The Sweethearts of MSP

A couple years back, there was this Tom Hanks flick that came out about a foreign dude who went to the US, but for some reason or another, got stuck in the airport. So instead of trying to get out, he kind of starts living and working there I think. I mean, I don’t exactly know what happened, I never saw the stinkin’ movie, and really have no intention of ever seeing it to be perfectly honest; it just happened to keep popping up as one of the previews on a DVD I bought one time. And besides, I think it got pretty crappy reviews, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say I didn’t really miss out on much.

That being said, the concept of that movie made me wonder, “what if I was ever in that situation? What would I do, and where I would go? And most importantly, what airport would I be stuck in if I had the choice?” Because to tell you the truth, I kind of like hanging out in airports, ever since I was a young lad following my dad around on his business trips. There’s something about all of the commerce, mechanical progression, and businessmen reading the Wall Street Journal just like my pops that I always found intriguing. In one trip you may pass a Fortune 500 CEO on his way to making a multi-million dollar, world-changing deal in a major metropolis, or sit next to the next a future rock star, and not even have the slightest clue. All the while, you’re helplessly at the mercy of a pilot and his plane, unable to act if the plane is late, has mechanical problems, or if they simply don’t want to fly until a later time, leaving you with a prolonged layover that everyone seems to dread.

There’s an airport however that always stuck out with me above and beyond the rest; one, being that it’s a hub for Delta Airlines, I found myself frequenting time and time again. It’s a place where long layovers are celebrated, for it means getting to grab a bite to eat at Ike’s, a local favorite that happens to be named after my old man, where the food is always delicious and Minnesota’s best beer, the Surly Furious, flows furiously down your throat. And after a hearty lunch and a couple of refreshing brews, there’s always time to stop for at least a round or two of pinball at one of the many video arcades placed throughout the airport before having to catch your next flight.

Of course, there’s only one airport that could ever fit this wonderful description, and that’s the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. Aka, MSP.

MSP: Such a beautifully designed airport, from the terminal layout to the shopping centers and food courts, and even down to the fine details of the small amenities, whether it be the pristine nature of each bathroom, or how they fill the terminal gates and restaurants with complimentary iPads for lunch ordering, web surfing, game playing, and much more as you wait for your turn to board your flight. And although there’s something about implementing technology into societal infrastructure and commerce that really impresses me, my strong penchant towards MSP most likely stems from vivid memories throughout the years, like blazing through the shopping center between Concourses D and E on my skateboard, weaving through tables, chairs, and bodies, barely making my flight with merely seconds to spare, or spending a whole 5 dollars at the Aurora Borealis arcade in Concourse C (which in the 90’s was a lot) in response to getting bumped to the next flight. We kids knew full well that whenever the flight attendants announced that they were looking for volunteers to be bumped, it meant that we were soon to be bribed with fast food, candy, and money for the arcade among other goodies just so my parents could score a hefty sum of airline vouchers without upsetting us.

Lately however, I can’t help but feel that my presence in MSP has been nothing short of corrupting. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I’m in the Midwest, I’m on my best behavior! The people are some of nicest and down to Earth you’ll ever meet, especially in Wisconsin, the number one state in the world! But for some reason, even when I’m practicing my upmost proper etiquette in an attempt to blend in as a polite young man in Midwest society, trouble always seems to follow me, to the point where it’s beginning to rear its ugly head onto some of the most innocent among us: the little sweethearts of MSP. And sadly, nothing has been more adducing to this revelation than my most recent trip…

We landed into MSP that afternoon where I was to make a connection back to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, or “SeaTac” as it’s commonly referred to by the locals. As usual, everybody had the tenacious urge to stand up in the aisle as soon as the seatbelt sign turned off, as if they’re getting an edge on everybody else doing the same exact thing. The whole thing baffles me every time. Nobody ever goes anywhere for 10 minutes, and everybody get’s all hot and bothered over the fact that they can’t get off the plane! Hello people! We’ve been through this drill several times before! We all know what’s going to happen, that we’re going to get stuck and then all upset just like last time. But even with all that valuable knowledge, we still find ourselves jumping out of our seats as soon as we hear that pleasant sounding ring throughout the cabin like a bunch of middle-aged moms at a Brett Michaels concert!

