Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Left My Shaving Cream in L.A. International Airport

Theresa and I decided to do something different this Valentines' Day, so we abandoned the tired old cliches such as heart-shaped boxes of candy and Hallmark cards in favor of a relaxing four-day weekend in San Francisco.

We arrived at Los Angeles International Airport a couple hours early, on the off chance that our flight was going to depart on time.  We got our boarding passes, and proceeded to the security checkpoint.  My carry-on was the lucky winner of a more thorough inspection because I was bringing along "Wheezer," my CPAP machine.  I have no problem with the extra scrutiny, because safety is the first priority and you never know when Al-Qaida will start disguising bombs as sleep-apnea treatments.  During the examination of my bag, the TSA officer also confiscated my shaving cream, which resembled a can of plastic explosive or something.

Here's the funny part.  I don't mean "ha-ha" funny, like Sarah Palin getting hit by a bus, this is more like "how the hell does this happen in post-9/11 America" funny.  Later on, when we got to our hotel, Theresa discovered that she'd left her three-inch locking blade knife in her purse rather than in the checked baggage.  That's right, folks, the knife made it through the security checkpoint undetected.  Apparently, TSA believes that a woman in possession of a knife poses less of a threat than a 6'3" guy wielding a can of Barbasol.  That, my friends, is profiling and I strenuously object.

No trip to the L.A. airport would be complete without a celebrity sighting.  At our gate, I saw an old lady that used to be in commercials.  You guessed it, it was the corpse of Margaret Hamilton!

Not really.  I still can't remember her name, or the commercials she starred in, but believe me when I tell you if you saw her, you'd immediately point and call out, "HEY!  IT'S THAT LADY FROM THAT COMMERCIAL!"  Actually, it's been driving me batty that I can't remember what she was in.  I've run every Google search I can think of, but it's no use.  It wasn't Josephine the Plumber, and it wasn't Mother Nature.  If you could help me out, I'd be eternally grateful or at least be able to sleep at night.

So anyway, our flight out of Los Angeles was, in theory, scheduled to leave at 3:55 but here's a big surprise -- we were delayed.  At about 3:00, the following announcement came over the loudspeaker:

"Flight 1582 to San Francisco is being delayed until 4:55.  However, do not leave the gate area, as the flight may actually depart prior to that time, or even at the originally scheduled departure time.  There is also the possibility that the flight will have to be delayed further."

Did you get that?  Either the flight was going to be on-time, delayed, or delayed even further.  Why not just make the announcement, "We are pretty sure that flight 1582 will be departing at some point in the future."

We left shortly after 5:00.

We arrived in San Francisco without incident, which is to say "late, tired, and hungry" and took a cab to the hotel.  We stayed at the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf, which I highly recommend to any of you who may be traveling to the Bay Area.  Since we hadn't eaten, we decided to walk down to the wharf, where we had dinner at a very nice restaurant called Neptune's Palace.  I had the shrimp alfredo, which was delicious.  However, when I asked for a glass of water, the waitress informed me that they were having a problem with their plumbing so all the water was, and I quote, "yellow".  I told her to forget about the water, and I spent the rest of the meal trying not to think about where the carbonated water in my Diet Coke had come from.

We slept in on Saturday, and then took the cable car to Chinatown for lunch.  For those of you who have never been to San Francisco, I'd like to point out that the city's landscape resembles Magic Mountain's famous roller coaster "Colossus."  So we got off the cable car and walked down Clay Street, and by that I don't mean that we walked in a certain direction on Clay Street, I mean that we walked, literally, DOWN Clay Street at approximately a 70-degree angle.

We ate at a lovely place called The Oriental Pearl.  During our meal, we noticed two women at the table next to us enjoying an appetizer consisting of, as far as I could tell, eyeballs.  At another table, there was a family who really should've opted for a more suitable restaurant like, say, McDonald's.  The four-year old boy, who clearly did not possess an "inside voice," insisted on using his chopsticks as drum sticks and his chair as a jungle gym.  This continued until his father gave him his cell phone so Junior could talk to, I'm guessing, his grandmother.  Obviously, I couldn't hear Grandma's end of the conversation, but everything she said prompted Junior to reply, "I'M EATING CHICKEN!"

