My trip to Idaho began, as most trips do, at home. The flight was poorly timed for soccer fans but my brother-in-law and I managed to catch the first half of Portugal vs. Czech Republic in an airport bar sponsored by Samuel Adams. Samuel Adams Toasts Birmingham is small, overstaffed, and still manages to provide bafflingly slow service at an outrageous price. At $21.46 for a round consisting of a “double'” Dewer’s on the rocks and an Absolut screwdriver we quickly solved the mystery of how such a large staff was maintained.
Not hungry, but giddy to see some inflated prices, I opened the menu. Sam Adams, 1722 – 1803, was a leading voice in the American Revolution. An essayist, organizer, and member of the Continental Congress, Adams could probably be called a visionary, but a political visionary. Not a culinary one as the owners of Sam Adams Toasts Birmingham credit him as they have in the menu section “Sam’s Favorites.” Fiesta Nachos? Asian Boneless Wings? Chicken Ciabatta? These are not things that would have gone into Sam Adams’ mouth. As far as coming out of his mouth, I’m on solid ground when I say that Sam Adams never said “I’ll have the Fiesta Nachos. They’re one of my favorites!” He seemed more like a “Goodie Whistler’s prize sheep has fallen into a hole. Rest assured there will be mutton enough for us all on this night. Buttered turnips for everyone and an extra half an onion for you young Thomas.” type of guy.
“Double” Scotches calm nervous fliers. As does drink service on the plane. In fact, I owe the nation of Scotland for producing Dewar’s Whisky and Ian Rankin. They made the flight so much easier. I also owe United Airline’s absurd policy of charging extra to sit next to your traveling companions. I swapped with someone so my wife and I were together, so no problem there. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law were able to trade their way together as well but the logistics of getting the four of us together were too complex to attempt so thankfully, I didn’t have to sit next to my brother-in-law and the Playboy he bought in the airport. The Playboy he was intent on reading on the flight. “For the articles,”he said in such a I-know-you-don’t-believe-me-but-it’s-true-way that I believed him. But who else would. To the other passengers I would be a perv, because he would hand it to me and say “Check this out,” and even if he was just showing me an interview with Tom Cruise the rest of the flight would see the cover, and they would assume. He did read the articles. He told me all about them later.
At one point during the flight, I glimpsed an article over the shoulder of a woman up one row and across the aisle from me. The title was “What’s The Naughtiest Thing You’ve Ever Done?” I liked the juxtaposition. Here a woman titillated herself reading a magazine whose cover would raise not a lash of an eye while my brother-in-law read about using bionics to help wounded soldiers in a magazine whose cover showed a topless girl whose hair and arms barely covered the coverables.
At one point during the flight, my sister-in-law made her way to the restroom, stopping to hand off a rolled up gentleman’s magazine to me. She was giggling, knowing how little I wanted to explain to others how many times Tom Wolfe published in it. I put it in my carry on and left it there. A part of me wanted to put it on the toilet in the back of the plane, return to my seat, and watch reactions. I didn’t, because with my luck the next patron of the facilities would be a ten year old and I would be arrested and end up in the same cell block with Jerry Sandusky or worse, have to go door to door explaining to my neighbors that registered is a technicality and that really, I’m just a misunderstood prankster.