Give Me That Gout: How To Travel Like A Hedonistic Queen
Airports and hedonism go together like short fuses and crash diets.
*LISTEN TO ARTICLE VIA AUDIO BY CLICKING THE VIDEO ABOVE!*
It was 8:15 a.m. on a mid-winter Tuesday when I first realized that I've been blessed with a rare talent. I'm a fabulous traveler. When I was struck with this epiphany, I happened to be in the company of an equally brilliant traveler; one of the great hedonists of our generation and my best friend since sixteen; Ruba Audeh. The two of us were headed to Florida to rub elbows with the palm trees, the glittery beaches and the deadly gleam of the razor-sharp sunbeams for a few days. We were joined by my girlfriend at the time, we'll call her Lane. While I loved Lane so obscenely I would trim my eyelashes for her—let’s just say, she uh, had a “different” traveling style than ole’ Ruby Tuesday and I. Ruba and I are not only sisters-in-crime but well-seasoned travelers due in part, to having foreign parents that deem it perfectly reasonable to send a young child on a cross-continental flight, unaccompanied by a legal guardian. Rubes and I have been traveling alone since we were in diapers, honey. And look at what fabulously esteemed young ladies we've since butterflied into:
On that note, parent-friends, I have some important advice for you. I know that I have *zero* children to my name and no nothing of what it's like birth one or rear one for that matter—but since I intrinsically know you're chomping at the bit for my parenting tips I'll gift you with a nugget of wisdom, cause I'm nothing if not deeply generous: I think the best thing you can do for your kid's future is to force them to get on a long plane ride without you, well before the age of eight. Bonus points if it's an international flight, to a precarious destination. Yes, shipping your child off to a foreign land alone *might* invoke a charming little in-home visit from child protective services—but it's so worth that hassle. I mean your kid will turn into a world-class traveler! And let's get real: isn't that what we all want for our children? They'll thank you later. What can I say? Not allheroes wear capes:
To be fair, we can't give our parents all of the credit for our gift of flying fiercely. Ruba and I did emerge from our respective wombs with natural inclinations toward all things hedonistic. And airports and hedonism go together gorgeously! Like cocaine and oversharing; short fuses and crash diets; hello kitty mugs and bipolar depression; Disney over forty and suicidal ideation; personal trainers and sapphic affairs.
Cut to 7:55 a.m. on a Tuesday a few years back. I’m wearing liquid leggings from American Apparel—the ones collectively favored by the art school sluts of the 2005-2007 era—which I paired with a skintight sweater; the color a haunting shade of arctic blue; like the eyes of a Huskie. On my neck hangs heavy a gold necklace spelling out my name, Z-A-R-A, in twirly, exaggerated cursive. A dilapidated, dirty Chanel hand-me-down compliments of an elderly rich divorceé friend of my mother's dangles off my arm, like a Christmas ornament. Ruba's wearing her usual "hot-girl-who-dresses-like-she's-either-going-to-or-coming-from-pilates" uniform: Black Alo Yoga high-waisted spandex shorts cut to the mid-thigh beneath a simple black Alo Yoga tee that occasionally peeks through the wide gap left by her unzipped black Alo Yoga puffer jacket—vape-pressed-into-palm, feet-strapped-into-Birkenstocks, chocolate waves serving as the perfect picture frame to the work of art that is her small, angular face.
We have just under two hours until we have to board the plane. That’s the thing, you see. There is no such thing as getting to the airport too early. If you want to have a better life at large, it starts with the seemingly small things. Like casually breezing through airport security hours early, with no airs of stress about you. With no frenetic energy vibrating off you. Frenetic energy and stress will age you like nothing else. Tanning beds and cigarettes wish.
Even though my new clip-in weave from Sally's Beauty Supply sets off the security alarm, we make it to the other side in under ten minutes, which delights me to no end. We have copious amounts of time to play in the newly remodeled Jet Blue terminal of New York City's very own La Guardia Airport! You can talk all the shit you want. But the girls who get it know that real city bitches fucks with La Guardia.
“Let’s get breakfast.” I chip-chirp to the girls. I whip my head around on instinct. I'm instantly aroused by what I bear witness to, lingering poetically beneath yellow fluorescent bulbs in the distance: a soulless but wildly expensive-looking restaurant with cheap plastic leather seats and big shiny iPads on every table. I shamelessly bestow the sterile institute of satiation with sultry bedroom eyes. Serotonin downpours from within. It's going to be a great day.
I can tell Lane is jealous of the fact that I'm eye-sexing a restaurant and not her. “Really, babe?" She moans. "We can’t just get Starbucks?” I ignore her.