Not me though. I just keep my cool and stay perfectly content in my seat. What can I say? I just know better, and don’t buy into the false hope like everybody else.

So after patiently sitting in my seat for 10 minutes and watching as the frequent business travelers scoffed at grandma getting her bag out of the overhead, I causally gathered my belongings and headed off the plane in a peaceful manner. However, my pace seemed a little slow as I hit the jet way. I looked down to investigate the situation, only to see a behemoth bulging at the seams, barely containing its contents while it magically moved in an evanescent motion down the jet way. Upon further inspection of this phenomenon, I was able to deduce a scientific explanation much more miraculous than my previous observation: a little 5-year-old girl with unnatural gorilla-like strength was dragging this monster on wheels behind her the whole time.

Her wardrobe was impeccable in nature, cruising in shin-high, zebra-striped boots, which seamlessly blended with her purple tights and bright yellow coat with a heavy fur lining. The leopard printed suitcase behind her must have been her mother’s, clearly twice her size and weight, and no doubt over regulation size for carry-on luggage. Being that her mom was a bit of a babe, I’m guessing she easily got away with taking it on board.

I hovered behind and watched as she struggled to pull the giant mass off the plane, weaving and heaving, stamping her feet as if each step was an attempt to make the largest splash in long line of rain puddles, finding herself nearly losing balance and tipping over at every few seconds. No matter the pain, struggle, or excruciating strength drained with each tow, she kept on chugging along, never quitting, volunteering as a grateful daughter to carry this large burden for her mother at any cost, exhibiting more honor than a character in an Ernest Hemmingway novel, with twice the determination. I was tempted to pass her and not think twice about the act, except her position on the jet way was just enough to make a pass a completely awkward ordeal, something I wasn’t willing to do in front of her babe of a mother. And besides, this was just too cute not to miss.

She kept on glancing back for a look of approval, giving the suitcase a nice great tug, sending it forward a foot or two before the forces of friction and gravity sent the rolling suitcase to a dead stop, nearly pulling the little girl back the opposite direction, but using all of her might to thrust it forward again and repeat the process once more. Just when I thought she had reached the point of total exhaustion, her legs somehow found a way to keep moving forward in a steady direction, never losing sight of the goal, pulling the suitcase forward once again.

“Mommy, we’re almost to the top of the-“

POP! She went down like the crack of a whip. The wheels of the suitcase locked, setting her up for a catapult, slamming her face first into the stained floor, just beyond the metal grate that had been the catalyst for  the deadly fulcrum. She lay there motionless in the belly flop position, crushed under the weight of an over-bloated suitcase, as the heavy boom of her head crashing against the dirty ground of the jet way reverberated into the terminal. I nervously awaited the inevitable cryfest, and the arrival of the MSP Medical Staff.

“Whoa! That was an ouchie-oochie!”

And that was it. There was no ear splitting scream, no tear swellings around the eyes, not even a slight cry for help; only a hasty effort to jump back to her feet and plot along, just like a trooper…

I couldn’t believe it! Half of the grown men I know would be pouting in fury if something like that ever happened to them (Ben Woodward comes to mind). I froze in awe, watching her as she trotted down the rest of the jet way unscathed, gradually fading into the focal points of the long path into the terminal, the suitcase a constant foot behind. It was a mixture of honor and pride that I felt at that moment, having been given the privilege of standing in the presence of possibly the future first woman governor of Minnesota, a candidate of whom I would vote for in a heartbeat.

After a minute of initial shock, I was able to regain my bearings and travel on through the airport. But for some reason, I just couldn’t shake the image of that cute little girl’s head pounding into the ground at maximum velocity. I tried everything, a quick pit stop at Ike’s, sucking down a Surly Furious or two, and even a few rounds of pinball at Aurora Borealis. But no matter what I did, the slam replayed itself over and over again in my head, like the monotony of that DVD movie menu that keeps repeating itself, poking at your semi-conscious state long after you’ve passed out on the couch during the movie.

