Sarah Heads To A Book Signing In Santa Barbara
Notes from Santa Barbara, Day 2
- People act funny if you offer them assistance. While it’s completely normal to hold a door open for someone in the midwest, when you do it at the fancy grocery store here, strangers mistake you for an employee. I helped a woman reach some sugar from the top shelf of an aisle, and she said “Thank you so very much. That’s why I come here, the employees are just so nice.” I told her that I didn’t work there and she looked at me as though I had just stepped off another planet. I think she thought I was kidding.
- The shopping carts were deceivingly small at aforementioned store, and while I think it might be impossible to shop for more than a family of two with one of these carts, I also noticed a distinct lack of junk food. This may well have tied into the distinct lack of morbidly obese people in sweatpants shopping there. I’ve never felt like such a worthless fat bastard.
- There was a mild rainstorm that blew through here yesterday, thereby sending local news outlets into gravitas-laden fits of predictions of doom. I loved it. Almost as much as I love the fact that in this town? Well heeled women wear high heeled rain boots. I didn’t even know they MADE such things. I know what The Wife is getting for Valentines Day next. (Didn’t you know about this problem I have? Read about it here)
- Go into a Border’s book store in Goleta, California, and then go into a Border’s book store in Springfield, Missouri. Same store, same corporate ownership, same layout (sort of) and guess what? Working on two totally separate worlds. In Springfield, people will line up for (literally) days when Sarah Palin comes to a book signing (albeit at a Barnes & Noble), and both chains feature her book, Glenn Beck’s loony tome and other assorted conservative pundits prominently. In Goleta they still have a large section devoted to Obama love anthems with titles like “Obamanos!” which appeal to the Hispanic Democrat in all of us. Of course, it’s marketing and product placement. Palin would no sooner come to sign books in Santa Barbara as wrestle Barbara Walters in a jello-filled inflatable pool; she prefers to go rogue on friendly turf.
- Speaking of bookstores, I went into a locally owned shop that carries really cool kids books, and I noticed that their cell-phone use policy is Draconian and clear. They hate cell phone being used in their shop, a fact that you can’t help but notice due to the half dozen signs stating this position. I can respect that, but there were a few obnoxious high-end ladies who felt that those rules did not apply to them. This led to the cashiers getting surlier and glaring at said ladies while pointing to the signs. This did not, in any way, slow down the mobile yakkers. I was happy to pay for the book and get out of there before the whole thing escalated into violence and the ladies ordered their assistants to attack. From their phones.
- Next up? A day trip down to L.A. with a good friend who happens to be an author. I told him I want to watch him “work”. I hope his version of work includes cocktails and bullshitting with others because that would absolutely cement my desire to write full time. I’ll let you know.
So the direct flight from Springfield to LAX was an hour late in departure. Why? Glad you asked – it turns out that getting mouthy with flight attendants will get your ass tossed off of a plane, post haste. I’m not sure what sparked the whole incident (something about overbooking), but at some point Todd the flight attendant turned off his sing-songy voice, let his testicles drop and boomed out from the front of the aircraft “THAT’S IT! YOU’RE OFF THIS FLIGHT!!” Then the object of his angry passion had to walk to the front of the plane, where a heated debate ensued between Todd, his good buddy Ken and the third flight attendant, Patty. Captain Michelle came out of the cockpit, and inflammatory words such as “disrespect”, “rude” and “vile woman” were being bandied about in hissing voices. They took their party out into the jet walk, where I imagine Captain Michelle smacked them all around and told everyone to stop whining like sissies, she had a plane to get off the ground. Eventually the offending passenger was let back on the plane, whereby she had to make the walk of shame back to her seat, wiping tears and enduring the gauntlet of the curious. And that’s how we began.
I sat next to a very nice school principal from Antelope Valley named Susan; her sons are firefighters and she’s a Harley rider, but most importantly, she was willing to talk trash with me about the other passengers. This is the kind of connection you want with fellow travelers. It not only helps pass the time, but allows you to vent to someone when informed that a can of soda is going to set you back two dollars. Nice lady.
Upon arrival at LAX, the first thing I notice is the prodigious amount of good looking women hanging out there and looking bored. Accompanying this surplus of attractive females are an equal amount of sleazy looking guys who look like they are either trying out for “The Real Dirtbags of LA County” or some boy band that has as its dress code very skinny jeans and hair done like Kate Gosselin. Three steps off the jetway and I hear people being rude to one another. The City of Angels doesn’t change much, really.
Buns greets me with a hot coffee, having somehow buffaloed his way through security (take THAT, TSA) and I am very much impressed by his slithering wherewithall that allows him to circumvent the Homeland Security system. I throw my bags into the back of his German sportscar and watch with amusement as he refuses to pay the parking attendant with a bill smaller than a twenty. There’s no “I’m sorry, that’s all I have”, or “I don’t know what to say, I apologize”. No. When the attendant says “You need to pay with a smaller bill”, Buns looks at him and says, simply, “No.” The detente continues until the poor sap finally cracks, and breaks my brothers 20-spot. Another victory in the land of the aggressive. As if to prove his point, Buns then roars out past the gate, cutting off another driver whom he refers to as a “filthy douchebag” and we’re off.
This site is hitting the road. For the next week, I’ll be back in the arms of madness; I’m going home to California to observe that most holy of sacraments – my brother Buns is turning 30. Since he went and carelessly found a “relationship” in the time between my purchase of an airline ticket and the actual departure, I’m harboring no illusions beyond that of relegation to third wheel status. That’s okay, though, because I’ll use the opportunity to steal one of his vehicles and scatter around the state, visiting friends, sowing discontent and fomenting rebellion at every stop. For a change of pace, I thought I’d use Half Past Awesome as a rambling travelogue. I’ll keep pictures to a minimum, so as to protect the various characters and the unwilling. Wherever the truck stops is where I’m spending the night, and we’ll let it fly from there. What better place to start than the Springfield/Branson National Airport, Lube & Tune?
In all fairness, I love travel for the sole reason that it allows me to observe the mundane and insane and everything in between, all under the heading “people watching”. Springfield, Missouri is no different. In the past twenty minutes, I’ve watched an irate dad come unhinged on some poor soul on the other end of his phone call and three old farmers grousing about this new terminal, complaining about fresh food being served, whereas the restaurant at the old terminal was famous for food poisoning (“yeah, but you could at least smoke in there! What’s happening to this goddam place?!”). Since this is a direct flight to L.A., I’m getting the chance to observe a grandmother in leather pants (not that hot) and a trio of Mexican dudes with enough gold around their necks to put Mr. T into a snit of envy. There’s the token guy in a Crocodile Dundee hat (seriously? We’re going to Los Angeles, not the outback) and twenty minutes before boarding, people are starting to line up dutifully, although nothing’s been announced. There is a mad rush to head into a flying aluminum tube and sit down, but it eludes me as to why you must mill like starving cattle. I found some hot coffee and a quiet corner of this place; until the aging hippie trying to pass his steamer trunk off as “carry on” gets his ponytail on the plane, I think I’ll just enjoy the view. See you in California.