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The traveler hypothesizes

I’m traveling again. I’ve found that this sort of experience gives rise to much scientific thought. While many travel writers use the tried and true “stream of consciousness” approach, I prefer to use punctuation and not slaughter the English language because I’m incredibly lazy/”creative.”

Hypothesis: I will not find any bookstores open at 4 am, and will consequently be doomed to boredom for about 20 hours as I fly back to the States.
Conclusion: Hypothesis Rejected.
Results: As it turns out, the Bangalore airport might actually be the cheapest place to buy books. Not only does the mighty and domineering dollar stick the rupee’s head in the proverbial toilet, but I am pretty sure that nobody really “buys books at 4 am” at the duty free stores. Furthermore, I pick books in English, instead of Hindi or Kannada. The end result is that the guy at the counter literally just gives me the books. For the next two plane rights, I’ll split my time between reading The Godfather and watching The Game Plan about 2.5 times (I swear to God, just a single decent movie on a single flight would pretty much be the equivalent of the Mile High Club for me.)

Hypothesis: The British have mastered breakfast.
Conclusion: Hypothesis Confirmed.
Results: I actually gathered some delicious data on this during my trip to India. I had a breakfast of fried eggs, grilled tomatoes, sausage, and baked beans at an airport restaurant. Now, on paper, featuring the terms “baked beans” and “airport restaurant,” the experience sounds about as appetizing as a Bea Arthur sex scene. But frankly, it was awesome. It was a breakfast combination that just reaffirms the notion that the U.S. picked the right side in WWII.

Generally, in the U.S., my breakfasts consist of a) an apple, b) a waffle-styled entity that basically mugs me of insulin, or b) hopes and dreams. Sometimes, on occasion, there are omelets. Frankly, this is the biggest drawback to America that I have encountered so far. I’ve heard all of the criticism of our “national obesity epidemic,” and our blatantly outmoded sense of “cowboy diplomacy.” Frankly, in the face of grilled tomatoes and a sunny-side up, I just can’t see how any of that really matters.

Hypothesis: This baby will blink first. I am unbreakable
Conclusion: Hypothesis Rejected.
Results: Infants are a strange breed. They can’t spell, read, or support the weight of their own ridiculously large heads. But engage one in a staring contest, and you are finished before it has even started. It’s surprising, I know, but for some unknown but doubtlessly biological reason, those little bags of pudge simply do not need to blink. It doesn‘t matter how much of an alpha male aura you try to project, they are utterly implacable.

In the case of my own particular defeat, I was trying to face down a blonde-haired, blue-eyed 8-month old. I’ll tell you something: even in my pain, I was impressed by how classy he was in victory. He was guileless, and clapped his hands with delight when I gave up with a tiny wail of despair, as tears ran from the prunes that used to be my eyeballs. Pure strength, and a wealth of human spirit. That kid should be president.

Hypothesis: I have a 5’7 mallard for a new best friend.
Conclusion: Hypothesis Rejected.
Results: When a person tries to travel from Bangalore, India to Atlanta, Georgia, the trip to go a couple of different ways. It can go “smoothly,” which entails sitting on planes, a layover somewhere in Europe, perhaps a hotel room, and ultimately a warm homecoming. Unfortunately, my trip has gone a little differently.

Things were fine when I left Bangalore. I made my stop in London, and stayed there for 5 hours. However, on my flight to Chicago, I witnessed a conflagration of bad luck. The lady in front of me got one of those rare pieces of airline chicken that actually contains bones. She also harbored the secret ambition of being a python, because apparently she did something like try to eat her entire meal in one bite. The result, of course, was a choking hazard. To make a long story short, nobody would let me use my never-before-attempted Running Punch (hint: it requires a running start and a willing target), or let me do a tracheotomy (“formal training“ is for hoighty toighty, upper-crust snobs).

With the two flights, any my layover in London, I had been traveling for roughly 23 hours. In an effort to sidestep jet-lag, I didn’t go to sleep the night before, figuring that I could sleep a little on the flight over, be nicely tired once I reached the states, and pass out right on schedule. Due to the adrenalin spike caused by a woman wriggling around like Ursula after she got stabbed with a boat, no sleeping actually took place – I was just too keyed up.

By the time I reached Chicago, I was absolutely convinced that I had a new traveling companion, a 5’7 white mallard duck named Travis. He was my friend. On some level, I knew that he probably wasn’t real, but when I went to sleep, I hoped he would still be there when I woke up.

Maybe he decided to fly home without me. I hope I see him on the way there.

Of course, knowing my luck on this trip, he’d probably get sucked into our engines or something.

Hypothesis: That lady has something to prove.
Conclusion: Hypothesis Confirmed.
Results: I spy with my little eye an extremely buxom woman in a hiliter-blue tank top. She’s has that special, artificial shade of blonde that can only be caused by some sort of industrial spill, and is probably cursed in the sight of Almighty God. But the main thing to notice about her – and I have the feeling this is on purpose – is that she has treads like a mammoth. A mammoth that poses on Corvettes. I know I might be overstating my case a little bit, but I am pretty sure I can actually see space and time warping around her chest. Also – and this is entirely true – she has boldly added two sets of shiny concentric circles on the back of her jeans. Or, to put it another way, she has bedazzled twin bull’s-eyes onto her ass-cheeks.

Hypothesis: The couple in front of me seems nice.
Conclusion: Hypothesis Rejected.
Results: I actually generally like watching other couples. No kidding, there’s something nice about seeing two people be happy together. Sometimes, though, things can get a little out of hand. Sometimes, a girl will hand-feed her new fiancé cheezits. I really used to be hungry. But if my appetite were an unsuspecting guard, the sight of domestic bliss just snuck up from behind and snapped it’s neck like a tea wafer. If they rub noses – which seems like a very real risk – I’m going to ask airport security to do something about it. Somebody has to

Hypothesis: I will never escape O’Hare.
Conclusion: Experiment in Progress.
Results: This airport should be renamed Satan’s Urinal. Security checkpoints are madhouse labyrinths, manned by emotional mutants that probably punch seals and mock orphans for fun. I swear this is true: I put my luggage into one x-ray machine, and walked through the metal detector with my passport envelope. The security actually took my passport envelope and put it through the other scanner. Now, I’m not up on every new travel regulation that comes out, but I’m didn’t think that airline-distributed paper envelopes posed a threat to the liberty and democratic ideals of our nation. Also, putting my envelope in the other terminal is pretty much the security guard equivalent of setting my tricycle on fire and pissing out the flames.

Additionally, my flight has been delayed. This is apparently not very rare at Chicago International. This place is a domestic travel black hole. My fellow passengers and I exchange exasperated looks and wait patiently for the attendants to give us delay reasons like “severe weather conditions,” or “we just ran out of airplane wings.” I await further updates.

Pray for me.

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Joe Sapien

Joe Sapien is a regular columnist. He is currently floundering through grad school and running up debt. He never got to be a bully as a child, but he would have been pretty good at it.