That we needed to drive and fly for so long. 

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to eat Captain Crunch and maybe go to Central Park.
David: I want to have a lot of fun with Doyle and Ms. Jen.
Tom: I want to have fun with Doyle and Ms. Jen and Olive.

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