In the end, I considered myself lucky. Her speedy recovery was nothing short of a miracle, even taking into account her undisputed determination. And all the while, I couldn’t help but wonder if my presence had anything to do with this tragedy. Maybe the choice I made to sit in the seat I did on the exact flight the little girl was on because of an itinerary change I made to hang out with a friend of whom I met because I chose to go to my other friend’s house that one time in college and offer him a beer which happened to be his favorite of which I decided to buy at gas station for some random reason… heck, I could go on to the moment I was born with this crap!

The point is, the universe works in mysterious ways, and all I know is, maybe it was inadvertently my fault that this little girl biffed it, and maybe it would never have happened if I had never boarded that plane to in the first place. It was a deep thought I had to ponder for a long while before I could fully understand what my mind was trying to tell me. Unfortunately though, my once modest layover was coming to a close, so I pounded my last Surly Furious and headed to my gate that was beginning the process of boarding.

It was a full flight, I could tell because the flight attendants at the front desk kept nagging me before hand to check my carry-on luggage to my final destination. Screw that noise. My bags stay with me!

I was positioned in the middle seat, probably the crappiest seat in the row. You don’t have the window to lean your head on if you want to take a nap, you’re constantly in a battle over the arm rests with the other passengers, and if you have to get up to go to the bathroom, you’re going to bug somebody! To be honest though, the whole having to go to the bathroom thing doesn’t bother me too much, for I rarely get up to go anyway. Once during a trip to Guam, I sat in my seat for 11 hours straight without even having the urge to get up to take a whiz, something I’m still proud of to this day! It’s whenever some coffee drinkin’ nerd has to go next to me, causing a disturbance in my perfect little oasis, where I have to position myself appropriately just so he can get out and relieve himself. And 9 times out of 10, it turns out to be a violation of my personal bubble.

But anyway, everybody settled into their seat and Delta began its corny safety presentation which included a red headed lady explaining what to do if the plane goes down and/or blows up, while people in the background make terrible jokes to make us feel good about the whole thing. It didn’t really work too well on me, because it was somewhere during that video presentation where I ended up passing out. It’s weird, one minute I’m staring at a video screen, the next minute I’m out cold! I don’t understand it, because the same thing happens to my mom whenever she watches a movie too! Maybe it’s hereditary…

It was only about an hour of snoozing before I woke from a sudden burst of turbulence in the cabin; nothing major where everybody starts freaking out, but just enough to leave me restless with a couple hours to kill during the flight. “Oh geez, what to do?” I asked myself. Luckily, I had a couple movies I could watch that had somehow magically showed up on my computer’s hard drive one day…

Honestly, that’s what happened! I don’t condone illegally downloading movies onto any computer whatsoever (except when it comes to Game of Thrones, but that’s a different story that involves politics, a topic I refuse to delve into on this blog, ever). It just so happened that one time I let a friend use my laptop, and “POOF,” I had like 20 new movies to watch! One of those movies happened to be “Aliens,” the sequel to the 1979 thriller, “Alien.” Both are sci-fi classics and have made quite the dent in American pop culture, inclining me towards the choice to watch it.

I resumed the movie exactly at the point where it starts to get good… Real good: A group of marines stumble across a life form on the ravaged interplanetary colony they’re exploring. It’s a young lady, pale in the face and covered in slime, glued to the walls of the colony as if she’s stuck in some sort of interstellar cocoon. She slowly raises her head drenched in sweat, her eye rotated upward to the ceiling.

“…Kill… me…” she stammers. It’s all she can squeak out, barely finding the strength to blurt out a final, desperate request, seconds before her chest begins to expand and contract rapidly. The convulsions become more frequent and severe, while a giant bulge pounds from the inside of her stomach outward, until finally, the pressure is too great and her skin rips apart. Blood flies everywhere and out pops a baby alien, rearing its atrocious head out into the atmosphere. The marines waste no time burning this abomination into annihilation.

And from that point on I was hooked! The aliens kept coming, and the marines kept blasting. The action never stopped and the time flew by! It was almost like I never wanted this plane ride to end!

After a good hour of what played out as a constant barrage of blood, guts, and bullets, I had reached the movie’s climax: Ripley, the movie’s hero, frees Newt, the colony’s 10-year-old lone survivor, who had found herself stuck in one of those cocoon like structures covered in alien sludge, barely averting having her face sucked off by this egg like creature who folds open a couple flaps and slides a slimy tentacle-like appendage outward that raps around its victim and attacks their mouth.

