Monday, June 20, 2005

Train-ing Day II: The Amtrak Redemption

Damn it, Amtrak! It’s not as funny when everything runs smoothly!

If you recall, last month my quiet little trip to New York turned into a twelve hour ordeal of sentient rage, all thanks to Amtrak’s policy of being so anti-fascist that the trains never run on time. Ride without delays and you ride with Il Duce, after all.

I resigned myself to signing up for another go-round with my railed nemesis as I made my way down to Brooklyn for a chance to see Randy Johnson actually pitch a winning game. On TV. I figured even if the traveling was brutal, I’d at least get another good blog entry out of it. Ever the mercurial bitch-goddess, Amtrak did its level best to confound my plans by . . . being exactly on time. Touché, Amtrak. Touché.

We were so on time, in fact, that we had to cool our jets in Albany for fifty minutes. I took the opportunity to go grab a bit of real food from the Albany station. I was unsuccessful. I bought what certainly looked like a croissant. Turns out of was one of those faux-sant things that are croissant on the outside and, like, Kaiser roll on the inside. How is that even legal to advertise your foodstuffs so falsely?

I also took Albany as an opportunity to warm up the body temp since I seemed to be bringing a cold and drizzly climate across the breadth of the state. And, since I had been so concerned with not dying of heat stroke last week, I hadn’t packed anything close to a long sleeve. So a bout of the Ironic Pneumonia seemed almost inevitable. Until I later discovered that Brooklyn also functions as the nation’s Humidity Preserve.

So I arrive in New York, on time to the minute, and hop in a cab to Brooklyn. The view from the Brooklyn Bridge is spectacular. You can see the Statue of Liberty, and I have to admit, from my vantage point it looked rather small. I don’t think that’s so much a knock against the statue as it is a nod to how impressive all of lower Manhattan looks. Regardless, it’s a sight to see.

The TNBC is lovely, especially once I discover the back patio. The fresh air helps to de-Whitney my rapidly perspiring self. I smoke, which I often do at these type of events. Of course, I never seem to remember that my tolerance for booze when I smoke is significantly less than when I don’t. Consequently, I hit the happy place a lot sooner, and I hit the sad, spitty place a lot sooner, too. I manage to right my ship, thank god, because Sarah totally doesn’t need Barf Cup II: Electric Puke-aloo. Still, it’s probably best that I made it a fairly early night.

Friday is a beautiful day in Brooklyn. Sarah and I seek out a coffee, and on the way we’re approached by petitioners who ask if we’re concerned about the mercury levels in our fish. When they put it that way, Sarah points out, how can we say “no”? Then she takes a nice, deep drag of nicotine and tar, while we stroll by the pub where I’ll soon be passing a dozen pints of Harp through my liver. We’re nothing if not aware of how we poison our bodies daily.

Speaking of the pub . . . niiice. Tiny, as everything in New York tends to be, but classy without any of the “assy.” Cute Irish bartenders and waitstaff, too, and an ‘80s-friendly juke, so that doesn’t hurt its appeal any. I meet my cousin Kerry there and we have one of those fantastic, out-til-three-in-the-morning pub nights, talk about everything from family to politics to concerts we’ve been to, and never once feel the need to justify what you’re doing or not doing with your life, which can happen when you’re with family. Good times.

It was all good times, really, which makes it a lot harder to try and fashion into an amusing anecdote. Sorry, y’all.

Oh, there were a handful of interesting subplots on the train ride home, I’ll grant you. To wit:

So, okay, I can’t say this with any degree of certainty, but there’s a good-to-decent chance that I may have blurted out “Baby mama! Baby mama!” on the train ride home.

Allow me to explain.

See, I was in that sorta-sleeping stage where you’re dreaming but what you’re dreaming isn’t so far separated from where you actually are. In my head, I wasn’t on a train, but a plane. And the people across the aisle from me were discussing “House” actress Lisa Edelstein. And they were wondering where they knew her from. They thought it might have been from “Felicity”, but they couldn’t put a finger on who she played. Ben’s . . . something. Ben’s what? That’s right. Ben’s baby mama.

So in my dream, I’m actually yelling this to the people across the aisle. “Baby mama! Baby mama!” They can’t hear me, so I keep yelling. And, again, I’m in that just-barely-dreaming state, which means that I very well could have been issuing this mandate on Ben’s parental status for my all-too-real train companions to hear.

When I woke up for real, no one was laughing or pointing, which was a good sign. Still. Awkward.

Of course, it may not have made that much of an impression on my rail mates since we were already being regaled by the antics of Pootie Tang’s Ashy Grandparents and their little theatre of the absurd presentation. Y’all are old! Stop talking gibberish and hiding behind seat backs trying to scare each other. You look crazy. Don’t make me put you in that crooked home I saw on “60 Minutes.”

The stretch from Syracuse to Buffalo on the way home is absolutely interminable. I’m reduced to sitting absolutely still, sweating out the remains of the lager that’s in my system, and making unsubstantiated, and likely bigoted, observations like, “The Amish have the cutest toddlers and the ugliest old people I’ve ever seen.” It’s totally mean, and I wouldn’t have even thought it had I not been delirious with boredom, no matter how true it might have seemed. Oh, like they’ll ever read this anyway. And Harrison Ford’s old ass doesn’t scare me anymore, either.

So, that’s it. The train was an hour and a half late on the way home, which was a drop in the bucket, considering the last time. My sunglasses stayed in one piece, I was able to stay adequately hydrated, and I actually had a good time in the city. I guess I’ll just have to wait until the next heat wave for another bitter, disillusioned post. See y’all then.

1 comment:

Carlie said...

Darn, I wanted to live vicariously through your misery!!!