Wednesday, June 2, 2010


We have opted for Milwaukee as our airport of choice for getting in and out of Wisconsin. It’s an hour and twenty-three minutes from our door to the departure level at General Mitchell International Airport. Madison has a very beautiful airport and it’s certainly more convenient but it costs almost twice as much to fly those extra seventy miles and for a couple of guys counting every penny we’ll take the cheapest means possible when it comes to necessary air travel. Now General Mitchell is no slouch of an airport. It’s very homey in a Midwestern kinda way. The airport interior is housed under an expansive metal grid and skylight blanketing the waiting area and commercial shops with sun in the summer and snow in the winter. It’s the shops under this glass lit dome that make me show up for flight after flight early enough to make the rounds of window-shopping. There’s a Brooks Brothers for the conservative in me, a Harley-Davidson shop for my adventurous side (actually I’d never connect my name and the word “hog” in the same sentence but the leather fashion can be a real turn-on.), and a used bookstore with some rare first additions for my more intellectual travel needs. Weegens, leather jackets and a first addition of Travels with Charley offer enough variety to satisfy most aspects of my schizophrenic personality. But the most amazing bit of Midwestern creativity isn’t in the shopping experience but occurs after having passed through the metal detector machines on my way to my departure gate. After having suffered the humiliation of stripping off my watch, my shoes and my belt, after having to place my computer in a separate plastic bin and then being asked to take off my jacket, after dumping my change in a small plastic cup, after having to walk through the detector for a second time because I forgot I had my cell phone in my back pocket and had to dump it on to the conveyor before I could proceed through the metal detector for the last time, I finally crossed to the other side and what to my wandering eyes should appear but an area with extra chairs and a very official sign  designating it as a legitimate recombobulation area. Now I know the word and I can easily define it but my spell check won’t recognize it no matter how I try to reconfigure it. With my shoes, belt, jacket, watch and change tucked under my chin, wrapped around my arm and grasped tightly in my hand I could think of nothing more likely to put a genuine smile on my face and diffuse any hostility I might be harboring than an area officially designated as a place to recombobulate. I dumped my belongings onto the floor just in time to catch my unbelted pants before they slipped to somewhere above my ankles and below the point of decency and began recombobulating. As I secured my pants and redistributed my worldly wealth of quarters and dimes to their proper pockets I began to relax and reflect. My recombobulating made me wish the world had a recombobulation area, a place where we could all reombobulate. It’s nice to see that even in the most serious of places, an airport screening area, people in this part of the world still have a sense of humor and can have a laugh without feeling as if they are jeopardizing the safety of the planet.

“Now you could study Shakespeare and be quite elite
And you can charm the critics and have nothin’ to eat
Just slip on a banana peel
The world’s at your feet
Make ‘em laugh
Make ‘em laugh
Make ‘em laugh
            Donald O’Connor
            “Make ‘Em Laugh”, Singin’ in the Rain

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