Nyogtha Volume I, Issue VI

Unlike most of my columns which take an entire week to write due to researching musty old tomes, going through notes and papers I wrote long ago, and getting distracted by IM conversations, this is one I’m writing on the fly. Actually I am writing it a few miles above the ground while I fly to Philadelphia, the cultural and gastronomical Mecca of America from Minneapolis St. Paul, a city that is cultural scrotum cancer and more Old Time Religion than you’d find at the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly content with Minneapolis being my current residence. There are some lovely little restaurants, I’ve met some fabulous people, and after visiting the city of Perth in Australia for two weeks, I will never again complain about the size of Goth Subculture here in the twin cities. I was spoiled by back home. Instead I will leave that last bit up to my visiting friends from other areas.

But let’s talk travel. It’s an odd thing to be a non Christian traveling on Christmas weekend; quite possibly the worst weekend for air travel in the entire year. But only in Minneapolis can one truly experience the overwhelming hell that airline travel can be.

Let’s start with the drive from my home in Uptown Minneapolis to the airport. It’s a 15 mile journey. Which of course on the interstate means the drive would normally take me a half an hour. You see, Minnesotans have a peculiar habit of slowing down and gawking at everything they see along the road. A man on the side of the road changing his tire. Let’s slow down! Of course, they don’t bother to see if the man needs assistance, no they just slow down to gawk. A strange bag in the ditch? Better drop down to below the minimum speed limit and stare out the passenger side window instead of straight ahead as a responsible driver is wont to do. A hobo with a sign asking for change which will not be used to buy food or shelter, but instead for Malt Liquor and pot? Press your Midwestern faces to the glass ma and pa, as it’s gawking time.

And winter makes this even worse. You may be surprised at this, because Minnesota is officially considered Tundra in regards to topography. Winter is the best 8 months of the year here. It is not uncommon for two foot high snow drifts to accumulate in the worst parts of the season. Yet every year when the first few snowfalls hits, and in truth, everyone there after, Minnesotans act as if they have never encountered partially solidified water before. They react as if their entire lives up until that very moment were spent on the isle of Western Samoa and that this substance falling from the sky is a strange and mystical substance, no doubt brought about by failing to properly worship their gods with sacrifices as they used to before the white man came with his hosannas and psalms. When it comes to winter driving, Minnesotans have the memory capacity of a goldfish with a post concussive syndrome.

So of course the first snowfall for Minneapolis occurred Tuesday morning and the second was a light dusting on Weds. At most there was a quarter of an inch on the ground. For a state where 8 inches or less of snow means school is still on and everything runs as normal, one would assume it would be like any other day, driving like normal intelligent people.

But in fact, this is not so. It took me from 4:15 to 5:30 to drive 15 miles. There was no snow or ice on the roads. There were no overturned cars whose breaks locked up due to cockiness and overconfidence of the blizzard like conditions one would find in the state in mid January. No, the roads were clean and dry. Yet everyone on the road was driving as if they were 15 years old and behind a stick shift for the first time. Lurch brake speed up slam on breaks lurch break lurch break speed up slam on breaks repeat. Although many people compliment me on my full thick and lovely head of hair, I feel that driving in this state will cause male pattern baldness to set in far sooner than any latent genetic clock waiting to go off.

The three worse places to drive in the world are Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, and London, England. I of course have lived in all three. Because what would life be if not to subject a person who grew up with driving conditions such as the New Jersey turnpike, Philadelphia and it’s outlying suburbs, and New York City and then force him into truly horrific and asinine drivers that make even the most foul mouthed and liquored up Brooklyn cabbie turn white knuckled from fear.

And this, my friends, is merely the drive to the airport. Thankfully, for a moment there is a brief repast and my blood pressure subsides. For the one thing the Minneapolis airport is doing that is both smart and sanity saving is getting rid of the human factor here. Ah machines, my wonderful friends. No longer do I have to get a ticket for long term parking if I choose, only to have to wait at a gate to escape the airport where a minimum wage earning bumble headed high school drop out fails to accurately engage in grammar school level mathematics. No, now I have the luxury of using computers. Computerized mechanisms never fail us do they? Sure there was HAL in 2001, but that’s one time. Oh, and the Event Horizon. And VYGER. And the Decepticons, although those are more robots. And the Y2K bug. And…well, I can honestly say even though computers may be secretly plotting to take over the world by harvesting mankind and turning us into batteries for themselves, but at least they save me 15 minutes of waiting in line to get into and out of parking at the airport. And really, when the revolution comes, I think they’ll have earned it, don’t you?

Moving on, we go to the E-ticket. I only use e-tickets anymore. No more dealing with people on the other end of a podium asking you the same questions over and over again that they have had to recite ten thousand times that day already prior to your own appearance before them to the point where sometimes in the middle of orgasm with their lovers they cry out, “Have all your bags been in your possession since the time you packed them” because it has been ingrained onto their psyche to a degree where Pavlov himself would hold his head in his hands and weep softly at what his studies have wrought upon mankind. I figure by using E-tickets, it means I can save at least one of their brain cells from implosion. And what better present to give my fellow man at this time of year?

Combined with the E-ticket, I also only take carry-ons in this day and age. There are several reasons for this. The first is that again, I do not have to deal with a Northwest Service attendant who would considering a lobotomy to be a blessing from the Lord, as well as an intellectual endorphin boost. But this also makes sure that my baggage does not end up in say, Sweden or at the very least Arkansas. By keeping all my possessions on me in both a carry-on and laptop case, I am preventing even the slightest chance of me being stranded from home without proper dental hygiene equipment, a change of socks, or assorted other goods essential to my survival should the need arise.

So here I am, parked and with boarding pass in hand in only a matter of seconds; a fraction of the time it took for me to drive 15 miles. It is now 5:30. My flight leaves at 6:58. You are probably wondering why I am at the airport 90 minutes before my flight leaves. I could have left an hour later and stayed home petting my rabbit, Mr. Chewy Biteums, and watching Monty Python skits. You may even being thinking, “Is my subcultural icon neurotic about not missing his flight.” Oh no my friends, being a world traveler has taught me many things. Especially in regards to the Minneapolis International Airport. ESPECIALLY in regards to the Minneapolis International Airport when combined with Northwest Airlines. And chief amongst all is, “Don’t bother going to the gym the day of or a few days after you fly from this airport as you will be getting enough exercise as it is.”

I check my ticket for my gate and instantly a deathly pallor comes over me. Well I’d normally be that ghastly white if not for two weeks on the beach in Australia just a fortnight before this trip. I am at gate C-15. Gate C-15. Now that probably doesn’t sound so bad to you. But for anyone who has ever had the misfortune of traveling out of the Minneapolis International airport, they are shaking their heads sadly in empathy with my depressing situation.

You see, each airport has their one specific eccentricity guaranteed to make you smash your head against the wall or consider screaming “I have a bomb!” as a stress release. Portland International Airport is tiny and cramped compared to all the flights they have there and thus waiting in line to go through the metal detectors is 75% of your time spent in there. In O’Hare in Chicago, you are forced to deal with delays and cancels unlike any other airport. In JFK or LeGuardia in New York City, the trouble is simply getting there. In Sydney, Australia, it is the fact that there is a little known law stating all employees of the airport itself must be so severely mentally retarded that even the Pope would state Euthanasia would be better than letting these sorry bags of flesh continue to exist on this planet showing God’s sense of humour is cruel and horrific. And don’t even get me started on Heathrow in London. Gatwick prevents suicides, Heathrow causes them.

But I am digressing. The curse of Minneapolis’ International Airport comes in the fact that it is a labyrinth so foul and maleficent in its design that both King Minos and David Bowie as the Goblin King combined could not have devised a structure so complex in its fiendishness.

You see. C-15 at most airports would involve a light ten minute walk. In most airports, all the gates are close together, right? C-1, then C-2, then C-3 and so on. But oh no. Not in Minneapolis. You see In Minneapolis gates are spread so far apart than marathon runners and tri-athletes come to the airport to train and enhance their endurance.

