26. Good bye and fare ye well Texas
Well, leaving Texas was a simple and sad affair. First we Honda’d to the outside of town to visit the evil-empire of Wal-Mart. I like supporting the independents and the little fellas but from time to time I capitulate and visit the multi-nationals, thus helping the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. The real world is the River Walk, full of mystic and imagination, Wal-Mart on the other hand is the stuff of horror stories, full of voidness, nothingness and totally stripped of any resemblance of the celebration of humanity and our mono-theistic God. But unfortunately in order to find a soap bag I had to leave the celebration and sortie into the void.
However the void did throw up one little hellish surprise for me. I needed a wee soap bag size conditioner bottle. Gotta keep that goatee nice and soft. I figured I may as well buy a full one. Oh my goodness, how do you Americans do it? The celebrations of scent in this bottle of conditioner, conditioned me into an out-of-the-void, out-of-this-world-experience. Smearing that stuff under my nose took me to the celebration of South East Asia, coconut trees, romanticised humidity and boco salad(88). This stuff smelt so good that the temptation was for this man to miss his flight and spend the rest of his day in the pinnacle of the celebration, commonly known as the shower, conditioning his goatee. Oh yes, God really does penetrate hell.
Moving right along, I blessed China with the smallest possible portion of our wallets and returned home for my final dose of cold, yummy Texan bbq ribs and for our wiggly fare ye wells. Yes and yes, it was photo time. A tripod, two cameras, four adults, three kids and the hot Texas sun. The sun would not have been an issue if this dumb Kiwi had understood earlier that it is better to take such photos inside. My outside attempts had everyone squinting and screwing up their faces, looking about as attractive as blubbering Klingons. So on the advice of the Texans in the situation, we moved inside and clicked our way through a half dozen wiggly kiddied photos. Photos that are doomed or destined to spend the rest of their life either stuck in the vaults of a computer or chilling on the door of a Baltic fridge. Cool eh!
So as sad as it was, and all hugged up, we Honda’d south with a camera full of fresh memories. We were, or at least I was, many many bbq sauce pounds heavier as we entered San Anton airport. It was election day and not just any election day, but nonetheless the day that the first black person was to become the president of the world’s only superpower. Consequently and I don’t know why, but the airport that was a colourful mass of sweaty humanity only last week was now almost totally empty. It seemed that we were the only people flying into Chicago on election night.
Before we were even allowed to check in we were approached by a typically friendly and smiley Hispanic American woman wearing the uniform of some kind of security person. She scanned our bags and made sure that our water bottles were empty. It was a little bit freaky, because really, practically no one was in the airport. A few check-in staff, a few police officers, a security person and the three of us. We said our good byes to our friend, thanked him for dropping us off, crossed through the security quadrant and set out to find check-in. From check-in the priority was to find a television, this was election night and very soon the results would start rolling in. I think most people in America realised deep in their hearts that McCain did not stand a chance. It was just a matter of seeing how much he would lose by and of course everyone was interested to see just how Obama would win. So we sat down and watched some of the exit polls, but we were mostly too early.
I actually had to go ask an attendant if they could turn up CNN for us so that we could listen. No sooner had they done this than did people start congregating around our tele. A slightly overweight man with a brief case and a hard hat sat down beside me. I lent over to him and asked him who he was voting for? His Houston accent replied ‘Obama’. Flabbergasted at meeting someone so far south of the Mason-Dixie line who actually was willing to mention Obama in a positive light, I asked him why? He went into a long speel about healthcare and taxes. I was fascinated and then asked a whole heap of questions to see if he was Christian or not. The answer was he seemed to be a Bible-belt casual believer, but perhaps not the classical evangelical definition of Christian. We talked for a while and then we jumped in our numerical ordered Southwest queue, checked for final election results and jumped on the plane.
Our first stop naturally enough was Houston, and it was here where three quarters of the plane emptied out. There were perhaps about six of us left for the final election night leg into Chicago, Illinois. Our flight was delayed for quite some time. On the previous leg a whole bunch of Southwest employees had commuted home to Houston. Naturally enough they all had pretty much identical khaki uniforms and flight cases. It seemed that one of these employees had inadvertently taken one of our hostesses’ bags, things were quite tense for a while, the flight crew and all six or so passengers were worried that her bag had been stolen by a bad-egg passenger. It was a good time to glean more election results from the ground crew and an excellent chance for me to have a final bash at hassling the wonderful and fun Southwest cabin staff. This time I did a quick calculation on how many empty seats there were on the plane and suggested that the democrat hostess should give me the corresponding amount of bags of peanuts. The hostess’ face taut into a Southwest sly and cheeky smile, which meant that even on election night and one bag down, she was willing to step up to the crease and come in to bat(89). Barely decipherable from a now huge cheeky grin came the words ‘Sure, if you think you can eat’em all before you get off the plane, you can hav’em’. Oh she was whacking the ball over the boundary(90), but my goodness, the fat lady had not sung yet, I jumped into the grandstand, bounded up the stairs and caught that ball before it went out of the stadium. My reply was ‘Sure I will give that a go’. It probably meant that I would need to eat about a hundred bags of peanuts in the next few hours. But shoot what a great election night memory this was shaping up to be.
It was about at this time, when the missing cabin bag was found and we received our last election up-date, which incidentally was something like ‘It doesn’t seem that McCain has much of a chance, this is Obama’s night’. While we were taxiing down the runway, my cheeky hostess produced a huge bag of many packets of peanuts and said ‘You can eat’em now or take them home’. There was no need for another innings(91), Southwest and their excellent fun service had won our cricket test match(92). I gladly received the peanuts. We ate, farted and pooed peanuts from Ontario to Minnesota, they where God’s provision for snack food for the next two weeks of road trips. Thank you Southwest Airlines.
And with California, Idaho and Texas behind us, here ends the flying leg of our journey, but before we start the road trip leg, I want to talk politics and other stuff.
Texas is behind us now, but come back next week and hear about race in the USA.
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