Whenever life imitates art it’s a bit unsettling. Even if it’s not TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 rolling and crashing into the Taipei River like a scene out the movie Flight (2012), it’s still disorienting. It can be hard to know which direction you’re facing.
It’s been a week of ugly images. The conversation isn’t much better. The blood-thirst in the middle-east has reached a pique level of insane savagery. And Stateside, people still need to be convinced to vaccinate their kids. Chris Christie dropped the belligerent dunce routine to shamefacedly deny the usefulness of vaccinations. Senator Rand Paul claims to know for sure that they cause otherwise healthy kids to grow into raving psychotics. Whenever the subject comes up he overcompensates and betrays doubts about his own dangerous gibberish. He starts acting like Dan Aykroyd as Irwin Mainway defending broken glass as child’s toy on SNL in the seventies. Christie and Paul are birds of a feather and they’re sucking out any suspense 2016 might have had. Another two bite the dust.
I speak some Spanish, but no Portuguese. Luiz speaks Spanish fluently and Portuguese pretty well, so I took him with me in an assistant capacity to Caminha. We were going to meet Cristiano Ronaldo for an interview. At the time, he was the most famous footballer in Portugal. We didn’t get the interview because he went to Lisbon in a helicopter without telling anyone. His pal Conrad Hilton was DJ’ing at a party there. Conrad is best known for losing his mind on an international flight last July and screaming things like, “If you wanna square up to me bro, then bring it and I will fucking fight you,” to no one in particular. He is also Paris Hilton’s little brother and class all the way.
Ronaldo was gone, but Luiz and I figured we could still find some fun ways to spend our yankee dollars in a soccer and surfing based economy. Luiz put good, quick use to his Portuguese and that, combined with my laminated press pass from the National Association of Attorney Generals’ annual conference and booze-swill two years prior in Tampa, got us a night in a rotating hotel, the marvel of Caminha. The graphic on the laminated pass had an eagle and a star and stuff on it, so it looked pretty official.
The Design & Wine Hotel was designed by Pedro Guimarães. He and his team were so shocked by their own masterful feat of architectural engineering that they couldn’t come up with a good name for it. There are five suites that rotate on top of an 18-ton pillar. We could have our pick because we had fistfuls of money and there was nobody else in the hotel. There are themed rooms in an adjacent 18th-century building, but they don’t rotate or do anything except shudder with ghostly moans in the night.
So, we chose one of the suites on the end to catch maximum Gs off the thing once it started spinning.
“I’m gonna take a shower, ahora mismo. I don’t want to slip and fall when the hotel starts to turn,” said Luiz trundling the duffel bags clumsily across the lobby.
“Sorry, man. You’re the assistant. I’m showering first. Besides you need to be setting up the equipment. Let’s get a mic hanging down from there,“ I said pointing to a rafter when we entered the suite. “And the cameras can go here and here. We don’t want to miss anything once she gets going.” I went to take the first shower.
We moved everything breakable to the floor, calibrated the equipment, and drank Port in preparation. Out the big window loomed the Santa Tecla Mountains. We drank all four of the bottles and fell asleep waiting for something to happen. Even Luiz hadn’t been able to decipher the explanations given by the front desk as to why we weren’t moving. The suite was nice regardless. I wrote in my notes, “The Jetsons but with bamboo.”
I woke up to find Luiz in a confused panic. “Calm down. What’s the problem?“ I yelled. I couldn’t make out his Spanish jabbering. Out the big window was the Minho River. The mountains were gone, but why? Turns out, the building had rotated 35 degrees in the night while we slept and we had to check out before it turned again. Even though there was no demand for the suites, the staff was enforcing the check out time with swift, uncompromising efficiency.
Later that afternoon, in the Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport we discovered we didn’t have our boarding passes for the flight to Miami. Luiz thought he remembered leaving them in the restroom. I stopped myself from asking what he was talking about and he ran off. Re-checking my pockets in a fury, I was approached by an American man with the foolish, unfocused grin of a lush or a plain imbecile.
“You look like Shaun White,” he said.
“I am Shaun White,” I said and went back to rooting through my overstuffed backpack hoping against hope that my boarding pass had somehow found its way to the bottom. I knew better but the search kept me from having to deal with this guy face-to-face.
“Dude, that’s awesome,” he said excitedly, “I’m waiting to get on the plane. I wait until they’re just about to close the doors, then I get on and sit in an empty first class seat. It works every time,” he told me.
That moment was almost upon us, the final boarding call was coming and if Luiz didn’t make it back, he was on his own. Mala suerte, amigo. I was out of cash, but I had the laminate and a heart full of determination.
“You in first class?” the drunk asked.
“No way,” I said.
“For real? Why not?”
“Because,” I said, “First class is for suckers.” Just then Luiz ran up with our boarding passes, out of breath. We got on the plane followed by the drunk guy who, sure enough, sat down the first chance he got.
Janet Waldo did voice work on a handful of cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera in the 1960s and 70s. She was the voice of Judy Jetson, daughter of George and Jane, on The Jetsons from 1962-1963. She also did the mid-eighties iteration. She voiced Josie McCoy from Josie and the Pussycats, (the speaking voice, not the singing voice) from 1970-1971 and Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, which ran from 1972-1973. The original run of The Jetsons was on at the same time as the original run of The Flintstones (1960-1966). Hanna-Barbera produced a show about the stone-age and a show about the future. You had to make a choice.
This morning, I somehow got the impression that Janet Waldo had died. I went to read an obituary and was certainly pleased, but a bit confused, to find out that she isn’t dead at all. I still don’t know why I thought she was, but I’m glad she’s not.