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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Flying with Grandma Pistachio

It seems that most Vegas trips start with a horrid travel experience for me. This is no different.

Last week, I had to make a whirlwind trip back home to take care of some things. It was tough going back to the empty house in Flusherville, and seeing the neighbors and friends who have been so supportive and kind.

It's all those 'firsts', those weird feelings that that someone you love is not there, and that all is not right. But in a way it was good to get some of those done instead of waiting until spring with them hanging over my head.

I flew American on points - a one stopper at Charlotte each way. And a train ride from Toronto to Flusherville each way. Because of train timing, I stayed with my nephew Dr. The Boy and his lovely bride in Toronto on the going out and coming back. And I spent two nights at Divana's. And there were flight delays on every flight, and stress and worry on both trips. I was stuck in Charlotte for hours on the way home.

The lesson is, for the love of Jimmy Poon's Gigantic Ears, TAKE DIRECT FLIGHTS. But I got it on points.... whine whine whine.

The trip out to Vegas was on the last of (ahem) the Quad Queen's American points - a nice little thank you from my dearly departed for years of loyal service. Good of her to send me to Vegas, don't you think?

I never forget to wave at the orange flashlight people of planet Tarmacian - yet they never wave back. Fuckers.

Heh heh. Not this time, Air FU Canada. Not this time.

So, similar crap getting to Vegas this time. First flight was... wait for it - delayed. Not too long though. Stop in DFW.

I wandered around the Dallas Fort Worth airport, which spans some 617 square miles, has 27 separate terminals, and some 5,600 gates. Found some lunch with plenty of time to spare to get back to my gate to find... the flight was delayed.

I didn't read the fortunate cookie. I've had enough bad luck already.

I hung around the gate, waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally, it was time to board. I'd scored a window seat on each of the two flights without paying for seat selection. That's a win. But the flight was completely full, so no chance of the Empty Middle Seat Redneck First Class seat.

The middle seat to my left was occupied by a nice looking upstanding woman of a certain age - the kind that would make a perfect Grandmother. I know this because I was reading her texts as she worked the phone.

Then she broke out the snacks. Pistachios. Pistachios in the shell.

I've ever seen anyone eat shelled nuts on the plane before. Being a nice Grandma, she kept the empty shells in her hand (mostly) and bagged them.

Fully loaded up, we sat at the gate for a long while - too long. And then the dreaded announcement. Captain Turbodick telling us that the size 7 Royal Canadian Veeblefetzer grommet holding a circuit breaker that is used to power the fuel levels had failed. I say fuck it, go. Just go. You've probably got plenty of gas.

No, they were going to call the maintenance crew in.

Another 20 minutes went by. Now they are scouring DFW for a replacement size 7 grommet.

Another 20 minutes.

And the super dreaded announcement.

"Folks, heh heh, some bad news - you are all SOL. There's not a grommet to be found in Texas, so we'll have to try to find another airplane. For now, get out, get out, get the hell out."

By now I was feeling pretty low. I was tired and cranky.

It's nothing new, I'm often tired and cranky.

Thinking about the Quad Queen and how sad it seemed to be doing this trip without her. I could feel my emotions sinking lower and lower as I remembered our last few trips together. How on that last take-off out of Vegas I held her hand and wondered 'is this the last time'. She'd planned to return but of course, it wasn't to be. And yes, it was the last time.

Honestly at that point, I just wanted to cancel the whole fucking thing and just go home.

What the hell was I doing??? Was it going to be any better in Vegas than it would be in Florida? Would I even enjoy myself?

But the point of this trip is an affirmation that life is good, to remember the good times with the Quad Queen and have a bit of a memorial, to escape Christmas emotions, and to have a bit of fun and a break from all the things.

I'd noticed a gate (and terminal) change on my phone and on the way out I asked the flight attendant if they'd found another plane. She said they had. I asked if it was as nice as this one and would it have all working size 7 grommets.

My hopes and dreams of an on-time departure, flying away along with these useless aircraft.

She said it would. Probably.

I'd left the house at 8:00 am and we wouldn't land until 10:00 pm my time, making this at least a 14 hour trip. It would be faster to fly to Heathrow and go to Vegas from there!

Ah, but I wouldn't have a cranky emergency sandwich like the one I enjoyed in DFW.

After what seemed like hours (because it was hours) it was time to board - the flight to Vegas that was scheduled originally to leave after ours. We watched those smug bastards get on their shiny new airplane and fuck off to Vegas while we continued to wait.

I recognized the woman next to me in the pre-boarding huddle of lost humanity.

"Oh, Grandma Pistachio!" I said.

She looked at me. "Oh, hi."

Oh shit. How did I know she was a Grandma. For once I kept my yapper shut and just waited it out a bit.

We made small talk, using words of 3 letters or less, and finally agreed I might as well get on before her, as everyone would have the same seat assignments as the ones we'd had on the Flight of Doom.

"I - go in. Now. You - go aft."

"Yes," she said. "It is zip you go in now."

We went through the whole show again, shuffling, elbowing, stomping on insteps to get access to the last space in the overhead bin, sitting and waiting, and collectively sighing with relief when the plane pushed back from the gate.

"Too bad you ate your emergency nuts on the Flight of Doom," I said to Grandma Pistachio.

She looked at me with a steely gaze.

"I've got plenty more. PLENTY."

Don't fuck with Grandma P.

Three hours flying to go.

I watched an episode of The Curse of Oak Island - you know, the one where they find nothing at all. "Nothing? A piece of nothing? From the bottom of nowhere? Could it be that nothing of worth is to be found on Oak Island - or is it something more sinister - more devastating - than anyone ever suspected?"

I slept.

I watched some Outback Opal Hunters.

I thought about the Quad Queen.

Finally, finally, finally.

It's so weird posting my face in the blog after staying anonymous for well over a decade. But I've already popped that cherry when Karen was sick, so here we are. A new phase of the blog.

I took a cab to Luxor. It was horrific. Absolutely the most dangerous driver I've ever experienced in any cab anywhere. This guy thought the F1 race was still on. He had two modes. Floor it and go as fast as possible. Stomp on the brakes as hard as possible. All while weaving in and around everything.

He was a maniac and when I got out I told him so. I asked him how many accidents he's been in.

"None. I am professional driver. 30 years."

"Thirty years of driving like that and no accidents. Right. Tell me another."


But there I was, walking into Luxor, in one piece. Luxor was the first hotel we ever stayed at, back in 1995. It was bittersweet.


    1. RF, I'm remembering multiple times you posted a selfie or candid shot with various goofball sketchy faces as a disguise over the real you. Now, seeing your true self we've started a whole new chapter! We know this is a heartbreaking time for you, but you deserve this chance to move freely and breathe deeply. Can't wait to hear more.

    2. Grandma Pistachio - yet another character in the lore of the Royal Flusher! I can almost smell her sitting next to me. At least she wasn't Grandma Tuna Sandwich.

      Delays are the worst, but hopefully you experienced the first night luck after flight issues(tm). Never fails for me - I always come out strong after getting their delayed. It's the universe's way of helping me shake my bad mood.

      Let's see some pictures of royals and quads!!


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