Fuck the Dallas Airport

Fuck the Dallas Airport

Are you kidding me? After two weeks tripping through the rotten jungles of Guatemala and Belize I step from a battered 747’lesioned in bleeding mosquito bites, sweatdried shirt cracked and calcified to my skin, five stitches in my back, iguana shit in my hair, sun lotion in my ears (damn you, discount monkey backrubs!)’and, ladies, a tan as deep and luxurious as a mahogany coffee table covered in dog diarrhea’and all Dallas can offer me on my return to the United States of Amerikuh’nation of my birth, my homeland, my shining beacon of light in the dark uncertainty of a terrifying and foreign world’is A FUCKING WINE BAR?

A WINE BAR? DALLAS’WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING?

Look. Every other airport I fly through has their shit down and I plan my sustenance accordingly:

SEA: Homepoured Gatorade’n’vodka, three sleeping pills, and a girly-packed turkey-pickle-triple-mayo sammich eaten on the busride to the terminal.

DET: Chicken Wings, Chudweiser tanker, double shot of whiskey, triple shot of Nyquil.

MSP: Hot dog and as many Leinenkugels as flight delays allow (If flying Northworst Airlines, this number rarely lower than 17).

MEM: Bad BBQ on a bun (still better than anything in Seattle), 3 bottles of Dixie, and two of whatever the performing Stevie Wonder impersonator is drinking.

NYC: The Jet Blue hub only has shit sushi and a bad sports bar’but there’s free TV on the flights and I’m usually packing five pastrami-and-mustard sandwiches from that one corner deli near the C train stop on 96th, so I usually fill my backpack with wasabi and soy sauce packets and call it even.

So, to judge from this sample group, the rest of America’s airports are pulling their trashy weight. But on a Monday afternoon in early July the only open boozeatorium in the American Airlines wing of Dallas/Ft. Worth is a wine bar.

TEXAS, ARE YOU AWARE OF THIS?

The whole friggin’ airport sit-n-wait-for-your-delayed-connection-Dante’s-Inferno-keep-moving-to-the-left-please was hoity toity’from its leaded-glass chandeliers to its bearskin rugs, handmade Turkish carpets, and waiting chairs’nee ‘waiting thrones made of hand-stitched Corinthian leather’what offerings! Ye Aulde Overpricer Blarney Puker Irish Pub (Closed), Kenneth Armpit Advanced Fashions for Men (Open), Sir Reginald Funnybottom’s Sports Spendatorium (Open, but with a Maitre’d.), Madam Fussycunt’s Perfumarama (open), Hide Your Mammalian Stink Sissy Soap Co. (Open), Billion-Dollar Bulletproof James Bond Adult Diaper Luggage Outfitters (Open)’I guess it makes total sense. Travel has become sooooo luxurious. What with the shoe removal and smaller seats and oversold flights and scab mechanics and extra charges for heavy bags and the lost luggage fuck you and the fuel surcharges and the deterioration of the middle-class dollar and, ‘Hey, y’all! I’ve got 20 minutes a’tween Tulsa and Cleveland’what are the men in Paris wearing this fall?’

Even the friggin’ Bennegan’s Slurpy Bluedrink Bloomin’ Onionfartbomb Stoolidrome and Fudgefucky McFeelersnots Bacteriabeefburger Family Gropeatorium were closed.

You, American Airlines wing of Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport, are very lucky I was coming from Belize, that I was completely relaxed and impervious to the bad thoughts which usually cause the clenching of fists and the random punching of senior citizens and whining children’and that the full two-liter of Coke under my arm was actually ‘ rum’or there would have been hell to pay. Hell, you say? Yes, hell to pay. One thing traveling abroad had taught me is I AM AN AMERICAN AND I’M SUPPOSED TO BE NASTY AND LOUD AND BOSSY AND I’M NOBODY’S FOOL AND NOSIREE YOU AIN’T PUTTING ONE OVER ON ME!

