Motivational Speech

Why thank you hair brush, I am amazing!

When I travel, I use the excuse to completely detox my body of fruits and vegetables. I revel in fried foods, eat every single piece of bread that I can find, and become one with the candy aisle of any store I walk into. I drink beer and wine and make merry. If I am offered something that looks like it’ll take a month or so off my life – fried, fatty, in oil – I accept it with an eagerness that suggests it’s an antidote to whatever poison I have just had.

It’s holiday, I reason, this is no time to worry about one’s waistline. I do this via a series of burps and angry stomach growls. I might be bummed that my holiday only lasts a week, but my body definitely isn’t.   

And so my week in Portugal is no different. There was not a fried ball of shrimp or cod persuasion that I turned down. Seafood! Nor did I balk at any pork sandwich, glass of port, shot of cherry liqueur, beer, barnacle, olive platter, bread, roll, candy bar, or pastry oozing custard. There is a solid possibility that in the last week I have eaten more sweets that I have in the last three years combined.

It’s been awesome. It’s also why I am persona non grata in our little area of the departure waiting lounge at the Lisbon Airport. It seems that a week of consumption as I have had produces a peculiar constitution within my body’s ecosystem that renders me impossible to be near.

Read: my gas could drop a Kodiak bear in full sprint.

It’s for this reason and the natural edginess I have when awaiting a flight that I find myself with a lot of time and a whole lot of space. So, I do what I always do at airports, I walk around.

I don’t like airports. Don’t get me wrong, I marvel in the excitement of being in the hub of global travel. I don’t like being near this many people. Stressed people, people with loud kids, other people stressed about other people’s loud kids, delayed people, people who don’t understand that “carryon” luggage isn’t four blocks of Stonehengian size and weight. People who don’t understand that a line is usually regulatory and not a suggested order contingent on how they feel about their position in said line. And there are thousands and thousands and thousands of them. And about half of them are dressed like my Uncle Mike after he moved to Venice Beach and began selling tinfoil hats. And all of them seemed to have checked about 80 IQ points along with their luggage. And I do my best to torture them all by keeping up steady pace of walking and crop dusting through Terminal 1.

I spend a lot of time looking in the shops. I never consider buying much in an airport. I am usually just starting out a trip or just finishing one, so I neither want to spend the money or don’t have it to spend. Also I am a middle-aged man and find that the things on sale at airports, besides books and antacids, are not really aimed at my demographic. Nevertheless, it’s always interesting to see, sort of as a sociological experiment what corporations try to sell at airports.

As far as I can tell, the stores are huge faceless corporations whose gambit seems to be selling young people clothes based on their utter uniqueness. I will neither try nor do I want to understand what their tag line “Colour is You” means. To be fair, they lost me with the superfluous British U.

Colo(u)r is You. Whatever in the furry halls of hell that’s supposed to mean.

I am in another shop geared towards young people (clues: music I hate, selfie sticks on sale0 when I realize that all of the merchandise for sale is talking to me. Go Girl! You Can, Toucan! Perfectly Imperfect. You Are Amazing! Focus on the Good! Be Original. Collect Moments, Not Things. Choose Happy. My Best Project is Me.

Since when did everything we own have to be a motivational motto? The above mottos were seen on beach bags, hairbrushes, airplane neck pillows, water bottles, and key chains.

Look, I know I am ranging scarily close to grumpy old curmudgeon land here, but are we really so desperate for validation that we need it from a feckin water bottle? Doesn’t a water bottle do enough by hydrating us, does it really need to give us life advice? And do you really want said advice from a mixture of stainless steel and rubber that ended up being a water bottle? I mean, the best project this water bottle could make of itself was to become a water bottle. Not a carpenter belt or part of an airplane’s wing flap, a water bottle. Do we really want advice from a thing that settled in its life to be a water bottle?

Yeah but your best project was becoming a fucking water bottle, so why should I be motivated by you?

The girls working at the store are nice, so I hold in my reserve tank for the rest of the airport. I take another loop around and digest (pub, ha) the motivational tchotchkes. Perhaps the store owners have linked into some insight about what airport goers need. Maybe the same reason they dress like Uncle Mike and act like Donald Trump is the same reason corporations pitch them this motivational mumbo jumbo.

In any event, it’s not for me. Now if I come across a pastry that tells me to be my best project, then we’ll have something. Until then I am doing my third loop of Terminal 1, which will no doubt cause people to seek motivation, help, and clean air.

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