This appointment occurs in the past

366478-377699-thumbnail.jpgGwyneth Paltrow had her Sliding Doors.
Adam Sandler did it in a Click.
Bullock and Reeves are using a Lake House this summer.
And poor Jimmy Stewart had to jump off a bridge!

I wonder.

Could I turn back the clock?  Get to you... back then... And see what might have unfolded. 

Today, I imagined my way to open the "Gates" of time:  Microsoft Outlook.

So I opened my Calendar, and started clicking my Windows Wayback Machine backward on the month view in the upper right corner.  Back... back... but how far???

  • Last week: Maybe I could win the Lotto. 
  • 1987:  Getting closer.  Graduating college.  There are at least a hundred roads arrayed like a sunburst from this moment.  
  • 1981:  Deep into geekdom, but pivotal.  

So I picked March 1981... opened Outlook... and when I picked a random date, it actually brought up the month as it was.  [This is getting good.]

Could I?  I stared for a moment.  Then moved the cursor to the 'File' menu.

'New Appointment'
'Subject:'  Your name
'Location:'  Not many options.  I don't even have my license yet... Pretty much your high school or mine.  Let's go with a party thrown by a mutual friend.

'Start Time:'  Saturday, March 7, 1981, 9:00 pm [Frees up a possible St. Patrick's Day date.  Another place I'll be on firm ground.]
'End Time:'  I'm leaving this blank.
'Show Time As:'  Busy

'Save and Close'

The arrow is poised.  The cursor is blinking.

Now what? 

This started as a daydream, but what do I do now??  Do I set the appointment and see what happens??  Seeing is knowing.  But is knowing better than wondering?? 

I don't want to ruin what time has brought us individually...   

I don't want to take away the things that made our paths cross when they did... or blow the chance that they will cross again... 

I don't want to advance the calendar by 20 or 30 years... and it's not becasue Outlook's Calendar won't go that far... I just couldn't handle the future if your number disappeared from my Contacts... and couldn't handle the present if I saw that your number ends up the same as mine.

I wonder.  Yes, I wonder. 

I know I shouldn't.  But I do.

Do you?

'This appointment occurs in the past' flashes across the top of the screen in yellow.

I know.  That's the whole point.

'Save and Close'

The arrow is poised.  The cursor is blinking. 


School's out!

Today's posts are from my two older children, who just came home from a phenomenon known only as, ahem:   thelastdayofschool!!!


The Flipping Bird

Spotted on the way into work this morning, driving by Westchester County Airport.

A small black bird. 

366478-368627-thumbnail.jpgHe was perched on a wire, looking down at the Net Jets hangar, where all manner of private corporate "birds" were being pushed into place and prepped with (just guessing) all manner of top shelf liquor, fresh flowers and top notch food. 

I wondered:  What's the little guy thinking?  Is he impressed?  Are birds that live near airports higher in the pecking order than others?  Are they cooler than woods birds or park birds?  Are they the Star-bellied Sneeches of the bird family??  What a great children's story that would be!  The wheels were turning...

Just then, the bird leapt from his perch and started an air acrobatics routine that would make the Blue Angels blush.  Flips, loop-de-loops, barrel rolls, darting left, darting right... all the things that pilots won't be able to do until airplanes grow tails that can ply the wind as instinctively as this bird's.

It occurred to me:  This bird's not impressed.  He's a showoff prick-of-a mocking bird!!  My whole attitude on this guy shifted in an instant.  And thoughts of the children's story of the jaunty little airport bird darkened to a cautionary tale on pride coming before the fall...

at the hands of a fable by Aesop....

or in my mind's eye...

366478-368565-thumbnail.jpgat the fans of a turbine by Pratt & Whitney

"Swine bird!"


Aw, Billy...

366478-358628-thumbnail.jpgHe... is leaving.

The Fifth Beatle is Gone.

I think I liked him better than Ringo, too. 

