I’d Still Rather Shiver Than Fry

Well, here it is almost 2pm Eastern, and I have yet to step outside my swanky room at the Park Plaza Hotel and experience the Balls-Ass Frozen Tundra that is Boston in December. Yeah, because for me, it’s still 11am Pacific, and I am in the merciless grip of Jet Lag. None of this is unusual, mind you—as the Christians among us have learned from Cain, traveling East is always Perilous and Shameful—because I’m a bitchy traveler at the best of times, and I’m sure that if I weren’t going solo on this one, erstwhile touring companions would be righteously frustrated by my temperature-induced Sloth. All the same, if I’m going to Do My Best and Represent The Company at the Nerd Convention tomorrow, I’d better get my shit together. Hopefully I won’t cripple this trip to Beantown the same way I did last time, when Em and I swooped in here during October 2005 to hassle Lis as she attempted to study hard at BU.

It’ll take some effort, though, and I’m glad I have today to recover from the twelve-hour Air Travel Cycle Of Doom that I had been enduring all day yesterday. “Relax,” said Emily as she left me in the Burbank terminal at 9am. “You’ll be a Man On The Town all week. It’ll be fun.” I grimaced and meekly submitted to the vagaries of the local TSA before jumping on a pencil-plane flight from Burbank to Denver. Now, I’ve heard nasty stories about flying into Denver. Everyone from my brother to Ted Leitner (the Scourge of San Diego) has told tales of the frightening air approach to the Mile-High City—but it didn’t happen. Short of listening to some idiot a few rows back enjoy the sound of his own voice, it was an easy flight. I even got some work done proofing the Dubious Ventures book.

Ah, but then there was the Denver Airport in all its glory. I’d likewise been hearing ugly stories about this place, but was disinclined to believe them since they came from a heartless girl who dumped me without a second thought, way back in the Twentieth Century. So when the wait time at Gate B46 was easier to deal with than the rubbery food available, I was pleasantly surprised. The Denver to Boston run itself—in a big-ass 757—was only 3 hours, but I was robbed of one of my favorite air-travel games: guessing where the hell we were just by looking out the window. Takeoff had been at sunset Denver time, and flying East into the dark winter night rarely allowed glimpses of the Purple Mountains and Amber Waves below. When city lights poked through the constant cloud cover, it was hard to make out discerning features—is that formless clump of glowing humanity Kansas City? St. Louis? Indianapolis? Chicago and Detroit had been easy to see last time, but the ground below became black and blank within an hour.

Landing at Logan had also been a piece of piss—especially when I had the soothing sounds of Loud Rock Music in my ears and the distraction of more Dubious Ventures proofing. I also got to explain my reason for traveling to the woman next to me: a grandma with a slight Massachusetts accent who had apparently been a local elected official some years back. Explaining web design—and conventions dedicated to business-tripping web designers—to people over a certain age is always fun, because even at this late date there are still some who are a bit confused as to how it works and what you can do, so fiction can always gloss over the bits about which you’re not so professionally educated. She was an enthusiastic listener, though, so I didn’t fudge much.

Then, after a quiet $30 cab ride through the bowels of Boston (Yeah, I’ll take the T on the way back, thanks), I ended up at the Park Plaza, still dazed from the plane’s recycled air combined with the icy sting of the East. The fastidious hotel desk attendant, a sharp-dressed young black man, did get slightly confused by my multiple exotic French names, but it was soon sorted out—hell yes, the Gentleman has a Major Credit Card; don’t you know who you’re talking to?—and within minutes I was ensconced up on the ninth floor, scarfing through the trappings of room service and peering out onto the frigid streets below. It was loud and boisterous outside—Boston is a City of Youth, with approximately 236 colleges in or around town—but I was in no mood to mingle with the spoiled children of Cambridge or Back Bay, even as they cavorted like wild dingos in heat. I am, after all, a Professional—not, as my lovely wife described me, “a man about town.”

Even so, it’s probably about time to get out there and stomp on the frozen streets with Authority. Pay no attention to the Wailing Police Sirens Of Fear you hear, dude. Them’s just the sounds of Sunday Afternoon In The City. Indeed—it may be bitterly cold outside, but it could be so much worse, especially at the opposite end of the spectrum that is Phoenix in summer. I’d still rather shiver than fry.

UPDATE (2 hours later): Jesus creeping shit, it is really that cold outside. I found this out after a few laps around Copley Square, while stray snowflakes wafted into my face and pedestrians dashed across every intersection at top speed to keep the blood pumping.

I ducked into the Copley Place mega-mall just to get warm again, but could only take about twenty minutes of walking around in there; a distinct Last-Days-Of-Rome whiff always comes off a shopping mall in December, but I must have stumbled into one of the Major Hubs of such phenomena. Beautiful Rich Young People abounded, whether native or otherwise, and though as an OC child I’m well aware of how they behave, I still had to beat a retreat posthaste.

And yes, I’d seen it before—my sister took Em and I through Copley three years ago, but that was in October, when the huddled masses were not yet Seeking Warmth at all hours of the day. We shall see how crowded the Westin is on the convention’s first day tomorrow. Stay tuned…