We have just returned from a two-week tour of New England and eastern Canada, with two days tacked on in New York City.
I will always remember it as the Dodger tour. I caught at least the last few innings of almost every game on hotel room TV or in hotel bars, and the Dodgers’ storybook triumph in the playoffs and the World Series, rather than the American colonial adventure, became the theme of our trip. At least for me.
It did not begin auspiciously. We left my wife’s car at our son’s house on the Westside, and he drove us to Los Angeles International Airport with our bags. We were scheduled to leave for New York on United Airlines Flight 6 at 8:15 a.m.
The skycap looked at our tickets, looked me in the eye and said, “That flight has been canceled.”
“What will we do?” I asked, fearing a 24-hour wait.
“I will lead you,” he said. He wheeled his cart away with our bags and we followed. He led us to a counter where a line had already formed. We waited. Evidently the man at the counter was making different dispositions of different passengers.
He took our tickets and played with his computer. I asked him why our flight had been canceled. He answered something vague about a mechanical question. No passenger ever argues with an airline when they say their planes aren’t ready to fly.
He said he could put us on an American Airlines flight leaving at 10 o’clock. He took our bags and put them on a conveyor belt and they trundled off. I wondered if we’d ever see them again.
He told us we could go out on the street and down a level and catch the shuttle bus to American. We stood on the curb and watched two shuttle buses swerve out from the curb lane and pass us by. Finally we figured out the bus stop was 100 yards to the west.
We caught the next bus. I was still standing in the rear when the bus lurched forward, throwing me into the back seats. My wife gave me that indispensable line from the movies: “Are you all right?” Even when the hero has been shot from a rooftop and fallen into a pool of acid, someone is bound to ask him, “Are you all right?”
We reached the American concourse a little after 9 o’clock--time for me to have a small glass of orange juice and a fruit cup: $4.36.
When we boarded our luck changed. Because no other seats were left, they had to put us in business class. The seats were wider; the drinks were free. The seats take off and arrive, however, exactly at the same time as the tourist seats.
Ten o’clock came and we didn’t take off. Twenty minutes later the pilot’s disembodied voice came over the speaker: “Sorry, we’ve had a little problem with our radio. But it’s been taken care of and we should be taking off any minute now.”
The in-flight movie was “License to Drive.” I decided not to get earphones. I didn’t know anything about it, but from the title I guessed it was full of teen-agers and car chases. Usually those movies are better without dialogue.
I passed the time by reading The Times from cover to cover. The only time I can ever do that is on a five-hour airplane trip.
A man came over from another aisle and asked if he could borrow the paper. I told him I didn’t have the sports section. I had read it at home that morning at 6 o’clock. On the previous night the Dodgers had beaten the Mets, 6-3, in the second game of the National League playoffs, to even the series at 1-1, and I had read every word. He took the paper anyway. It was possible, I supposed, that he was interested in the presidential campaign.
That night the two teams would be traveling to New York and there would be no game. I wondered what we could find to do in New York City with no Dodger-Met game on the tube.
My wife reminded me that we had been invited to a private preview of the Degas exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.