Apparently it only takes a few days back in New York City to set my mind at unease.
Laura and I hustled over to Penn Station Wednesday evening to meet up with Cousin Kevin, so that we could all journey on down to the Dirty Jerz, where copious amounts of delicious Gencarellaville treats and booze were laid out in preparation for our impending arrival. Osso bucco. Jigsaw puzzles. Whiskey. All for us to consume.
We were on a mission. We fought our way through an extraordinarily chaotic and packed terminal and tried to find the ticket line. ANY ticket line. Any line. Any ticket.
Me: Laura, it's kind of busy in here.
Laura: Well, it's the night before Thanksgiving, of course it's busy.
Me: But it seems kind of weird, like something is wrong -
Announcer: Attention all...jumble...due to...mumble...there is only one track...jumble mumble...in and out...mumble...Penn Station...
No. There was not ONE train track in operation on the busiest travel day of the year. LIES. I couldn't have heard that right. There was tender veal an hour away. It couldn't be.
Me: So, hey, Laura - did you hear that? I think it said something about there being only one track going in and out of Penn Station.
Laura: No, couldn't be. Let's get in line and get our tickets. We'll figure it out.
We get in line. This line goes on and on and on and on and on. I suddenly feel as if I've been deposited in the train station of a third world country, left to fend for myself in the massive herd. No matter - I'll look at the Departures board and see what track we'll be leaving from:
Departures Board: Cancelled. Delayed. Cancelled. Standby. Standby. Standby. Standby. Cancelled.
Hm. I start to get paranoid here. Wondering, worrying what might happen if there really is only one track in and out of Penn Station tonight, if that sweet, tender, juicy veal will be cold when I finally take my teeth to it.
Nonsense. We ask a guy next to us what's going on.
Guy Next To Us In Line: Oh, well, I don't know if this has anything to do with it, but did you hear about Mumbai?
GNTUIL: Oh, well, there were some major terrorist attacks there. And there's some sort of terrorist alert for New York right now.
This is when I whipped out my iPhone (dear, sweet electronic manna) and started reading. Oh dear. Oh jesus. Oh lord. What is the world coming to?? Those poor people in Mumbai. And what's this...credible information about a terrorist attack on New York? Around Thanksgiving? On the rail transport? ON PENN STATION?!?
Sonofabitch. I want to go. Now. I do not care about veal. I do not care about Thanksgiving. I do not want the terrorists to get me.
Oh man. I'm afraid. They've already gotten me.
I keep these thoughts to myself and Laura buys the tickets. We spot Cousin Kevin. I start having a meltdown about how we will never leave Penn Station and we will never make Thanksgiving and we will never eat veal or drink whiskey or make puzzles and I'm thirsty and I'm hungry and WHY AREN'T THE TRAINS LEAVING? DID THE TERRORISTS GET THEM???
Laura: SHUT UP, SHAWNTE
I shut up.
When they finally call the next train for the one track that was both going in and out of Penn Station, there was a massive rush of people. Laura muttered something like, "This is how people get killed," and then right away, all I could think about where those holy pilgrimmages in India where the people got killed in a stampede and if anything, it made me stop thinking about terrorists for a minute.
They finally called our train and we boarded. I sat across from Mac McAlcohol-Breath, who reeked of day-old Popov, with a hint of Coors Light. I didn't care - we were on our way to veal; the terrorists could not stop us.
And then we sat.
And we sat.
And we sat some more.
And then the conductor made vague allusions to some problem on the tracks being the reason for the delay, and once again I thought that the terrorists were going to get me and most of all that my mom would be pissed that I was dumb enough to take public transportation when the terrorists were totally waging jihad against Penn Station. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I did not tell Laura or Cousin Kevin about any of my paranoid thoughts, because I think I came about 2 tiny little filaments of angel hairs away from Laura slapping the shit out of me on the platform, and I didn't want to encourage that trend.
We sat in silence, Kevin at the front of the car, Laura across the way, and me facing Mac McAlcohol-Breath, who was having a field day taunting the restless grade schoolers across the aisle. We had been sitting there an hour. The children went rogue; their father's head was laid gently in his cupped hands; their teary-eyed mother was searching for valium, and Mac McAlcohol-Breath was threatening to pop their balloon.
Then the train moved!
THE TERRORISTS DIDN'T WIN! I'M GOING TO HAVE VEAL, MOTHERFUCKERS! DELICIOUS, JUICY, TERROR-FREE VEAL!
Train Conductor: Sorry about the delay...as we mentioned, there was a fire in the tunnel, but now we're on our way!
YOU KNOW, TRAIN CONDUCTOR, HAD YOU MENTIONED THAT WE WERE DELAYED BECAUSE OF A FIRE IN THE TUNNEL AND NOT BECAUSE THE TERRORISTS MIGHT BE COMING TO GET US, I MIGHT NOT HAVE MENTALLY COMPOSED MY LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT WHILE WAITING FOR THE TRAIN TO MOVE. THANKS A LOT, JACKASS.
And then I settled in with Sudoku.