Thursday, December 29, 2005

I am a Latino Muslim

"Random," my ass. Those airport searches-- the ones where they pull you aside and give you a public colonoscopy-- always seem to happen to me. And it pisses me off. I can only conclude that there's something about the way I look that makes the airport staffers nervous. At a guess, I remind them of a bomb-carrying Latino Muslim.

I'm back at my Smoo dorm, and all is well. A few impressions of my trip:

1. The flight from National Airport in northern Virginia to Kennedy Airport in New York City was on American Eagle. American Eagle is simply a branch of American Airlines. The term "Eagle" is apparently code language for "small, cramped plane that sucks." I had to check my carryon bag because it was deemed too large and heavy to bop into the cabin with me. It seems the Eagle doesn't like carryon.

2. The layover at JFK saw me reading more of Yann Martel's Life of Pi, a story about a 16-year-old Indian boy who ends up on a lifeboat with only a Bengal tiger for company. Lots of ambient Spanish and Japanese where I was sitting; it provided an interesting auditory background while I was reading Martel. Mom had packed me a mess of food: cornbread, oranges, a banana, a sandwich, and a Ziploc bag of Lindt chocolate truffles (red label). I ate three truffles, one orange, and the entire cornbread stash during the layover.

3. The flight from JFK to Narita/Tokyo was over thirteen hours long. I was fortunate enough to get an exit-row seat, which allowed me to stretch. My seatmate was a tall, skinny college student (Columbia U.) with a high, flute-like voice and obnoxious, overprivileged manner. Possibly half-Korean; hard to tell. I spent most of the flight ignoring her-- reading, eating, or sleeping. We exchanged maybe a single sentence. I found out her personal info when a flight attendant walked by and started chatting her up. Yes, I'm an introverted asshole.

4. Smooth transition at Narita: I didn't have to change terminals to catch the flight to Incheon. It was simply a matter of walking up to the next gate and asking for a boarding pass. The only pre-boarding inconvenience was the "random" anal probe, which occurred at this juncture. The sandwich Mom had made for me was wrapped in tin foil; the lady doing the anal probe rummaged through my carryon bag and asked me, "What's that?" I told her the truth, but in retrospect, I think I should have said, "That's a spare colon polyp! Here-- taste!"

I got my boarding pass, which said I'd be in 40C: a seat number reflecting someone's breast size, possibly my own. The most horrible thing about this flight was my seatmate in 40D: a Korean woman who was a devout Christian. She was friendly enough, but every other word out of her mouth to me and the guy in 40E was, "God." God, God, God. Enough God, goddammit!

It didn't help matters that the woman had gorilla breath. While I can't claim to have the rosiest breath myself, I'm pretty sure I don't stink as badly as this woman did. Her breath called to mind all sorts of vocab words learned in high school: fetor, miasma, noisomeness, halitus, putrescence. I was practically weeping with relief when the snack service arrived: I was sure that a little food in her mouth might mask the stench. I was only half-right. The woman paused before digging into her snack: she felt compelled to say a blessing on the spot (cf. Matthew 6:5-6, NIV).

But I had pity on Mrs. 40D, too: she was in Korea for only four days to visit her father, who is dying of cancer. She gets points for being a true hyo-nyeo, a filial daughter.

The limousine bus ride from the airport went without a hitch, and I got my usual taxi from the Myeongdong Lotte Hotel. Got home around 10:30PM on the 29th, Seoul time. The concierge adjoshis in my dorm had figured out I was gone: I saw evidence that they'd been in my place. The curtains had been moved and my ondol (floor heat) had been set hotter. No biggie; nothing's missing. I checked.

I wish I could report that our plane had been attacked by flying alien vaginas or something, but nothing remotely interesting happened. It was a pretty routine flight after a wonderful trip home (I finished Life of Pi during the JFK-Narita leg; good book!), and now it's time to get ready for the coming term at Smoo.

Off to bed.


No comments: