June 16, 1999

Sydney Trip: LAX Terminal

8:23 PM LAX

It's already been a long day, though the longerst part is still to come. I just stepped off a plane (slightly drowsy and shaky, but in decent spirits) here in Los Angeles. It's my first visit, but it'll be a short one, topping out at under 3 hours. At 10:40 or so, local time, I'll board another jet for sydney. My mission until then is one of endurance. Trying to stay awake is always easier with food in front of you, so first order of business was to locate an eatery in the terminal. It wasn't tough. LAX looks a lot like Logan in the details -- signs, the way gates are set up. It's a contrast to the more modern look and feel of Providence and Dulles, the two airports I previously visited today.

But now, here I sit in RUby's Dinette with a Rubyburger, pickles and "skinny fries" to give my Coke some work washing stuff down. The skinny fries are supposed to be lower fat, a foreign concept to the Diner, I'll bet and somewhat incongruous with the 40's atmosphere of this place. However, I seriously doubt these fries would be mistaken for a health food.

The 40's music crooning out of the hidden speakers accomplishes its purpose which I assume is to soothe. Why is it that such music, the mottled red vinyl seat cusions, the chrome stools and counter, the block-glass and vintage Coke advertisements make me feel welcome, though they are from a time long before I was born? My guess is that it is television;s influence. I've seen these things in old shows and they speak of "good old days."

What effect does it have on a culture to extend its natural memory with recorded shows and music, so that fashions are preserved for so long in such a vivid way? Does it cause a culture to feed on itself, to dwell on its familiar short-term memories until it can't generate new ones?

The food is waking me up (a bit) but I'm fighting Dramamine and half a glass of merlot I drank by mistake. The hazards of business class.

On thes second floor of a 747 there is room to spread out. Video screens are hidden in the armrest and you have a choice of 4 movies. Dinner was filet mignon, but the steak I had with my friends last Sunday put the paltry hunk of beef to shame. (Even when you take the company out of consideration).

Note to self: ginger sesame dressing is good. The salad was the best part of the meal. I'm resisting the urge (very strong) to get another Coke. My lazy hand can barely scratch out these tired words, but I don't want to jinx my chances at a decent night's (day's?) sleep on the next flight. It was sad waving "bye" to the kids as I boarded the turboprop to Dulles.

The girls were remarkably good-behaving in the PVD terminal. Except for usual small squabbling and Mattie's tendency to run for her life with little provocation.

The turboprop flight wasn't bad with ear plugs and a book. At least it was relatively short.

When I write in a tired state, I sometimes catch myself thinking I am mouthing the words as I write them. Thankfully, my lips aren't moving, it just feels that way. Boy, I wish I could sleep. It's midnight by my internal clock.

It's official. When you're too tired to lift a french fry to your mouth without dropping it, it's time to put the pen down. TIme to grab some non-caffeinated beverage and go stretch out on a chair or two.

My decent pen is the first casualty of the trip. Perhapsa the changes in pressure were too great for it, but it bit the dust and now bleeds out its life's ink. Luckily, there was no real mess. ANd I have a backup. The busboy noted that I was falling asleep in my fries and offered to take my trash away.

I'm now sitting in front of the gate (I think). I believe my departing gate coincides with my arrival gate.

A child nearby is whining a bit like Mattie or possibly AJ. Not sure what he wants. The man across from me is wearing drab green pants, brown shoes and blue socks with a nickel-sized white pattern on them which I can't make out from here. His shirt is a light blue checked button-up with a polo logo. Some sort of logo T-shirt lies beneath.

The whining is now crying, very much like a child at the end of his rope. I recognize the sound. I sympathize with the parent, but I still hope he is quiet on the plane. 'Course, I can use my earplugs and the parents have to put up with it. Even standing up I can't locate hte unhappy child even though I can hear him clearly. That feels odd. I still would like to sleep. Boarding is still a half hour away.

The man with the odd matching skills was fooling around with a bottle in a red fabric drawstring bag earlier. It may have been rum, but my thoughts turned to Manny's favorite liquor citation -- GIlby's Gin. He's vaguely mediterranian looking, with medium olive skin, a rounded but crooked nose and dark hair and eyes. His ticket sticks out of his blue sportcoat breast pocket, hung up on his wheeled luggage.

Posted by James at 8:23 AM