With apologies to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, I’ve been everywhere, man, and it’s that time of the year when I’m somewhere again. I’m not looking forward to flying, but now I think I have the check-in and security procedure worked out: I’m traveling naked. I’m taking off all my clothes and my watch and packing them in one of my two carry-on bags. Screw checking a bag. Then, in my tightest pair of wand-repelling underpants, I’ll just swan through security and get dressed on the other side. Yes, if I were a country singer I’d be Charlie without the Pride, and this would be a song about my love-hate-detest relationship with these places.
Worst airport traffic system:
Philadelphia International. If you miss the cleverly concealed signs (and you will) you have to circumnavigate the entire complex over again. I think this airport was designed by Pete Dye and built by Rube Goldberg.
Best airport shoe shine:
No airport shoe-jockeys anywhere can touch the crew at Lambert Field in St. Louis. Perverts fly through Lambert solely to see up the skirts of the women in front of them without having to use their cell phones.
Best airport pretzels:
Philly. Put German mustard on these big softies, and the hairs in your nose will combust. Be sure to get a Coke or something with it, or 10 minutes later your tongue will taste like Gandhi’s flip-flops.
Hong Kong. Approach is in between rickety apartment blocks strewn with nasty-looking laundry. If the pilot gets 6 inches off-line, there are skidmarks on the outside of the airplane, too.
Worst airport experience (on ground):
Off-property rental car centers. Shoot me in the kneecap, but something’s wrong when the ride to pick up or drop off your car is longer than the damned flight.
Worst airport experience (in plane):
Being stuck for hours on the tarmac because a bolt of lightning was seen 50 miles away. If I’m going to be held hostage, it’d better be by terrorists, not some comb-over with a silly hat and stripes on his coat sleeves.
Anything to Vegas.
Anything from Vegas.
Best coach section:
The only way you’re getting me back there is if I get a chance to give my seat up front to a boy or girl in desert camo. I’d sit outside for them.
Worst possible in-flight experience:
Pencil-thin inter-city jets with interiors designed by Herve Villechaize. You have to de-plane just to change your mind. Opening my laptop once, I knocked three teeth out of the lady sitting next to me. But she was nice and agreed to work the left side of the keyboard for me.
Worst name for the business traveler:
Road Warrior. Tell a Marine you’re a Road Warrior, and then try to get your laptop out of your ass.
Those horrible little Bluetooth earpieces for the Road Warrior who has too many important things to do with his arms while he strides through the concourse. (Ladies, this device is an early warning of someone who is unable to have sex without a TV remote in his other hand.)
Best taxi drivers in the world:
London. They know 10 ways to get to anywhere, and they don’t have to ask you where anywhere is, because they know. “Ear, uvbin teafrow free tahms awreddy t’die.” Translated: “My good man, I have been to Heathrow three times already today.”
Worst taxi drivers in the world:
New York City cabbies smell awful and drive like lunatics (which is a requirement in NYC). But they do get you there ASAP. If you want to see actual insanity, go to Zambia, where I once got in a cab that had a live ostrich in the back seat. It was tranquilized when we set off, and sharp as a razor when we arrived. The driver got my luggage as a tip.
Best place to ask for directions when you’re lost:
A donut shop. Inside you’ll find a cop, a mail carrier, or both.
Best hair stylist out of town:
There isn’t one, anywhere. I don’t give a damn if you look like Cosmo Kramer, let your hair grow until you get back home. No matter how explicit your instructions, if you go for a road-do, you’ll come out feeling like you should have panties on your head.