Those four words from the title of the George Clooney movie of the same name would sum up my position on ever flying American Airlines again.
Our Florida trip to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday got off to a bit of a shaky start. Though the first incident had nothing to do with AA (Troy’s carry-on accidentally contained a pocket knife that was confiscated by security – don’t ask) our flights were delayed by almost an hour on both ends: in L.A., we had to taxi back to the gate so a ceiling panel could be fixed and in Miami (another questionable choice for an airport to fly into, especially with small children, but more on that shortly), we sat on the runway so a cargo “weight balance” recheck could be performed. I understand both issues are ultimately for our safety, BUT WHY WHEN WE’RE TAXIING, with three kiddies who just want to get airborne for a 4-5 hour flight that would now be 5-6 hours.
Once at 37,000 feet, I will begrudgingly admit that the flights were generally pleasant, what with the individual screens built into each seat and featuring a variety of programming (I actually got to enjoy the terrific “Life of Pi” in its entirety on the Florida-bound flight). But when it came time to fill out my voluntary touch-screen survey, AA received low marks overall.
On the ground in Miami, I was rethinking my choice of airports as we took a train from the reassigned gate (a distant one, thanks to the L.A. delay) to the main terminal and then a second train to the car rental center. Envision leading three kiddies with Buzz Lightyear & Dora roller carry-ons in tow on that Pied Piper trek and you get the idea.
To be sure, Fort Lauderdale International would have been the much better choice, not to mention the fact that MIA makes LAX look like a shoebox.
Thanks to my dad, the trip back from MIA was much smoother. Two things that dads are adept at is packing a trunk and planning the perfect airport pick-up/drop-off. So he advised that I drop off the famiglia curbside and return the car myself.
That wisdom wound up paying off in spades because after I got off the train from the car rental center and went through security, I checked the departing flights screen and saw that our gate required me to take the Skytrain to the correct concourse, a scenario best handled solo.
Good-night and fly safely (just not AA).
When someone hits the ripe ’ol age of 80 and looks as good in the process of getting there as my dad, you don’t think twice about pulling out all the stops to celebrate the milestone.
So the Lippman-Valverde five hopped on a plane for the right coast during the kiddies’ spring break to be a part of “Team Poppee.” My sister Lisa, who lives in nearby Coral Springs, created t-shirts that matched a phrase my dad regularly utters to that family member (eg. the phrase on the back of my particular shirt was “How are the kids, Babe?” with “Team Poppee” on the front) and everyone wore their shirts at an afternoon bowling outing – just one in a series of gatherings that would mark this special weekend in the Sunshine State.
After the last pin was knocked down, the gang changed into their Saturday evening best and met back at my parent’s condo in Coconut Creek, where yet another surprise was waiting for Poppee: a white stretch limo (arranged by Lisa, me and my bro Gary, who had flown in from Dallas) would take the whole gang to dinner. The kiddies marveled at their first time in such a “long car” and I raised a toast to the 80th birthday boy as we rolled Trump-style to the restaurant. There, framed childhood photos of my dad lined the table and everyone enjoyed a great meal.
On Poppee’s actual birthday the night before, some extended family and friends that also live in Florida came over to the condo for the big b-day kick-off festivities – a party that brought back childhood memories of the occasional “Cousins Club” gatherings my parents would hold at our house in New Jersey. After so many years, I was once again chatting in person with my Uncle Marvin (dad’s bro), Cousin Laurie (now 60 but not looking a day over 40), and Auntie Barbara and Uncle Ira. Among other friends and family there to wish Poppee a Happy 80th were my niece Jessica & her fiance Chris, niece Chelsea and Tio Alex. There was even a Skype call with Uncle Mel and Auntie Carol (Cousin Laurie’s parents who were unable to attend)!
To wrap up the whirlwind trip, Lisa & her boyfriend Seth threw an outstanding Easter brunch at their place with a spread that included lox, bagels, homemade quiches and more. An unexpected treat for me was perusing Seth’s Yankee baseball card collection.
Oh, and lest I forget our show-stopping birthday gift for Poppee: a blanket with the kiddies images on it so he can always have his grandkids enveloping him when he’s watching “Cops.”
Perhaps the only element missing from the birthday boy’s celebrity status all weekend was the paparazzi, or should we say “Poppee-razzi”!!!
It was a weekend of two Spring pasttimes: First Mr. X made his t-ball debut with the little Pirates followed by T’s opening day game with his new team — the minor league Mets, who defeated the Reds 4-0 on opening day of the Mar Vista Recreation League baseball season.
The next day, Miss A attended her favorite event of the year — Ocean View Farms Tomato-bration!