Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.

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San Diego, September 29

By Milt Abel | October 2, 2011

| October 2, 2011

San Diego, September 29

People who travel regularly have packing down to a science. For me it’s more of a superstitious rite, with some mumbo-jumbo thrown in, right next to my toiletries bag.  There’s a lot of fear involved, some mindless repetition (because that’s the way it’s been done for years) -and depending how distracted I am during the process, some important omissions. Maybe chanting and incense balls would help me focus.

This trip, a two and a half-week cruise on my favorite line, Holland America, I forgot white socks. I had one pair with me, I wore tennis shoes for the short flight from PDX to Vancouver, Canada and I knew I’d got through security only once. I could untie and lace a couple tennis shoes once in a day. When you go through several airports in single day you can find yourself taking on and off your shoes more often than an Iraqi heckler at a George Bush speech. Those days I wear loafers. (did they plan on the pun on the naming of that style shoe?)

The style these days for kids and their ‘kicks’ (slang term for shoes) is to not lace up their tennis shoes. I believe it is a natural continuation of the style of the extremely loose and low-riding jeans. You know that style I’m talking about; where the waistband is below the crescent of the buttocks, and patterned boxers cover the distance to the waist. The suspense of watching someone walking about like that: I keep thinking the slightest additional weight in a pocket and the pants drop completely to the ankles, thereby ‘pants’ing themselves. Efficient, that. No pranksters necessary. Absolutely everybody is downsizing these days.

I had heard somewhere that the oversized pants came from prison. Particularly Los Angeles County jail, where inmates were giving prison garb for short periods, but because of the overwhelming numbers and high turnover, pants rarely fit. The miss-sizing drifted into the street, and became cool. I don’t recall which comic I heard say it first, but the baggy pants also implied the wearer was incapable of running, -which brought on another layer of bravado, ‘nothing is going to get me to run, I’m too cool.’ The untied shoelaces? Well, that implies a certain cool too. ‘If I trip and fall on my face, I’m too cool to need to get up.’ ‘Maybe I’ll just take me a nap right here.’

With only one pair of white socks I had an excuse to not go to the gym; you can’t work out in black socks and white tennis shoes. It’d be counterproductive. The purpose of going to the gym is to keep young looking, show up in running shorts, white sneakers, and dark socks and you look ten years older the instant you cross the threshold. I suppose I should be thankful I forgot my sock suspenders; wear those to the gym and anthropologists would be crouching behind the elliptical machines trying to observe me and my undisturbed behavior.

So I needed supplies. Our first scheduled stop, Astoria, Oregon was crossed out from the itinerary when a hurricane-force winds wouldn’t allow us to go anywhere near a port. I had to wait until the ship worked its way completely down the California coast to its last stop before heading to Hawaii: San Diego.

San Diego is one of my favorite ports because it has some of the consistently nicest weather in the world. Like San Francisco, it is heavily influenced by lots of the Pacific Ocean surrounding, or burrowing itself, into the city. It works like a governor, not allowing the temperature to swing too hot or too cold; most of the year it is Goldilocks nice.

There’s a mall about ten blocks by foot from the cruise pier and I was able to pick up proper socks for the gym. The mall, Horton Plaza, is pretty nice as malls go, but it has the most convoluted layout of any mall I’ve every visited. Imagine if M.C. Escher had had been blindfolded and spun around a dozen times, then uncovered and told to immediately design a shopping mall for downtown San Diego. That would be Horton Plaza. The parking garage is even worse. People have become lost in there, only to emerge years later in the Garden of the Gods outside Colorado Springs, dazed, not remember a thing about the missing years, or why they were wearing suspenders for their socks.

Topics: comedy, cruise ship, humor, travel | No Comments »

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