Mark Driver? Nasty American? Hardly. I’m a quiet, polite, undemanding traveler. For as much as a dongle I am to my fellow United Statians, I wander into other countries as a tender lamb, blank slate, pup of the teat, drained of all judgment, and on my best behavior.

Sure, at the corner Safeway I’m a burrito-belching monster with a box of wine under each arm and a ribeye stuffed down my pants telling everyone what’s wrong with them and shouting ‘BALLSACK’ as I walk by anyone on a cellphone. (‘Hi, Honey, I’m exposing my brain to cancerous radiation and taking up limited satellite bandwidth to find out whether your sister prefers skim milk to 2%. What? Ballsack? No! That certainly wasn’t me!”)

But on the road, I’m the sweetest sweetheart ever. Call it Jewish wedding syndrome, but I’m pretty convinced that any sudden movements in a foreign country will cause, at the very least, shame and embarrassment for everyone around me and, more likely, amputation and evisceration at the hands of culturally sensitive machetes of tender misunderstanding. I mean, all those nice American farmboys went to Iraq to help them get their country in order and BAM!!! like 100,000 people are suddenly dead and this bloody civil war comes completely outta of nowhere. What a mess! Who saw that coming? Crazy things happen when Americans leave their country, and we certainly don’t have too good of a track record when it comes to Central America. When outside the United States, I lose my desire to accidentally kill anyone. So I just smile a lot and try not to get ripped off too bad.

“Oh really? It’s customary to drag live rats out of open sewers and bite their heads off and copulate with the corpses and then give you five bucks to honor the ancestors of the wonderful people of Guatemala? Well, look! There’s a fat one right there! Que Suerte! Wow, they sure are biters, aren’t they? Mmmph. Salty, too. You got change for a 20? No?’

Guatemala City is an amazing place. Historic, scenic, great for families’if you want your family to be dead so you can be single again and really enjoy the rest of your vacation. If, as you stumble from the bus station, a small child runs up to you and asks how much money you’re carrying in your wallet, you should watch which darkened alleyway he runs into shouting his answer and then point your finger at that darkened alley and start screaming, ‘There! There is darkened alley which contains the men who will ruin my vacation and perforate my perfectly imperforated chest!’

We didn’t hang out in Guatemala City as long as we thought we would. Enough time to buy a bottle of booze and nasty knife which was guaranteed by the blanket vendor to explode on first lame attempt at self-defense. We skulked around the broken sidewalks, dodged zombie dogs, bought a bag of dead pastries, drank a few really, really, really quick (body temperature) beers while miserable people pretended not to stare at us, and changed our bus tickets to leave earlier. Lovely bus. Nice bus. Get on the bus. Good bus. (The risks you take when traveling as a lone soldier are far different from the ones you should take when you travel with a hot chick. Remember kids, just because you’re perfectly content to be stabbed to death for no good reason doesn’t mean your traveling companion is equally ambivalent about her existence.)

Another Mark Driver vacation tip: Diarrhea on the bus is as bad in rural Central America as it is in Seattle (maybe worse because the roads are bumpier and it’s a wee bit further between stops), so load up with Kaopectate and limit your shitting to three black bricks a week!

I’m afraid that Mayan ruins aren’t very interesting and I’m not going to pretend they are just to appear respectful and cultured. Dude! RUINS! They’re monuments to failures! Why do I want to look at failures? I’m an American! Show me the winners! You know, like all the rural Guatemalans who benefited from American foreign aid’um’that went’um’to the death squads that mowed them down with helicopters’um’so I guess El Mozote isn’t on the tour. Um. Okay. Sorry. Didn’t mean to bring it up.

So, bleh on the old piles of loser rocks but yay on the risk of highway robbery on the dirt path to Tikal! Go, Guatemalan bandits, Go! Three bus hits on the week before we were there! Robbery, Rape, and Murders! Machete bandits are sexy! Armed ex-mercenaries roaming the countryside are a sign of progress. Just ask Afghanistan. Murder behind every palm tree! I felt like I was back in LA!