Billy Preston.  The guy who, as a kid, supposedly hung out on Ray Charles' front porch listenting to him play.  The guy whose keyboards can be heard all over Ray's last CD.  The guy whose keyboards absolutely MADE the song 'Get Back' get up and groove, up there on the rooftop of Abbey Road studios.  And then there was the song that's been all over the radio today... Sing it with me:  "Nothin from nothin leeeeeeeeeeeeeaves nothin!"

Sgt. Preston
I first noticed Billy in 1978 when he, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, and Steve Martin (oh yeah... and the Bee Gees) turned Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band into a lame story line.  God knows, the movie was tough to take, but the BEST song in the movie.  THE BEST, was Billy as Sgt. Pepper, belting out 'Get Back' at the end of the flick.  (Runner up:  George Burns singing 'I'm Fixing a Hole.')  

It wasn't until years later that I saw "Let it Be."  And if anyone else has seen this pissing match of a movie... God, they were so young... Billy is the only one who has his sh*t together all the way through.  He and George, speaking of which, that was the last time I saw Billy... in the Concert for George.  (If you like anything Harrison, it's a must-see.)

Aw, Billy... 59 is way too young to die.  Take my word for it.  But as the label on the '45 says, maybe That's the Way God Planned it.  Idaknow... Either way, thank you, Sergeant Preston!  And Godspeed. 


Sky Slalom and the Accidental Epitaph

Aboard American Eagle
Bound from Washington DC to LaGuardia: 
Friday, June 2, 2006; 8:00 pm EDT

"Well, if this is the end for me, at least it's been a fun ride!"

[Earlier that day...]
366478-355977-thumbnail.jpg"You have a 3:00 meeting this afternoon??" asked a native.  "Hell, NOBODY does meetings at 3 on a Friday in this town."  I did.  Should have known better.  But I had no choice. 

I love to fly... so long as it isn't Monday morning or Friday afternoon... especially when LaGuardia and Washington Reagan or (worse yet) BWI are involved.  So I knew what I was in for...

The official DC Summer Code pretty much decrees that "everyone shall flee the District on weekends" from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Something like that.  Either way, anyone who knows ANYTHING in that town sure as hell KNOWS that means beating it for the border by Noontime... especially if you are on the DCA to LGA route.

366478-356340-thumbnail.jpgApparently, it has something to do with the scientific theory that thunderheads and Embrarer Regional Jets don't mix as well together in the Summertime as, say, Tanqueray and tonic.

"Wheels up" was slated for 7:10.  But the "Departures" monitor started buzzing like a sports betting board in Vegas.  First, the two flights before mine were cancelled.  Then "PAD" [Possible Aircraft Delay, or Possible Arrival Delay, as best as I can tell]  appeared in place of where my gate number was supposed to be... and the fun began.

Those of you who know the drill, sing it with me (to the tune of the childhood "ABC song.")  

"PAD means TBA
TBA means not today.
7:10 is all BS.
When you're leaving we can't guess. 
If you're waiting for this flight.
You'll be with us for the night."

7:10 became 7:15, 7:15 jumped to 8:38, sending the defectors scurrying off like cockroaches.  The "Shuttle Shuffle" began, as the pathetic putative passengers ran off to grab gate agents, travel agents, real estate agents... aaaaaaaaaanybody who could get them on one of those big 737 shuttles that leave every half-hour for New York.  I was SURE that with too many defections, they'd scrub the flight.

Then, to my delight, the clouds parted.  Literally. 

366478-356422-thumbnail.jpg"A window" opened up in the weather.  The 8:38 departure whipsawed back to a 7:40 boarding call, and we were hustled on board for a 7:50 wheels up.  Minutes later, we screamed off the tarmac.  "No beverage service for the 37 minute flight, folks," said the First Officer.  "We'd be obliged if you'd keep your seatbelts fastened.  Meanwhile, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight." 


Actually, I DID enjoy it.  It was awesome.