Let me walk you through this ordeal. After I walk through the metal detector I must then walk through a veritable mini-mall. Dozens of shops ranging from the putrid Bow Wow Meow to the sheer madness that is a luggage store in an airport. Chew on that one for a while my dear readers. After I walk my way through this bastion of commercial goodness, I finally reach the very beginning of my terminal. And then it is a five minute walk to the first gate. Lovely. At the end of this walk are both C-1 and C-2, nestled together like two Siamese Twins. I curse the happy travelers lucky enough to have a gate that allows them a short brisk walk. But I must trudge further on, as if like those Jews that came before me thousands of years, wandering through the wasteland that is this airport like I am Moses.

There before me lie two paths. The first is the long route. I see a quarter mile off in the distance is gate C-3. The other path is the moving sidewalk that routinely appears along this terminal, all the way to gate C-28. For the first time in many years I pray for those poor souls who must traverse that far and hope they brought a pic-a-nic basket as it will be many hours before their destination is reached.

Of course I choose the moving sidewalk, expecting my journey to be far less of a hardship that it appeared it was going to be. But I am wrong. You see, the moving sidewalks at the airport move at the speed of a man who has no legs and instead must move from place to place by dragging his torso along with his hands. I estimate I will reach my destination by Saint Patrick’s Day. And by that time I surely will be in the state of mind where only total drunkenness will soothe my murderous rage.

So I begin to walk along the move sidewalk as do many others. It will shave seconds off their journey, but those seconds will be enough to breathe once or twice before cardiac arrest sits. In. I walk and I walk and I walk. I get off the moving sidewalk and continue my journey. I’m not at C-8. Finally there is another moving sidewalk. Hurrah. If this continues I will have half a minute to blink and to allow my rotator cuffs to remember a state of perpetual numbness is not their usual existence. Finally after a long and arduous walk, I arrive at gate C-15. I passed through the metal detectors at 5:35. It took me a minute to get my ticket and another minute to prove neither myself nor my bags are laden with plastic explosives. The time when I reach my gate? 6:08. With a sigh and slump into a chair, I think of how wondrous and godlike those men and women are that manage to walk the entire Appalachian trail and how I can bench press 3 times my body weight, yet I would rather have scurvy than make that journey again.

And then comes an announcement over the intercom that makes me contemplate how glorious the silence of the grave must be.

“For those of you going on Northwest Flight 689 to Philadelphia, I’m sorry to inform you we have a gate change at this time for your flight. Your flight will now be leaving from… C-3.

I swear, this is the result of dating and subsequently pissing off a Satanist. Oh foul Beelzebub, is this the demonic torture you have decided to enact upon my soul? Well f*ck you very much right back at you, you cloven hoofed cunt.

I notice other people rising to their feet with a groan and muffled profanity in time with myself. It as if the dead have risen and are flying Northwest Airlines. Instead of sweet delicious brains, we revenants will instead be supping on flat soda, highly acidic concentrated fruit juice and sodium with a miniscule amount of pretzel attached to them. Anyone who told you being undead has its privileges needs to be drug out into the street and shot.

Finally, after another journey which will no doubt escalate at what age my right hip develops arthritis, I and my fellow weary walkers arrive at Gate C-3. Only to find it belongs to a flight leaving to Bozeman, MT. Honestly, who flies to Montana? This is a state populated only by militia members and fundamentalist Christians who feel that Southern Baptism is far too liberal and that Christianity needs to be far stricter and constraining. Of course this could be me start to suffer from the first signs of travel rage.

It turns out their plane is damaged and they are delayed. They have been delayed for two hours. I feel, “So what? Who cares? It’s Montana. There’s nothing there but Buttes and a concentration of inbreeding that would make some Southern States jealous.” My ire raises even more when I learn that my flight will be delayed until 7:15. Who are these wretches who dare to suck an extra 15 minutes of my life by confining me to this hellish airport? Let them fly in their broken plane. If it crashes, it just means the statistics of our flight not bursting into a ball of high altitude fire are in our favor. And who will miss Bubba Ray or Suzie May Jo anyway? Their cattle will graze just fine without them.

And then it comes. The Karmic punishment for my hateful and selfish thoughts.

