# # Jaywalking In Charleston

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Jaywalking In Charleston

Jaywalking In Charleston

This collection of vignettes, observances, and rants accumulated over a four day period in Charleston, South Carolina where I was employed as a vendor at a trade show.

I don’t travel much. This is my first trip in that direction: approximately six hours in the air, southeast with a connection in Atlanta. It’s the farthest south I’ve been on the east coast, maybe on the continent.

Anyway: stuck on a plane, stuck in a hotel room, stuck in a booth, and stuck in my head, the urge to document and rant came. Short of screaming to the heavens, I felt the need to express myself, so into my phone and computer the impressions and observances went – mostly as they happened or shortly thereafter.

Now, with only the slightest of apologies, I present them to you.



We pull into Masterpark – the park and ride service we use when flying out of state – with little time to spare and the boss at the wheel.
Stuffed up from a sinus infection, the other employee with us, whom I’ll refer to from here on out for purposes of anonymity as “Jack,” , reports a swollen bladder with characteristic class and poise: “Man, I really gotta take a piss.”
We wheel our belongings directly to the waiting shuttle, which is already idling some distance away, partially packed with passengers.
“I really need to pee,” Jack says, weighed down with three bags and a long, cardboard box, which dangles awkwardly from one hand by a homemade rope handle.
“You go inside, I’ll get the bags,” I say – but it’s too late. The shuttle is in a rush to leave so Jack goes aboard instead, followed by the boss, then myself, our bags stowed by the shuttle driver.
We’re seconds from pulling out when, of a sudden, the boss asks me to go get her phone, which she has forgotten in the car. I leap from my seat and dash to the car, aware of all the eyes on me – who is that dumb s.o.b. making us late for our flights?!?
The boss’s phone is in the center console, so I grab it and head back. She takes it from me as I sit back down and the driver pops off the emergency break to ease us out of the parking lot. I look at Jack and his bladder has him gritting his teeth.

Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners is blaring out of the shuttle’s speakers. It is 6:30 a.m., I’ve been on the road since 4:30.

I like the gnarly people I see at Seatac airport. The ones who look as if they have clambered out of the woods and directly into the terminal: worn, dirty clothing, ragged backpacks, unwashed faces and hands. Deep-woods hippies with matted hair and vaguely lost expressions. Where did they come from to arrive at the airport in such condition and where on earth are they going? It’s a great contrast from all of the other people in their traveling finest with coiffed hair, collared shirts, matching luggage, and cautious expressions of dizzy expectation and weary disgust hanging off their idiot faces. People like myself.

The TSA line is long and snakes us back and forth across the scuffed linoleum of the terminal floor.
That girl with the tight clothing you caught a glimpse of for a moment? The fat cowboy, the cute, funny kid? Don’t worry: you’ll see them again. Over and over, in fact, as you slalom your way back and forth to inspection. Pretty soon her no-mystery outfit becomes a bore, the kid an annoying little brat, the cowboy … fatter, somehow.
I cannot help myself and, at one point, catch Jack’s eye and low like a cow: “Muuuuuhhhh.”

Urinal Target at Seatac AirportWe’re awaiting boarding and now I’ve got to pee. I make my way to the bathroom, undo my fly, and there’s the little target in the urinal: a cutesy swirl down there in the piss polished porcelain designed to draw my fire; a psychological gambit expressed in primitive earth tones for the purpose of cutting back on splatter, to keep us from splashing our hot streams of reeking urine on the floor, on the ceiling, on the be-suited fellow standing next to us with his carry-on bag, drooping mustache, and both helpless hands clapped onto his own dick in an intense, videogame-like attempt to nail that fucking piss-icon.
I aim my own, hot stream of golden, liquid waste well and pointedly to the right and below this target.
Fuck control. Fuck conformity. Fuck you.

