Monday, September 07, 2009

Stuck In the Middle with Dikembe

I’m writing from gate B7 in the Nashville International Airport. I sit twenty feet away from the Tennessee Tavern, which sports Jack Daniels-inspired decor and giant plastic barrels. I sit thirty feet away from Seattle’s Best Coffee. I sit thirty-five feet away from Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ (a Memphis export I didn’t realize was in airports now), which shares a stand with Seattle’s Best Coffee. And there, looming down the concourse, it’s Noshville, our very own authentic New York-style delicatessen.

The lesson, as always: who are you, Nashville.

And what are you, Nashville.

And, actually, don’t answer.

A girl just sat next to me. She’s wearing pajamas and she fell into the chair like she’d been stabbed. She’s carrying a purse and a cardboard triangle that holds--wait for it--a gigantic piece of pizza. It’s barely 10AM. She’s eating this pizza like it’s the last piece of food on the planet and nuclear winter is upon us. She’s eating as if pizza were a religion, and this is her morning prayer, whispered while facing east. She’s eating it like it’s the only thing in the world worth doing.

It should be mentioned that there are dozens of open seats and she’s sitting right next to me. She couldn’t make it two more feet; it was this chair or the ground.

I’ll be honest, I like her style.

As for me, I’m humming. I’ve had a Coke, a 5 Hour Energy, and a Big Boy Coffee (that’s Milam for “Venti”) and am now crazy enough to shoot. I could fly--sans plane--to NYC. I also lost a bottle of water because I bought it immediately before security. And as the security guy swatted away minibottles of perfume and toothpaste and shaving cream like Dikembe Motumbo, my Big Gulp Dasani came down the pipe and he looked at me with mild amusement, as if to say, “either you’ve never flown before and you’re blind, or you’re some special breed of idiot not yet defined by science, or this is considered fun for you, and either way, I’m throwing this in the garbage and laughing at how boldly stupid you are.” So I got more caffeine.

Trip 1, Milam 0.

I always assume--wrongly--that everyone on my flight is making my trip. In other words, everyone in this gate is a Nashvillian going to visit New York City. Then I see multiple Eagles hats and hear some mixed accents and see a man who really, possibly, might be Diddy, and remember. New York’s bigger than Nashville, and these people aren’t leaving home. They’re going home.

Somehow, I’m doing both.

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