I arrive at a place called “The Pub,” and I know I’m where I need to be for the moment. The barkeep hustles toward me, and I’m blinking into ESPN’s lights above the bar. She appears to be at least 90 years old.
“Well, let’s see here…”
“Let’s see here…”
She’s mimicking me. Mocking me?
“You look worse for the wear, hon. You hangin’ in there?”
“I never went to sleep last night. But do I look that bad off?”
“Nah,” she laughs/coughs. “I just have a head cold from last night. I’m out of it. What was the last thing you drank?” She’s reeling as she wipes off the bar top.
“Well, it was a cider, to be perfectly honest.”
“I’ve got Angry Orchard.”
(She later referred to it as a breakfast stout. “Your breakfast stout, hon.”)
My flight outta Dodge is delayed, naturally, but I’m here with words on the screen and an adult beverage at my side. I’m off to New York City for the next 12 days. Auspicious beginnings here at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, to be sure.
I order a sandwich, as well — bacon and egg on an English muffin with pepperjack cheese — because the last thing I ate was an apple-accented arugula salad in Ohio City 10 hours prior.
(A whole lifetime in 10 hours, then? There was a drink called “Suffering Bastard” in there at some point. Dry ice? Twin mermaids, too. A sign?)
I know few things for certain in this life, much less what awaits me these next few days. I’ll be seeing my favorite band perform music. I’ll be “working on my novel” between caffeine binges in Brooklyn.
There was a cat in front of me in the TSA line who was sort of humblebragging his way through descriptions of “international travel” and the finer points of “how to book a flight the right way.” He actually sounded pretty with it for a second, but then he mentioned that he travels the world hunting/killing animals and hanging their bodies (sans “meat”) in his home in Cleveland. Spent two weeks in Pakistan, he said, hunting ibex and sheep.
Whatever, I guess, not that I’d ever do such a thing. I think game hunting is asinine and sad. Listen: I’d do a hell of a lot more were I blessed with the means to skate across the world at regular intervals — something more life-affirming. Pakistan, for crissakes! Or at least I think I would. I’m probably full of it half the time.
But so then let’s test the theory. I’m off to New York City for the next 12 days. What’ll I make of it?
What’s the score here? What’s next?