There’s a drinking fountain/art installation at Seatac, near the boarding gates in concourse C, called the Talking Fountain by artist Jim Green. Whenever you use the fountain, a speaker mounted in the wall below it plays the basso, liquid sounds of water gurgling into some deep, resonant chamber.
I don’t know if this is just supposed to be neato or make me think of all the gallons of water pumped into a place like this … or both or neither. All I know is, I’m thirsty.
I’m thirsty and standing, waiting behind a woman getting some water. You know the kind of person: not content with having had her drink and filled her water bottle, she remains in front of the only drinking fountain in the immediate area. Ignorant of others, blocking the way as she savors more mouthfulls of the cool water she just filled her bottle with and – oh, now she’s going back for more! Refilling her bottle as I wait, shifting from one foot to the other, that goddamn recording of the deep water spa-looshes repeating and repeating – GUH-LUK GUH-LURK A-SPLOOSH A-SPLASH A-LURK A-LUKE A-LUK A-LAK and now I want to wrap my hands around the artist’s throat and then the jackass who thought this installation would be just awesome for the airport.
But not the woman in front of me bogarting the fountain, she’ll just have to wait her turn.

In general, I don’t drink alcohol during the day but something happens when I get on a plane, particularly a plane with a long flight ahead. Something about paying $7 for a mini bottle of mediocre-brand liquor appeals to me in a weird, dumb way. As if the sheer, idiot-extravagance of it makes it worthwhile, somehow. More likely, it’s just an unconscious reaction to that sardine sensation: the ever-creeping fear that the walls are going to keep coming in upon me, padded only by the hot, sticky pudge of the people to either side of me, my boxer shorts wadded up and bunching against bits best left free to breathe.
Yes, some liquid confusion may be just what the doctor ordered – but how much? How about too much? Three’s a good start.
It doesn’t help that they’re enabling me with free, first drinks because the Seattle Whosis played so well in the Whatsis against the Where-ever Whomevers.
The choice between Crown Royal and Jack Daniels stumps me – which of these mediocre liquors is worse? I decide to test them both and now I can tell you: go with Crown Royal.


Burning Airlines Give You So Much More - Jaywalking In CharlestonWe’re waiting for our connection to Charleston when we learn there is to be a delay of some kind – nearly an hour.
Just outside the windows of our gate, across the tarmac, a plane of the size we are to take is enshrouded in a huge cloud of what looks like smoke. Brian Eno’s “Burning Airlines Give You So Much More” begins playing in my head.
I point the somewhat disturbing scene out to Jack who laughs nervously and makes some comment like: “its probably just a cleaning procedure” and  “that’s not our plane.”
Yeah, okay, sure. They’re just … blowing the smoke off of it. Right.


We land in Charleston fairly late at night and end up in a suite with a kitchenette and two bedrooms – one for the boss and the other, with two queen beds, to be shared by Jack and I.
While it is a bit awkward to share sleeping quarters with a coworker, Jack and I will get along just fine as long as he lets me win the occasional game of Magic.

After settling in to our rooms and getting a bite to eat, I and Jack head to the local Walmart for some much needed supplies, namely beer.
We settle on PBR as a kind of hipster joke. There really isn’t much else to choose from and there’s so little difference between all the yellow, big brewer beers anyhow, so why not?
The Walmart in question is not in the best of neighborhoods and, outside, as we walk back to our car with our purchases, a man accosts us. He is smaller and dressed in a drab but somewhat eclectic array of clothing, including a thick coat and wide brimmed hat. Catching our full attention, he launches with concentrated confidence into what seems like a well worn speech.
“Hey fellows, I’m sorry to bother you but I was wondering if you could spare some money for a ticket for the bus downtown?”
Now, in situations like this, I tend to just murmur my “no-sorries” and keep walking. Jack, however, shocks me by stopping to root around in his pants pocket, a look of compassion playing across his normally impassive face. White guilt?
Extracting 26 cents from his pocket, he extends them on an open palm to the man.
He may as well have offered a handful of steaming dog crap for the reaction he gets.
“Man, the bus downtown is a dollar fifty!” The man’s eyes flick with disgust from the coins to Jack’s face. “Look, I’m a veteran and I need to get downtown,” he says, pulling a wallet from his back pocket and producing a tattered military id.
Confused, Jack pulls his hand halfway back, then extends it again. “but … you can have this. It’s not a buck-fifty but it’s a start”
“Oh, c’mon!” The man is clearly not just insulted but growing angry.
I slowly release the 11 cents I have begun to pull from my own pocket. I have over $200 in cash in my wallet but I’m not about to go revealing that.
“Sorry, all I have is a debit card,” I say with what I like to think of as the shrug of helpful helplessness.
“Aw, bullshit.”
Jack continues to offer the .26 to the man, who continues to refuse it.
“I need a buck fifty!”
With the impasse clear, negotiations just kind of peter off and we begin to walk away, followed by the man’s muttered curses … until another mark takes his attention.
“Hey buddy! Sorry to bother you but I was wondering if …”
We reach the car and Jack still has the twenty six cents in his hand.
“I can’t believe he refused it … “

