Thursday, June 26, 2014
Back in the day when tween baseball was the be-all and end-all of Augusta community sports, Coach Lippert was trucking the team around and had to stop at a burger joint. I believe the story has them somewhere stressful like Baltimore, where venturing near Camden Yards can be a spastic game of Frogger, honking, and- if you’re trying to be a coach and a role model- precariously filtered rage swearing. Little BL, all puffed up with importance from getting to ride with the older, Little League superstars, ordered a hamburger that came back with cheese.
He whimpered and whined. Coach Lip took a deep breath.
“Unnnnhhhhh,” moaned BL, stretching the Kraft-Americaned bun slowly from the patty before slumping back in defeat, “this has cheeeeeeeeese in it. I don’t want cheeeeeeeeeeeese.”
This was 100% the last straw for the older Lip. He turned from the driver’s seat, fixed his cold eyes past two rows of rightfully terrified children on his son, and just bellowed.
“Eat the cheese,” he roared, “and HURT SOMEONE!”
Okay, so I took total poetic license with that story because it was 25ish years ago and I wasn’t actually there. “Eat the cheese and hurt someone” is a great line, though, and I’ll never forget it. I feel like it has all this symbolic meaning. Like, it’s simultaneously “stop whining, dummy” and “seriously, if you do what you’re supposed to do, you’re going to be a total badass… so just shut up and do it,” and then, “you might not like it but honestly, it’s fine.”
“Eat the cheese and hurt someone” has been my motto thus far this trip.
Let’s start with the journey itself.
I’m usually really good at planes. I travel enough that I actually have a routine and trade secrets, and I was duly prepared with five books, a neck pillow, and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits for the 40 hours it took to get me here. I had booked myself into the exit row so there’d be enough leg room to do downward facing dog, if I wished, and I had preloaded my laptop with tame movies like “The Great Muppet Caper” and “Catching Fire” so I wouldn’t have to watch Daenarys Targarian get naked with her brother while a child peeped behind me. See? Guilt free.
I neglected to remember, however, that these seats would also mean that there’d be nothing to either side of my head, so I’d have to attempt sleep with my neck between my knees for two hours. This is quite good for you if you are, in fact, not the person doing it but rather the chiropractor who will make all the money adjusting the thoracics.
Eat the cheese, Carrie, eat the cheese…
The layover in Tokyo was tops, though. Whitney- that sweet crackhead songstress- had been trans-Pacifically killing it, and a bunch of little things that I loved but had forgotten about in Tokyo were smack in my face again. Poppy, chick-singer version of Under the Bridge? Yes. Chili Peppers sans strife: weird and magnificent. Purple starbursty-thingies I haven’t found anywhere else? Yes. Little silver wrappers as carpet decor. I didn’t have time for any ramen, but did sigh a content little sigh of Nip-stalgia. Ohhhh, Japan…
Anyway, we finally got to the Shangri-La, our swanky-danky digs, around 11 p.m. and since that was almost a solid two days since I’d left Portland, I fell pretty heavily into the mattress. We were supposed to be at breakfast at 8:30.
I honestly have to pass over breakfast because it was just too wonderful. I could have happily eaten plates full of actual gouda and cheddar, but I bypassed that station for sashimi, build-your-own-miso, and all the identifiables I could pile. Look! The dried fish is looking back at you. Hurt someone.
Next we had an intro class on Philippine history, and that was pretty wild, too. I learned more in two hours than I have in the month of randomly allocated Internet sessions that I used to prepare myself for this trip. Like, did you know that the Spanish occupied the Philippines for 333 years, but wouldn’t let anyone learn the Spanish? They basically just passed on their religion and a bunch of surnames, but acted like dicks with the education piece because they knew that educated people can get really good at things like revolutions and overthrowing oppressors. And then I found out that the US colonized the islands (7,107 of them, whaaaaa?) in 1898, and although I am morally against the concept of colonization because there is overwhelming historical evidence of it being coupled with ravaging and tyranny, I did feel a bit better to learn that that’s when widespread education began. Plus later, during World War II when Japan had taken over and was doing all sorts of brutal things to the population, the US’s General MacArthur came and sort of saved the day. In fact, it is unbelievable how celebrated MacArthur is. There’s this giant picture of him hanging at the embassy, and despite my initial shock that it was Flex’s father (wow, all kinds of people from 2006 have entered this blog post) which sent me into paroxysms of planning for geneological stalking (relax, I got over it) I investigated, and it turns out that he really is a local hero.
Did you hear that? We went to the embassy and met the ambassador. That was neat. I didn’t take any pictures because they checked all phones and cameras at the door, but they did give us some chocolate cake and a highlighter. And I took a picture of one of the ubiquitous Jeepneys, so you can see exactly what we saw if we were brave enough to open our eyes on the way there.
A horse-drawn tour of Intramuros was next.
Intramuros is the walled city from when the Spanish were here and being dickish enough to know that they should build some protective walls in which to live. It was really pretty because it was magic hour so the light was gloriously illuminating all the old architecture,
and I sort of wanted to get out and walk the thing because I was too tall not to have my head stuck in the folds of the horse drawn canopy, which made it difficult to see. The ride was nice, though, so eh- eat the cheese.
Speaking of eating, our final destination last night was a Filipino culture show and buffet.
The costumes and dancing were pretty awesome, but frankly our stamina was shot and it was difficult to keep our eyes open without some Clockwork Orange device. The guy next to me actually fell dead asleep, and I totally missed the earthquake that allegedly shook us for going on three minutes. Total downer, too, because I’m always up for experiencing non-threatening natural disasters, and it upsets me when I do and totally miss it.
This trip has been and will be quite wonderful, though, so I can’t complain. I mean I want to sometimes… but I can’t. 1980s Bob Lippert is haunting me.