“Folks, for those of you waiting for this gate to be freed up for flight 689 to Philadelphia, you may have noticed there a bit of trouble with the flight that was to leave from here earlier. Mechanics are on it, but it looks like we’re going to have to change the departure gate for you so you can get out of here on time. It looks like it’s going to be oh, C-TWENTY-FIVE

I swear to god, I thought the two African American men next to me were going to uproot their chairs from the bolts and fixtures they were attached to and set off a riot that would make those of LA over a decade ago look like the Care Bear Cuddle and Kiss Fun Time Jamboree. And the truth is, if they had, no jury in the world would have convicted them. After ten minutes of grumbling, whining, moaning, and threatening hits on the Northwest employees, their families, and their pets, it was announced that they would get the passengers aboard the Bozeman Flight, move the plane and allow the flight leaving for Philadelphia to come here. There would be no gate change. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Especially the gate crew, as those nooses around their necks were extra tight, and there was no governor to give them a last second pardon.

The Flight finally took off at 7:15. it is 9:19 Central time while I write this, and we should be landing in half an hour. In fact I can feel the plane tipping downwards to earth to begin its descent. But there is still more to this story, my beloved audience. For there is the flight itself to discuss.

Boarding a plane is also an experience usually only found in a Rod Sterling television show. There is of course the announcement for people to board according to the back of the plane first. They call row numbers, and of course when you board yourself, you find the first people on the plane are sitting not only up near the front of the plane, but have brought on board not only oversized luggage for their carry-on’s, but also more than the allowed amount. These are the travelers that would pack a 1:250 scale model of the Starship Enterprise for a weekend trip to New Hampshire if the airlines would only look the other way. People who feel a plane ticket entitles them to treat the plane as if it was their own personal RV and the others aboard the plane were hitchhikers they blessed by picking them up and generously allowing them to share their private space. There is also a circle of hell dedicated solely for these assholes. I call it Detroit.

I get to my seat, gawking at the fact that my size 28 waist must slide sideways through the “walking space” allowed for us. I wonder by what miracle allowed the man in the back who must weigh close to 300 lbs to defy all known laws of physics. I find a place for my bag. My carry on not only contains my clothes for this three day trip, but a bottle of wine that can only be found in one vineyard in all of Australia and a half a dozen goblets handcrafted by the owner of that same vineyard. It is my present to my genetic donators, whom I have not seen in 13 months.

Of course five minutes later a slack jawed yokel, obviously native to this state with his baseball cap two sized two tight for his head, his belly five sizes too big for his pants and wearing a long undershirt as if it was acceptable outer garment wear attempts to stuff a bag that obviously is too big to fit in the overhead compartment in the same container my delicate materials (Clearly marked “FRAGILE: GLASS) are in. Shove shove shove. Smash smash smash. Finally he manages to make it fit. It’s twenty minutes until we set down. It will not be until then when I will know whether or not I shall spend the next 72 hours smells of fermented grapes or not. (Note: everything turned out okay. A little scratching on 2 of the 4 goblets, but nothing horrific)

And of course there are also the stragglers. Even though our flight is late, there still manages to be people who come rushing in minutes after everyone else is seated. This of course means our flight is delayed even longer as they stumble around opening overhead compartment after overhead compartment, baffled and muttering angrily to themselves unable to understand why there’s no room left or why the rest of the plane is shooting them death beams from beneath their furrowed brows. It is the perpetually late people on this planet that are responsible for most of the world’s ills. HIV? It’s because of late people. Not homosexuals or monkey. Late people. Leprosy? Ditto. If there’s a terrible blight on humanity, Vegas odds say it’s because of people that are 20-30 minutes late and f*ck it up for the rest of us.

(Please note the rest of this column is now written at 2am EST from my parent’s home in South New Jersey, an hour away from my beloved Philadelphia. So close…and yet so far.)

It was a long two hours on that plane. Let me talk about my surroundings. In the row I was sitting in, I was fortunate to have the aisle seat. Ignore what, “The Wedding Singer” says, the aisle is always the best seat, because you can get up and move around without having to climb over two other people. The window seat gives you a few, but you are trapped like a rat in a cage. And the middle seat? God forbid. Now you’re a sardine wedged in between two obese people with body order issues. Give me the aisle every time.