The two beds in our hotel room are decorated with five pillows each. The pillows are roughly squarish, like those pastel butter mints you see in a crystal bowl at your grandmother’s house. My pillows seem too hard and Jack’s are too soft.
Heh. Guess that makes Jack mama bear, though I’ll be damned if I can figure out who’s s’posed to be baby bear.
We have a long day ahead and need to get up early but the jet lag has us talking well into the night.


South Carolina Elevator Certificate - Jaywalking In CharlestonThere is a Certificate of Operation in the hotel elevator, issued by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Office of Elevators and Amusement Rides.
I knew it! I knew it! Where was this sign when my parents would tell my brother and I that the the elevator wasn’t an amusement ride?

Jack doesn’t open doors for people. He goes ahead or tags along behind, faring for himself and expecting you to do the same.
I’m an ex-boyscout, forever running ahead, no matter how many things I’m carrying, to open the door, fetch the tea, go back for the forgotten, get another milk, print the reports, and whatever else the boss asks of us: her sherpas, as she calls us.
I’m forever saying “ma’am” and Jack just watches, wondering why I do it.
It’s a good question.

It’s the night before the trade show and we attend an opening reception with food and drink. Having already engaged in a few, polite and meaningless pleasantries with other attendees, Jack and I break free to make our way around the offerings, drinks in hand.
There are cheese and meat platters, some veggie trays, sauces and nibbles; the usual fare. One tray intrigues us, however. It appears to be bacon wrapped around – something whitish. Water chestnuts? Scallops? Candle wax? What is that?
Jack doesn’t eat fish as a rule and we’re both leery of new foods, so he catches the attention of a nearby waitperson busy clearing away the emptied trays.
“What is this?” he asks.
The young, dark-haired woman hesitates a second, her eyes on the tray, then replies in a heavy, eastern European accent.
“Meat-wrapped meelk,” she says before hurrying away.
A beat or two of silence passes as we both look at the tray and try to pretend everything is normal, then I ask: “Did she say meat-wrapped milk?”
“Yeah,” Jack replies, equally disturbed, “that’s what I heard, too.”

Downstairs, there is one long table covered in vegetables: salad fixings and the like. An entire array but … just veggies? I snag a few cherry tomatoes and move on into the long room until we come to another table, this one stacked with meat. Just meat: sausage, pulled pork, sliced ham, etc.
Why is there a table of vegetables over there and a table of … meat here? Just meat? Mounds of meat. Meat stacked and piled to compress, congeal, and concentrate down into a rich, artery clogging berm of oil, tissue, and fat.
Jack loads up his plate, poking a bit of sausage into his mouth, then grimacing: not good.
Farther on, we finally run across a desegregated table holding both vegetables and meat – but this one is so close to the eye-rattling blare of a full-tilt, low country band that no one is going near it.

Jack and I crawl into our separate beds later than we should, relaxed by a few cans of PBR and a few games of Magic. We need more shut-eye than the 4 or so hours we got Sunday night. Despite this, we again chat nonsense well into the wee hours.


Every once in a while, my coworkers break into sports talk and I find myself wondering when the mothership is going to come back for me. I don’t belong here. I can’t understand the populace and am afraid they may someday eat me.

