Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
As we pulled into the airport in Austin, my heretofore silent Uber driver suddenly had a flurry of opinions about the design of international airport arrivals gates. I love when people start ranting out of nowhere because it feels like when you're walking through a park and there's an immersive theater experience. A person pushing a stroller is now miming. A real show! I generally don't love it when the ranter is the driver of a vehicle I'm in because as a rule I do not like to be immersed. But we were minutes from drop-off, seconds even, and I was in a theatrical mood!
He was like "They keep sending people back and forth to the Moon but they can't figure out how to get a car in and out of the drop-off lane without chaos?! Ridiculous!" And I immediately had so many questions. Who is THEY? Does he think NASA also designs airports? Or does he think Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is also hitting the GO button on all of our rocket ships? The Secretary is like "Can't worry about potholes right now; moon's haunted."
(I know that the Secretary of Transportation is not responsible for potholes--I think? But also I don't know what most people's jobs are so I'm absolutely not going to start with the Cabinet.)
I love that the Uber driver, Eyhab, lives in a world where people are constantly going to the Moon. A lunar deluge! He is forever having to reject Uber pickups at 1 Moon Boulevard, Space, The Final Frontier.
But then it got me thinking, why aren't we going to the Moon anymore? Like, no offense, but it low-key fell off as a popular destination and that's a little sad. They should put an In-n-Out franchise there. That will help. I emailed Secretary Buttigieg my idea and cc'd MayorMcCheese@InnOut.org and hopped out of the car.
I regret to inform you that I took Spirit Airlines home from Austin and I had a perfectly lovely time. Although I like to think of myself as Grizzabella the Glamour cat, I am also quite frugal and I love feeling like I'm putting one over on some big corporation. So, I don't tend to spend a lot of money on flights if I can help it. But I've been very wary of Spirit because, although they are inexpensive, their whole ethos seems to be "WE WILL CHARGE YOU FOR BREATHING." They seem very proud of the fact that they are bare bones but also that there is an extra fee for bringing your own bones on the plane with the rest of your body.
I had originally scheduled a Southwest flight back home--well, back to Baltimore where I would drive home (I am not really a chaotic traveler although recent posts seem to suggest otherwise). But the Southwest flight wouldn't get me back to Baltimore until 9 and I wouldn't get back to Philly until 11 and... who cares, you get it. Anyway, I wanted to leave earlier and there was a Spirit flight in the afternoon that was surprisingly cheap so I sent my bones ahead of me by USPS and hoped for the best.
And it was very fine! Yes, they charged me an arm and a leg (literally) for my carryon, yes the trays were the size of index cards, yes the seats were made of the kind of wood that Cub Scouts use for those derby cars. But the upside was this was the first flight I've been on in years where the gate attendants didn't have to do that awful guilt play 30 minutes before takeoff where they announce "Wow, once again this is a completely full flight and, for reasons unknown and mysterious, we are shockingly out of room in the bins that have been specifically designed to create scarcity. Who could have forseen this turn of events? It is a tragedy and it will preclude us from leaving unless you gate check your bag. Do you want to be the reason that Aunt Rue doesn't make it to the birth of Sonny Boy? Because you needed to have all of your dirty laundry from Cabo hurtling through the air in a container above your head? Wow. I like to believe in the power of the human spirit and a global sense of generosity that will help us, in time, heal the divisions between us like we healed the Ozone layer. But if you can't get yourself together enough to check this bag that our website absolutely implied you didn't need to check, then humanity is doomed and the Moon Ghosts should just take over."
I love that play. I always feel bad for the gate agents because it is not their fault at all. But it's incredible to me that every single flight is surprisingly sold out and surprisingly out of room and there is panic in the cockpit and a crisis on the tarmac and it's all because you needed your roller suitcase. (That said, a lot of these people on planes are getting real fast and loose with the definition of a carryon. Folks bring the whole Ark of the Covenant on board. For what?! Then you can't get it down because it's so heavy and it bonks you on the head! Outrageous!)
At the longterm parking lot in Baltimore, a big, multigenerational family tumbled on board the shuttle, lugging huge suitcases that I hope they were planning to check and all talking at once about where the bags go and where Grandma was going to sit and what was the name of the shuttle that was going to take them to the hotel from their destination airport. After they got settled, and the shuttle continued, Grandma, who was sitting in front of me, reached into her bag and pulled out what looked like a church fan, except it had a man's face printed on the cardstock and attached to the wooden stick. She announced to the group, "I'm talking to Grandpa!"
"Well Jer," she said to the fan at full volume. "We're on our way. And you could be here with us IF YOU HAD JUST LISTENED." And I have been thinking about her ever since. I don't know what Jer did, I don't know if it would have made a difference, I didn't know where they got that little fan (but then one of the daughters told the other she got it made on an Etsy account that does Bachelorette party supplies). I have so many questions. But mostly I hope they have a wonderful trip to wherever they're going. Hopefully not the Moon.
I had the immense pleasure of finally seeing the full production of my play Nightbird at Austin Playhouse this weekend and I was just blown away! These actors are doing such phenomenal work. It's funny, it's thought-provoking, and a turn in the second act revealed a lot of excited Star Trek fans in the audience, which was delightful. I love this play and I'm so grateful to everyone at Austin Playhouse, and especially the cast and director Marcus McQuirter for giving it such a wonderful world premiere. If you're in the area, check it out tonight or next weekend. If you're not, hopefully it will be coming to a city near you soon! (And if you're a theatermaker, it's currently live on the New Play Exchange. JUST SAYIN'!)
Let's hang out!
In conversation with Nicole Chung for the launch of her new book, A Living Remedy at Greedy Reads, Baltimore - April 12, 7pm - REGISTER HERE
In conversation with Zachary Zane for the launch of his new book, Boy Slut at Greenlight Books Prospect Park, Brooklyn - May 8, 7pm
In conversation with Chasten Buttigieg for the launch of his YA memoir, I Have Something to Tell You at Sixth & I, DC - May 16, 7pm - TICKETS HERE
Random thing on the internet
There is no In-n-Out here.
Do you want to be the reason that Aunt Rue doesn't make it to the birth of Sonny Boy?,