Monday, September 22, 2008

Yucatan Wednesdays...A Travel Journal ch.2

Philadelphia. City of Brotherly Love and Broken Brackets-

Fact: Honeymooners are a pain in the arse. They can't help it, also fact. They honestly believe that they are possibly the most In-Love individuals on planet earth and feel desperately sorry for the poor 'older' couples who've let their love die in the gutter after assaulting it with dirty diapers, two year olds and shattered dreams of success.
And so, our story brings us to a bustling and overcrowded airplane flying somewhere over the midwestern United States and to a lovely young couple in seats 22 A and B. In seat 22 C sat an exhausted, frizzy haired woman of a few years more than they. Her once tidy pant suit is stained with airport coffee and she is perpetually raining acid-laden glances down on the smooching young couple next to her. And why, you might ask, is this woman being such a wet blanket on the paradise of their love??? Because they're a pain in the arse. We've discussed this.
The flight to Philadelphia was LONG and as I said, crowded. As you may have guessed, yours truly was seated next to a couple of Love birds.
"So, how long have you been married?" Asks the honeymooning girl to the obviously more mature woman next to her after spotting the ring on the appropriate finger.
"Oh, let's see. Eight and a half years, I guess."
"Oh my gosh- that's like, forever. Eight and a half years ago I was eleven!" She giggles at her funny and I raise an eyebrow. Part of my self discovery this past year is realizing that there's no need for me to be polite to absolute strangers once I've assessed that they're dumb. Case in point, Suzie Q in 22 B.
"Yep. It's been a very long eight and a half years. You'll see. Once the first year has come and gone you, too, will start asking yourself, 'What in God's name did I see in this imbecile? He's broke, uneducated and full of faults. On the hot scale, I'm a solid 8, while he remains firmly lodged in the 3's. By God, I'm gettin' outa here." This is said with a knowledgeable nod of wisdom and a conspiratorial wink to the guy across the aisle from me. Suzie does not see the wink or the man's grin. He is hiding behind his Star Wars novel in a heroic attempt to keep from laughing outright. Suzie flinches slightly and finally remembers to close her mouth. In the seat beside her, her new husband has fallen into a drooling snooze to the soothing sounds of Pink Floyd. The latest issue of Drummer's Monthly is laying open on his lap.
Having successfully stilled conversation with the twittering newlywed, I resume my in flight reading and happily pass the next three and a half hours in silence.
We arrive, still with lingering humor, to a cramped, narrow halled airport and proceed to the ticket agents in order to secure our flights for the following morning. A quick jaunt out to the arrivals zone and soon we are being loaded into an air conditioned shuttle and anticipating seeing this new city.
Ten minutes later and it's clear that Essington is in exactly the opposite direction from downtown Philadelphia and we are going to see NOTHING in the way of the city. Not one thing. We briefly glimpse the skyline before launching onto the freeway in the other direction. We find ourselves later in a somewhat run down district of steakhouses, factories and nightclubs. It looked a little like Powell Blvd back home. Not good.
In an effort to keep costs down, and also to see if we could do it just for the sake of principle, we have not eaten since the day before. It's six in the evening in Philly and we are pretty sure we're going to die of starvation seizures any moment. Next to our cheapo motel, sits mecca- or as it's known in the Northwest, Denny's. But we bypass this traditional choice and take to walking around industrial Philadelphia at dusk, certain we can find someplace to eat that's a little more interesting. We ask around.
"The best place to eat? Oh that's Mike's for sure. That little place on the cornuh, right there. See it? Best Philly Cheesesteak around." Thick Jersey accent.
"What place? Where are you pointing?"
"Right there. See it? With the screen door? Acrossah street."
"That place? really?"
"Yup."

