There is little of filmmaking import to report. I choose to honor a New Year's Resolution early, and not call some kind of referendum on a hiring at the L.A. Weekly. At least not here. ('Twas mentioned in my Christmas Topics, at The Auteurs'.) I haven't seen Sherlock Holmes yet. I did see Up In The Air, which I enjoyed up to a point, but not to the point where it would compel me to alter my year's best list. To tell the truth, I find the wildly divergent perspectives on the film that I've seen out there more interesting than the film itself. I am also curious as to the identity of Vera Farmiga's dorsal double.
Truth to tell, the most interesting thing I've got is a travel tale. It begins, in O. Henry fashion, with My Lovely Wife buying a Christmas present for her dad. The present is a very nifty moustache razor from The Art of Shaving, and a box of the tiny, triangular blades said razor accepts.
On the morning of the 23rd, Claire and I got up well before the crack of dawn, dragging down our suitcases in a slightly nervous daze, and taking the nice black corporate car to Newark Airport. Our extremely solicitous and attentive drive —who was so solicitous and attentive that I didn't even mind the fact that he named his own tip on the payment voucher—came chasing after us as we dragged our suitcases into the Continental terminal at Newark."Excuse me, is this yours?" he asked, holding up the tiny box that held those triangular razors.
And indeed, it was ours. The question was, how did it escape from Claire's suitcase? The answer, alas, was easy enough: the zipper at the front of her formidable Samsonite case had slipped off of its track, and now its entire front panel was about to flap wide open.
It was about ten minutes after six in the morning. We had an 8:30 a.m. flight. For a few minutes we both crouched in the foyer of the terminal, examining the zipper. I am not terribly handy this way, but could immediately detect that the zipper was sewn into the front panel in such a way that the groove in which either head of the zipper could "catch" was not immediately accessible.
We tried not to panic, but it was not a happy time. We considered options. One of us could check in, go through a gate, find a luggage store, buy a new bag, and then return to the check-in area with it, and re-pack. This seemed possible, maybe, but there were a lot of "ifs" involve, including the rather crucial if concerning airport luggage vendors and their store hours.
For whatever reason we decided to rely on hope and faith, or at least in the principle of staggering our feelings of existential impotence. "Let's just get on the check-in line, bring the bags to the counter, and see if the attendant has some duct tape or something, and we can tape the bag up sufficiently to check it in." All right then. So we did, but the wait on the relatively short line was rather fraught, with Claire in particular expressing a large-scale frustration with the vicissitudes of any sort of travel. Once we got to the counter, some nerve-wracking miscommunications (is this a self-service kiosk?) flared up, none long enough to result in a Planes, Trains And Automobiles freakout. Eventually we were greeted by a hefty young woman with a thick West Indian accent who seemed to not be having it from us, and asking us to wait while "someone" "found" some tape. Things did not look promising.
Then the young woman took a look at Claire's bag and its sorry state, and asked, "Do you have any kind of sharp object?" I know, trick question, right? "Sure, here's my box cutter..." But as it happens, we did have a sharp object—ten of them, in fact, in that tiny little box that comprised a portion of my father-in-law's Christmas present. The young woman proposed cutting the seam of the zipper so as to pull out the end, and re-attach the zipper head to its groove. As much as we deplored violating a portion of the gift, it would seem that this had to be done. With the assistance of another Continental worker, our new friend made the cut and repaired the zipper. Then, as if by magic, a role of duct tape appeared, which we wrapped around the portion of the case where the cut had been made. We crossed our fingers and said a little prayer that the repair would hold for the flight to KC. It did. And my father-in-law didn't mind at all that his moustache razor came with nine blades instead of ten.
I tell this story to counter the stereotype of the airline employee as rude, robotic, terminally unhelpful drone. This Continental employee was something of a miracle worker, and we hope she had a great Christmas.