The phone rang. "When are you coming?" said my dad.
"I'm not coming," I said.
"What do you mean, not coming? Not coming doesn't work!"
"Of course it works; why wouldn't it work?" I expected to have to explain myself.
But: "Okay, you do what you want, bye." And then he hung up.
Well, that was easy! Except a minute later he called back, furious and yelling about how I thought I was above everyone and I didn't ever do what they said. He yelled at me for talking "like this."
"You're the one who's yelling, for the record," I said, matter-of-factly.
"I have been nice up until now!" he yelled. "But now you're talking nonsense!" All other children, when they visit home, they go straight to their families. He said before that I could take the day to do whatever and then come home.
"I gave you four days," I said, "and I reserved this day to spend in Dallas since I never hung out in Dallas. Doing whatever, it doesn't matter."
"The other night, I told you to come home and you said yes, didn't you?"
"Yeah," I said, "because you always do this."
"You have all the freedom in the world in California!" he said. "Does anyone come and bother you there?"
"Why do you think I don't come here?" I said, just letting it all out. "I have no freedom."
"So you don't want to be part of the family?"
"When did I say that? You're the one who's always saying that."
"So we shouldn't think of you and include you in our plans?"
"No, you should ask me and respect my decision if I say no, that's how it works."
"Oh, sure, that's how it works," he said sarcasticaly. "Well, if you don't have time for family, I will come to the airport and bring the stuff."
"What stuff? I have all the stuff that I need to take back."
"You don't have...all the stuff. If you have time for the family, you can come home, and if you don't, you tell me when you're going to the airport so I can come bring the stuff."
That went...differently than expected. He was pissed. Perhaps if he'd brought up the fact that there was stuff involved earlier, we could have had a more practical conversation. I stayed calm through most of it, only raising my voice a few times, whereas he was yelling at me the whole time.
My whole mood was brought down, of course, even though I was going to be spending the day with my brother, whom I love. I packed up and checked out and met him and his friend Cass outside. Not long after we left, my mom called. She was more calm than my dad, but I could still hear him yelling in the background. The stuff I was supposed to take back? ...My dad's pants. To take to my grandmother. To take to India. I don't even know. I guess they don't have pants in India. I was incredulous.
Cass held up a note she had written: "Mail the damn pants!" I smiled.
Also, there was apparently some other stuff for me or something. I told her most of the same stuff I'd told my dad, and she was a little snappish, expectedly. She tried to get definite plans out of me, and I didn't have any. We were just going to play it by ear; the point was I had never planned on coming home. I could hear my dad in the background not believing that someone could possibly have plans for the whole day.
"I'm not looking forward to coming home and getting yelled at," I said. Silence for some time and then the usual hang-up.
I was silent most of the way to lunch. Kiran took us to Clay Pot in Addison for the Indian buffet. When we got out, I could see what Kiran and Cass were wearing.
"Nice shirt," I said.
"Thanks!" said Cass.
"Not you, him," I said, pointing to my brother's Zartram the Merciless: Founding Father shirt, which I had gotten him for Christmas. I was also wearing Glarkware. When we were seated, our waiter commented on my shirt. He thought he should own it.
My first round at the buffet, I tried a little bit of everything to see what was good. Sadly, the chicken tikka masala was watery and tasted no better than Trader Joe's Chicken Tikka Masala. I have said that the TJ's Indian food is restaurant-quality, and now I had proof! Some of the other dishes were better. Mostly the fried stuff. Cass, who was a pescetarian, was waiting for the malai kofta, but, sadly, the kofta was mushy and not as good as the one at Tandoor.
The best part of the buffet was the dosa bar, which offered chicken dosa. It was so good! The chicken was tasty and spicy.
At some point my brother was talking about teapots, I think teapots in a closet, and he said, "There were lots of teapots in the closet...and one of the teapots looked at me." And I knew exactly what he was talking about, because I love my brother.
After lunch, it was time to make Cass cry. I had looked up theatres and times for Where the Wild Things Are but couldn't remember them exactly. It was strange to be around people who didn't have iPhones. My brother did have a GPS, though, so we looked for nearby theatres and went to one. When we got there, we found that we'd missed the showing by about ten minutes, and the next one wasn't for over an hour. I had seen a couple theatres with showings around 2:30, so we tried our luck at another one, and they had one at 3:15, which would be fine.
"Three for Where the Wild Things Are," said Kiran.
"Three?" I said. "Aw!"
