Culture Travel U.S. of A.

I have this nagging feeling there are too many stars in the U.S. flag

No one’s ever technically accused me of being a misanthrope. In fact, I’ve artificially inflated my reputations as such by regularly maligning the vapidity of man. What I am, actually, is a hater of stupid people, of unenlightened people, and they are, I’m sorry to admit, legion.

Just sit on a plane bound for Las Vegas and you will encounter their profuse ranks: the cheap perfumes, bad hair, lack of worldliness (not to be confused with lack of intelligence), the overall air of an obese, chain-smoking, liquor friendly Bush voter who runs his mouth constantly because, when you can’t read, what else is there to do?

To be fair, not everyone going to Vegas is venal. And not everyone going to Vegas has a choice. Take me and my boyfriend, Jeremy, for instance. Thanks to connecting flights to and from Chicago, we had to land in Vegas for a (mercifully) short time. Being in the Vegas airport, with an obsidian pyramid from Stargate squatting in the desert not a mile away, was like taking a Hunter S. Thompson pill laced with Drano. To say that you want to bathe afterward is putting it mildly.

The plane from Chicago to Vegas tonight featured The Greatest Game Ever Played. It’s a movie about a lower-class young man living in the early 20th Century who — I gathered without the benefit of sound, only occasionally looking up from my book — gets the girl, redeems his father, brings a smile to his mother’s face, foils snotty rich white men, pals around with his porky li’l sidekick, and plays a mean game of, uh, golf. Do you ever blink at a movie and at some point admit you’d rather be watching Showgirls? At least Showgirls has boobs. I don’t even cotton to boobs, but I’ll happily, giddily watch Elizabeth Berkley perambulate listlessly before I’ll watch a movie about golf.

How the hell did I get talking about boobs?

After the movie was over, America West treated us to a series of slides called Cranium. These crafty little brain teasers ranged from anagrams to fill-in-the-blanks to multiple choice. Questions like “Which of these animals has the most teeth?” or “Which of these is not a real dinosaur?” get your blood pumping. The challenge is daunting. I’m sure I was sweating bullets when I realized — like a deep thinker on Jeopardy — that no such thing as Gynormasaurus ever existed.

One of the questions was “What is the southernmost U.S. state?” The list included Florida and Hawaii. A trick, don’t you know.

A woman in the row behind us proudly answered, “Florida!” Fair enough. I’d probably have done the same. I’m no longitudinologist.

Jeremy, through a mouthful of pretzels, answered, “Hawaii.” Clever boy.

Braniac in the row behind us piped up with “Hawaii’s not a state.”

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