We are at the airport. I know this because Craig keeps rushing back to the parked taxi to get me to “hurry up or we’ll miss the flight”. But I am chatting with the driver and on the cusp of a breakthrough. This is remarkable as he “no hablo ingles” yet I am pretty sure I have talked him round to watching Orange is the New Black. Craig then makes his fourth(!) trip back to the taxi so I greet the interruption with a salvo from the horn. This prompts a rebuke from the parking marshal who has been banging at our window for the past few minutes. The marshal and driver then spark up their own discussion so I leave them to it.
Inside the terminal, Craig and I join a line so long that my eye-roll-in-disbelief twinges my hamstring. In minutes a woman with calves like avocados and a distaste for my pointing out this feature calls “all passengers for Sydney yet to board, please come forward”.
“That’s us,” I trill, though we are headed for Melbourne. Craig looks terrified that we will be caught out but I announce I have a foolproof plan. This calms my friend instantly. In retrospect slapping him as well was probably overkill, particularly as my hand was balled up at time of impact.
At the counter the man asks “is he alright?” and then “Sydney, gentlemen?” Through a smile that can be seen from space I reply “No. Melbourne”. This is the extent of my plan. As the man’s bright expression withers and dies I decide to pop a button to sweeten the deal. As I am in a t-shirt the top fastening of my jeans has to step up to the main stage. Judging by his expression which is so severe we don’t have a word for it in English, I realise I have misjudged this gambit and refasten. Upon looking up again the man’s manger is standing in his place and she looks “ready to blow a gasket”.
Saying this aloud was a mistake so I offer a conciliatory hi-5 which is left, how you say, hanging. Hand still aloft, it is probably too late to push for an upgrade but I give it a red hot go. The woman stops me before I have had a chance to truly inhabit my Upgrade-Guaranteed-German-Tycoon Character™ and I realise I look a little like a casually dressed fascist. I drop my hand. She administers her review of my performance by – as we would discover – seating Craig and I separately beside babies trying to unlock their demon form through bouts of screaming and defecating.
In line for security I remember Craig is a nervous flyer. To distract him I rattle off a few statistics about the relative safety of air travel. But the performer in me feels the material could benefit from some flourishes and I somehow segue into a madrigal of interwoven horror stories from the annals of Air Crash Investigation. At yarn’s end I am so involved that I squeeze my carton of choc milk and it explodes with a bang which startles Craig. Fifteen minutes later when I coax him out of the toilet the line is considerably shorter and we coast through. Or at least I do. Craig gets a bit of static regarding the fireworks concealed in the front pocket of his bag. He is doing a good job of looking shocked at the discovery, mainly as I forgot to tell him I had put them there so my box set of Scrubs didn’t get smushed. To lighten the mood I dive behind a table and yell “she’s gonna blow!”. I stand laughing only to see Craig in a choke-hold being dragged into a small room. I decide for us to meet at the gate at boarding.
I go shopping. At the moment I am playing round with saying “ding” instead of “yes” and “dong” for “no” and the move is really getting some attention. The shop lady seems particularly engaged with my new life choice as I have cornered her in a position where asking me questions is her only out. Seven packs of cigarettes, three bottles of cologne and a whole lot of pointing later I head for the gate.
Craig is already there. He holds in his hands his shoes and a plastic bag containing only a few of his possessions. He looks as if he has had a shower that wasn’t 100 per cent his idea. “You look haggard,” I add helpfully. He then lists off the international laws to which he was almost in breach but I lose interest/count and have managed to get a pretty good walk the dog going with my yo-yo. I hope he is having a good birthday.