US Tour 2003
This is my last day in Phoenix and given that tomorrow I
shall need to be able to walk I've taken it easy. On my way to taking
a shower this morning Larry told me that Phoenix was suffering a water
shortage, so could I not take too much time in there. "I don't think
my shower is going to make any difference" I replied with the outer
cool logic of Doctor Spock but inside was the manic "fuck off"
of a teenager. Great numbers of people are not dying from dehydration
so I spend at least 40 minutes meditating under the waters of my newly
aquired spiritual home, Larry's shower. If someone tells you not to do
something it's an absolute must to do it, just to show them you can't
be pushed around, even if you don't want to do the thing anyway. Anyway
water is wasted pretty much every where in Phoenix, there are lawns to
keep green, evaporating pools and pretend lakes to keep topped up, and
plenty of other cosmetic entities (non of which I am able to remember,
let alone list) where this valuable comodity is just poured in to the
insatiable air and ground of the desert.
It's quite difficult to express just how hot the dessert
air is, but words like "unbearable", "scorching" and
"piercing" come to mind. It is unlike any other atmospheric
heat that I've experienced. There is a swimming pool near to Larry's appartment
but it's too hot and dangerous to sunbathe, so during the summer season
most people in Phoenix keep out of the sun. Phoenix comes alive during
the cooler seasons. The most life you'll ever see on the street during
this time of year is that of people in cars and possibly those behind
the non tinted glass of air conditioned buildings. Alfresco is no go when
the sun glows in Arizona so.
So today I stay in, writing, recovering and preparing for
my next leg of the journey. There is more confusion as to how tomorrow
is to go ahead. First a friend is going to drive me to Savannah from near
Atlanta and then they can't. This time I'm prepared and decide to go back
to plan "A", which is to fly to Atlanta then take a 7 hour drive
by Greyhound bus to Hinesville, which is near to Savannah. It'll be an
early start, we'll leave Larry's at 6 a.m. and I'll arrive at Hinesville
around 2 a.m.
Before leaving Larry and I decide to go for a last supper
in search of the Holy Grail of desert desserts. Larry knows of a cheap
Mexican fast food place so we take a drive down the freeway. The night
air is hot and there's a surreal reversal of normal experience for me,
where I step out of a cool interior in to a warm exterior. In Britain,
even in the summer it's the opposite.
Soon after entering the "restaurant" I notice,
to both my delight and trepidation, that this joint sells the mythical
dessert we've been questing for. We make our orders which unlike all the
other meals we've eaten this week actually is quite cheap. It used to
be that Europeans used to remark on how cheap food in the U.S. was and
how big the portions were. While the portions are still large I hadn't
noticed much difference to London prices. If I ever hear an American say
their prices are hard to beat I'll send them up to Barnsley in the North
of England where you can get a large plate with a steak sandwich french
fries and salad for £1.50 ($2.40). Whenever I go up to Barnsley
with people from anywhere else in the world other than Barnsley (or 3rd
world countries) I always take them to a place called The Alma in Wombwell,
which is near to Barnsley. It's quite an experience, if you want to eat
there it's advisable to book first. What with Yorkshire folk being
fisted clever with money it's normally booked up weeks in advance.
Food is no longer served after 7:30, at that point the place turns in
to a bit of rough dive and all those eating finish off quickly and vacate
the building before things start to heat up.
Luckily for Larry and I though the Mexcan fast food restaurant
is open 24 hours, however unlike the Alma it's rough for all 24 hours.
I order the cheapest thing on the menu. I'm not that hungry
and want to leave room for my dessert. I watch a young man sitting just
behind and to the left of Larry accidently drop half a large cup of orange
juice. I pretend not to see him when he looks around and he pretends he
didn't do it. His leg, half his table and most of the floor near to him
is soaked with orange juice. He calmly munches on his meal. Slowly a waitress
walks towards him and still he says nothing. As she turns the corner it
takes her 0.02 seconds to see what he has done and she screams something
in Spanish at him. Everyone (well me and Larry at least) looks around.
He cowers and laughs and pulls his jacket up around his face. Then she
leans over him grabs his head, ruffles her fingers through his hair and
gives him a cuddle. As a person who will do nearly anything for female
attention I am sorely tempted to push my cup on to the floor too, but
Larry doesn't think it'll be a good idea, especially as I've already drank
all its contents.
And so came the moment of truth. I ate my dessert and
with every mouthful I became more and more dissolutioned and dissapointed.
It wasn't at all as I had remembered, just a faint immitation of my original
true love. In the time it takes to eat a small carton of sponge cake doused
in cream, I learned a lesson that sometimes takes a life time.
It is no use trying to recreate a golden moment, just enjoy the memory.