But I am overdramatizing and underrealizing. But that’s okay. On hot vacations, everything must be fueled by rum. Rum is cheap and rum is delicious. The cheaper the rum, the sweeter the rum (more residual sugarcane), and  if you can find that homemade brand they sell underneath the counter outta empty 2 liter bottles for $1.00 you won’t even need a mixer! Or a return ticket home! And, after you’ve steeled yourself against the sweat, grit, and constant threat of dudes with machine guns that accompany bus travel in Central America, you should probably go swimming in a cave, because a swimming drunk in a cave is great way to catch your back on a stalactite and start bleeding profusely’because there’s no better place than Belize City to wander around in a blood-stained shirt looking for stitches in the pitch blackness of night.

Oh, Belize City. For as touristy as Belize is supposed to be, walking around Belize City with a 6′ 3′ blonde bombshell still attracts attention from locals, and not all of it as good-natured and friendly as you might think. But Belize City can be deceiving. Right when you think you’ve wandered into the scariest, most homocidey block on the face of the globe and death is flapping on leather wings three inches above your quivering skull, a pack of 50 little kids in Catholic school uniforms will run screaming past you and make you feel like a total pussy. Wandering around looking for the hole-in-the-wall Belizean home-cookin’ place the toothless Rasta guy sitting on our front stoop told us about (answer to the trivia question he’ll ask you about America: Thomas Paine), our harrowing tale of adventure, danger, and bravery as we darted down the dark, narrow alleyways in search of cold Belikin and something called Gibnut’our imagined bravery was brought back in check as we heard someone getting clarinet lessons through a tin window grating covered by greying blankets:

‘Nah! Aghin! Ya gwan play right ah no gwan play!’

But it seemed scary. I swear.

Blah farty poot. Of course everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. I gotta play up the danger to be entertaining, but what can I say. What I saw of non-tourist Central America: people are generally struggling and shy, their indifference and friendliness dependant on how able you are to control your obnoxiousness. People are nice. Kids are great, no matter where you are. Barbecued, stewed, whatever’

We ate non-touristy, for sure. The fact that we didn’t immediately go for the hamburguesas con queso arose some initial suspicion, which increased as we attempted to convince cooks that we actually wanted to eat local food’let’s say stewed cow’s foot over rice in Belize’but when you complement the cook and tip heavily, you make lots of friends. Possibly even little worm friends that you can take home with you and say hello to through itches and future generations of little baby worms in your brain and poop!

But what could possibly be bad about a country where ‘Beans & Rice’ and ‘Rice & Beans’ are two different dishes entirely?

What I saw of touristy Central America’

We ended up at Caye Caulker, which is a tiny, hot island with enough tourists so that locals have made arrangements to feed you and keep you drunk (‘Caribbean Food Cabbin’ did quite well on both accounts), but not quite enough tourists to drive you nuts’unless you manage to find the beach cabana in-between the two most annoying groups of tourists the United States has ever expelled from its creamy white buttocks.

Not that it was all Americans. There were the usual vacation mix of Kiwis, Aussies, and Brits, too. You fucking Brits get WAY too much vacation. I swear, I could drive a dog team to Ice Station Zebra on the Magnetic North Pole and there’d be one tiny Inuit store with one tiny table in the corner where two limey bastards would be drinking pints of warm lager in sleeveless shirts and screaming over who Manchester United should start at left midfield.

Oh, but the Americans. It is beyond me how anyone can slowly wake to the glory of a Caribbean sunrise ‘orange rays bouncing of the flat, glassy surface of the ocean’s still face’a cloudless sky stretching off into the softness of the hazy blue horizon’the faint call of the gull to its mate’the distant silent skiff of an early fisherman soaring home from the catch with coolers full of breakfast’to, in the awe of such calming stillness and beauty, to take in this sublime, inexplicable wave of existience with a life-affirming breath of cool, salty air’and scream: ‘Dallas Mavericks! Dallas Mavericks! Goooooooooooooo Mavericks! Mavericks! Dallas Mavericks!’