On this flight my row was filled by two friendly and jovial African Americans, both carrying King James versions of the bible, which they were meticulously reading and underlining passages and writing in. Can we say devout? Thankfully not once did they ask me if I was saved or knew the Lord Jesus Christ in an intimate fashion. Across the aisle was another African American family with a screaming infant. I hate this. On domestic flights I am always put near the wailing banshee of a child with the parents too pussified to shut it up. On international flights, I am always near someone who has to vomit. This is fly I only leave the continent, once every 16 months now, as I really can’t deal with the smell of putrid airline food bile more than that.

The flight was uneventful. I spent most of the flight writing the first six pages of this article. With only a two hour flight, six pages takes up most of the time in which you are allowed to use portable electronic devices. Towards the end of the flight there was turbulence, and I guess it was pretty rough as when the plane landed the passengers in the back clapped, but after the turbulence I felt on flights from LA to Sydney and back, this was nothing. On both of those flights, my lovely traveling companion, one Ms Madolan Greene (not to be confused with Madelyne Pryor with whom she bears more than a passing resemblance) and I looked at each other several times on the flight perfecting our latent psychic abilities. We would not speak, but we could read each others thoughts perfectly, “We are going to die aboard this flight, aren’t we?” Compared to the thrashing we got from flying across the Pacific, this was like having bad shocks on your car while driving on a gravel road.

It was when we landed that I encountered that quirk that makes the Philadelphia airport so aggravating. The wait to get to a gate. You see the Philadelphia International Airport often times has more planes on the ground then there are gates. This means you are in for a long, sometime a half an hour wait, from when you land before you actually pull up to a gate. And we waited on that plane like the Grinch waited for Hooville to arise on Christmas morn to see their presents and trees were stolen. When a gate was finally given to us and the plane pulled up and that damned seat belt light came off, I’m sorry to say that no one’s heart grew three times larger.

I left the plane, gathered my belongings and headed for the terminal entrance where my parents were to meet me. As I came down the stairs, my mother was there. We hugged and she said “We have to hurry. We’ve been there for half an hour and the police are going to make Jon move his car if we don’t get a move on.”

You see, although my stepfather has married into Jews, it appears that he has gleefully taken on our cultures more antagonizing characteristics. Aspects that are probably partially responsible for why my Great Aunt Binnie is now a lampshade.

I’m kidding! Geez. She’s actually a set of encyclopedias.

In this case, Jon has taken on the penny pinching, “Sure we make six digits a year, but we have to spend like we only make four” aspect you would only see in horrible hook nosed caricatures like Shylock, the Merchant of Venice. Instead of going into short term parking and paying 5 dollars, Jon decided to sit up against the terminal for half an hour. You know, for loading and unloading only. On Christmas Eve Eve. Now I’m sure I could tell this plan to a chimp, and they would see the error and fallacies involved almost immediately. But no, not my stepfather. And of course when I arrive outside, Jon’s car is gone. He was forced to move or to get a ticket. He chose to move. I have my cell with. I call. Instead of going into short term parking which he could have just a block ahead of where he was parked, Jon decided to circle around the airport to swing by and pick us up again. This would be a great plan if we were in say, the Ozarks or a city that is not the fifth largest in America. On Christmas Eve Eve. My mother and I will not see Jon for another half an hour even though he will be driving less than five minutes.

For the first five minutes my mother and I discuss Murphy’s Law and also the fact I called her before the flight took off to let her know we were leaving late and that she should arrive accordingly but yet my words were unheeded with the proper wisdom they held. We both agreed that a valuable lesson had been learned here and that next time, they would park in case of a delayed flight instead of trying to barter with a police office.