Upon their escape, Ripley and Newt stumble upon a nest. They look outward, overwhelmed and aghast at the sight of 100’s of the same egg type creatures that attempted to infect Newt moments before. Slowly, the camera pans from an abdomen like figure, an intestinal track at least 5 feet in diameter stretching far across the room forming into a colon, where a defecation of eggs are spat out at a constant rate. Then, a close up of the anathema, a black and boney hag that resembles an overgrown preying mantis with drool and alien slime dripping from every pore of her treacherous body. She opens her mouth, lets out a snarl, and out pops another mouth, exposing the vicious teeth of the grotesque alien queen. James Cameron is one sick bastard.

Ripley shakes her head and mashes her lips together in anger and annoyance, for she’s just sick and tired of all these aliens! All the space traveling, slimy cocoons, flying alien babies, dying marine soldiers, and alien blasting cultivates into a facial expression that screams, “F this!” She cocks her weapon and blasts away at the disgusting pile of vermin that lies before her; the eggs, alien colon/egg maker, and all.

The woman is literally possessed! Her eyes widen, teeth grit, and her whole body violently shakes while the machine gun that resembles the BFG-2000 in Doom oscillates with each rapid succession of bullets firing from the barrel of the gun. Alien blood flies in every which direction, spewing puddles of thick, yellow acid all across the floor.

Ripley’s BFG runs out of bullets, a crisis she couldn’t be more pleased of. She flicks a switch, re-cocks the gun, and out flies a grenade, piercing into the belly of the alien queen, followed by 5 more. A second later, the intestinal track explodes and a flood of embryonic fluid bursts out of the open gash, resulting in an deluge of alien flesh, blood, gore, and other foreign liquids plastered across my computer screen. Her grenades run out, but still, she’s far from finished.

A giant, bursting flame explodes out of the gun barrel, targeted at the nest. A chilling, high pitched squeal stabs at my eardrums, the sound of a hundred abominable creatures crying their last breath of air. This doesn’t falter Ripley’s objective of incessant deprecation, torching every non-human creature in sight until every alien being in that room is nothing but a pile of charcoal. Upon their exodus is the decadence of a once flourishing breeding ground, reduced to decimated piles of organic matter, shred to pieces and left as a mixture of bodily juices and tissue spread across the ground, the reminiscence of extraterrestrial life caught ablaze by the wrath of one woman’s ambition for destruction. The holocaust was complete.

“Jesus Christ!” I muttered under my breath, having just witnessed one of the most nefarious scenes in the history of film. I leaned back in my seat and looked toward the aisle, taking a break from the intensity that lay before me. “How could anybody watch that and not be affected by its dete—“

That thought abruptly dropped out of my head. My eyes turned down, fixated on a much more urgent matter—a round, dark face, the lips separated, hanging naturally open with an amorphous line of mucus running from the upper lip to the nostrils, signifying that it hadn’t been wiped in some time. Nappy strands of brown hair frayed beyond the limits of her shoulders, suggesting that it had missed a much needed combing. Above the nose was a pair of blue eyes, just like Newt’s, permanently transfixed on an intractable object, a position that had not wavered for much of the trip’s tenure. I followed the line of vision, leading to images of detestable violence—my computer screen. My oblivious nature prevented me from realizing that I had a companion during the viewing of this on-screen massacre—a 6-year-old little girl… Uh oh…

This was bad. Really bad! What was I to do? The damage had been done, her innocence had been ruined, and she had witnessed the R-rated horror fest and already been scarred for life! Every night from this day forward, she’d wake up from a frightening dream where she’s stuck in an alien nest while an unknown parasitic creature explodes out of her stomach! We’re talking the possible first female governor of Minnesota, whose dream is in danger of being forever lost! I quickly forged a plan inside my head, clever and cunning, to relieve me from this current crisis. It was going to work. It had to work, or else…

I shut my laptop, put it away, and started reading a book, acting as if nothing had ever happened. Nobody was the wiser, and the girl didn’t move a single inch the rest of the trip, not even to wipe the constant molasses-paced flow of snot oozing from her nose, which further accumulated on the bridge of her upper lip; her eyes stuck on the back of my seat as if the movie were still playing. Her father didn’t suspect a thing, drinking a coffee and too focused on solving a Sudoku on the other side of me, a stroke of luck that may have proved to be essential to my survival. What a nerd!

