Trip Report: Celebration 4 – Part 1

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(Cross-posted at

Warning: Star Wars *and* poker jargon in this series of posts. A very special niche few of you will understand both. You’ve been warned.

Saturday Morning – Orlando, FL

After the long week of very little sleep and a few all-nighters, I’d sent off everything to Trey for inclusion into the edit of Return of Pink Five: Volume 3. The cut wasn’t going to be complete by any stretch of the imagination, but our goal was realized: No green on the screen and a complete story, and not much missing save one sequence that had been shortened. I’d been at school from the early afternoon on Friday all the way to 11AM the next day before Kori picked me up at school to take me directly to the airport. She had also lovingly packed my suitcase since I couldn’t get back home before heading out.

My plans for the weekend were simple enough: First and foremost was sleeping on the plane. My friend Andy, who was putting me up for the weekend, was throwing a poker game to give me a chance to invite local friends over and see everyone, since I was in town for such a short time. Considering I hadn’t slept much the entire week, it was pivotal that I get shut-eye before the evening festivities. Just to give you an idea how bad I was, I tried going through the metal detector with my watch still on and a large pocketful of change. The agent in security even asked if I was feeling alright after taking a look at my face. It was an even money bet over whether I’d be able to tell whether my hole cards were suited or not by the end of the day. Sleep. Must sleep. Sleep leads to a better chance at goal number two: Leave tonight’s poker game in the black. As for Sunday’s goals, that was simple enough: Wake up as late as possible. Walk around the convention floor. Attend the ROP5: Volume 3 screening. Attend the Fan Film Challenge. Hopefully win something. Party with friends either way. Go home, sleep, and fly back early the next morning. Simple, straightforward, and far too short a trip.

I sat in the terminal a few gates over from my departure area, in a deserted area with my laptop on, playing 1/2 Limit and goofing about to waste time. In the very first orbit I flopped a set, only to get rivered by a gutshot with heavy betting on all streets and quickly closed up shop, not needing to spend this time pre-tilting myself before boarding. I stared at the clock while chatting on instant messenger, fearing that I’d doze off and miss my flight. Mercifully, boarding was called and I was the very first one on the plane. My destination: 4 hours of sleep, plus change.

I sat down in seat 35C and awaited the passenger roulette. I tend to have a habit of being in the back of the plane when I travel, so I’m usually one of the first on and get to watch everyone coming down the aisle, wondering whether they’ll be parking in the seat next to me. From the fat slob that I mentally wave off, to the supermodels that I reserve trying The Secret on for just such an occasion, everyone is judged. Will they be talkative? Will they stink? Will they be crawling over me half a dozen times to use the lavatory? These minute judgments make up the though process of the next half hour of boarding.

But as time went on, my row went unfilled. A family with three girls, all college age (and every stinkin’ one of them playing a Nintendo DS) took up the entire row on both sides behind me. A gentleman wearing the movie spoiler shirt that’s been much talked about on various websites made his way back, only to stop five rows ahead of me. But other than that, it was all quiet on the Western front. After awhile, our area had been pretty much boarded with passengers in higher number groups making their way on in the front of the plane. I let myself think: Could I get the row to myself? There is no greater gift in air travel than the ability to stretch, especially for a tall person. So, in an attempt to not jinx myself, I didn’t move. I stopped looking down the aisle. I didn’t shift to the window seat, as I certainly planned to if things remained how they were. I would wait it out. People stopped boarding, and the flight attendants made a few announcements.

I felt a tap on my shoulder from the father of the family behind me. “Boy, did you luck out,” he said with a chuckle, pointing to the seats next to me.

“Yeah, I know,” I said, finally deciding that it was time to relax. I turned back around to unbuckle, only to watch a younger couple with a 2-year-old girl come down the way. There were only three seats left in the section: The two next to me and one in front of us.

You can guess where the toddler ended up. The mother took the window seat while the dad sat up front. The girl squirmed, not wanting to be on the plane. She began taking my arm rest and slamming it up and down, the mother not making a move to stop her. And we hadn’t even taken off yet. I turned to look back at the guy behind me, a silent sarcastic thank you written on my face. He just gave an innocent look and laughed, as one must when observing a bad beat of such proportions.

The kid reached up and opened her tray table, letting it free-fall onto my knee. I yelped in pain and the mother finally tried to step in. The dad looked right back at me, not sure what I would do next. All I knew was that being a dick now might shut the kid up, but it certainly wouldn’t be diplomatic right before a really long flight. I just gave an understanding smile and attempted to make the best of it.

I didn’t sleep a wink the entire flight.

To be continued…