That Embrarer must be a fun plane to fly, because it's quite a nimble craft.    Within 5 minutes in the air, still climbing, we banked hard... I mean HARD left.  The kind of hard that draws your ass down, down, down into the faux leather flotational device they call a seat until you can read the serial number on the seat's metal frame without looking.  [It read backwards on my ass halfway through the weekend.]  I was on the single-row "A" seat on the left of the plane, so it was all window for me... and I was like a kid on a carnival ride.

The setting sun backlit the tops of the clouds brilliantly...  churning white tops on steel-grey anvils.  It was the most spectacular array of foreboding meteorological muscle I've ever seen.  And it occurred to me that we were swooping back and forth, left to right, slaloming through the roiling thunderheads all the way up to New York. 

Once.  Once on the flight, with lightning flashing off the right wing and the air brakes dropping us about 5,000 feet in about 10 seconds, I wondered if the "window" had closed.  I was having so much fun with the scenery outside, my looming mortality broke through briefly enough for a hastily murmured Act of Contrition, a quick Hail Mary, and a parting thought for the Lord:

"Well, if this is the end for me, it's been one hell of a ride."

I liked that one so much, I wrote it in the cocktail napkin and put it in my shirt pocket.  "Better write that one down," I thought.  If this is the end of the line, maybe they'll know I got my ticket's worth.  If I do make it, I'll hold onto it.  

Either way, it beats the sh*t out of Amtrak!



366478-358597-thumbnail.jpgI just can't let go of the thought
That I want to hold your hand.

[Scrawled on the napkin I just found at a DC bar.  Next to a plastic mermaid in an empty glass.]








(As in, "Today, I am..."   I still say life is linear, and just because some guy put 365 days into a year doesn't make this annual lap around the track mean all that much.  But I will take the cake and presents... AND my favorite present is absolutely the following two Haikus... is it two Haiku.... two Haiki??  From the middle of my three sisters.)

Happy Birthday
A new year begins
Raise a pint and share a tale
Amongst throngs of friends

The Sentinel
Eldest of the five
Sees us now through eyes of then
Keeper of "agos"

My sisters rock!  So does my brother, but he's strictly a couplet man.


LGA to BNA... Airport Improv Theatre

I thought this stuff only happened on television:

A man walking out of an airport Men's room with toilet paper stuck on BOTH shoes...  I mean, this guy TRIED to work them off.  Really WORKED it.  Did a Kramer-like leg shake, tried for the corner-of-the-wall vertical scrape... No good.  But what's a guy to do??  Airport bathroom... Strike that...  LaGuardia airport bathroom.  And no matter what this guy tried, he could only peel off little shreds from under his Weejuns. Put this scene in a sitcom, and you're good for a few laughs.  But put him in Terminal C on a Tuesday morning at LaGuardia, and it's improv for an audience of one.. with a soundtrack. 

Cue the iTunes.  Soon my comic foil at Gate C6 was dancing to "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

I just hope he was able to peel the wax paper "seat mate" off his ass before boarding his flight to St. Louis. 

"Why does it krinkle when you sit, Howard??  And what's that on your shoe??"




Beautiful day!

366478-324220-thumbnail.jpgThe day began with dismal doubt,
A stubborn thing to put to rout.
But all my troubles flew away,
When someone smiled at me today!

Oh, a snappy pair of boxers.

[Musical cue:  Outkast.  "Hey Ya!"]


Today's "...and the horse you rode in on" Honesty in Politics Award

"I think you're an asshole."

-- The last sentence of a letter from Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) to a constituent in her southeast Missouri district.

366478-319495-thumbnail.jpgEmerson told the Associated Press that she "can't explain how the offensive language made it into the last line of the letter," but perhaps the piece de resistance is that the seven-lettered epithet came with a chaser that even Emily Post would approve of:  an apology for the lateness of her response.   And in so doing, she earns enshrinement in this blog's Poets, Priests and Politicians.

Toastmaster's Note:  This Refreshingly Honest Moment came courtesy of Wonkette, a must-read for Poke-in-the-Eye politics!  Link here.