Monday, June 29, 2009

Iowa Part 2: Going to My High School Reunion in a Gorilla Suit

The difference between LAX and the airports in Iowa is almost laughable. I was relieved to be stuck in an airport in Iowa. Small, clean, quiet and practically deserted. After confirming that there were absolutely NO one way car rentals and rejecting the idea of a $250 taxi ride, the guy at the Avis counter gave me the card of a man who apparently had a 12 passenger van for situations just like ours. I called him. He was available for $200. WHAT?? I asked the guy at the Avis counter where the Koala was and if we could sleep at the airport. He called my bluff on both counts pointing me to the Koala and the place we could sleep. Sigh. I changed the baby, called my mom and then watched the older kids zoom around on their Heelies in the deserted airport while I munched on the last of my granola. My parents didn't have a car big enough to come and get us and I wasn't interested in waiting two hours anyway for my Dad to get there only to turn around and drive another two hours back. I swallowed my pride and my bank card and called "Gene" back to get a ride. He said he wasn't available anymore but would send someone else for us. What did that mean? I didn't even care. I was just thrilled I wasn't out there on that tarmack or stuck in Chicago. 20 minutes later Min from Vietnam was helping us into his small taxi. My oldest daughter sat in the front seat so I could hold the baby in the back with the other two. Once again, she was giddy with the freedom of not being restrained in a moving vehicle. Min and I hit it off immediately. Between my years in Japan and my years in L.A. I was probably one of the only white people he had met in Iowa who could understand his Engrish. (That was NOT a typo, but it was possibly politically incorrect.) We started talking about Obama and health care, parenthood and family values. It was too dark for my kids to do their activity books and the batteries were all dead on their electronic toys. All they had was the conversation between me and Min. They were definitely getting bored and the baby was bouncing off the taxi walls. By the end of the drive she was smacking Min on the shoulder over and over again while he shrieked in feigned pain to make her laugh. (Min had two young children so he understood the game.) Finally we were at my parents' place. I gave Min the website address for "The Power of Moms" to pass on to his wife, $200 in cash (ouch!) and we were home! It wasn't even 11:00. 9:00 Pacific Time. Not bad.

The next morning my inbox confirmed my hunch was correct. There were several messages from Orbitz informing me of multiple delays and gate changes in Chicago that ultimately ended in a cancelled flight around midnight. I might have been in my clothes from the day before, but my children and I had slept all night long at my parents'house! After basking in the glow of my victory for a few minutes I was ready for the next task at hand: retrieving my luggage and car rental an hour away at the airport in Moline, Illinois. I didn't want to take a shower yet because I have about fifty thousand toiletries I like to use to handle my frizzy hair, blotchy skin, etc. and I wasn't about to start experimenting with my mom's make up and hair products for my 20 year high school reunion.

I called the airport to confirm my bags were there. Two out of four had made it, but mine wasn't one of them. There were flights coming in every two hours with more luggage. The reunion started at 6pm in the same city as the airport. I started doing the math and realized my last hope was the 3:40 flight. My dad and I would leave Iowa City at 2:30 to get to the airport in time, I would have an hour to drive home, an hour to get ready and an hour to drive back to the reunion. That would take me up to 7pm. One hour late is fashionable after all, and when does one want to look more fashionable than at their 20 year high school reunion? It was only 10:30 in the morning but I started hyperventilating at the thought of my luggage not making it in time. What would I do? Forget about my de-frizzing creme, I didn't even have clean underwear! In all seriousness, my Dad - bless his little heart - suggested I go to a costume shop and get a funny costume, like a gorilla suit, and make a big splash at the reunion. Wouldn't that be funny? Here I had spent more money than I should have on a nice classy looking outfit from Ann Taylor and my Dad was trying to comfort me with the suggestion of going in a gorilla suit! Brilliant.

Still in yesterday's travel clothes, my dad and I headed to the airport around 2:30. By the time we arrived my heart was pounding. Was it there? My round brush? My cute white jeans? My jewelry and lipstick? Or would I be going to my high school reunion in a gorilla suit? We found a locked glass cabinet with several pieces of luggage inside. I saw the two pieces the airline had referred to earlier but nothing else. I wasn't sure if the 3:40 flight had unloaded so I wasn't in a complete panic yet. My dad could tell I was uneasy so he started encouraging me with his funny plan again. I left him at baggage claim while I headed over to the United desk. I approached the desk with great trepidation. My verdict was just moments away.

I inquired, told my story just to get a little pity and waited while the guy at the counter checked his computer. I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. I had a bad feeling about this.

I was right. No luggage. Sorry, lady.

I could hardly believe myself but I actually started to cry right there at the United desk. Honestly, I couldn't help myself. Any mother knows how exhausting it is not only to prepare for a trip but to survive the trip and here I was exhausted and unshowered in yesterday's clothes being told I had nothing to get ready for my 20 year high school reunion. It just all came out there at the United counter. I could tell the guy working the desk felt really really bad that he was somehow indirectly responsible for this woman crying at his desk so I apologized for my display of emotion and went to find my Dad.

If I thought I had used all my adrenaline up the day before I was wrong. After wiping away my tears and thanking my Dad, I loaded up my two pieces of luggage in the car rental and headed for the mall.

My first lucky break that day: my make-up bag had made it into one of the pieces of luggage that arrived. Now for everything else. First stop, Dillards for shoes. Second stop, beauty supply store for defrizzing creme, round brush and hair straightener. Fourth stop, Ann Taylor for an outfit. (Second lucky break: not only did they have the same outfit, it was now half off and I still had the tags on the outfit in the luggage! Yay me!) Fourth and last stop, Target for tampons. (Every woman is smiling knowingly at this point.) I did all of this in just over an hour. I raced back to my parents' place and got ready as fast as I could.

Long story short, I made it to my reunion. I was three hours late, but at least I wasn't in a gorilla suit.

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for Ann Taylor half off! And hooray for no gorilla suit!


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