As most of you now know, my daughter is getting married in June. She lives in Colorado now, but she’s getting married here in Tucson where she was born and raised. She came home for a few days from her dietetic internship there to spend time with us and make some wedding plans with mom. My input, incredibly, is neither asked for nor given; I know that the idea of a resplendent father of the bride, arriving on a groomsmen-carried throne to the tune of Judas Priest’s Victim of Changes, is cutting edge and yet somehow universally scorned. Rather than eat myself up over what could have been, I’ve simply given up. No matter; it was great to see her again. She really is a dynamic, beautiful young woman and, while I know it’s bad to be prideful, I can’t help basking in the glow of the truly stellar example of humanity I’ve helped to create (to the extent that I was there roughly nine months before she was born).
Today I took the day off of work to drive her to Phoenix to catch a flight back home. I looked forward to the one hundred twenty-mile drive with her; we could talk, catch up, spend some quality time together. It was better than I could have hoped for; we laughed and the conversation was alternately light and deep, but never awkward. To me, one need no further proof of God’s provision: time spent with those you love is never laborious, but always precious and healthy for the soul. By the time we arrived at the airport, I was grateful for life and encouraged to share my joy with the rest of humanity.
Things started to go awry soon after. As we stood in the line to check in, I couldn’t help but notice how unfailingly dimwitted those ahead of us were. You hand them your license, they print your ticket, how hard can it be? But no: it seemed each person had twenty questions or some problem uniquely their own that required a hefty, time-consuming explanation. They almost seemed choked with worry, but judging by the tired, indifferent look on the face of the checkout woman, they had no reason to be. In a way, it’s probably an exciting way to travel, if you have the time: relying on your unwavering stupidity, you invariably get on the wrong flight and travel to exciting, unforeseen lands. Well, unforeseen airports, anyway. Finally, they wandered off, most likely going to Nairobi to catch a Lakers’ game, and we eventually reached the counter.
It took my daughter maybe forty-five seconds to check in, but thanks to Dumb and Dumber, there wasn’t anytime left to spend together; she had to go through security and board. I hadn’t shared any joy with humanity; humanity instead had taken my joy away. I had to stand outside the ropes, waving goodbye as my daughter disappeared around a corner. It hit me that she was gone, and I wouldn’t see her again until my youngest daughter graduates high school at the end of May. A security guard, perhaps 5’4″ tall and approximately seventy-nine years of age, eyed me suspiciously, as though I might make a break for the security line. I thought about going for his gun, realized a little push would probably do just as well, and then decided that it wasn’t worth breaking an old man’s hip just to go stand in another line.
As I left the terminal I was greeted by thirty-five mile per hour winds; nothing makes me surlier faster than the wind. I defy anyone to maintain any level of joy outside on a very windy day, unless you’re a kite flyer (dork), hairless, perpetually unkempt, or very gassy and in a crowd. I leaned into the wind, then turned and ran approximately one-quarter mile after my hat, which ended up under an SUV. I retrieved my hat by sprawling almost my full body length underneath the massive car and then nearly lost both feet to a car pulling into the space next to it. So close was this new car that I lay under the SUV considering my options; I thought briefly about crawling underneath all the way across to the other side, but foresaw my belt buckle hooking onto something and being reduced to raw hamburger as the owner drove home. I managed to slide out between the two cars, then lift myself sideways by grabbing a door handle. I looked like a two-dimensional drawing of an Egyptian Pharoah trying to stand up. After cleaning the Armada’s doors with my belly and the Accord’s windows with my arse, I extricated myself and made it back to my car. I drove up to the parking attendant and handed him my ticket.
“I should charge you double, ‘cuz you’re wearin’ a U of A (University of Arizona) sweatshirt.” He leaned down and smiled and I noticed the ASU (Arizona State University) baseball cap atop his bulbous head. I handed him his money and smiled back.
“If you had gone to an accredited university, you likely wouldn’t be a parking lot attendant. Or was that your major?”
The drive home was no better. In this country, the left lane of the freeway is for passing and for better drivers. Seventy-five miles per hour is the posted limit, because beyond that speed most people, already a danger to those around them, become potential killers. For those of us (namely, me) who are acutely skilled behind the wheel, this “limit” is merely a suggestion of minimum traveling speed and the less time I spend amongst the “vehicularly challenged”, the safer I will be. Nowadays, people are worried about getting stuck behind a truck or someone even slower, so they camp in the speed lane. The system used to work: getting passed on the right used to be downright shameful, because it meant you had failed to move over when faster cars came up behind you; courtesy dictated that one would offer a wave or upheld hand by way of apology for their indiscretion. Not anymore; now when I flipped people off as I passed their passenger door they acted as if I were being rude, and the conciliatory return waves invariably lacked the correct number of digits. The hundred-twenty mile drive took forever; my daughter texted me that she had landed, eight-hundred miles away, as I was just getting home.
I made it home safely, thank God, and the wife and daughter were both glad to see me. The wind had died down by then, and so quickly did my surly disposition. I am blessed to have a wonderful family, who please me greatly and make life not only bearable, but often enjoyable. It’s everyone else, apparently, that I have to worry about.