TomCat had told me that he had rounds to make on Friday night, to say goodbyes, and that he might roll in around 4A, which was fine by me cuz I figured I'd still be up packing. I can never sleep before any big event...a job, a presentation, a trip.
Despite the fact that my washing machine is dying a loud, painful death and my dryer suddenly went cold, I had packed pretty efficiently during the week. The Professor had scheduled Sears to come up on Thursday between 8A-12N to take a look at it, but Jose Rivera the repair guy didn't show up until 2P. I was stressed, but he was effective, and even though the news he gave me was bad (I need a new washing machine) he fixed the dryer and I managed to do laundry. So on Friday night there wasn't much to do. We went to visit the Moon to say goodbye, came back and packed last minute things, and got to bed fairly easily.
I hit the bed at 3A... but was too annoyed to sleep and so I played "MobWars" on Facebook till 5A. At 7, when I got up, Tomcat still wasn't here so I texted him that I was beginning to stress. He got here by 7:30... having never slept--and was still unpacked.
To say that I was tight was an understatement. But at this point in the game I figured it was useless to say anything so I didn't... and at the time I didn't know that he noticed or cared (but knowing him and having a little bit more faith in him I'd say he did) but he very nicely faded into the woodwork till it was time to go.
The Sun got right up and got dressed... he was very excited. We left the Rock about 9A, and met the Professor where TomCat was going to park his car. I called the DudeNamedTommy to let him know we were rolling, and DNT was already at the airport where he had checked in. We got to JFK at 10:30. DNT, who knows what the Sun looks like, came up to us and identified himself. He was a little scruffier than I expected... and seemed reasonably nice except he informed both me and TheCat that he didn't really like to fly, and so had taken a Xanax. And he was chainsmoking.
Once on the plane, my theory is that DNT didn't feel the Xanax alleviating his flying issues, and so he must have popped another one. Or something. The Sun, like me, loves to travel, and he claimed the windowseat. Since we were flying JetBlue with the little TV's in the headrests in front of you, the Sun had 5 hours plus of Cartoon Network, his Nintendo DS, soda and chips. He was quite happy. As we take off, I realize that TheCat doesn't really like to fly. Especially take-off's and landings... but as the flight progressed, DNT becomes more and more um... unsettled. TheCat and I dozed in and out (and I was feeling a little better towards him once I realized he didn't like to fly) but at one point we realize that DNT has been locked up in the bathroom an awfully long time. I peek towards the back through the seats, to see the flight attendants huddled around the bathroom debating on what to do, taking turns sniffing at the door to see if he was smoking in there.
He comes back to his seat, eventually, looking a little clammy. He must have dozed off with a glass of Coke in his hand, cuz next thing he jumps up with soda all over his lap, and runs back to the bathroom. Then I have to go, and as I'm waiting for the stall a flight attendant comes up to me: "Um, are you traveling with that gentleman across the aisle from you?" "Weeellll, sorta kinda not really but yes" I said, and then because I'm predisposed to like flight attendants (I know a few personally, LilacBlue being one of them) I told them exactly how we all came to be traveling together. I told them "I know he said he took Xanax" and the gay FA said "Honey, I think he's doing somethin' more than that" and the other FA said "Can you imagine if you had let your kid fly with him?" and the third FA said "The moral of the story is 'never let your kid fly with strangers'" and to all three, I said "It wasn't going to happen, my kid flying without me."
I go back to my seat. The flight begins to seem really long, and even the Sun starts to wonder how much longer it would be. Then DNT jumps up again, this time completely wet in the front and a little in the back and TheCat and I look at each other and wonder "uh.... is that soda??? Or...." and all I'm thinking at this point was THANK GOD I followed my gut....
Finally we begin to descend over LA. JetBlue has this little tracker that lets you see how high up you are and how fast you're going, and I'm not sure that this information was really helping the TheCat who was beginning to seem a little stressed. My ears were beginning to pop and tingle, DNT was completely clammy and only the Sun was nonplussed.
Once we land, TheCat starts to take down our carry-on (nobody checked anything) and DNT asks "Can you get mine for me?" TheCat said yes, and before he even got the bag down, DNT bolts for the door, leaving TheCat to wonder "Uh, I didn't say I would carry it..."
I had to chuckle as the Sun, having been to Long Beach Airport before, knew exactly where to go...
I had texted TF to let him know we had landed (and that his friend hadn't done so well on the flight... TF texted back "He's a wus!"... not yet understanding what I was saying) but he was stuck in traffic, so I texted him to meet us at the Avis counter.
DNT frantically searched first for cigarrettes, then for a lighter.
At the Avis counter, TheCat got the bad news that Avis would not release the car to him because he didn't have a credit card in his name. I had the credit card, we both had cash. No go.... And Avis didn't care that we were far from home and had no options. Neither did Budget.
By this point, TF arrived and was very glad to see the Sun. He was cordial enough with me, though not overly friendly. I introduced him to TheCat. DNT was nowhere to be found. I tried calling him but his phone was off. We found out later that in his bolt from the airplane, he'd actually left his phone on the plane and had to go all the way back to the aircraft to get it.
Still no car. I was beginning to get a little stressed, and having nothing better to do, I called my Aunt LasVegas. "I'm surrounded by men, and they are all idiots" I said. "Well we know that" she said quickly; "what can we do about it right now?" All I needed for her to do though, was to listen to my story about how we'd gotten there so far, and she did... and I felt better. I told her we'd get to Vegas somehow, and I went back inside.
Avis was unrelenting. There would be no car. TF offered to drive us to someplace, and after TheCat spoke to his cousin, we asked TF to drive us to the LA Mart where he was working. He agreed.
And that's how I came to be sitting in TF's car, with the Sun on my left and DNT (nodding out) on my right, and TheCat in the front seat using the GPS on his blackberry to help TF navigate his way to the LA Mart. Everytime DNT woke up to say something, TF commanded him back to sleep.
We got to LA Mart and the Sun and I said our goodbyes. TF and TheCat shook hands... I gave DNT a hug. I could... because it didn't matter. It's the same reason I gave TF a hug when he went to awkwardly shake my hand. Had I not been on that flight, I would never have forgiven him his choice of chaperon... but since I was there none of it mattered. I asked him to make sure the Sun ate... and then TheCat and I gathered our bags and walked into the LA Mart.