It was a big beer and then a smaller beer, and then a shot of whiskey down the gurgler just north of gate 152 in Los Angeles International that got me, and this trip, under way.
"You know what the biggest word in the world is?" asked the bartender. He was bald and happy and busily wiping down the counter space next to me. He'd told me earlier he wasn't lazy. I hadn't accused him.
"Antidisestablishmentari - ," I began to answer, before he cut me off. Smart alecking all the way to the bank.
"No, no, no!" he interjected, wisps of laughter squeaking through.
"Okay, then what is it?" I said, confident from liquor.
He paused, striking up a stoic embattlement, preparing to drop his line that he has, no doubt, delivered to many before me. "If," he said, smirking and studying my reaction.
"If?" I said.
"If," he confirmed. "I would have done that if...I would have cleaned my room if...I would have been on time if," he remarked, proud.
"I would have been there if I hadn't got so drunk last night."
"Exactly," he said, twirling his rag and pointing a single finger.
I slept on the plane. I did, but it was an uneasy sleep. I was surrounded by three older women with zero regard for their surroundings, resulting in their constant elbowing of me, the one writing this.
The woman in front consistently reached back and, unknowingly, caressed my leg. She would also jerk and elbow my protruding knee occasionally.
The one behind me shook my seat in what seemed like a hurricane of indecision as she fastened and unfastened her tray table incessantly. She also touched my head every time she rose to go to the bathroom, which was often.
The woman next to me was more diabolical than the others. Clearly well-read in torture, for fourteen hours straight she lightly grazed the sides of my ribs with her elbow. It was like having someone tap the soft space between your eyebrows, just lightly and with just enough force to let you know they're there. Maddening. Puts you in a tizzy, a fragile state where you're likely to lose your mind, raise the white flag, and divulge whatever information you'd been withholding.
Unluckily for her, she didn't know I'd swallowed a Vicodin in the slender bathroom, stopping briefly at the mirror to look myself deeply in the eyes before exiting. Two whiskeys later and I was out, comfortably handling the grazing elbow of the devil next to me.
That's unfair, she wasn't a devil. Her daughter was, though, and she was sitting window seat, which made me the gatekeeper. She needed to get up to go the bathroom every two hours. The two of them had me on the goddamn ropes. I commend them.
So, as I said before: Yeah, I slept. I did, but you know.
Melbourne is a low-rising, stretched out San Francisco with a commonwealth flair. It's like Cape Town in many ways. The weather is similar to northern California. Queen Elizabeth II marks their coins and their paper money are colored like jelly beans.
Meeting up with some friends, we talked about water rights and Australia's relationship with China.
"If it came to war, we'd have to side with China because we trade with them on such a massive scale. We trade with Japan, but they're small. The south China Sea is where it's all boiling over. That's where shit is going to hit the fan," said one friend, a farmer from Canberra, a remote mountainous region north of Melbourne.
Minimum wage is high here, but so are meals and booze and cigarettes. All taxed heavily. Everyone rolls their own cigarettes. A pack of regular ciggies go for upwards of twenty dollars.
We're going to an Australian football game tonight. It's the Western Bulldogs, who we root for, against the North Melbourne Kangaroos. Other teams include the Jeelong Cats, Sydney Swans, and Freemantle Dockers. There are more, but I don't know them, yet.
"Do you they serve booze in the stadium?" I asked, referencing the dry stadiums of European football.
"If they didn't, there'd be riots."
Go Dogs, ya cunts.
P.S. This is the longest word: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.