“Absolutely are we going to get a sit-down beautiful breakfast!” Ruba purrs, taking my lead, ignoring Lane and her mundane Starbucks request. But Lane is sharp and I can tell by the breadth of her sigh that she's quickly realized she doesn't stand a chance—so she does what we all do. She shuts down and sinks inside herself. That's what all agreeable and pious Christian girls, ~like us~, do.
Ruba and I gracefully trot like show ponies toward the restaurant in question. Lane dutifully follows behind; tired but loyal like the ole' family shepherd. Once we arrive we excitedly clamor around the bartender. He explains that we can order whatever we want off the iPads. This means we don’t even have to talk to anyone, which I love as I'm very bad at polite small talk. I shine when talking about things that are more of the sexy elk. Like the suicide statistics among middle-aged men and the drastic upswing in overdose-related deaths due majorly in part to the rise of fentanyl-laced drugs sweeping the nation.
Chills hopscotch across my arms as I touch the static screen with my naked fingertip. The menu has everything girls like me—Jewish American Princesses from the Tri-state with a kink for high volumes of salt—die for: Everything Bagels with chive cream cheese, capers, and a hunk of lox straddled by a thick-cut Jersey-farm tomato. Runny eggs on whatever carbohydrate of your choosing. Nine thousand calorie salads. Large platters teeming with cubes of swiss cheese and slabs of "Italian" meats and those heavily seasoned messy/crunchy toast-cracker hybrids. Steak. Penne Vodka. A simple bowl of ice cream. The selection is but a lovely little smorgasbord made up of all the things people really want to eat.
“What's everyone getting?” I ask.
“Definitely the steak,” Ruba says, the unapologetic certainty in her voice strikes me as rather masculine. Masculinity on men, I’m not huge a fan of—but I adore it on women. Women just wear masculinity better than men. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.
"Definitely the penne vodka," I growl, suddenly feeling ravenous in a way that feels very primal.
“It’s not even 8 a.m.” Lane buzz kills.
We both ignore her. “Let’s get a wine!” my words spin through the air, like tiny ballerinas. I look at Ruba. The bitch is glowing like one of those glow-worm dolls from the 90s.
And I know all about this specific glow she's got going on. It's an up-to-no-good glow. It's the toxic but irresistible glimmer that radiates from her flawless Arabic skin when she's caught a case of the ole "treat-'yo-selfs."
"Hell yes," Ruba whispers.
“Should we get a six-ounce glass of wine or a nine-ounce glass of wine?” I quietly husk back. Our whole interaction is sheer performance, for they're only two kinds of women in the world: one who orders the six-ounce wine and one who orders a hefty nine-ouncer. Ruba and I are the latter.
Lane isn't buying our theatrics. She throws her hands in the air like an innocent bystander about to get shot by truffle-infused bullets of pure decadence. "Really, babe?"
“Don’t 'reallybabe’ me.”
Five minutes later, two gluttonous globes of wine appear before our eyes. They look like roman goblets and are filled to the rim. Ruba and I clink glasses and both take slow thoughtful gulps.
“I love a Sauv in the morning.” I breathily observe, as if I'm watching an elegant sunrise in the English countryside.
“Me too," Ruba taps her crimson nails on the edge of her wine glass and smiles cozily.
We snap a selfie. I instantly post it to Instagram because girl. We are so in our element, it's my moral duty to ensure it's immediately documented for the masses to visually consume on the most ~prolific~ platform of our time. But I don't need to explain myself. You already knew that. You're smart.
Ten minutes later two voluptuous burgers are placed before our wine-soft eyes. They’re smothered in melted cheddar cheese the color of the California sun. My mouth waters. I pierce the tender meat with my silver shiny fork and my nipples stiffen in anticipation. “We’re really good at traveling,” I meow. I pop the burger directly onto my tongue and spontaneously orgasm (discreetly, of course, I am British, after all).
“Masters of the craft,” Ruba muses polishing off the remains of her wine. “I’m ordering us another glass.”
I down what's left in my glass. “Do it."
Lanes looks at us bewildered, “You girls travel like frat guys! Bankers with corporate accounts. So much meat and booze and money spent, my god!" She reaches for the iPad and furiously scrolls through the menu—"a glass of wine?" her face looks eerily demonic, the artificial glow of the static screen lighting from beneath the chin—"is like $22 bucks!”
“Money is of no object when in an airport,” I can't help but vocal-fry, Kardashian-style. The realization washes over me as the words rocket out of my mouth, in real-time. It’s true. What cushions the harrowing, ever-inconvenient, uptight nature of aircraft travel like good old-fashioned retail therapy and self-soothing through food and drink?
Ruba bites into her burger lustfully. “Also you can eat whatever the fuck you want when you travel.”