A client, who has maintained a contentious and angry relationship with me for years walks up to the booth and I leap to my feet to greet him.
You have to understand that we’ve never met. Our interaction has been limited to his calling me up on the phone and screaming at me. Screaming about issues that I and my company almost always have no control over, misunderstandings and ISP issues. Calls that often end with him slamming the phone down in my ear before I even get the chance to respond to his complaints and allegations.
Now, here he is, the frail, old man I expected him to be, his moist eyes blinking uncertainly out of the wrinkled pink of his head as I approach him. It is clear from his expression that he knows who he is facing, remembers our history, and is not just embarrassed but a little frightened as my bearded, hale frame approaches.
“Hi, Bob – it’s Corey. Great to finally meet you,” I enthuse, extending my hand for his and shaking it warmly.
The look of confusion in his eyes is delicious; the vicious old bat has no idea what to do. I relish and extend the moment by being his best friend while he is at our booth; attentive, agreeable, and comforting with the occasional light touch on the arm; a surrogate, grown grandchild here to make sure his needs are met. In five minutes he’s had enough and disappears into the throng of the trade show, never to be seen in our corner again.

Iced-tea in Charleston is not what I or any of us is used to.
First of all, they drink something called “sweet tea” down here that is basically a pitcher of Lipton’s with a cup of sugar in it, as if you were making Kool-Aid and not tea. The resulting mixture is so sickly sweet it is unpalatable to the untrained tongue and, I imagine, diabetes and tooth decay likely run rampant down here in part because of the stuff.
My boss is an iced-tea devotee. Everywhere she goes, she carries a giant tea cup of unsweetened, iced tea – Starbucks if she can get it.
Sitting at the show, in mid conversation with a client, she raises her empty cup of tea and shouts “more tea” to the air, waiting for one of us to go hustling over to refill her cup. Of course, it’s me that responds.
I take her cup over to the refreshment table and am confronted with a dispenser of lemonade (which Jack reports as tasting like liquid cardboard), one of sweet tea, and one of “unsweet tea.”
Knowing how the boss hates sweetener in her tea, I dispense an amount of the unsweet tea into her special cup, then screw on the lid and deliver it to her, ever the good manservant.
She takes one swig of the tea and makes a sour, puckering face as if I have poisoned her. As it turns out, “unsweet tea” is a plain tea but also unusually sweet in flavor – probably a bergamot blend.
After that it’s Starbucks or nothing.

A store in a strip mall that is en route to the convention center had caught my eye Sunday night: Mr. K’s Used Books, Music and More.
I suspect it is probably nothing more than a flea market-type dump for tattered pop-fiction novels and scratched media but I have been wanting to check it out, anyway. Now, after the first day of the show, I finally get my chance to investigate it and the place blows me away. Broad and deep, it houses well-kempt rows of shelves loaded with books of, yes, crappy pop-fiction but oh, so much more: literature, classics, kids books, biography, comics, textbooks, manga, and rare, first printings. And there are records, cds, dvds.
Jack and I wander around well past the few minutes I initially expected to spend in the place. Truth be told, I am overwhelmed. Finding a bookstore like this these days is like finding a flower in the desert and, underneath my urge to spend money, if only to support the place, a sadness begins welling up: how long before they, too are forced to close their doors?
Mr. K's Used Books, Music and More - Jaywalking In CharlestonSay what you will about improvement, advancement, environment, and old men – this is the kind of thing that makes me hate the internet and where we are going. Mr. K’s should not be a rarity.

Tonight we drink PBR, flavored and plain whiskies we picked up at the liquor store, and eat popcorn while watching “No Country For Old Men.” Things get pretty blurry and we get into our beds late. The next day is to be even longer than this one, so we need more shut-eye than the 5 or so hours we got Monday night. Jet lag must still be in play because Jack and I again talk for hours, even though I am aching to sleep.



No matter where we go in the car, we seem to get lost. If we need to be going south, we end up on a one way north. If we’re looking for a store, it takes three tries. If we need to get into the parking lot at the event center, they have blocked off all the entrances but the one where they charge you $5 to park. We are forever pulling u-ies, parking in handicap, sneaking in the back way, ducking out early, and jaywalking in Charleston.

