Mary Birdsong

July19th

THE YEAR? 2011

THE PLACE? SFO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

Cue the iconic rock band “the Eagles”… playing their iconic, hit song of the 1970s, (LIVE!) in the food court.

Minus Don Henley.  He’s over in Terminal B buying a new Prada attaché case and sampling some Cinnabon delights.

WEL-come to the AIR-port CAL-ifornia!

You can de-plane anytime you like, but you may never leave.

Is anyone else nostalgic for the days when airports didn’t sell anything but THE POWER OF FLIGHT???  When they were barely a step above the DMV, and didn’t give a damn about providing us with an “intimate, yet interactive shopping experience?”   The passengers would be provided with, well,  passage.  After that?  They’d land and then get the hell outta there.  Airports didn’t bother courting it’s passengers with shopping malls and cafes and food courts when I was a wee jet-setter.  It was sufficiently impressive that they could hurl us through space and have us come out on the other end alive and well and ready to play checkers with Grandpa.

But this morning I deplaned at SFO after a long flight from JFK, and I’d had no sleep the night before, so all I wanted when the big airplane accordion tube spat me (and my carry-on) out was to go get a taxi tout de suite. That didn’t happen.

What did happen?  Somehow I lost an hour of my life looking at lip glosses and lip plumpers and bronzer blotting tissues.  After five minutes of trying in vain to make it past the Champs Elysees of JFK, I got sucked in. And soon I knew everything there was to know about Retinol, hypo-allergenic sparkle-gloss, and the joys of being Paraben-free, but hell if I could tell you what city I was in, or what address I’d give the cab driver if I ever DID make it out of the building.

In fact, I’m STILL at the airport– in the ladies room.  And being very productive– peeing, pooping, and posting a bloggy blogette type post from my beautiful, echo-laden, JFK bathroom stall!!  Once I get out of this makeshift metal work cubicle I think I’m gonna go clubbing at that new disco sandwiched between Relax the Back & Le Bon Pain.  Then tomorrow I’m gonna take a course in Swedish Slang over at the international terminal. Oh, and the “mobile device charging station” at Gate 62B is TOTES hopping, ladies–  a massive pickup scene!

But for reals….You know what I miss more than ANYTHING about the airports of my youth?  That creepy man in the suit whose job it was to show up at the passengers’ arrival gate.  He’d receive and entertain little kids whose mommy’s had a habit of running a couple of hours behind schedule when retrieving her brood from an annual visit to their dad’s house in KY.

My brother and sister and I would gingerly step out into the terminal looking for a sign of our mom, but we wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if we were greeted instead by a man who was usually like a cross between this man:

and this one:

“Hey kids!  You’re mom’s running late, so…. who likes Scrabble?”

Oh, “mid-to-late-1970s & early-to-mid-early 80s-airport-that-didn’t-do-jack-squat-except-fly-planes-&-serve-booze-and-put-all-the- smokers-in-a-glass-room-so-we-could-all-stare-at-them-in-silent-judgement-and-then-grow-up-to-be-smokers-too,” WHERE HAVE YOU GONE???

WE NEED YOU (and the free, hot meals you served on the planes and the pillows and the blankets and the stainless steel silverware, complete with terrorist-friendly serrated knives). WE NEED YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER.

THIS IS IT (this is it).  THIS IS LIFE.  THE ONE YOU GET.  Bah dah dah, ONE DAY AT A TIME, ONE DAY AT A TIME, Bah dah dah, bah dah dah.  ONE DAY AT A TI—I–I–IME  (OOOH)

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