God doesn’t think he’s Bono.
Let’s back up to the beginning, shall we? A smooth and comfortable flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles starts the trip. After landing at LAX we must fill 6 ½ hours before the direct flight to Dublin on Aer Lingus. Ach!
First thing is to get the boarding pass and find the gate so we can eat, grab a few pre-flight lubrication units and play a few hours of Candy Crush. Since we’re so early the flight to Dublin isn’t listed on the departure monitors. So, we ask a handyman who is fixing a lighting fixture where we should go to find the Aer Lingus counter. Asking someone at the information kiosk makes too much sense and, of course, we have none of that. Miguel the handyman directs us to the Tom Bradley International Terminal which is outside a mile away. I confirm this with Margorie the shuttle driver for the invalid. She rolls her eyes and says not to leave the terminal like Miguel said because we would have to reenter security and who needs two deep cavity searches in one day? She points to a long corridor and says to walk this way. I think she just might be Steven Tyler in disguise. This is LA after all. And as you will soon see we do encounter several high-profile, world-renowned celebrities.
It is a long walk to TBIL but we’re excited to log the steps. For every 2000 steps I get to treat myself to a donut. That’s how I programmed my Fitbit anyway.
Once in TBIL I feel the anxiety of being a stranger in a strange land (thanks Issac). I’m trying to imagine what actual foreigners are feeling as they meander the giant terminal dazed, jet-lagged and in desperate need of a sign explaining where the hell to go. There is a colossal lack of signage in LAX. They’s lax in LAX. The only signage available directs you to the over-priced brand-name stores and of course the “World-class dining” establishments. We take note of the latter as we are planning a robust dining experience that hopefully will chew up a few hours’ waiting time before the flight.
We glimpse a British Airways ticket counter and figure they’d know where the Aer Lingus counter is. Our logical assumption that since Britain is next to Ireland so must their counters be.
“No Sir, you have to exit this terminal and go to Terminal 2,” the polite but put-upon ticketing agent says matter-of-factly as if he’s heard this question for only the second time in his career. The first time was in 1982 when an irate Belfastian by the name of Fergus Tellersbee reluctantly approached the British Airways counter and first explained he’d rather punch his grandmother in the stomach than ask an Englishman for help but was at his wit’s end and had no choice. Making the scene even more uncomfortable was the fact that Fergus was traveling with his grandmother. And, yes after he punched her in the stomach he asked the Englishman for help. While MeMaw, clutching her gut, writhed on the dirty terminal floor Fergus was again thwarted as the Englishman shrugged and said he didn’t know where the Aer Lingus counter was. And after that encounter regarding the counter, the Englishman vowed he’d find out where the Aer Lingus counter was, if for no other reason, to prevent any further grandma punching.
“Does that mean we have to exit this terminal and go through TSA security again,” I asked ready to punch a grandma.
We better take advantage of this “World-class dining” while we’re still in here, I thought. Who knows what kind of burger-on-a-stick joint they have over in Terminal 2.
The III Forks Steakhouse was upstairs and away from the throng and promised to be world class. Subconsciously I read ill Forks instead of 3 Roman numeral III’s. Funny name for a restaurant.
White table cloths, a waiter in a cream-colored tuxedo and a hostess named Belinda greet you as you approach. She gives you a quick up-and-down measuring your financial worth and then seats you reluctantly.
The waiter zips by and asks what you’d like to order. Zips is apt since his beleaguered soul-like expression is evident from the way he is ready to take your order more like at Denny’s at 2:30 a.m. than a world-class restaurant.
I ask if I could have whole wheat bread on my hamburger. “No! Bun only.”
“Can I get a salad instead of fries?”
“No. Sides,” he says pointing to the three bottom menu items. Asparagus, mushrooms, mashed potatoes.
I order asparagus because it’s the only green thing on the menu. I hate asparagus because it makes your pee stink. But hey, it’s green and the last thing you want to do is get all blocked up before an 11-hour flight. Mushrooms are a known blockage food. And, who wants to put fungi in your stomach before an 11-hour flight. I figure the pee smell will get sucked out when that airplane toilet violently vacuums the oxygen out of the room.
Meanwhile Belinda wrestles a woman who snuck behind her hostess podium saying that this was her area and that she will attend to her when she has had sufficient time to exude superiority upon all who desire to be seated.
What Belinda didn’t see was that a party of four Hungarians sat themselves unknowing they were to wait for the gatekeeper to allow passage. I knew I was going to be entertained with the upcoming conflagration as soon as Belinda realized there had been a breach of her authority.
Belinda noticed right away. But instead of confronting the poor Hungarians and making them get up and follow her to the podium so she could then return them to their seats, she completely ignored them.
She whispered something to the waiter. He nodded. The hungry Hungarians now were unknowingly sentenced to wait in perpetuity without so much as a place setting.
We were served, finished our meal and the Budapest Four continued craning for the attention that never came.
Finally, Belinda the Keeper of the Gate brought place sittings to the Hungarian table. They got up and walked out. It’s as if they waited just long enough to return the insult. Belinda’s incredulous expression as they basically flipped her off Budapest style proves she just didn’t study very hard during “World-Class Dining” orientation class.
Now we’re trudging outside the terminal in the LA air. We find Terminal 2. No Aer Lingus. Not even their sister airline, Kenny Lingus is anywhere to be found.
Another maintenance man informs us that Qatar Airlines will close soon and Aer Lingus will show up and set up their counters. Qatar Airlines is flying to Qatar. Dozens of beburka’d women trailing 3 feet behind their husbands are queueing up for tickets back to the promised land. This is a very stark opposite from the dozens of red-haired rugby shirt-wearing Irish folks who are Dublin bound.
Two hours later, another TSA groping later and we’re finally at the gate having that pre-flight lubricant. As airport bars go Sea Legs is all right. I ask about the seal egs. A little salty but surprisingly crisp and refreshing.
Remember when I said we encountered world-renowned celebrities? Ever heard of Teddy Hart? So picture this. A guy walks into the bar wearing a CZ-encrusted cross necklace that had to weigh 5lbs. His sunglasses had equally-bedazzled flamingoes on the rims. His black velour shirt had air-brushed pictures of angels and his name, Teddy Hart, emblazoned on the back. He had three shaved lines on the back of his head. We Googled Teddy Hart. Go ahead and look. I’ll wait.
Then out of the blue like a pigeon taking a dump from the ledge above Wanda Sykes walks by. I make eye contact for a split second and she darts into the ladies room to avoid my obvious autograph hunt. As it turns out, hers is the last autograph for my collection. I’ve reserved a place in my journal right next to Mel Swope’s, who appeared in three episodes of the Partridge Family.
“Wanda, you in here,” I whinny whilst opening stall doors looking for the elusive comedienne. Ach! Missed her somehow.
Kind of blurry after that. I just remember waking up as the wheels touched the tarmac in Dublin. My first impression is that it smells like asparagus pee here. Let the games begin.