From the note I delivered:

Dear douche drinker staying in the next cabana,

It’s fucking 6 am! What the hell are you doing? Seriously! You’re like 40 years old! And wasn’t that basketball championship like a month ago? And didn’t the Mavericks lose? To Miami? Does everything of inferior quality originate from Texas?

Shut up,
Mark Driver

Cabana #4

PS–Your wife looks like an iguana.

So a little direct action got it quiet on the one side of the beachhouse…but that other side. Nothing is better for ruining a series of hammock naps than a nearby backpacker hostel, a B.O. fest of teenage trustfund transients talking theology after choking down collapsible cups of warm rum and acting superstoned after dry-huffing a weak 64th ounce of local dirtweed/oregano. The conversation cobbled for your enjoyment:

‘I think like God’s all around us. Like everything is God, you know? Like I’m God, but you’re all God, too.’

‘Not me. I’m a Jew.’

‘Then you’re going to hell.’

‘What?’

‘All Jews are going to hell.’

‘Says who?’

‘I’m a Buddhist. Buddhists don’t believe in hell.’

‘Buddhists are going to hell, too.’

‘You can’t just condemn everyone to hell.’

‘It’s nothing personal against you guys. It’s just what I believe. Does anyone have any rolling papers?’

‘Wait, I thought there was a Buddhist hell. It’s like’Valhalla or something.’

‘Dude! Someone used my salad dressing! I just bought that! What the fuck! How do you just use someone else’s shit like that? I bought that salad dressing for my own personal use!’

“Calm down. That stuff’s like forty cents a bottle.”

“That is not the point. Yesterday, someone ate my brown rice, and today–”

“Nobody ate your brown rice. Nobody even likes brown rice.”

“I like brown rice. But then again, I don’t eat meat or dairy.”

‘Where’s that guy we gave the money to? Wasn’t he supposed to be back here?’

“I don’t eat eggs either. Nothing that comes from an animal. Except honey. But only sometimes.”

‘Jeffery’Johnny’what was his name? The Rasta guy.’

‘Rasta guys are cooool. Aren’t they?’

‘What are they’like’Christian or something?’

‘No, it’s that reggae religion where you smoke pot.’

‘He better not be ripping me off.’

‘Relax Mon. ‘Ave a Corona.’

‘That’s hilarious! Do that again! You’re so good at that voice.’

‘Relax Mon. We be jammin’ on island time. ‘Ave a Corona.’

‘HA! HA! HA! HA! THAT’S THE FUNNIEST VOICE EVER!’

Truly riveting stuff, indeed, made all the more engaging by being screamed at volumes that cause coconuts to jump out of their trees and drown themselves in misery.

Welcome to the Island of Much Screaming in Every Drunken Dialect of English. Look here, you pasty bastards’you’re on vacation. In friggin’ paradise. We got sunshine, sandy beaches, grilled fish, and cheap drinks with umbrellas. NOBODY wants to hear about where you buy your bulk socks on discount, who makes the best brand of diet weight-loss mixes, what hot stocks you’re leveraging into your portfolio, or any particularly gory and unpleasant details of your medical condition which, nevertheless, fails to keep you from taking your shirt off and showing us all what twenty-years of overconsuming breakfast bangers, crisps, butterscotch pudding, and sugared tea do to a human body. Fine. Be naked and ugly in paradise. Lordy knows a shirtless Mark Driver isn’t doing anyone any good. Just please god shut up, take some breaths, close your eyes, and relax. We’ll all be back in our hell holes soon enough.

Save your tourist voice for Texas. Those guys are fucking up BIG TIME.