The last time I was at the international terminal of any airport was November, 2000. I know this because a few of us were heading to Jamaica to celebrate my 40th birthday. We had an early Air Jamaica flight and arrived at the terminal with plenty of time to spare. When the term “birthday” comes to mind it is often paired with gifts, cocktails, friends, gatherings, etc. While roaming the nearly barren international terminal in Atlanta we found that one place, that one very strange place that took care of a few much needed items that morning; food and beer. Oddly enough, the Burger King® serves both cinn-a-buns and ice cold Heinekens. I know exactly what time it was as we took a photo of my buddy’s wristwatch which read 7:05 AM while we started our first course. There is nothing like drinking at an airport prior to climbing onto a plane packed with cold ones and we did just that. This eleven year old memory comes to me this afternoon after reading a recent comment from a former shipmate of mine today. His comment helps answer the question “What drink goes good with salty soft pretzels?” His answer is laden with memories of an afternoon we spent at the Hilton in Cartagena, Colombia (long before the hooker scandal with the U.S. Secret Service personnel). Danny and I walked on into the Hilton like we owned it, headed directly for the bar which was conveniently located in the middle of their wonderful outdoor pool. The bartender, whose nametag read “Alice” served us ice cold beers (canned Heineken) while we sat there in our swim trunks taking in the heat just north of the equator. We continually asked Alice if we could relocate a pair of poolside chairs into the pool, and with each question we received a smile, a laugh and in broken English the word “NO”. Although we followed her advice the entire afternoon, it still wasn’t the smartest thing we did that day. Danny and I probably had a six-pack of beers apiece and it wasn’t until Alice asked us how we’d be paying for these beers did the smartest thing we did that day kick in … you all know when drinking at a hotel, there’s always that chance to say “we’ll charge it to our room” which neither one of us had and we opened up our wallets and did the right thing. I’ve been in peculiar situations all over this globe of ours and I can easily say Cartagena would be the very last place I’d want to get locked up … so Danny and I took our afternoon buzz, bid adieu to Alice and the Hilton, and headed over to the West Bay Beach for a burger to find out what was on the agenda for the rest of the afternoon as if we didn’t know we’d be attending the hermit crab races at the world famous Banana-rama.
Anyway, my day started by saying “good morning” to our oldest daughter, something I’ve not been able to do in person for the past five months and as soon as I sat down to work this morning I had a message waiting for me from my buddy in Boston and as the clock winds down to nearly 3:PM I was able to read Danny’s comment on this page which reminds me just how lucky one individual can be; a healthy family, all living under one roof with friends who are only a phone call away and memories with all of them that have taken me to some of the funkiest places from ports of call all over South America to the seriously tight confines of “The Elbow Room” in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
The pretzels were gobbled up last night and later this evening I’ll take a stab at rolling cinnamon-sugar bread sticks in preparation for the long holiday weekend. Danny – thank you. Scooter (Dennis, MA) – thank you as well, and to the new Malaysians now reading this blog, allow me to offer you “Selamat Malam” or good afternoon!