On the outside, I was cool and content, nothing to fret about while reading my literary classic. I guess you can say it’s a testament to my superb acting skills, for inside, my heart was beating fiercely and my mind was spinning with extreme paranoia. How in the world was I suppose to focus on this stupid book with the knowledge that I just ruined some young sweetheart’s innocence? And what was the point of reading anyway? I mean 1984? Really? Orwell was way off the mark on that one!

We began our decent, the longest one in the history of aviation. With my head buried in my book, I made quick glances every other minute to monitor the situation, holding onto a false sense of hope of getting out of this unscathed. To my left: the father was still stuck on his puzzle. Man, this guy really sucks at Sudoku! To the right: no change, except for a slight tremble throughout her body that seemed to become more violent with each glance.

The plane landed and crept into its designated gate. I swear the pilot must be 100 years old or something. Any slower and we’d have been moving backwards!

I looked at the dad. Son of a B, he’s finally figuring it out. I look back at the little girl—oh God, I can’t take it anymore! I’m about to explode. Hurry old man, I need off this freaking plane!

“Calm yourself, man,” I tell myself. Making a scene will just make matters worse. You have your stuff packed. There is still time. Breathe man, breathe, deep and slow. The nerd next to you still hasn’t finished his Sudoku. You have time. R-E-L-A-X. The plan is set… Good, you’re calming! You know what you need to do. Just wait, and breathe… Breathe… Brea—

“BUM.”

The seatbelt sign turns off. I pop out of my seat and slide past the little girl and into the aisle. What great finesse. I wish I had time to acknowledge my smooth exit. I look down the aisle—nothing but empty space. I’m out of here—

“Crap!” My carry-on!” I open the overhead and swiftly swing it out from above; a waste of two valuable seconds. I’m ready. I turn. I make my escape. I’ll be off this plane in no time—

Too late. One instant, a blissful space of tranquil stillness; the next, utter chaos and congestion, the same effect that a baby loaf of cheese may have on the digestive system. Great… just great.

Oh, and just my luck, I happened to be behind the world’s number one lollygagger of all time. Yea dude, by all means, get in my way, bend your fat butt across the aisle and over stuff your backpack with your iPad, laptop, book, and all the rest of your useless crap while the rest of the aisle fills in front of you. The rest of us are in no hurry. None at all! I’m sure there’s a valid reason why you couldn’t have done all that before hand, like I did.

10 minutes pass… 10 torturous minutes. And man, this dingleberry wouldn’t shut the hell up for the end of the world! His glib smile, the unbearable cackle, the fact the he was casually flirting with all of the 40-year-old mom’s in our vicinity…

“So, I just came back from Africa where I spent a week feeding poor and neglected children. It’s a part of my job of working for a non-profit organization that cares about the lives of the underprivileged in this world while—“

Oh my God. I. Don’t. CARE!!! God that guy was starting to piss me off. Every syllable further enraged my body with a fury that was going to choke the life out of this—

“Breathe man, breathe. There’s still time. Don’t let your anxiety get the best of you. You’re not in trouble yet. Keep your cool. Making a scene will make things worse. Big deep breathes. Breathe man… Breathe… Breathe—“

“Oh, go ahead mam, after you.”

“Oh c’mon! Yes, please miss lady, go and take your sweet ass time getting off the plane! The rest of us certainly have nowhere else to go. I don’t mind at all if it takes you two minutes to grab your suitcase out from the overhead bin and walk down the aisle! And way to be a gentleman Mr. Lollygagger! I’m sure the way you were raised, it was perfectly acceptable to not help an old fart with her suitcase!” Seriously, this dusty old bird was methodically moving in such a fashion that would make watching the flow of crude oil seem like an exciting experience!

A quick glance back to my seat unveiled an imminent mission compromise. My cover was blown. The dad began to suspect that something was wrong with her daughter. Yea, it sure took ya long enough!

