Wearing Sweatpants in Cairo

Apparently I'm in Egypt. And I'm wearing sweatpants.

It's as weird to me as it is to you.

Recently, three college friends and I decided to take a trip together over Christmas. Of course, nothing is simple ever and the logistics were a nightmare. We discussed about 14 different possibilities of where to go, and now it seems that I'm in Egypt.

I'm alone at the moment, and meeting up with the others over the next couple days. Somehow, the only workable plan is taking us through four countries in 16 days and it all makes very little sense. Should be interesting.

And anyone who knows this blog knows there will be an extensive report upon my return.

At the moment, though, I'm wide awake at 2am (Egypt time) because of jetlag, and I intend to detail my past 24 hours.

12/25, 3:00pm: I'm in my apartment, wearing sweatpants. Because it's cold. I'm packing and getting the last things done before leaving. When it's time to leave I pick up my jeans to put them on. And standing there, holding my jeans, I think, "Screw it, you only live once," and pack the jeans. That's right, I decided to wear sweatpants on the flight. Wearing sweatpants in public is a big "eff you" to the world, but I had about 24 hours of traveling ahead of me, and it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

4:00: I arrive at the airport. Some kind of crowd at the airport on Christmas. It's like America without the Christians, which frankly is a weird place.

4:05: I am devastated to hear the Mariah Carey Christmas song "All I Want For Christmas Is You" playing in the airport. It had been stuck in my head all week ever since someone sent me the YouTube spoof of it, "All I Want for Christmas is Jews," like three days earlier. It had finally faded away and now this bullshit airport stuck it back in again. Nothing gets stuck in your head like Christmas songs in December. First, they're all ridiculously catchy. And second, you hear each of them like 350 times over a span of a month. This Mariah Carey one is especially catchy.

4:20: I decide to check my bigger bag. Anytime I head to Crazy Land (my term for the Third World) I bring two bags-- a big backpack and a little backpack. The big one has all the clothes; the little one has all the important things (passport, camera, guidebook, journal, etc.). Usually I carry both on when flying. But I had two long layovers this time and it was a delicious thought to rid myself of it.

4:30: I head to security. I try to act extra nice to all the staff there after watching 60 Minutes this week.

4:40: They make me take my "jacket" off and put it through the machine. It's not a jacket-- it's a zip-up hooded sweatshirt. If it were a normal hooded sweatshirt they wouldn't ask me to take it off, but because it zips up, it's a "jacket" and I need to check it. One of many things that don't make sense about security.

4:42: They do a bag check on my bag. When I was packing, my eye caught my Swiss Army Knife sitting in my apartment. I've had it for a long time, and never use it for anything. But I'll be camping on this trip, and it seemed like something I might want at some point. Of course, it didn't cross my mind that sharp, potentially murderous knives are frowned upon by airport security. Farewell, Swiss Army Knife. I hardly knew you.

4:48: I see a stand selling those U-pillows that go on your neck, and realize I forgot mine. I want to buy one but they're $16, which is just annoying when you already own one. I call Andrew "The Body" Finn for support. He says I should definitely buy one. Andrew is incredibly cheap, so any time he approves of an expense, I definitely don't have to feel guilty about paying for it. I buy the pillow.

5:10: I board the plane. The flight attendant asks me what seat I'm in. 21B, I explain. Right that way on the right, she explains. I'm not really sure why they think that airplane seats are hard to find on your own.

5:11: 21B is a middle seat. Crap.

5:12: I put the U-pillow on and it solves like 6 of my current problems.

5:13: Sitting there in sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and a soft U-pillow, I feel mad cozy.

5:30: Flight attendants are ordered by the omnipotent captain to "Please be seated." The plane lady sits down in her backward facing chair and I notice her put on a fancy seatbelt with two shoulder straps in addition to the waist strap that the rest of us have. This begs questions: Why don't passengers have the shoulder straps? Is it significantly safer with the shoulder straps? Or is it more dangerous sitting backwards? Why would they design a plane to make the flight attendants safer than the passengers? If we crash and all the flight attendants are fine because of the shoulder straps and everyone else dies, won't that look bad for the airline? Do the pilots have shoulder straps? Do the pilots just skip the seatbelts because no one will know anyway and if the plane crashes obviously everyone is dead anyway? Do the pilots have to put their seatbacks in the upright position before landing? Do their chairs even recline? Do they eat the meals the rest of us eat?

6:30: They put on a movie. Mama Mia. I watch a bit of it. The musical in the theater was kind of good-- the movie is unbearable. First of all, I'm all for chick flicks, but this is the biggest chick flick ever made. Secondly, it's really weird that they chose to cast an unattractive woman (Meryl Streep) as the mother. In the musical the mother was pretty hot, which was a key component of the whole thing. Third, it killed me trying to figure out who the main girl was, until I finally figured out that she was the random other girl in Mean Girls. Finally, it's really weird watching actors you know suddenly break out in song. In a musical, you just accept that the characters are going to be talking like normal people and then sometimes they're just going to start singing. But watching Pierce Brosnan having a chat and then suddenly start singing is just weird.