After these five minutes are up I realize that I will be hit with a barrage of the usual Jewish mother questions. The same I always get from her. “Why don’t you cut your hair? Why do you wear so much black? When are you going to settle down with a nice Jewish girl? You always date those awful crazy goth women and you wonder why they’re so insane. There’s no money in non-fiction. Why don’t you write a nice children’s book. Children like you. They’ve always liked you. But don’t have any. I’m too young to be a Bubby. ” So I press a few buttons on my phone and make it look like my friend Chris is calling me when in fact I am calling him out of crazed desperation and that fact than my Holy Land is quickly becoming unsanctified by badgering parental concern that comes with a generation gap.

My mother is the Tri-State Area’s (PA/NJ/DE) answer Dr. Laura and does speeches and keynotes and the like spewing commentary only a conservative Jewish Republican psychologist can come up with. Her son of course is a monochromatically dressed Sub-Cultural Icon whose columns, ranging from video games to gourmet cooking, are as respected and loved as he is humble and demure about his accomplishments. Or something. ;-) Needless to say there is a conflict between our two lifestyles. However when dealing with my mother, the mantra I end up reciting on a minutely basis becomes, “It’s only three days. I can do this. It’s only three days. I can do this.” Already I have conceded to have my hair in a ponytail and to wear something non black for her. These are minor things that cause me no harm or strife to do. But unless you have a Jewish mother of your own, you can not begin to imagine the frustration that comes with 72 hours of non stop nagging and stories about her friend Shelia’s daughter who is a teacher and how she’s able to be a professional without all the black and she’s quite happy in her life and how she really hopes you don’t wear makeup like the middle schoolers she sees that listen to Marilyn Manson and Insane Clown Posse. So trust me when I say three days of this is like spending an eternity trapped in a lake with piranhas that prefer to nibble slowly and savour their meal instead of devouring you outright. But then that could just be the jet lag talking.

I talk to Chris for 5 minutes then IM my friends Don and Dave explaining how soon my personally chauffeured Chevy Impala will be taking me down the express lane to Tartarus and that I fear my head shall be shorn while I sleep like a sheep when Jon walks up behind us. It turns out he decided to park in the economy parking. He then says “I hope you guys are ready for a walk.” My only response is “I can’t imagine it’s any longer than the C terminal at MSP.”

And I’m right.

On the way to the car, an amusing situation occurs. As we walk by where a terminal entrance, there is a horde of people standing there waiting for friends and family and loved ones to arrive. Amongst them is a very attractive goth girl. Sure she has the fake very thin penciled on eyebrows going on, but she has a body I most certainly wouldn’t kick out of bed and a face to go with it. I size her up, and wonder if I know her. Then I noticed she’s regarding me in the same fashion.

“HBK?” she asks quietly with a furrowed brow, as if the ponytail and vermillion dress shirt disguise me with the same effect than Clark Kent’s glasses and different hairdo prevent people from realizing he is the last son of Krypton.

It surprises me. Long before I was the Icon, the Showstoppa, the Main Eventah to an amazingly small niche of an international audience, I was Philadelphia’s favorite oogedy boogedy boy. But I haven’t lived there since the start of 8th grade. It’s both flattering and alarming and makes me wonder what the odds are. But then people who know me, always manage to find me…

I don’t remember what I said back. One of my classic OTT egotistical comments meant to inspire eye rolling and laughter. Something like “What, you thought all these people were here for relatives and not the Showstoppa?” Or “You know, there’s a vacancy at the Heartbreak Hotel this weekend, you might want to get the suite while you can.” Stuff I could never say back in Minneapolis because god knows SOMEONE would take that shit seriously. But in Philadelphia, lines like that are almost expected from me by those who know me.

“Alex, I thought that was you. How long are you home for?” I don’t know who this girl is still. Not even the slightest inkling. I merely say back, “I’ll be at JDC (John’s Dark Corner, one of the many Goth related events and places you can go to on a Saturday night. Also the only one I know that is still open for business Christmas evening.) Saturday night. Come find me.” And I am pulled away by my mother and stepfather.

“My god, what do you see in those women? They look like Vampire Prostitutes!” my mother says.

“That’s actually a large part of the appeal mom.” I say with a wink.

I’m not sure what my mom muttered, but I think it was in Hebrew, and it was definitely profane.

