With my trustworthy Xanax and a healthy serving of wine from a clear, plastic screw-top bottle, I fall asleep after dinner and wake up to breakfast – a shitty white roll that looks suspiciously similar to the shitty croissant they serve on the flight to Paris. My itinerary calls the Spartan slop placed before me “continental,” which at one point not too long ago – before American Airlines filed for bankruptcy – actually resembled a continental breakfast complete with an under-ripe banana, dried cranberries roasted in vegetable oil (to what effect, I am still unsure), and super-sweet strawberry yogurt that most often exploded upon opening. While the meal never quite served to thrill me, I could at least award it points for its attempt at approximating reality. The meal placed before me this morning, however, more closely resembles Bullshit.
In an effort to combat time zones, I drink a cup of coffee out of an environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam cup, which is delicious in its own disgusting way, one reminiscent of Bobby’s Diner on Ventura Boulevard with its aged, post-prime pop tart collective of a waitress staff throwing spoons and forks and knives carelessly in front of you, pouring burnt coffee to the brims of chipped coffee cups before asking lamely what the hell you want for breakfast and why don’t you leave me the hell alone? – in not so many words.
British Border Patrol is no less intimidating. A woman with honey-colored skin and jet black hair asks me what I am doing in London and then asks what agency I am with even though I am not here for work (as stated somewhere within the 45-second interrogation when I stuttered something about coming here for “fun” and “um, my friend’s wedding”). I am overwhelmed with an irrational fear that has possessed me in situations like this since I was a little kid: that I have done something wrong on accident, committed some crime unknowingly or compulsively, perhaps during a walking blackout. Only now, instead of being needlessly paranoid that I have accidentally stolen a Fiona Apple single from the WhereHouse, I concern myself with such matters as Has my friend accidentally left cocaine in my handbag? or Did I need a travel visa or yellow fever vaccinations?
With black ink and the force of her fist, I am granted entry into the United Kingdom, the land from which my forefathers garnered lovely British tans and passed them down to me. As a result of my Welsh ancestors, the spectrum of my skin color seems to range somewhere between nonfat milk (dead of winter) and smoked gouda (height of summer).
Barnaby has provided me instructions as to how to get into the city via the Piccadilly Line. “JUST GET ON THE TRAIN,” he screamed at me in an email sent just before I left in response to my own obnoxious wave of self-doubt and needless questioning. Are you sure I do this? Is all I need to do is buy a card? You’re going to meet me straight away? Are you sure? Sure, sure?
I wait on the tube platform and do my best to stifle some sophomoric laughter when a woman comes over the speaker to announce, “This is a…Piccadilly Line service to…Cockfosters” about four times. I look around to see if anyone else shares in my childish snickering, but I am, as expected, left alone in my cheap humor.
Doom and gloom hover over the brick houses of western London as we head towards Dalston. Squidgy boys with pale, doughy faces board, every last one of them looking as though they’ve just been caught in the rain. Trashy girls join in, each in possession of a fierce desire to look like a less attractive version of Sid’s Nancy.
The doors open and close and open and close. “This is a…Piccadilly Line to…Cockfosters.” Exhausted, over-traveled, and wholly American, I laugh to myself, an audience of one.
Perhaps I will one day resemble an adult.
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