I am home. I got home yesterday, and I feel very, very lucky that American was kind enough to get me out of Houston on a Continental flight. Lots of people were stranded. Maybe I would still be there, I don’t know. All I know is I am very thankful I didn’t get stranded for very long.
Yesterday was my first Continental Airlines flight in, I think, something approaching twenty years. I’m scrunching up my forehead now, trying to remember if I have flown them in the near or even not so near past, and I don’t think so. The last time I flew on Continental was so crazy and out of control weird and so completely impossible in the world we live in now, that I feel compelled to write about it. In twenty years, everything has completely changed.
In 1987 and 1988 I lived in New Jersey for a time – I moved there for love, but it was a sick and twisted love. Fucked up, alcoholic, kicked in the face kind of love. About halfway through my ten month sentence I decided I was going home for a couple of weeks, and when I say I decided, I mean I decided. I drank a few coconut margaritas and the next thing I knew I was at Newark airport. I had no ticket, and to make matters worse I had no cash. All I had was something like two hundred bucks in the bank and my checkbook. Who the hell was I kidding? I wasn’t going to get out of New Jersey and back to California on that. Not on an airplane, anyway.
So me and my boyfriend are at Newark airport, and even though he is an asshole in general he sees the desperation and wants to help me get home for a while. At the counter, we are told by the agent that we are trippin’. Airlines don’t book tickets at the last minute for $200, and they don’t take checks. The fare is something like $350 in cash. (I had no credit in those days, I’d already crashed and burned as a college student with a Visa card.)
I was not surprised to find my hopes dashed. But as we walked away the agent called out my boyfriends name. Turns out, they went to high school together and while my boyfriend was currently a total dick, in high school I guess he was something of a legend. That was all it took – within minutes I had a ticket for a flight for San Francisco that I had purchased with the dregs of my checking account. As impossible as this seems in 1987, now it is just, well, Totally Impossible.
It gets better. On this Continental aircraft flying from Newark to San Francisco, they had a BAR. One you could go up and stand at! Sit at! Drink at! Have conversations with other passengers and flight attendents at! They were trying to make flying fun, so they put a bar in on the friggen plane. The thought of being able to get up and go hang out at a bar on an airplane is so weird and random and impossible now that if I had not experienced it once myself, I am not sure I would believe it really existed.
Our flight was delayed three hours, so drinks were free. DRINKS WERE FREE, AT A BAR, ON A PLANE. It’s true, I swear it. I drank heavily with a bunch of surfers and it was really fun, but then things got a little out of control and they made us go back to our seats. I can still see all those mini bottles of Chivas and Stoli rolling around on that bar – it was insane. Insane, and fun. What happened? Flying is definitely not fun anymore.
So thank you, Continental Airlines, twice – once for the memory of the way life used to be, and again for getting me safely home yesterday. Now, if you could just hook up some San Diego to Europe non-stops, we’d be set. But even if that never happens, it’s all cool for now.