We’re standing in a semi-circle, talking to a client couple, when I realize Jack’s fly is open – and I mean OPEN: the zipper tab is all of the way down and his pants are gawping. I don’t know how long it has been like this but we’ve spent the last half hour or so standing here, talking with clients, and some of them have been reasonably attractive women.
I am instantly embarrassed for Jack and hesitate to say anything before common sense kicks in and I realize that it is better to know and right the situation rather than pretend nothing is wrong and continue to allow his zipper to bare its teeth at everyone.
Attempting to be secretive and nonchalant, I turn and walk around him, giving a quiet, little nudge with a whisper of “Jack, your fly is open” before appearing on the other side of him, still engaged in the conversation.
My thinking is that he could smoothly turn and walk to the booth for a moment, as if to consult his computer, raising his zipper in secrecy as he does so. Instead, he looks down, grunts a very audible something like “oh, darn,” then reaches down and openly yanks his zipper up as another might pass a business card.

We worked the trade show from 8am to 6pm today and now I’m standing on-line for crab-cakes at the after-show celebration. It is one of those affairs where you are encouraged to wear a silly hat and it looks as if 15% of the crowd, less the three of us, have acquiesced.
Ahead of me, three corpulent, giggling, older women are busy aping for each other’s cameras. Two of them are bedecked in Lincoln-esque stove-pipe hats with string-beards attached to the brims and dangling with limited effectiveness across their wiggling jowls. All they need to top off the horror is a child in black face fawning and pawing gratefully at their feet. Their antics for the lens blind them to the continued progress of the line and those of us behind them who would like to move forward.
I finally get my crab-cakes but where to sit? The hoard of trade-show vendors and attendees has swamped all the big, round tables in the ballroom.
I weave my way across the room, sampling the lumps on my plate as I go, until I come to a bit of wall I can lean against, located conveniently next to a trash can. Every bite brings more grit to my teeth until it feels as if I am eating mush dusted with sand. Meanwhile, a sour, off-aftertaste builds on the back of my tongue, one swallow at time, until I feel that I am willfully consuming something unhealthy, unwholesome, and altogether not right. For some reason I eat it all, cleaning my plate, then chucking it into the trash receptacle that is my dining companion.
Jack locates me and reports that his chosen pork dish was little more than strings of veiny gristle nestled in fat. Unlike me, he had the sense to dump it after one bite. We hand the car keys off to the boss and escape, on foot, into the night.

Tired and trying to get back to the hotel, we’re waiting for the walk light at the intersection. Jack punches the promising chrome crosswalk nubbin numerous times only to wait through two full cycles of traffic lights and no end ahead.
What the hell?
As we wait, the walk light to the left of us, rather than the one we have been attempting to activate, non-intuitively lights up. We decide to go ahead and cross in order to try our luck at the opposite corner’s light.
This time we receive the elusive walk signal we have been waiting for only to have a police car pull up and into the crosswalk before us, unconsciously blocking our way just as we are stepping off the curb. He doesn’t even seem to see us, just another ignorant driver.
As we walk behind the car, around his sedan’s big, official ass, I call out “Hey, I’m walkin’ here” a la Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy … but a bit more quietly, you know?

