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The terminal romantic

Chris Erskine's on the road again

January 28, 2012|Chris Erskine

From a magazine cover, a near-naked Molly Sims confesses, "I wasn't born with this body," which right away makes me curious: Whose body was she born with? Carl Reiner's? No, the shoulders look different. Boomer Esiason's? Not with that tan, she wasn't.

Let the record show that, whichever body Sims was born with, she has certainly transitioned well to the person she is today, not a chest hair or surgical scar in sight.

I was lucky enough to be born with my own body, and I don't even look that good. Of course, I guess that's apples and oranges — unfair to compare. On credit card applications, where it asks your sex, I am always writing in "very male." I'm sure Sims writes in "very female." For a long time, the both of us have gotten by mostly on our insanely superb looks.

Let the record also show that I am on the road again, in some airport — I know not where.

Airports have become like chain hotels or Japanese sedans. They all look alike. And how come you never see brick or wood in an airport? Is there a rule against natural substances? Airports all seem to be made of recycled aircraft aluminum.

So, I am in this airport, trying to find my way home. Sometimes, you have to leave home to appreciate home, so that's part of the reason. Plus, my boss might've fired me, I couldn't tell exactly from her tone. Just in case, I hopped the first plane east to let her cool down.

I never find travel to be unpleasant, yet I firmly believe commercial jetliners should be carved from giant blocks of Tylenol, just in case. It's sort of the same shape anyway. Throw down some carpeting, add lots of molded plastic — boom, you have a modern American airplane.

Were I to run an airline, I'd hire stressed-out comics as flight attendants. "Please remain in your seats till the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign, at which point you can behave any way you want. Please be sure to carelessly open the overhead bin, without regard to anyone's safety. The fireworks show will begin shortly."

That's when the giant Tylenol fuselage would come in handy.

I have been on the road four days now, and (as you may sense) I left my soul at a TSA checkpoint. I always start these trips as some sort of travel commando, me and my electronics fully charged, all my reservations in order. I jackrabbit through check-in and shuttle van lines like Tom Cruise after too much Red Bull.

But after a couple of days, I morph into Elmer Fudd. At this instant, I don't know where my cellphone charger resides, nor for that matter my shoes. In the restroom mirror, my skin appears to be pickled.

As for packing, I discover that I have again outwitted myself. Knowing full well how I usually forget underwear, I've packed six extra pair — only to forget socks.

And after staying at hundreds of inns, I am here to tell you that there is no hotel wall that a crying infant cannot penetrate at 1 in the morning. And that the 300-pound guy in the room right above you always awakens at 4:30 a.m. to catch a flight. Always. Some things you can count on. These are two of them.

You can also count on the fact that hotel shampoo is made from spoiled ranch dressing and that Holiday Inn coffee carries its own clammy sheen. I like it, but the EPA should investigate just the same.

Not to be judgmental, but there is an army out there of 40-year-old traveling salesmen, all with the same sport coat and "why me?" stare. There's one now, outside Gate C11, rasping into his cellphone that, "I knew the water rights might be an issue, but I think you, me and Ed can work it out, don't you?"

Yeah, maybe.

I will also remind you of this: There are at least two days every January when no one is going into O'Hare, or getting out, except perhaps by dog sled, so just appreciate it for what it is. Real life.

Yep, sometimes you need to go away from home to appreciate home. And real life.

Finally, Flight 2018 is boarding. I know it's bound for Los Angeles because half of the passengers look like they just made probation; the other half looks like they're on their way to an "American Idol" taping,

all patent-leather


You know, I wasn't born with this city. But I like how it fits me in the thighs.

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