Sunday, December 24, 2006

But The View Is Amazing

I have never scaled Mount Everest, but I have been to the summit of Piestewa Peak quite a few times. All without the benefit of supplemental oxygen. Lately, Robyn and I have come about as close to Everest as we will ever get, thanks to the new Discovery Channel documentary, Everest: Beyond the Limit. It doesn't take much to get me to watch something on DSC (as long as that something doesn't showcase those overhyped Orange County idiots). However, if it is on DSC and Robyn likes it, it must be great. Truly, this series is great.

Unlike seasoned climbers, the times I have been at 29,000 feet above sea level have been in the back of a commercial aircraft. As I struggled to relieve the numbness in my lower back during our flight to Boston yesterday, I found that there were other startling similarities between scaling the highest mountain on the planet and traveling coach class in an A319. Here are my reflections from the top.

Miles of walking over rugged and unfamilar terrain are required just to reach an intermediate camp (or connecting flight).

Only sherpas have the über-human strength and stamina necessary to carry the hundreds of pounds of required bags and supplies.

At altitude, there is barely enough food to survive. Minimal sustinence consists of processed rations in one of the following forms: gel, dehydrated, freeze dried, or powdered.

Ultimate success or failure is at the behest of Mother Nature. For climbers, failure is the end of a dream. For air travelers, failure is the start of a nightmare that includes sleeping at gate B26 and eating TCBY for breakfast, Cinnabon for lunch, and Pizza Hut for dinner.

Space and movement are so limited that you have to urinate in a cup and throw it out. Ok, on a commercial flight, this is frowned upon.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Admittedly, I don't get out very much. But in typical Christmas vernacular, we ventured into the dark heart of American consumerism: Scottsdale Fashion Square. I was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the situation. Thousands of contumelious teenagers and Snobsdale socio-elites flooded wreath bedecked halls in an orgy of commerce. Truly, my ninth circle of hell.

Robyn sped off and left baby and me to fend for ourselves. I wandered aimlessly, pushing an empty stroller with baby strapped securely to my chest. In the throng of passers-by, a woman hails me and asks, "Do you know where the movie theater is?" This question made me laugh on so many levels. First, I didn't even know where we were parked. Second, keeping in mind I have a four-month-old baby on my chest, when do you think was the last time I made it to the movies? Third, I'm a 32 year old man with a baby strapped to my chest. Do I appear to be the best candidate to answer your mall information inquiry? I politely told her I didn't know.

I stopped to sit on a bench while baby napped peacefully. Another weary dad and baby sat down next to me hoping for a brief respit. Anonymous Dad strikes up a nice conversation about his Anonymous Kid, his dad life, and his Anonymous Wife. Eventually, Mrs. Anonymous Dad shows up and whisks him away for what is undoubtedly more torture. Certainly, a forgettable event.

My dilemma is this. How do I ask another dude for his phone number? I could use another dad pal in this life and this guy certainly made the grade. But coming right out and asking a guy for his number is a little, well, yeah. I wouldn't even know what to say. "Hey, it was great talking with you. Maybe we can get together sometime and talk more about getting the kids to sleep?" Seems a little stalker-ish. I never was good at asking for numbers. Anonymous Dad, if you're out there, I like reading, walks on the beach, and playing Scrabble.