“Yes. Calories don’t count, either!” I can't help but date myself when I say shit like this. But what can I do? I’m a problematic old-ass millennial. Was the class valedictorian of my now-defunct alma matter; Hipbone High. This was long before body positivity and other empowering movements swept across the internet and ruined all the fun.
“That’s right little Z. And you can have as much wine as you 'dang please.” Ruba croons like an old country guy, strumming a gee-tar in Memphis. I love when she slips into this character. It takes between one to three glasses of wine until her inner-southern dude takes over and I look forward to it every time we drink together, which lucky for me—is often.
Glass number two magically lands on our table. And boy is she good looking. Liquid gold twinkling like the little flames of a menorah during the Chanukah season.
“Screw it. I’m getting a bloody Mary!” Lane uncrosses her legs and stretches em’ open so wide they extend beyond the confines of her chair. She’s what the kids call “man-spreading” which is yet another display of unabashed masculinity that repulses me on men but excites me on women.
“Yas!” Ruba cheers because she’s got a gay brother and thus has lost the ability to physically twist her lips around the word “yes.”
“Yas!” I cheer because my brother, sadly, isn’t gay but I am so I also am challenged to say "yes."
Two bloody Marys and three nine-ounce glasses of wine later it’s time to ~board~ the plane. Instead of being anxious or annoyed by all the peasants huddling around us, fumbling to squeeze their oversized Raggedy Ann-lookin' tote bags into the cramped overhead compartment, we are as cheery as can be.
“Sir, do you need a hand with your bag?” I lilt to a grown man wearing jeggings. "I like your jeggings!"
“Lethsss watch ‘Sex & The City’ on my laptop.” Ruba slurs.
“Yes, leths.” I slur back.
“That’s a great idea,” Lane chimes which renders me so shocked it rushes like an electrical current through my entire body. I’ve never heard her use “great idea” and “Sex & The City” in the same sentence, ever. See what I’m saying? Alcohol in semi-moderate doses can render even a genetically combative softball lesbian agreeable.
We cuddle up in our seats and direct our eyes to Ruba’s laptop. Samantha appears on the screen. “Fuck me badly once, shame on you. Fuck me badly twice, shame on me.” She lectures in that iconic sex-kitten way that makes it sound like she’s ~winking~ with her voice.
We order more wine. We nap on each other’s shoulders. We gush over Carrie’s bizarre tulle outfits in Sex & The City. And by the time we land we’re in the jolliest of moods. And let me tell you something about having a jolly mood, darling. This might be the most important lesbian big sister lesson I'll ever teach you, so pay close attention. A jolly mood is so contagious that even the universe catches on and proceeds to reward you by granting you ~jolly little~ gifts. For example, our bags were the first to arrive at the carousel. Had we arrived haggard and irritable our luggage would’ve surely been lost, a phenomenon rooted in science. My dad didn’t have to circle around the airport 500 times—his car pulled up the exact moment we stepped out of the airport. Speaking of which, it wasn’t even humid. In Florida! If you don't think that has anything to do with the prowess of jolly magic—you my friend, need a stronger antidepressant. Or maybe try upping the dose first...
So yes. This is how I travel. Always. I arrive several hours early at the airport. I heavily booze. I eat a damn burger and the damn truffle fries or whatever high-calorie greasy carb-laden delight I desire at the moment. I do not—under *any* circumstance—spiral over what I've eaten or drunk, even if I'm so puffy my fingers are hot painful sausages losing circulation from the ring prisons they're trapped in, even if I have an unfortunate bout of diarrhea in the public restroom, even if I have to spend a demoralizing few minutes repressing the pungent air begging to be released from my stomach. I always buy myself something unnecessary but special like a bottle of fragrance or some cute Ray-Bans I need like a hole in the head. I indulge in a trashy book en flight (a Joan Collins book is my go-to travel companion) or watch something breezy like a Bravo reality show or Sex & The City.
And then when I land I'm all sunny inside and then the universe grants me a sunny little trip. Even if I’m traveling for work I never let my travel style waver. One time a colleague and I were shipped off to Palm Springs to cover a famous lesbian pool party and I forced her to wear a matching hot pink tracksuit with me, get wine-hammered and chew down some sexy red meat. She had the time of her life! And that bitch told me she was afraid of flying. That she has anxiety attacks on planes. Not that time, honey. When you travel with big sis Z, you could have a certified panic disorder and still be as cool as a cucumber. If someone challenges my luxurious travel style and tries to drag me down with them, I ditch them.
I refuse to let anyone dim my light like that, and you should too. You can’t allow other people’s neuroses to steamroll your good vibes. It’s part of protecting your ~fucking~ sparkle!