It’s late and we’re exhausted.
Dinner is not sitting well with either of us and we just want to hit the hay before tomorrow’s cleaning up of the booth and a 6 hour flight home but first: beer.
We need beer.
Not much beer but a beer – one apiece. A relaxing, my bones ache beer. We’re dead tired and a beer, even a cheap, yellow beer, would be most welcome. The PBR we picked up at Walmart is gone. But where to get one? All week I’ve been keeping my eyes open for interesting beers and have yet to see anything but mainstream brands – Budweiser, Miller, Coors – and those only during that one visit to Walmart.
“Where the heck are the gas stations in this town, anyway?” Jack cries and then it hits me – I’ve been looking out my hotel room window at a gas station all week – am I daft?
Jack heads up to the room, drained and dragging as I dash through the hotel parking lot and jaywalk at a trot across the street to the gas station.
Beer Room - Jaywalking In CharlestonAt first I don’t see it – just the typical array of cooler doors along the building’s back wall with pop and water, juice, milk, burritos, and sandwiches.
Ah, there are the bombers and tallboys but … where are the singles and six-packs? Surely they have singles I can pull from six-packs. Oh, please: there’s no way we can drink 6 beers tonight.
I make my way back towards the limited beer I can see when I notice a glass door marked “Beer Room.”
Beer … room?!?
And there it is – a medium-sized, walk-in cooler dedicated to beer. The normal brands are here as well as a not great but at least existing selection of micro and craft brews, including a few varieties I have never heard of and a stout I am eager to try.
I feel like Indiana Jones, King Arthur, or some other, legendary, dashing adventurer having come through great trials to this, the chamber of the Holy Grail. Or, better yet, the Chamber of the Stuff To Put *In* The Holy Grail. Yes, of course.
And the peril? What is my peril?
The cashier confirms what I already suspect: “Sorry, darlin’. No breaking the 6 packs.”

Tomorrow we have to pack up our crap, check out, go back to the show for the morning, eat lunch, then head to the airport. Jack and I desperately need a full-night’s  sleep but, as I now have come to realize, Jack will most likely be keeping me up with his incessant babble.
What the hell is wrong with this fucking guy? Is it his mission in life to keep me from sleep? To slowly drive me insane with sleep deprivation?
I am about to tell him he needs to let me get some damned shut-eye tonight when I realize he’s already snoring.


Potato chip crumbs outside the elevator - Jaywalking in CharlestonJust outside the elevator, on the fourth floor of the hotel, our floor, there is a small chunk of potato chip on the carpet. It’s been here since Monday night: a tiny bit of snack food dropped onto the bright and colorful weave by a blind hand.
I noticed it then, while waiting for the elevator, and would not have remarked on it but … it’s still here. I’ve been watching its progress ever since. My own, little social and science experiment.
As the hotel staff seems uninterested in sweeping it up, it is, instead, being slowly broken down to invisibility. Originally, it was one piece – no bigger than a dime – but now it has been stepped on and has fragmented into sixteen, much smaller potato chips – or are they crumbs?
How small does a piece of potato chip have to be before it stops qualifying as a chip and becomes a crumb?
These are probably crumbs. You’d have to be the size of a squirrel to think they were any good for dipping at this point. Maybe that’s the criterion: can you use the particle of chip to scoop up dip? If yes, it’s a chip. If no, it’s a crumb.
It looks like a plain Lays, to me – but what do I know? It could be Sour Cream and Onion.


The Delta plane we’re on for the flight from Charleston to Atlanta has those little, credit card compatible, seat-back screens much like Virgin does. Cool!
Only, after we have taken off and reached cruising elevation, there are commercials on them: three ads on screens you cannot deactivate and on an over head PA that screeches a message of buy buy buy.
Now, look, Delta – I’m already on your fucking plane. One commercial extolling the virtues of investing more in your company isn’t too surprising or horrible but three in a row is just plain rude and dumb. Instead of enjoying the hospitality of the technology you have put before me for my in-flight use, I now hate it and you.

The closest I have ever come to watching a baseball game is on a connecting flight from Charleston to Atlanta: the passenger next to me fiddled with a virtual version of the game on his handheld, gaming console for most of the flight. It was almost exciting (blue lost, if you’re keeping score).

If this flight I am on is destined to crash, let it be a catastrophic failure in mid-flight that splits the passenger cabin like a goddamn banana, flinging us and our idiot luggage to the four winds. I want to feel the fingers of free-fall in my ridiculous beard as it strips the clothes from my limbs, leaving me in nothing but my tightly laced hiking boots. Just my pale, hairy body, sun dappled and dropping to the earth, my non-existent ass and frightened penis flailing, while screams of animal fright are torn, still-born, from my throat. May I retain my consciousness just long enough to feel the great release as my corporeality meets the turf, causing me to become even more loose, aggregate, and irrelevant than I already am.


Yo, Einsten’s Bagels: it’s “schmear” with a “c,” you culturally ignorant hacks. Thanks for the irony of your all-black staff in Atlanta, however. I had to smile.

