Archive for September, 2009

Hot ‘Lanta

Friday, September 25th, 2009

When I started this journey, I didn’t reckon with how much time I was going to be spending in airports. Fortunately, the ones I have seen so far have been very nice.

I was amazed at how busy it is at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?). No doubt that has a lot to do with the fact that it is known as the “busiest” airport in the world based on the number of passengers that go through it.

I must say it was a bit scary making my way to through the terminal – I don’t remember seeing such a high escalator before – you go up after you ride one of those trains that take you from terminal to terminal.

It looked really inviting to get to the top of the escalator and slide down again, but they have these round things every few feet in the middle that keep you from doing that. Oh, well.

I had to go a long way through the airport before Dan Plato – he’s a very entertaining tournament director and club owner – could pick me up. In my day, of course, people could walk right up to your gate and give you a hug right when you got off the plane.

Dan was really great. He took me to the Atlanta Duplicate Bridge Center, where I met the people who run the club – Beatrice Kemp and Dan Papineau.

That's Dan and Beatrice holding me at their club.  Dan was very gentle.

That's Dan and Beatrice holding me at their club. Dan was very gentle.

I overheard Dan Plato talking about me to some people at the club. “Bob,” he said, “arrived in good shape, but he did seem kind of hungry. Maybe we should give him some snacks to take with him before he leaves Atlanta.” Hear, hear!

I blushed a bit when Dan added, “He’s quite darling.” I wasn’t really sure how to take that, but Dan was so nice I didn’t say anything. He even found space for me at his home, and I must say the sock drawer was very comfy. Just the right size.

Atlanta is kind of like Memphis, although it is spread out a lot more and with an amazing amount of traffic. Wow! It’s also pretty hot in the summer with high humidity, but you can’t beat the friendliness of people in the South.

There are lots of things to see in Atlanta. I went one day to the Georgia Aquarium. That was incredible. The displays are really great, and you can get up close and nearly personal – that was plenty good enough for me, to be honest – with lots of interesting creatures. I’m glad that glass in all those tanks is so thick.

I’m not really blue in the face. That’s just the lighting. I loved the Georgia Aquarium.

I’m not really blue in the face. That’s just the lighting. I loved the Georgia Aquarium.

Up to now, I haven’t mentioned this strange method of communication – my blog. If I had said that word in mixed company back when I was young, I would have expected to get into trouble, even if no one knew what it meant. They probably would have just assumed it was naughty. Now it seems like everyone is writing on the Internet. I’ll reserve judgment on the whole thing until after the big tournament this fall.

One very big positive from doing this blog thing as part of my “coming out” is the attention I have received from so many pretty women. I guess I was a bit stuffy back in the day, so I’ll have to say having my image on the cover of the Bridge Bulletin was a good thing. At every bridge club, all the women want to be photographed with me. It’s very flattering, not to mention exciting.

Dan took me around to three really nice bridge clubs in the Atlanta area – Alpharetta Duplicate Bridge Club, Ruff ‘n Sluff in Marietta and the Atlanta Duplicate Center, which I have already mentioned.

I love being photographed with big crowds of bridge players.

I love being photographed with big crowds of bridge players.

All three of the clubs have games every day of the week, and most days there are two games. I also visited games at Roswell Recreation Center, Buckhead Parc and Peachtree Presbyterian Church.

They teach bridge at the big clubs and have lots of games for new players. I was really impressed with the effort to promote bridge – and, boy, do they ever do the food. I might have to visit a tailor somewhere along the line. I tried to resist all the wonderful eats, but I just couldn’t. Between the good-looking women and the food, my will power is about shot.

Check back soon for more about my trip to Atlanta.

On My Way to Atlanta

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

My time in Toronto was wonderful, but I knew I would have to say goodbye to Canada at some point.
I was sad to have to leave but happy about my destination – the great city of Atlanta. I had heard a lot about the city and the bridge community there.

It’s not a short trip from Toronto to Atlanta, so I was more or less expecting to have a nice movie on my flight. When I departed Europe to return home after my “retirement” ended, I was surprised to see a screen on the back of the seat in front of me when I sat down in the airplane. I had never heard of or seen such a thing, and it took me some time to work out how to use it – the man in front of me complained about the fact that I was pushing too hard on the touch screen and disturbing him while he was trying to sleep. Eventually, I worked it out. I was intrigued by one of the titles I saw, Kung Fu Panda, and almost didn’t try it, but I did enjoy the film.

So you can see why I was a bit disappointed in the flight to Atlanta – no movie. Even so, I didn’t let it take the edge off the excitement of seeing a new place – and I did discover something I had never heard of – sudoku.

I was always a big fan of crossword puzzles, and when I picked up the in-flight magazine, I noticed there was a puzzle section. Imagine my surprise when I saw the grid where you put all the numbers. It took me some time to figure out what it was all about, but I was hooked.

It’s funny how they tell you all about things on the airplane before you even take off, like the masks that fall out of the overhead if something bad happens.

I can tell, if I thought an emergency was going on, I would be under the seat! The mask wouldn’t do me any good.

The staff on the airplane was very nice. They seemed very interested in me, and they warmed to the challenge of getting my seatbelt to fit soundly – not an easy task.

I was very pleased with the announcements about not smoking on the airplane. In the old days, you had to put up with a lot when you took to the air.

I was surprised to see that one of the flight attendants was a man. In my day, as you can imagine, they were all women and they were all called stewardesses. One thing has remained the same, though – they are all very pleasant.

The pilot talked to us a lot, too, letting us know that we were a bit late leaving Toronto but that he would try to make up the time on the way to Atlanta. I don’t know if he did because I had my eyes closed when we touched down. There was a storm in Atlanta and the airplane was shaking a lot. I was relieved, however, to note that the air things didn’t drop down. I took that to mean it wasn’t a huge emergency – just a bumpy flight.