But that wouldn’t have mattered either way. I turned back, monitoring the situation through my peripherals. She was talking, a conversation I couldn’t decipher, but intuition had it that she was about to spill the beans. But wait… there was only one more row ahead of me. Almost home free, just breathe man… breathe—

“Oh, better get my carry-on out, sorry guys…”

Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME! Screw that noise! You crossed the line, pushed me over the edge, pulled the last straw, insert hackneyed platitude for having enough! No more Mr. Nice Guy! Move it or lose it chump!

I squeezed past that dingleberry and gave him a nice nudge so my roller suitcase could find a smooth path, and a little extra for all of the trouble he caused. He turned his head blasted a sissy sounding complaint my way, but I didn’t listen. In fact, I didn’t even care! I for one was glad he was mad! My only regret was that I didn’t leave a silent but deadly for him to embrace on his way out.

I scurried down the terminal to catch the shuttle transferring me from S gate to baggage claim, grateful to God that I had made it out in one piece. My moves were brisk, traveling with purpose, but just slow enough not to cause unusual suspicion.

“This doors are about to close…” sounded an automated voice through the shuttle transfer station.

“Not if I can help it!” I made a dash for it, my roller carry-on flopping every which direction in my attempt to hop on the shuttle, spending half its time in the air and the other half dragging on the ground, essentially defeating the purpose of the rollers in general. None of that mattered, not at this moment.

Warning signs plastered the sides of the shuttle doors. “Do not attempt to enter when the doors are closing.” Sure, like it’s going to shut and crush me, and leave while I’m stuck in-between the doors, sending me to my inevitable death. No way they’d create a liability like that, not in such a progressive city like Seattle.

And just as I predicted, the doors shut, then reopened to let me through with ease. In the distance, through the windows of the shuttle car, I saw the little girl and her father rush forward to make it on. The menacing sight of a shutting shuttle door however prevented any attempt to climb on board. What a bunch of suckers! I couldn’t help but form a giant grin across my face, complimented by a feeling as if I had just gotten away with murder as the shuttle accelerated past S gate and onto baggage claim…

I stood at the edge of the escalator, breathing a sigh of relief that this disaster of a trip was near an end, the only thing between the mobile staircase and my home being the Seattle Light Rail, a rather safe and conservative mode of transportation.

It’s kind of a beautiful thing if you think about it. Not the light rail, but that feeling of averting disaster, the moment where you can slow things down and reanalyze the world around you, where every tangible object has a purpose, from the stair railing on the escalator, the headphones stuck in the teenager’s ears behind me, the woman’s pink suitcase to my left, to the wedding ring worn on the elderly man finger in front of me. And each one of these individuals has a unique story of why they’re here on this day, making their way through the SeaTac airport; a story that includes a rich history of love, heartbreak, accomplishment, and adventure among other things. Some of these stories are still just in the beginning stages, as was the case of the young 4-year-old three steps in front of me. From the look in her eyes, it was evident that when it was all said and done, she would a grand story to tell.

Her stance and body posture, surveying the amazement of such a brilliant spectacle of technological ingenuity, glistened like a diamond among the sea of strangers. Never before had she seen a staircase that moved itself. She marveled at the way a simple machine was able to carry such a large aggregate of mass from one floor to another with relatively no effort. It was a vision unlike any other, an endless line of people gathering on a single track, watching them as she grew shorter and shorter while they forever remained higher and growing at a constant pace.

It was at this moment when she discovered her purpose in life and her passion for living. At age 4, she knew she would go on to design some of the greatest machines ever crafted by man. She was to be the world’s greatest engineer, a true specimen of genius and integrity that Ayn Rand could only dream about. Calling her the next Elon Musk or Nikola Tesla would be a compliment to Elon Musk and Nikola Tesla.

And while experiencing the workings of this powerful machine, another vision came to her, obfuscating the physical world around her. She was to battle politicians over erroneous regulations standing in the way of progress, overcome dishonest competition, and get stabbed in the back by the people closest to her, whose only scientific motive in the end would be profit. But she would never give up! And after a lifetime of struggle, sacrifice, and never-ceasing work, she would follow through on her goal of making the world a better place, or die trying. This was the moment, on this descending escalator leading to baggage claim in the SeaTac airport, and I as the witness, that this little 4-year-old girl, brave and full untapped potential, knew that she was destined to change the worl—

Her eyes abruptly grew to the size of grapefruits the moment the escalator reached the bottom and flattened out. She was ill prepared for the dismount with her back turned to the escalator’s edge, resulting in an unfettered and non-uniform wavering of limbs; her knowledge of the newly discovered technology proving to be quite primitive.

