Thursday, 30 August 2018

San Diego

The breakfast room is filled with the happy smell. Bacon. Alexei and I whoop, while Andrew tips 20 sugars into his coffee. But no milk. He’s a bit weird. There are scrambled, eggs, too.

Jim picks us up and takes us to the airport. It’s pretty early, but it leaves plenty of time. Which is how I like it. Especially as I’ve a bag to check in. On account of the two bottles of bourbon, plus the beer, Jim gave me.

Andrew is dead interested in the security procedure. It’s a professional interest, as he does the same job at Schiphol.

Unusually for me, I don‘t drop by a bar before boarding. What am I becoming? Everything I hate. Though it is quite early.

“Don’t worry kids, I am for your real father and not an alien replacement. It’s just a bit early. And I’m still full from breakfast.” I hope that covers my shame.

As I have Sky Priority status and this is a Delta flight, we’re in boarding group 1. I really need to maintain my silver Flying Blue status. It makes life so much simpler.

The flight is quite long. Andrew and I read, while Alexei fiddles with his phone. Private Eye keeps me sufficiently entertained. I’ve almost managed to work off the five-issue backlog.

Rooftops are scraped on the way down

We stand at the carousel waiting for my bag. It never arrives. After 30 minutes of watching the same abandoned, battered bags rotate, we trundle along to the baggage counter. They can see that my bag was on the plane, but have no idea where it’s gone. Wonderful. After an hour or so of messing about, they take my details and we head to the taxi rank.

Our driver is a chatty Ukrainian. Taxi drivers are never American in the US. I tell a lie. I had an American driver in Asheville once. That’s the only one I can remember. Other than the Vietnam vet who operated an illegal taxi at the Staten Island ferry terminal. An interesting, if rather damaged, character.

The ride to our hotel isn’t long. San Diego airport is right next to the city centre. Scarily close if you’re at that end of town, as the planes fly in at roof-top height. We’re pretty close to Schiphol and I thought the planes were low here. In San Diego you could literally throw a stone at them.

After quickly checking in, I say “Time for some beer and food, kids.”

“Not for me, dad. Remember I can’t drink alcohol here.”

“How could I have forgotten? You can have some food and watch me and Andrew drink beer.”

“Great. That sounds like fun. Not.”

We’re staying in Little Italy. “There are more Italian flags here than in Mussolini’s Rome.” Alexei claims. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. There are an awful lot.

Ballast Point is just around the corner. Seems like a good place to go. I’ve been before. Last time they had Dark Mild. Doubt I’ll be that lucky again.

On the way, we pass another brewery, Bolt. “That wasn’t there last time.” I say. A little further there’s a Mikkeller bar. “That wasn‘t there, either.” Amazingly, the city has got even beerier. Which is quite an achievement.

Alexei stumbles over a pair of what look like kids’ scooters. “Kanker, fucking shit.”

“Are you going to pick them up, Lexie?”

“No. Kanker, fucking bullshit, leaving them in the way. Mongolen.”

Andrew rights them.

“What are they?” I ask.

“Something like a strooifiets, by the look of it.”

Ballast Point is pretty full, but we manage to find seats at the window.

Alexei is hot and irritable. He finds Ballast Point too crowded and too noisy. “I’m going back to the hotel. Fuck this kanker pub.” Alexei is capable of some interesting multilingual swearing. Not just in Dutch and English, but also Arabic and Turkish. He’s very street.

It is pretty full. You have to queue at the bar. But after the first round we manage to hook up with one of the few waitresses darting about and order through her. It saves a load of time and messing about.

After a couple of beers, we order some food. Fish tacos for me, a burger for Andrew. Neither of us finish our meals. But we get containers from our nice waitress to pack up what’s left. Alexei is bound to be hungry. And he can get angry when he’s hungry. An angry Alexei is not good, in my experience.

We enter my room offering the leftovers in front of us. “Look, Lexxie. We’ve brought food.” I say nervously. No answer. Because he’s asleep.

The rest has improved his mood. He tucks enthusiastically into our leftovers. Washed down with beer we bought on the way back in a 7/11.

Reception calls: my bag has been delivered. Yippee! I go down to pick it up.

“I wonder where it was?”

“It probably fell off the belt.” Andrew suggests.

I begin to believe he’s right when I unzip the bag. What’s that smell? Oh no. It’s bourbon. These shirts seem rather wet. And bourbon-scented. Fuck. One of the bottles has leaked.

One bottle is full, the other completely empty. The stopper on the empty one is loose. I’m sure I screwed it properly shut. How on earth could it have opened? This is the second time I’ve had drenched clothes without a bottle breakage.

Luckily, the two uppermost shirts seem to have soaked up all the bourbon. The clothes underneath are still dry. That was good fortune, I suppose. But my clothing planning is buggered. I only packed one spare shirt. I’m now one short.

“It’s your bottle that’s empty. Luckily, I’m a good dad and won’t charge you for the damage to my clothes.”

“Right, dad. As if we have any money, anyway.”

I haven’t thought this fully through.

“I get first dibs on the remaining bourbon, though.”

“Bugger off, dad.” The kids are getting quite uppity. “You’re always nicking our gin.”

We chill in my room for the rest of the evening. Literally. I don’t seem to be able to get the airco on any setting other than arctic. Thankfully, one bottle of bourbon is intact. We lay into it enthusiastically. And the beers, too. Andrew seems to getting a thing about Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Sleep stuns me with its icy fingers, sucking out my sentience.

Ballast Point Brewing Little Italy
2215 India St,
San Diego,
CA 92101.
Tel: +1 619-255-7213

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