The Thanksgiving Tour

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WPCNR THIS WHITE PLAINS LIFE. By John F. Bailey First published in 2007: 

The celebrity is coming back to town. She was  dropped off in a little college town three months ago, having landed a bit role as a freshman at a humungus  campus in the middle west.  After sending her out there by plane, and the parents driving out her stuff, hooking up her computer with the exception of the printer,  and putting her in the dorm, she was on her own. This a kid who had to rely on skating mom to line up her skating lessons, skating practices, remind her of her homework, etc. , feel her skates to make sure they were sharpened.

Well today she came back after three months away from home with an occasional text message  and an e-mail and a phone call over the last 90 days mainly over the fate of Lloyd Carr, Mike Hart and Chad Henne and Ryan Mallet.  She is now back on her first “Thanksgiving Tour.” And so far I like it.

“You can go now, ” she said, were her last words when left at her dorm in August. We wondered, would she change.

Well it got closer and closer to Thanksgiving, and we did not go out for Parents Weekend — choosing a skating competition weekend instead. So other than arranging a flight back for her Wednesday, and exchanging football chit-chat we did not talk to her much.

Then last week, things happened.

First, we were told prior to Thanksgiving,  ”I don’t have to be picked up at the airport, my friend is picking me up.”

So just to make sure I called the new toast of College Town, USA, (she has made so many new friends on that metropolis of a campus), asking if her arrangements were all set for pickup today.

“Oh….ahhh dad, could you pick me up? Meghan can’t pick me up at the airport, her Dad has to have the car.”

I want you to know there was a time four months ago when, I as a parent would have pounced on this egregious lack of planning and continued the old pre-college parent -superior, daughter-irresponsible relationship.

But, no, being a rat-dog dick reporter and a “disgusting person,” I am subtle, I’m learning, devious,  I say to her, very matter-of-factly,  instead,

“No problem. I think it’s real tough driving to LaGuardia when you’re not experienced. I wouldn’t want Meghan saddled with that responsibility.”

So she says, “That’s great Dad.” (I had scored incredible points by not flying off the handle!)

Well, that felt good. So Wednesday morning the ingénue leaves her skating practice out at College Town USA and hops the shuttle to the airport. When she arrives at DTW, her flight is delayed. With my wife checking Northwest Orient (NorthWEST ORIENT AIRRRRRRRRRRRRRLINES, remember that commercial) every hour on the half hour, and ascertaining IF campus queen got on the shuttle to Detroit, was on the shuttle, has a credit card and knows how to pay, (she has missed this micromanaging),  we determine her flight is delayed until 1:40 PM.  Campus queen checks in from the waiting lounge by cellphone advising she is awaiting her plane.

But never fear the HOV lane in the sky is easing air traffic congestion all over America. Her Flight gets new equipment (which in airline-speak, means “plane”).


This enables me to go over and watch the Parker Stadium Ceremony. At the ceremony, Skating Mom calls and says Big Ten Princess has gotten on the plane. So I leave Parker Stadium at 1:30, and divert  to LaGuardia figuring the plane gets there from Detroit around about 3 PM.


But, oy! The anxiety of traffic reports, “reports” of airport delays was not to be believed. Though traffic was bumper to bumper northbound on the Hutch — it was wideopen southbound to the bridges, something you would not know from the traffic reports.


Then there’s the anxiety of weather reports! Bad weather in the midwest! FOG. Low ceilings! It is paralyzing.

But to listen to the radio traffic reports (“2 hour delays getting to the airports.” “Flights delayed.” ) without real specific information, I might add.   You listen to traffic reports today you’d never go anywhere.

You could not determine from the Radio 880 reports whether the Whitestone Bridge or Throgs Neck Bridge were backed up into the Bronx, for example, the traffic reports were somewhat useless and all they did do was create anxiety.

So I decide to divert to the Throgs Neck Bridge off the Hutchinson River Parkway southbound. I spend 10 minutes at the Throgs Neck, even in the cash lane, and I cross over realizing I could not get on the Cross Island westbound, so instead I shot down the wide open Clearview Expressway to the Long Island Expressway westbound to the Grand Central Parkway (Exit 22A) and I am parked at LaGuardia at 2:30 PM. One hour to LGA from White Plains despite the traffic reports on Getaway Day.

Meanwhile, communicating by cellphone with Orchestrating Mom, I am informed the Ice Princess is in the air, and I in turn inform Orchestrating Mom (who is cooking Thanksgiving dinner — we should have ordered Stu Leonard’s but she is a traditionalist), I have arrived and am waiting in the Delta Terminal.

Scanning the Boards at LGA Delta Terminal. You’re lucky if you can find your flight.

I mean LaGuardia is such a shabby airport on the arrivals level. No lounges, no seats, and very few boards telling you what’s coming in. Even the $5 Starbucks is lukewarm. I mean compared to Detroit this airport LGA is like a 30s airport which it is.

How did I ever manage to fly home from college without a cellphone? It is a miracle.

So the Flying Wolverinette calls me from the plane, informing me she has landed.

I tell her I’m wearing the Michigan hat.

She crackles from the aircraft: “You would be.”

So I wait at the escalators by the Northwest baggage claim. Each time a pair of blue jeans, boots or tights appears from the feet up to the waist I think it is the Ice Queen arriving…instead it turns out to be a woman in her 40s, 50s and up – way too old and too made up to be wearing that kind of bottom. Very disconcerting and funny and bizarre effect.

So finally she comes off the escalator and actually looks glad to see me.

And she is perfect!

I snap her picture she hugs me. I hug her.

I say, “I missed you.”

She says, “I missed you, too.”

I said, “You really did a great job these last 90 days.”

“Thanks Dad,” she says.

She is not the same, but I like what I see. Her nails are done better. She looks more confident. I love confidence in a woman.

So she tells me how she can hardly wait to drive a stick shift again. How nervous she is when driving with others at the wheel. How she doesn’t want to discuss the State game.

We have this incredible amusing ride back up to Westchester County.

A guy tailgates me on the Whitestone, one inch from my bumper and when I pull out to wheel over to the Whitestone…he yells “Learn how to drive.” She thinks this is hilarious, “You always told me to ignore those kind of people.”

Then – she lists all the things she has to do in the next two days before she goes back to College Town, USA. Tells me about the fraternity parties before the football games.  I think she is having way too much fun for $40Gs a year and up This is some camp. Though the grades are good.

She says she is going to play knockout late in White Plains tonight, a kind of dodgeball in the dark. I point out that she shouldn’t do that, what if she twists an ankle and can’t skate? She laughs.

I asked, “you missed that didn’t you?” (meaning my Dad advisories.)

“Noooooo, “ she says. “I haven’t heard that in three months.”

She has done a good job.

And you know what, she has.

And I have learned to text message. And I didn’t miss her as much as I thought I would.

Just watching television of a football game with 100,000 people in the stadium, thinking that she might be on camera some time during a game, I did not miss her much, did I?

We have grown closer together, since we’ve been apart.

It’s great to see the little sailboat negotiating the tricky headwinds of life herself, hoisting the sails on her own, and when she gets blown over, righting the hull herself.

I could never have done what she has done the last three months in College Town USA.

I loved picking her up at the airport.

I loved the way she looked at me when she saw me.

I like the way she’s changed.

And that’s a good thing.

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