Monday, 12 October 2009
Roasting in Cleveland
In between minor bickerings with my husband (thats what a travel day does for you) I am bashing out my installment for today. My first few memories of Cleveland include an aging hippie collecting her baggage at the carousel, a fuschia rucksack strapped to her back three sections of which were made out of a fine mesh which was being systematically pecked away by the large bird that was caged inside. I foresaw one unhappy pet owner opening up her sack only to be torn apart with grief on discovery that her precious bird had taken flight. It took us two flights to reach here from Hartford - one to Baltimore and the second, on the same plane (we did a little musical chairs in between) to our final destination. The first was manned by a delightful trio of bright cabin crew. I knew we had been assigned people of good humour when the first announcement went like this, "Welcome aboard Southwest Airlines, blah blah blah, blah blah blah." When, as we approached take off, Leroy - our frustrated musical theatre wannabe crew guy with a voice to boot gave his rendition of Proud Mary and insisted his passengers join in the chorus I found myself joining in somewhat loudly nonetheless drowned out by my fellow travelers. I guess this is as close to Panto as the yanks get. After drinks were served he also lead a round of applause for the "special guests" on board (he meant the Young Frankenstein lot, plug for show included) and there were whoops and cheers. When we landed he welcomed us to Hawaii over the tannoy and his colleague not skipping a beat told us as we approached the gate that Southwest loved not only our custom but also "our money" so thank you once again and to the tune of This Old Man they had composed their own ditty that ended "if you marry one of us you travel free." Don't get that kind of service on Virgin. I pause for a moment on my reminiscing because I can hear some stifled sobs from the opposite end of the sofa. Oh no. Cory has caught the end of that awful Kevin Costner baseball movie. He is sucker for any happy ending sports movie. Now he's caught sight of me catching sight of him. Don't put this in the blog he says from behind a cushion. After we found our room on the 22nd floor of the apartment building earlier this afternoon we set to forage for food. On the ground floor of the block is a small supermarket. Around half an hour after we had all arrived (crew bus and flown folk's arrival coinciding perfectly) and filled the deserted reception with cases, blue Young Frankenstein logo'd bags and canvas mag bags with pink brains printed on them (thank you Susan Stroman) we were all back down again this time loading up tired shopping trolleys, which, by the way, I refused to push around after a while because it kept giving me intense electric shocks. I wonder if that store had ever seen such a concentrated mass of musical theatre shoppers at one time. You could recognise us quite easily. We were the zombie like lot floating around looking for the wheat free goods, alcohol and any fresh veggies to compensate for the past few weeks of eating out. Sam had a wail of a time asking me whether I needed this or that and then attempting to be Cory's colleagues' personal shoppers also. Loudly of course. This was a moment after the second person had approached us for a spare dollar or two. I don't think I have ever been approached like this in a supermarket before and it gave me that chilling feeling of being one of the privileged classes. I am not going to bow into a phony middle class guilt because somewhere in my escapist brain I live in a classless world and guilt always seems to be such a lazy emotion. Anger usually spurs people on to change but guilt? So perhaps what I was feeling was in all intents and purposes a spark of anger. So accustomed have I become to seeing an America full of over stocked gleaming supermarkets whose shelves almost topple under the weight of the choice of goods they display that to find ourselves in a dimly lit sparse shelved store decked out in 1980s browns and oranges was a shock to the system. Determined not to let our visit deplete out travel high we did what we always do to make ourselves feel at home. We cooked. The royal we and I set about roasting a succulent Amish chicken found amongst the tired fridge displays. I wonder if it took a year out of the pen to travel the real world in nike trainers and bonnet before he settled back into the traditional ways only to be led to slaughter. It was but a passing thought. Not so much to turn me to vegetarianism. No antibiotics in this bird see, and apparently she had been a mean carpenter also. The comforting smell of garlic and herbs makes us feel like we are in our own home once again. I fear however that the smell is likely to follow us around for a few days. We met the coolest post man I have ever met in the lift after buying such bird. Well I say lift. I mean main entrance as we struggled to work out how we were to open the door with a key when there was a fat sign telling us to swipe a card. Along comes the dude. "You live here?" he asks with a smirk. "Yes" we answer looking guilty, "If you pay your money you get yourselves one of these", he replies waving a little grey thingy. "We haven't paid a dollar yet." my husband interjects. My brow involutarily furrows. I think this is going as well as his attempts to start conversation with the tellers back at the store who ignored all three of his humourous offerings. They appeared to have been of the opinion that the jokey openings had come from a middle class guilt place. All credit to him not giving up till he was ignored for the third time. Anyhows, we suddenly discover that we too have a grey thingy on our key. The four of us bundle into the lift. "You must have yourself a pack of money if you are only here for two weeks." says the postman. He goes on to tell us that he knows what he is talking about, that he knows everyone in the building, that he watches everyone and knows what is going on. As we reach his 14th floor he steps out and wishes us well but not before he turns back and just as the doors close tells us that he is "da man." I'd be hard pressed to find a post office worker back home like that of a monday afternoon. Husband has now switched to Supernanny. Tears have turned to a gaping mouth of disbelief. Not sure which I prefer. Sammy is ensconced in his "cushion bed" as he has called it which is literally what it is. Elmo duvet cover and pillow case from home thrown over and he is a happy man. His dad and I have a belly full of roast chicken and green veg and a little red wine and are feeling quite smug at having almost recreated a sunday evening in London on a monday travel day in Cleveland Ohio. Tomorrow we will explore the city, having only seen the dotted skyscrapers loom up on the horizon behind the silhouetted steel mills earlier this afternoon in our taxi ride from the airport. The ride was just long enough for Cory to find out that our driver had been in the marines in Korea, where Cory's father was also stationed in the 50s. A perfect opportunity to tell the tale of him pulling Marilyn out of a ditch when her car had overturned on the way to a concert. Cory was quick to point out that his father had not had the foresight to take a picture of the moment and so all validity remains by implication in question, nevertheless we re-tell it at every opportunity. Till our adventure into town tomorrow we will ensconce ourselves in some serious sofa time and enjoy a rare night in together. If I get off the computer that is.