ass o’clock in the morning

4:41 a.m. wednesday [ed. note: yes, this post is back-dated. i wrote it while sitting at the gate waiting for my flight, and then forgot all about it until today. apparently i didn’t feel like capitalizing anything that morning, either. cope.]

people, the next time the airline tells you to be at the airport 2 hours before an international flight, think twice before believing them.

having nearly missed a number of flights by ignoring this protocol in the past, and considering the fact that it was more than just my vacation at stake if i missed this flight, i was extra-conscientious. out the door by 3, on the train at 3:30, hiking through the airport by 4:05. ass o’clock in the morning? why, yes. yes, it was, thanks. check-in, as expected, was a breeze, if a bit cranky and a whole lot cheerless. what do you expect from people who’ve been up all night in a (mostly) empty airport? then i wandered over to security. where there was nobody. not nobody as in no passengers; nobody as in no staff. nobody manning the posts. no blinky lights, no bleeping, no bad jokes about tweezers and underwire bras. nothing. after a few minutes, they began to file in. my fellow ass-o’clock-in-the-morning passengers and i watched as the entire cadre of security and terminal staff (homeland security, tsa, starbucks, etc.) filed in and were themselves checked for armaments and explosives. some twenty minutes later, without any of the airport staff having cracked so much as a smile, let alone given us a heads-up or an eta, we were finally allowed to empty our pockets and proceed. which we did. thankfully my gate was just a short stagger from the metal detector.

since i had, after passing security, about a million years (which, in airport time, is roughly equivalent to an hour) until my flight boarded, i gravitated to starbucks, the sole source of caffeine – or anything consumable – at this hour. how the starbucks employees got through security in time to set up their posts is a mystery to me. perhaps they sleep in the cupboards under the espresso machine. anyway, i have another piece of advice for all of you gentle readers: steer clear of the starbuck’s “lowfat” lemon muffins. not because they’re lowfat (although that’s usually a deterrent for me). no, this morning i just happened to find lemon a more appealing flavor than blueberry or banana, so i ignored the lowfat part and ordered away. having sampled this heretofore mysterious and poppyseeded delicacy, i can now state with relative certainty that it is flavored mostly, if not entirely, with furniture polish. not only is it hard as a rock and sticky; not only does it require more chewing than a muffin really should, lowfat or not; not only does it smell exactly like your great-aunt’s house just after she’s polished the dining room set, but it tastes exactly like it smells. overwhelmingly, unnaturally lemony. unbelievably sweet, with that aftertaste of chemical bitterness that one expects from a good spritz of furniture polish, but not from one’s morning nutrition. it’s true: starbucks lowfat lemon muffins are made with lemon pledge. just say no, kids. just say no.

i’ll say it again: thank god for business class upgrades.