We finished our lunch, and I must tell you the food was outstanding, and walked UP Clay Street to catch another cable car.  We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping, sight-seeing, and relaxing back at the hotel.  That evening, we went to a comedy club called Punchline, and saw the hilarious Dana Gould.

Sunday morning, we had brunch with my brother Eric and his girlfriend, who live in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.  We ate at Crepes on Cole which, despite its "hole in the wall" atmosphere (or maybe because of it), turned out to be our most enjoyable dining experience of the weekend (no disrespect toward Neptune's Place or The Oriental Pearl intended).

The rest of our trip included a walk down Lombard Street (also known as "the world's crookedest street"), a bay cruise that took us around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge, and a visit to the Aquarium of the Bay.


I don't know who came up with the idea of serving clam chowder in a bowl made of sourdough bread, but he is a genius and should receive a Nobel Prize.


On Monday we took a cab to the airport two hours early, in the foolishly-optimistic hope that our flight would leave on time.  It didn't, of course, so we sat around the airport reading and partaking of over-priced snack foods.

All in all, Theresa and I had a fantastic weekend, and we'll definitely be returning to the City by the Bay in the near future.  And next time, I'll remember not to pack my suspicious can of shaving cream in my carry-on bag.

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Beth said...

Sounds like a fun trip. My husband and I went to San Fran a few years ago and it was one of our best vacations ever! The hole in the wall restaurants were our favorites. And they didn't have yellow water.

Eternally Distracted said...

You could've used that cream to squirt in the eye of the next person who was allowed in with their knife!

The trip looked and sounded great...

Homemaker Man said...

That sounds like a lovely trip. Glad you had such a nice weekend. Love Dana Gould, too.

feefifoto said...

I got stuck at security with a fork one of my kids had left in my lunch bag, and a tiny, blunt scissors I'd brought along to use on my knitting. Security made me throw away the fork (which was not plastic, but a stainless steel piece form my kitchen. Grrrr kids!) and the scissors. I subsequently discovered a second scissors that had been in a different pocket in my bag, which security had idiotically overlooked.

Mr. Condescending said...

You don't have to lie, Knucklehead.

We all know you went to SF so you could have a picnic on the same patch of grass in the opening credits of "Full House."

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Did you try the eyeballs?

mama-face said...

I want to go to there.

Really, what great descriptions. I've had very similar experiences with airport security. Probably we all have. AND I once saw a guy from a commercial and no one would believe me because I couldn't think of what commercials he'd actually been in. Some sort of shaving commercials. Ironic, huh?

Eva Gallant said...

Wow! Soundslike a fabulous weekend. Could you be trying to remember the lady in the "Where's the Beef?" commericials?

Uncle Skip, said...

San Francisco secretly employs some TSA screeners to discourage Southern Californians from enjoying The City.

I lived in S.F. for the first seven years of my life and it was probably the best vacation I ever had.

Quirkyloon said...

Sounds like a great time was had by the Knucklehead meister!

And a huge LMBO at Mr. Condescending! "Full House"


CatLadyLarew said...

So, why didn't you commandeer the plane with the overlooked knife? Oh yeah... you didn't have your shaving cream to create the perfect disguise.

rena said...

San Francisco is my favorite city on earth.

(I've made this decision without ever having left the West Coast. I don't need to! There's nothing better than seabreeze and sourdough bread.)

~jill said...

what a fun trip!

last time we traveled, hubby (who is mostly deaf and doesn't read lips well) was pulled aside for "random" questioning and had to give up his fingernail clippers. The question/answers were hilarious and they finally sent him on his way after a couple of rounds of "who's on first." I ended up on the plane with a steak knife that had wedged into the lining of my carry on. gotta love it!

screwdestiny said...

I guess Theresa should pack the shaving cream next time since they don't bother checking her belongings carefully.

I hate people who bring unruly kids into nice restaurants. I think the rule should be, if you don't bother teaching your kid how to behave, and the restaurant doesn't have a child's menu, then the kid shouldn't be allowed there.

Chrissy said...

Looks like a fun trip! I'm just imaging Lombard Street with snow on it.

Eddie Bluelights said...

