Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tucson International Airport (TUS)

April 27, 2008: Oh When the Saints

I'm on the way to Saint Louis for the Commission On Adult Basic Education (COABE) conference.  Jim drops me at Downtown Campus where we meet Regina, Tracy and the girls.  Tracy drives us to the airport.  Without lines at the American Airlines desk, we breeze through.  Even carrying my PCC-issue laptop, security in Tucson takes just minute or two and we are in. I've already convinced Regina that we should head straight for the bar. So we do.

Regina heads out for 1) a book and 2) food.  I send a text to Jen to see if she's in the airport yet.  She texts back that she's in the security line removing articles of clothing.  23 seconds later she's on the stool beside me. The bartender, a straight shooting nursing-school student who quizzes herself during slow moments at the bar, recommends a Labatts for Jen.  Jen, on the recommendation, orders a Labatts, which caused out conscientious bartender to be concerned that the Labatts was well suited for Jen. 

"You don't like it."

"No, no! I do!"

And she really does.  Excellent recommendation.

Regina returns with her black forest ham on rye for 12 dollars. It's a rather skimpy sandwich. She settles in on the stool next to Jen. When the bartender sees her sandwich, she tells Regina that the same sandwich cost just six bucks if ordered at the bar. I feel affirmed. The bar is a good place. Then I tell her and Jen about my airport bars tradition, "I love drinking lousy, expensive wine in airport bars, waiting for conversations to come me!" Our friendly future nurse passes by at that moment. She frowns.  I make no apology.  She lets me sample every wine the bar carries.  The pinot and merlot SUCK! I have the cabernet, which also sucks but slightly less. Our future nurse really seems to like us! 

I tell Jen and Regina about the good old days with Fran at the Last Stop Saloon.  It's gone now. The terminal is still under construction. Updated and modernized with fancy coffee bars and uber-modern bar stools, the real heart-and-soul types like Fran appear to be gone. Not that there is anything wrong with our future nurse! But, really, could anyone top Fran?

Jen and Regina tell me I should write a book.  

"Well," I say, "It certainly has been educational."

"And cultural!"  Jen adds.

It's in the 90's today in Tucson and in the 50's in Saint Louis. Frost overnight. Regina is wearing flip-flops.  I express hope that her toes don't get frost-bitten.

"I brought my long underwear." Jen announces, taking a slug of Labatts.

Regina and I both look at her.

"You OWN long underwear?" Regina asks.  I admit, I'm wondering the same thing.

"It's a Minnesota thing." Jen says, glancing at Regina's exposed toes.  "You have gorgeous toenails. Manicure?" 

"Yup.  It was a birthday present back in March, but I just had them done." We all watch Regina wiggle her toes.  Conversation lulls.

Jen cocks her head to listen to an American Airlines announcement, "Are we boarding?"

We decide that boarding doesn't really matter and we order another round.

"You want to hear the joke the homeless guy told us in the Downtown Campus parking lot today?" I ask Jen. She nods. "Why are there no Kmarts in Iraq?"

"I dunno."

"There's a Target on every corner."

This makes the blonde guy sitting beside me laugh out loud.  "Good one!" He says.  About that time, Regina and Jen decide to hit the ladies room before boarding. I sit with the luggage and pay for the drinks.  They return and I head for the men's room.  I'm walking a familiar direction to a familiar men's room.  Things look different with all the construction.  There are no urinals, which gives me pause, but I know this is the right place and use a stall.  When I exit and find myself washing hands with ladies of all sorts, I feel perplexed. I exit, still indignant that this is the MENS room.  But, not anymore.  What was once a men-on-the-right, women-on-the-left entrance is now women-on-both-sides and the mens room is in a completely different location a few yards further to the right.  Who knew?  

I text Jim about this surprise and he responds, "U R Drunk." He's right.  But it makes getting to Dallas so much more pleasant.