In the terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, the squirming, struggling mass of stinky, self-interested humans has me thinking: could it be that a series of big, horrifying disasters – natural or man made, accidental or malicious – is just what the doctor ordered?

I’m walking down the concourse, weaving in and out of people, looking for something light to eat, when I receive a text from Jack:
“I’m convinced the latest thing in attractive female fashion is to look like you should be going for a horseback ride. I don’t get it.”
I look around me and realize he is right – no matter which direction I look there are at least two examples of young to middle-aged women in tight fitting, black pants and calf-boots.
“Riders” we begin to call them – and they are ubiquitous. If it’s anywhere near 2014 when you’re reading this, and you’re in a crowd, take a look around. See?


There is this one guy on the plane who wont shut up. I mean, he’s nice enough and all but he won’t shut up. Blah blah blah even if you stop looking at him. He just turns to someone else and yap yap yap. He starts out engaging you and then his non-stop digression takes over and it’s just him and his blather spewing not to you but at you, over you like a wave of vomit. Of course, he’s right across the aisle from me, in the middle seat between my boss and some poor girl with no where to get away from him but out the window at 37,000 feet.
I make the mistake of acknowledging him for what I think is a moment, only to get sucked in for a twenty minute, almost entirely one-sided gab fest over his seat-mate, my boss, and the aisle. The guy has to project his voice at me to be heard over the noise of the plane and everyone within three rows of us without headphone gets to hear him.
His monologue continues at varying degrees of volume for almost the entire goddamn, 5 hour flight. Eventually, a group of us beat him to death and throw his bloodied, ragged body out of the emergency door into the cold, uncaring ether of the night sky.
Okay, that last sentence didn’t really happen but damn, it sure felt good to write it.

Well into the flight home, I stifle a sneeze in my elbow only to hear a man waiting for the bathroom in the aisle next to my seat say “bless you.” Me? I bless the earphones in my ears that allow me to pretend I didn’t hear his well meaning but also ignorant and assumptive primitivism.
Don’t feed the chimps!

Is it that the planes are smaller or that there are just so many more fat people, now? My shoulder has been rubbed by countless asses and hips this flight. It’s annoying but, occasionally, seductive. Honestly, I can never be sure – that may be the Crown Royal minis talking, though.

As I sit, panting impatiently in the hot and stale air of the plane’s fuselage, waiting to deplane with the rest of the sardines, I hear my luggage beating me to freedom and I feel like I’m being cheated by my stuff: dirty socks, hotel shampoos, the book I didn’t read – all of it getting home before me.


Red Shoes on the ShuttleThere is a guy on the Masterpark shuttle with blood red, plastic shoes. The glossy, bowling-ball like material of them has a liquid depth I’ve never seen in a shoe material before. It draws my fatigued, Crown Royal soaked eyes like a bit of tin attracts a raccoon.
The guy looks vaguely like Cameron Crowe and I almost convince myself it is him before I recall that he is a famous, Hollywood director and wouldn’t be on the Masterpark shuttle from Seatac but in a private car or limo, well away from prying eyes.
I pull out my phone and take what I think is a surreptitious picture to the open delight of an anonymous seat-mate.

It is 9:30 p.m. The shuttle radio is blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” I have been on the road since 9 a.m.

Song titles on a mix-tape entitled “Jaywalking In Charleston”:

-Side 1
The Non-Flotation, Seat Cushion Blues
Squeezed Between Two Travelers In an Airplane Seat From Hell
One More Liquor-Mini Couldn’t Possibly Hurt
26 Cents Don’t A Buck Fifty Make
One Ways To Nowhere
Meat Wrapped Meelk
Doin’ The Tradeshow Rag
Have A Nice Slice of Drama with Your Pie

-Side 2
Sherpa Boys
Low Country for Old Men
Another Rude Request (and I’m gonna punch your nose)
Check Your Fly, Jack
Oh, Why Did I Eat That?
It’s 2am in Charleston (So Shut The Fuck Up)
Taco Bell and Crown Royal (Suite)

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