Perhaps growing up in a cold damp climate gave me a yearning for America’s Deep South. Whatever the reason I was on my way to Memphis and as excited as a guy my age is permitted to be.
My transatlantic flight didn’t start too promisingly when the highly-strung Californian lady sitting next to me vomited before take off.
I tried to reassure her by explaining the aircraft had individual oxygen masks for use in a nosedive and a lifejacket should she find herself bobbing around in the North Atlantic. It did no good.
I even pointed out that in the unlikely event some myopic sea captain failed to spot a burning aircraft plunging headlong into the ocean at 500 mph she’d have a plastic whistle for ‘attracting attention’ but she grew hysterical and asked to be moved to another seat.
Some folks you just can’t help. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is a strange place for a long layover. Quite apart from its confusing multiplicity of terminals it has dozens of electric carts that warn of their approach by twittering like canaries.
Intended for use by the elderly and infirm they are in practice occupied by passengers of such gargantuan proportion that the trumpeting of a bull elephant would be more apt. I took a seat at gate G21 and awaited my flight to Memphis.
"Hey, you gonna Graceland?"
I looked up from my John Grisham to be confronted by an anorexic middle-aged lady with bleached blond hair and diamond earrings the size of chandeliers.
"Doreen from New York," (she pronounced it ‘Yoyk’ and held out a manicured hand)
"Pleased to meet you, Doreen."
"You from England?"
"Well, yes I am."
"Do you know George Lamar?"
"No, I don’t think so."
"You should? He’s from England."
With a population of more than 50 million I was tempted to point out there were still a couple of folks I had yet to meet.
"Wanna smell my Charlie?" she asked offering me her wrist. I declined and made my way hastily through the gate.
Thankfully American Airlines determined we should sit at opposite ends of the aircraft. Nevertheless I could hear Doreen’s booming diatribe on deep vein thrombosis made to a party of elderly passengers who seemed to think it was some kind of punk band.
"George Lamar," Doreen hollered as we left the baggage hall. "Be sure to say hello from me. That guy is something else."
Cruising south in the rental car I turned on the radio to hear Snoop Doggy Dog ‘slapping up his bitch’, closely followed by Eminem slicing up his mother. Four decades after the King had been publicly castigated for his ‘provocative’ hip movements some chainsaw-toting psychopath was extolling the virtues of matricide. Such is the price of progress.
Elvis was, no doubt, swiveling in his grave.
To be continued...