We had a lot of time to kill before the movie, and the pre-pre-show entertainment was, like, ten slides long, so that didn't help. And the pre-show entertainment did not teach us a lot. The trailers were kiddie and heartwarming and OMG HAVE YOU SEEN THE TRAILER FOR BABIES THE CUTEST MOVIE EVER WHICH IS A DOCUMENTARY I PRESUME ABOUT FOUR BABIES BEING BABIES?? Anyway.
Where the Wild Things Are was...strange. It was sad, and some of the monsters were interesting, but I found myself distracted throughout since the movie was so unfocused. Earlier, my brother had mentioned some reviews he had read where people had responded to others' complaints that the movie put them to sleep with, "It's supposed to put you to sleep; it's a bedtime story!" So when I saw that he had, in fact, fallen asleep, I smiled and did not wake him up since he was clearly doing what the movie intended him to do. He only took a short nap, though, and he didn't miss anything important, since nothing important happens.
So I was pretty meh on the movie overall. Cass really liked it, though, so I tried not to rain on her squee. She worked with children and found the movie very predictable because she could guess exactly how the characters would react since they followed children's thought patterns so well.
My mom called during the movie, but I didn't pick up. She called my brother a few times before the movie, as well as during. We went back to my brother's apartment, still unsure what the plan was. My mom called again, and I didn't answer since I didn't know whether we were going to go home or not. Then she called my brother, and I told him to pick up and see what happened.
It turned out they had gone out to the hall, leaving my sister, Jigna, at home. Well, that solved the problem! I didn't want to see my parents again, but I didn't mind seeing my sister again, and I could pick up the stupid pants and win some points for doing a good deed. They had all but said, "Fine, if you don't want to see us, we won't be there." I told Kiran to call home and let Jigna know we would be coming.
But first, however, I needed to play Batman: Arkham Asylum. Because I had heard it was awesome. So I played the first ten or fifteen minutes, and holy crap, it was so cool with the fighting and beating people up and Detective Mode and I understood what stephl meant when she said that the game really conveyed what it would be like to actually be Batman. Plus it had the voice actors from the animated series! After I was done, my brother loaded one of his games and showed me some awesome advanced fighting techniques.
My brother's whitecoat ceremony had been Saturday, so I asked him to show it off for me.
My brother is a PROTO-DOCTOR!
We didn't have much time, so we ordered some food from a nearby Thai place to take on the road. While we waited, Cass showed off the katamari she had knit. She had even put magnets in it, and my brother got some paper clips to throw on the table for the katamari to roll up. Cute!
Then it was time to leave. Cass was staying behind, so we had a group hug. The nearby Thai restaurant was literally a minute away, but we had to wait stupid long for the woman to get off the phone and get us our food so we could go. My brother advised me to try the corn puffs and chicken-samosa thing while they were still hot, so I did. Fried food! Good times! I was getting very antsy about time, so I also started eating my dinner, fried rice with sweet chicken sausage.
As we entered Arlington, I saw with horror that there was horrendous traffic in the other direction, the direction we would be going when we went to the airport. We were going to have very little time with my sister.
We pulled into the driveway, and I lugged my suitcase inside and gave my sister a hug. In the entryway were the Pants.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" I said. I had expected a couple pairs of pants. There was a bag filled to the brim with a couple dozen pairs of pants. I didn't know how much I could fit, but I managed to stuff them all into my suitcase and the new backpack my mom had given me. Jigna also gave me some holy metal square that I was supposed to pray to, according to my mom. I asked her if our parents were yelling all day. She said they weren't, but they were mad at me. I said I hoped they didn't take it out on her. She had supported my reasoning, telling them that this was the only day I had that wasn't with family or during the conference.
We broke out the Thai food and ate a little, but I feared for our ability to get to the airport in time in the face of heavy traffic. I had checked the flight status, and the arriving flight was delayed, but my flight still showed as On Time, so I didn't know that we had any leeway. Plus, both my brother and I wanted to leave before the parents got home. So I gave my little sister a hug, and I brought my little brother into the hug, and we had a group hug.
"We are siblings," declared my brother of this heartwarming moment.
"We have the same parents," I declared, slightfully mournfully.
Since I had a camera on me, though, I wanted to get a picture of my siblings before I left.
I love them so much.
And they love me!
Kiran and I left, and at first we thought the traffic had cleared up, but then we saw all the red lights. We figured there must have been a Cowboys game or something. Even the detour was fucked up. Traffic was crawling. This was not good, not good at all. My flight was at 9:20. My brother was confident we would get there by 8:50, 30 minutes before. I was antsy.
"You know how we could have avoided this traffic?" I said. "Not going to get those fucking Pants."