Hm. 'That place' is a tiny, hole in the wall 'joint' with a broken screen door hanging by the top hinge. The diner inside is linoleum floored and looks sticky, even from here, all the way acrossah street. I know there are flies in there. I don't know how I know. I just do.
We ask, "Anything else in this neighborhood?"
"Um. Yeah- there's the tavern. Just go down that street a block or so. You'll see it."
We take a moment to wonder if we're being set up for a mugging, thank the man and keep walking.
Sure enough, a few blocks later, the charming tavern sits huddled in the dark, a few paces back from the road. It looks promising. It's dimly lit and noisy- the first is suspicious, but the second is a good sign.
Cedar paneled walls sport horse racing photo's, there are candles on the tables and the menu boasts pickled beets. What more could one want? I order a dark beer and look across the table at Ryan. This is perfect.
"You know, you were outright rude to that poor girl on the plane."
"I know. I feel bad."
"You do not."
"I know. I feel bad about not feeling bad."
"you do..." he starts to argue "...ok. you know what? just order."

I order the flank steak and he the spaghetti. Discussion with the waitress yields information and we learn that this restaurant has been in this neighborhood for over fifty years and that most of the waitstaff has been here since it opened. You can tell.
Our food arrives and it feels like years since we've eaten last. I am about five bites into the best steak I've ever eaten when I hear the snap. Ryan looks up from his pasta with a "What the?" look on his face. Delicately, with fear, I reach up and remove the wire from where it's stabbing me in the cheek. This has happened before. I was afraid of this. I've broken a bracket trying to chew the World's Best Steak. It's rattling around in my mouth and making it impossible to eat. The rest of my meal goes untouched and the oldest waitress on the planet is slightly annoyed.
"Maybe we should see if there's an orthodontist who can do emergency work." Suggests Ryan.
"I'll be ok." I insist. "It's nine o'clock at night, I'm exhausted. I was planning on drinking my meals on this trip anyway." He rolls his eyes and I wholeheartedly pray there will be no need for me to find an orthodontist in the tiny Mexican town of Puerto Juarez. That just sounds scary.
We pay and begin the walk back. It's fully dark now as we make our way to the main road that will take us back to our hotel. Cars streak by us and I have a moment to appreciate how pedestrian-conscious Portland driver's can be before I glance across the street at another couple making their way in our same direction. They're obviously having a great time and look a little unsteady on their feet. And then, as if it were the most natural thing to do on a Philadelphia streetside, the man drops his drawers and pee's.
Safely back in our hotel room, two miles and thirty seconds later, we collapse. I'm still starving, but have had enough humor to at least keep me occupied today and am rolling in a fit of laughter on the motel bed.
"Did you see that!?" I'm still laughing and Ryan's pulling off his t-shirt and chuckling.
"Yeah."
"Happy second honeymoon!" I guffaw. He looks disappointed.
"I feel bad about this." He says in his serious, discussing thermo-dynamics voice. "We never really took much of a real honeymoon, and when we finally do, your teeth fall apart and strange men are peeing on the sidewalks."
"Would you feel better if it had been someone we knew?" I ask, but barely get the words out.
I can't help it now, I'm hysterical. When I can talk again, have caught my breath, I shake my head.
"We're not newlyweds, thank God. Can you imagine? Nope. We're partners in crime, among other things, and those twittering honeymooning idiots ain't got nothin' on us."
I hold out my hand to him and he takes it. I flip on the T.V. and cruise the cable channels.
"Hey, look. Family Guy's on." He says, feeling better. We get comfortable with snacks for him and water for me and spend most of the night watching the inappropriate cartoon marathon in our jammies.
We fall asleep later to the sound of our own laughter. Our non- honeymoon has begun.


*Please stay tuned for next weeks episode of
Yucatan Wednesday's... Thunder From Down Under*

4 comments:

klyn said...

Seeing as my honeymoon was spent driving 3,000 miles across the country during December while always on the lookout for the next bathroom, I have an immediate distrust of perky honeymoon couples actually headed somewhere other than a Harlem, Georgia trailer home. I am sure it is not envy at all.

meliken said...

I'm right there with ya, sister. This particular couple was heading to Paris to begin their European tour.

Jessica said...

"'That place' is a tiny, hole in the wall 'joint' with a broken screen door hanging by the top hinge. The diner inside is linoleum floored and looks sticky, even from here, all the way acrossah street."

Aw! Those are the BEST places! But it sounds like your place was good, too! Nice work!

marketing said...

Hi, thanks for the post. Here is a useful directory of orthodontists by state/city for anyone looking for an orthodontist.

Orthodontist Directory