It was a loss of balance, followed by a predilection to lean backwards, sending her into a roll, ending with two legs clothed in black tights pointing straight towards the ceiling with its connecting body lying flat on the ground, an unrecoverable position which wavered back and forth on the cusp of static and dynamic foundation. Her body remained at the bottom, ignored by the businessmen who stepped over the cadaver scraping along the edge as if it didn’t exist. She was helpless against the relentless nature of the machine, a soulless creation of blind justice, as all machines are; their good and evil intentions determined by their operator, a lesson this young 4-year-old learned the hard way.

“Audrey… AUDREY!!!”

Judging by the sound of the blood-curdling scream behind me, this little girl’s name was Audrey.

A fierce elbow pressed against my body, and then I watched as the woman, presumably Audrey’s mother, ungracefully scurried down the escalator, plowing over patrons in a desperate attempt to extricate Audrey from the morbid affair she had found herself in.

Audrey’s mother grabbed her from up off the ground and held her tight, saving her from being skinned alive. Audrey clinged tight against her mother in response, hesitant on delivering a reaction, too overwhelmed by the rapid state of affairs that had just taken place, an understandable emotion after a near death experience. Her facial expression matched that of another young girl’s I’d recently seen, of whom unintentionally gazed upon a perturbing scene of intergalactic slaughter.

Then, it hit her. Her senses regained, her eyes swelled, and an effusion of tears released from her cloudy eyes, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs along the ground as Audrey and her mother disappeared into anonymity. A constant scream resonated through the corridors of the parking garage, the sound of a little girl’s dream escaping her body, forever lost into dissipation among the walls of the SeaTac airport, accompanied by a piece of my soul…

It was a very long ride back to Seattle, where again, I found myself pondering the benevolence of my existence. And believe me, on that light rail, you have a LOT of time to think!

I know full well that trouble seems to follow me everywhere I go, and for the most part, I’m able to absorb it as it comes. But this time, I managed to bring this madness upon the most innocent among us, corrupting their lives with my presence, a sin that I fear I may never be able to absolve myself from.

“It’s all probably just a coincidence,” I told to myself. But then again, I’m a very superstitious guy, and have never understood the concept of a coincidence. The thought even crossed my mind of never setting foot in MSP again, the ultimate sacrifice. That was nonsense though. My will isn’t strong enough to ever conceive of such an idea.

More thoughts began to pour into my head, about the universe, and time continuum, and contemplating whether or not my simple presence contributed to the demise of these young sweethearts. “Great, exactly what I need right now.” But unfortunately, you can’t always control what runs through the ol’ noggin.

But the thought that scared me the most was that someday, I may have a little sweetheart of my own roaming through the concourses of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, and who knows what sort of trouble she’ll get herself into. I mean, I’ll sure do my darn best to look after her, but I’m not a perfect specimen by any means, and I’m sure there’s going to be lots of situations that require lots of explanation.

But maybe that’s part of the fun; making mistakes and learning from them, and then teaching everybody else so they don’t make the same mistakes you did? We get to take all of those bad experiences and those sticky situations that we went through over the years and pass them on to our sweethearts to better their lives.

Holy crap, that’s actually a really awesome concept! Man, now that I think of it, I have a lot I can teach! That’s really cool!

And luckily, each one of those sweethearts whose lives I had potentially ruined had somebody looking after them and guiding them along the way, even if they are in fact terrible at Sudoku. We all need somebody looking out for us from time to time, and whether you know it or not, you’re a sweetheart to somebody. Heck, it’s the only way we survive! And sooner or later, we have our own little sweethearts that enter into our lives, old and young that we have the privilege of looking after, whether they be friends, family, boundary babes, Packer babes, running babes, or babes who like Lulu Lemon! They’re all special, and that’s really a wonderful thing!

So when it’s all said and done, with all the crazy things happening in this world, whether it be my fault or not… in the end, I think those sweethearts are going to turn out to be just fine…

And I think mine will too… Someday…

-Grizzly Chadams

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