Once we finally made it onto 360, though, we were fine until the airport.
As we entered the airport, my mom called, and I told her we were at the airport. She said to have Kiran wait at the curb in case the Pants put my bag over the weight limit so I could give him the overflow to return. These were very precious Pants. At the curb, I got my stuff out and told my brother to get his ass out so I could give him a fucking hug. With my eyes. Er, I told him with my eyes; I didn't hug him with my eyes.
I rushed in and searched for a check-in kiosk. To my horror, a sign on the kiosk said that you had to check in 40 minutes before departure. According to the kiosk, the time was 8:43. I tried to check in anyway and it wouldn't let me.
I went up to the counter and gave the woman the piece of paper the computer had spit out, saying it wouldn't let me check in. She said it wouldn't let me check in since it was after the check-in time. The problem wasn't me; it was my bag. The computer wouldn't let her check the bag in.
"For three minutes?!" I exclaimed. Then I immediately caught myself and apologized for yelling at her since it wasn't her fault.
She said the next flight wasn't until tomorrow morning, and it looked pretty full, but I could try for standby. They had several flights the next morning, but no other flights tonight.
"For saying goodbye to my brother, I miss my flight," I said bitterly. Three minutes. Three fucking minutes, and I would have made it. The woman said it had nothing to do with my brother, but she didn't understand what I was saying. If I had just rushed in immediately after we arrived rather than thinking I had time to say a proper goodbye to my brother, I would have made it. I felt like I was being punished for being a bad son.
I called home and explained the situation. There were really only two options. The first was the obvious one: admit defeat, go home, and try to make a flight tomorrow morning. I asked if I could check the bag into the next flight and just go on this one and pick my bag up the next day. She said she couldn't since the next flight was tomorrow. The second option was to stuff all my essentials into my carry-on bags and send the luggage home with Kiran. Except there was no one going to the Bay Area in the near future, and I didn't intend to come back home in the near future either, so how would I get my bag and the rest of my stuff? I had brought a lot of my best clothes; it was a conference! And some of my favorite T-shirts! Everything wouldn't fit in one backpack!
Nevertheless, I frantically gave it a shot.
"How much time do I have if I want to make my flight?" I asked.
"About five minutes," she said.
"You're not going to get your Pants," I told my dad. He told me not to worry about the Pants. "The Pants are what got me into this mess in the first place," I said. I took my jacket off because I was sweating from the panic. I had unpacked most of my suitcase and stuffed so much into my backpack that I couldn't even close it—which the lady told me wouldn't work anyway since it wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment—when the woman told me to stop, stop. She was on the phone.
My flight was delayed.
I was good, it was over, now I had to repack my suitcase and all the Pants. I had expected the flight to be delayed because the previous one was delayed and there was a storm coming, so I didn't know why the stupid computer hadn't delayed my flight by then. The plane hadn't even arrived yet!
I got everything settled and once again apologized to the woman for the several times I had yelled at her in frustration. She understood I just wanted to get on my flight. I rushed to drop off my luggage to be checked in and then I went through security and then I found my gate and took a seat, breathless.
I called home and explained the situation to my dad. He was glad everything had turned out okay. (He was calm and collected during this whole ordeal instead of yelling at me, which was good.) My mom, on the other hand, decided that it was an October miracle.
"Are you going to listen to Sai Baba now?" she said.
"What was your emotional state twenty minutes ago? Panic and scared. And then what, suddenly your flight is delayed? Everything happens for the best."
"I expected it to be delayed," I said. "The flight before was delayed."
"You still don't believe in God, do you," she said.
"Why didn't God just make me on time in the first place? We would have been fine if we hadn't come to get the Pants."
"I told your dad you would blame it on the Pants!" she said. "I didn't expect you to come get them. We knew you weren't coming; that's why we went out. You didn't answer any phone calls, so we left. Why do you think I didn't get them ready? They were all over the couch."
"They were in a bag when I got there."
"Then Jigna put them together. I didn't know you were coming to get them until she called."
My dad told her to just leave me alone and let me calm down after the whole thing, and we would talk later. It always seems to be that way with my parents, one of them is crazy and the other one is sane. My mom is usually the crazy one, which is why it was weird when their roles were reversed this morning. My mom said my dad was still angry at me, but he wasn't showing it at the moment, thankfully.
Perhaps God was still punishing me for being a bad son, since we ended up sitting in the plane at the gate for nearly two hours waiting for the storm to pass, and I had to wait around for a long time for my shuttle to take me home.
I curled into my own bed for the first time in over a week. It was almost three in the morning local time. It had been quite a day.