Archive for November, 2011
As many of you might know, I have unique luck. Not bad, but unique. After all, how many people end up writing cookbooks for their career. (Three of which have been nominated for the James Beard Award.) And not many people are honored by inclusion in the Forward 50. (That was certainly unexpected, considering my unorthodox career choice.) Strange things always happen to me.
This past week exemplifies my luck. I flew back to the US from Israel last Thursday. The flight itself was rather uneventful, although two young Israeli women seated behind me made an extended ruckus when one of their seats would not go back far enough and they insisted on sitting together elsewhere on a rather packed flight. I think they were scheming to get an upgrade to business class, but that machination failed. After several hours of loud complaining, the stewardess talked the guy in front of me with the inner seat next to him empty to trade with them. The fun actually started on the ground. At the initial passport check, where only four booths were open for the entire jet. One young lady stood in front, directing people to various lines. I was ordered to line 40. Right in front of me was the most Islamic couple possible. He was wearing a white pajama-like outfit and she was entirely covered in the black abaya/chador along with black face covering and gloves. Of course, they were with the passport control agent for more than a half hour. And we waited and waited. Initially, the directing lady requested that we stay in our line, even as it stalled. Then the woman behind me from out of nowhere asked, “Are you Gil Marks?” She then informed me that she had attended one of my cooking demos a few years ago and had many of my books. Then the couple behind her said, “You’re Gil Marks, we have some of your books too.” They were unaware of the new Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, so I took the opportunity to push the book. Hopefully, I made a sale. This was just too good. To be recognized by strangers in line at JFK airport was unusual and great for stroking my ego. I no longer minded the delay. Then the passport agent left his station along with the Islamic couple and their two young kids. The directing lady now advised us we could move to the back of one of the remaining three lines and if the passport agent returned, we could resume our place in the line 40. Many more minutes passed before the passport agent returned, and he quickly advised us that the woman had pink eye and was taken to the office and it was best to stay in our line while he disinfected. But we eventually made it through and I was even treated to a reasonably-talented Michael Jackson impersonator on the A train ride.
That was not the end of my travels and travails. I was scheduled to fly out early Sunday morning from Newark Airport to Denver for a speaking engagement at the JCC book fair. I decided it would be easier to spend the weekend at my cousins, the Zimms, in Teaneck, then get a quick ride to Newark Sunday morning. However there was nearly a foot of October snow on Saturday, which knocked out all of the power shortly before noon, and it remained out. This meant also that I couldn’t access the Internet or much else. Of course, my Sunday morning flight was canceled and, after much haggling (thank goodness for cell phones) and being put on hold, I found a single seat (a middle one) on the 8 pm flight. That flight, though, was delayed and left around 10 pm. But I finally made it and had a wonderful (and sold out) presentation in Denver. And got to spend time with my cousin Roger, wife Robbie, and kids Dan and Amy, and my cousin Karen.
Finally, Sunday I returned to my apartment on the UWS, hoping to overcome my jetlag and rest up before Kosherfest. (Much of northern New Jersey still had no power by then) The flight from Denver was less than pleasant, with an extremely wide man in the middle seat next to me, who by the laws of physics, commandeered part of my space. And a young woman with two young children directly behind me who all talked very loudly throughout the entire flight (I really hate Go Fish at this point and I did not need one of the kids sporadically asking if the plane was going to crash – and, no, she couldn’t see the Statue of Liberty from Newark terminal) and enjoyed kicking my seat. I did, however, spend the time constructively by writing this blog. (Thank goodness for laptops.) But I’m home and my ego is still stroked by being recognized in the airport. And life certainly cannot be described as boring or predictable when you have unique luck.