So if you and Theresa had staged a mock battle, you with the tube of shaving cream and she with the knife, when the FBI and CIA and troops arrived they would target and neutralise the shaving cream first as the greater threat. LOL
Love the announcement! My version: "This flight has a slightly better than average chance of departing either later, much later or much earlier ot not at all or even on schedule! We are taking bets and here are the odds:
On Time 1,000,000:1
Late: Evens
Early: 1,000,000:1
Never: Odds on Fav
Much Later: 2:1
Great blog, Chris

ReformingGeek said... The knife made it through. That's very scary.

I'm glad you had a great time. I love San Francisco! I have not tried the clam chowda in a bowl, though. Bring it on.

HLT Blogger said...

Hi! We loved you're post so much here at Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf we featured your writing on our blog!!! check it out at!

Theresa said...

You, my darling, are the best vacation planner...ever. I had a great time.

Soooo, where are we going next?

Gorilla Bananas said...

Fuck me, man, I'm not surprised they profiled you! You remind me of Buster Bloodvessel!

Leeuna said...

Sounds like a wonderful Valentines getaway. The chowder in a bowl made me hungry.

Could the commercial you're thinking of be the one about Palmolive dish washing liquid where she tells the lady with her fingertips in a bowl "You're soaking in it." Wasn't her name Eve Arden? Now I'm confused!

Nooter said...

you know, ive always wondered, who is ashbury and why does everybody hate him?

jdemott said...

Your description of the old lady at the airport made me think of Toppie Smellie... of the Oven Fry commercials from the 70s.

Why do I remember her name?

Glad you got to take your vacation. Our Valentine's Day weekend getaway was cancelled when my wife got sick. Oh well, we had not been away together without kids in five years. What's another five?

Moooooog35 said...

You left out the entire 'visited my first bath house' part.

Enquiring minds want to know!

Suldog said...

OK, I'll forgo the crap that pisses me off - they confiscated your f&*$&@# shaving cream?!? - and concentrate on trying to help solve your dilemma concerning the lady in the commercial.

First, someone else mentioned this lady, but didn't give her name. Madge, the manicurist, for Palmolive?

How about Flo, the insurance lady from Progressive?

Actually, now that I think of it, if you narrowed it down a bit concerning the age of the lady, we might be able to give you a better helping hand :-)

Suldog said...

Oh, OK, I see that you did say "old" lady.

How about that Swedish woman who tried to foist Folger's coffee on us?

Phillipia said...

Sounds like an awesome VD day weekend! Thanks for sharing!

Uncle Skip, said...

@ Phillipia - they don't call it VD any more. Now it's STD.

I think that it is really special that you know The City well enough to go there during the warm season when the skies are clear.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

That sounds like a ton of fun, Knucklehead. And I understand your rant about Barbasol, but you clearly have no idea what a trained assassin can do with a simple can of shaving cream. There's a reason the U.S.S.R. disbanded, my friend.

Jenn Thorson said...

Excellent trip, Chris. Thanks for taking us with you... 'cause, you know, some of us don't get out much. :)

Re: your wife's purse-knife, I am not surprised at the inconsistencies you guys experienced. I got searched last trip because I had two antique metal pens in my carryon. They had to make sure they both wrote properly, lest they in fact contain liquid explosives or something.

Jenn said...

What a perfect way to spend the weekend! Thanks for all the tips on what not to pack when flying but what to do when in San Fran. One of these days we'll get there.

Luckily I just reconnected with an old friend who just so happens to work for TSA at Logan. I told him I fully intend to keep my shoes on from now on and he told me not only can I do that but he'll open the pass through gate and just let us through. Of course that celebrity treatment only happens in Boston, the rest of the time I'm a schmoe like everyone else but I'll live my 5 seconds of fame happily. Just like the commercial lady I imagine.

Jules said...

Wow, that was a great review! I am craving clam chowder in a bread bowl with a side of eyeballs (on someone else's plate) now. They really should hire you to promote the city in exchange for cable car passes or something.
Props also to figure skating, which really does leave room for Dancing with the Stars to invade an Olympics at some point, and to the Little Boy. Figures he'd end up a lawyer.

Deborah said...

God I love SF. I've had that chowder in a breadbowl. Heaven yes?

I like how you write. Very much.

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