10:30: I decide to ask the girl next to me, "Where are you headed?" and immediately regret doing so. Planes are funny. You can treat the people next to you like inanimate objects and it's completely fine. But then, if you ever start a conversation, you irrevocably "cross over" into the normal, socially awkward adult world. It's easy to cross over, but almost impossible to cross back over to the original side if you decide you want to. Once you cross over with someone on a plane, you suddenly have to smile every time you make eye contact, continue to converse at the other person's whim, and when it's over, you have to say goodbye. You never have to say goodbye to people who you left in the inanimate object zone. So I crossed over with this girl because I was bored, because she was kind of cute, and because 3/4 of the people on this plane to Amsterdam were on their way somewhere else and I was curious. She was going to Madrid. That would have been all well and good, but she wouldn't let it stop there. She, it turns out, was in the mood to talk. Questions here, comments there-- I was trapped on the other side and there was no way to go back. After 15 or so minutes of this I tried to at least straddle the line by taking out my journal to write-- a pretty good hint, I thought. And I thought it had worked, but after a few more minutes, it was, "What do you do back home?" That line I had stepped over so easily now looked like a 40-foot stone wall with barbed wire and guards with machine guns on top.

11:30: We're passing Greenland on the little TV screen map. The following cities are in Greenland: Nuuk, Qaqortoq, Savissivik, Qaanaaq, Upernavik, Aasiaat, Ilulissat, and Oodaaq.

2:30am, LA time: We arrive in Amsterdam. I say the inevitable goodbye to my plane friend (not before exchanging email addresses, naturally).

2:33: Walking through the airport, I glance upon one of those HSBC "good bad bad good" ads-- this one with a piece of cake and a piece of broccoli, each labeled "good" and "gross" in their two pairs. I kind of love those ads.

5:30: I board my next flight, to London, and arrive an hour later.

8:00am, LA time: I board a flight to Cairo. A short door-to-door trip this is not.

8:02: Middle seat.

8:03: I notice, hideously, that not only are the two ladies on either side of me friends with each other, but they both have incredibly irritating machine gun laughs. Not one of them. Both of them. They machine gun laugh throughout the flight. By the end, every muscle in my body tenses up with every new laugh bullet.

2:00pm, LA time; midnight Egypt time: I arrive in Cairo.

12:15am: I arrive at baggage claim.

12:25: I wait for my bag. The big backpack.

12:35: I wait for my bag. Most of the other people are gone.

12:40: The bag belt stops moving. My bag is not on it. Everyone else is gone.

12:41: I want to kill myself.

12:42: I go to the guy working there and show him my luggage tag, which specifies LA-Amsterdam-London-Cairo. He shrugs and has me fill out a form and tells me to call back in a day or two and see if they've recovered it.

1:15: I'm in a cab to my hotel. I'm wearing sweatpants. It is now the only outfit I have. The song "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is stuck in my head.

And now it's 2:45am and I'm not tired. Luckily, I'm cozy. And will apparently be cozy for the next two weeks.

9 comments:

Paolo Fortades said...

I check your blog every morning. Have fun in Egypt

Anonymous said...

I hope you didn't take British Airways...if you did, don't count on getting your bag back anytime soon...they lost my bag once and it took months to get it back and when I finally did get it, it was all wet and my stuff had mold all over it

Anonymous said...

the airline is usually obligated to get you clothing and stuff when they lose your bag when you are away from home. or they reimburse you if you are without your stuff for more than X hours (X usually is 24).

and my security word to post is proode.

Anonymous said...

Ahh more adventure and suffering ,
this is why I check back here way
too often.

If you were on Amazing Race all the
other pairs and the host would all
be lined up like they do at the big
finish - waiting for you to arrive
at the start line.

You should have a TV show on NBC.

Ben Silverman ...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...interesting. When you described waiting for your bag at the Cairo airport it brought back memories of myself waiting at the same airport for my own luggage till everyone was gone. Luckily my suitcase showed up, only it had been riffled through and stuff stolen out of it! Gave a really welcome feeling, you know? Hope you have better luck!

Anonymous said...

Dude ... don't leave us all hanging. Did you get your luggage back? Did you repair the laugh bullets? Unite with friends.

Security Word = winies

Anonymous said...

happy new year tim! can't wait to hear more from your trip...

hope u had more 'adventures' to share!!

Anonymous said...

why don't you get your seats in advance so you don't get stuck in a middle seat?

why wouldn't one of the cacklers offer to switch seats with you?

i look forward to reading another of your always amusing post-trip recaps upon your return.

Anonymous said...

I love you, Tim. In a totally non threatening, blogger, kind of way.