We make it to the economy lot while my mother and Jon kvetch about the distance and cold wind. It’s 40 degrees out. I just came from -10 Fahrenheit. They know nothing of cold! We get in the car and head to the exit. Jon hands the man a dollar bill. The man shakes his head and points to the sign reading “$8.00/24 hours.” Jon tries to explain that he was only there 31 minutes and not 24 hours so he shouldnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have to pay the full rate. I am glad that my tan from Australian hides any red in my cheeks from the shame I am feeling while my stepfather attempts to haggle past the concept of a “flat rate.”

Finally Jon begrudgingly pays what he is owed and after three minutes of yelling about what a rip off parking is he says, “You know what we learned here today family?”

My mother and I say at the exact same time, “To park in the short term lot?”

Jon say no. We have learned that they will park outside the airport on the interstate and wait for me to call. Then they will drive up to the terminal and load up the car with my bags and take off. My mother and I look at each other and I use those psychic abilities I honed with Madolan in Perth to say “You married him, not I.”

Five minutes later, my mom asks me what I want to eat.

“Cheese Steak?” I say.

“Anything else sweetie?”

“Cheese Steak?”

“I was thinking you could get one tomorrow actually.”

“Cheese Steak?”

Jon finally interrupts. “We’re not going into the city. Traffic’s too bad and it’s too late at night.”

“Pat’s is open 24 hours.” I suggest. Ah Pat’s. King of Cheese Steaks. The BIRTHPLACE of cheese steaks. Truly, the closest thing we mortals have to Ambrosia on this planet. I would get the clap if it meant I could half a half dozen of those things. They are the only greasy horrible for me artery clogging cholesterol raising food I will eat aside from Popeye’s chicken. The only food that will make me ignore my high fiber, low fat, rarely red meat, lots of fruits and veggies ands pasta and seafood digestive habits I have. I would not give up on having one this evening.

But then, I wasn’t the one behind the wheel of the vehicle, was I?

Jon speaks again, “You know, a little bit away from the house there’s a WAWA’s that does subs and hoagies 24 hours. They don’t have cheese steaks, but it’s close.”

Close? CLOSE? A WAWA is a 24 hour gas station/convenience store chain in the mid atlantic region. That was like asking me to go to a 7-11 for oysters or a Holiday for beef tenderloin or a Piggly Wiggly for something other than Chitterlings. But instead of whining and pouting like a 13 year old I thought, “It’s 1am. My parents are usually in bed by 10. They’re conscious and finding Morpheus just to pick me up and spend time with me. I should be grateful they’re taking me anywhere at all for food instead of passing out on the side of the road from sleep deprivation.” So I smiled and said sure, and pointed out even a sub from a WAWA would be better than anything you can get in Minneapolis that goes by the same name.

The rest of the trip to the WAWA was filled with a heated discussion about bread and how different it is on the East Coast from the Midwest and how you can’t good a good Rye or Kaiser out there, but yet they have more kinds of white bread than all other breads put together, and how it’s really the bread that makes the cheese steak and that’s my Subway subs are so terrible, because these chain places just don’t know how to make proper hoagie rolls.

And the truth is, the meatball hoagie I did get was superior to anything I had at the Subway right next to Charthouse when I worked there during my FISH! days. It must be the bread after all.

It’s 3:30am EST now. I’m happy to be home. Optimistic as always that this trip will not devolve into a “Cut your hair, wear some colour, get a tan, vote Republican, get a pair of khakis, etc etc” one sided conversation like it always does when I’m visiting the parents. And even if it does I know it all comes from my mom caring about me and wanting the best for me, even if I know it’s not what IS best for me. I have two days of eating amazing food (My mom’s an even better cook than I am) and spending time with two people in the flesh that I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving 2003 that I know love me, even if I find them dorky and annoying as shit at times. It’s family. And this is the season to spend time with them. Besides, it’s only three days trapped in a house with hardcore near racist upper classed income Republicans who wish to make me into a carbon copy mold of every other homogenized white male out there bereft of passion and integrity ala Alex Keaton on Family Ties.

Sunday can’t come soon enough.

Alex’s note No cooking or spooky shit this week. Sorry. That’ll be next week.