Got me a ride in a Stealth fighter and an A-10 Warthog today and I didn't have to join the military to do it. Unfortunately, I also didn't get to leave solid ground. I was at Fightertown, a flight simulation outfit where you strap into a full-scale, military-style simulator and zoom and boom to your heart's delight.
Beth gave me a gift certificate for this last Christmas because I'm a big flight-sim buff. I have several flight-sim games loaded on my computer, the best of which are Warbirds and Fighter Aces, two games that feature online real-time dogfighting with fellow netizens. I even have all the "gotta have it" flying hardware hooked up to my system: a force-feedback joystick, rudder pedals and a throttle (which I still can't get to work, damn it). So you can see that this was an inspired gift. But inspired or no, I hadn't used it yet because Fightertown was a good hour and a half away in Orange County and I hate driving to OC. But since the certificate was going to expire on the 23rd, I was feeling a lot of pressure to hit the road and cash it in no matter how far away it was. Then I heard a commercial on the radio the other day that made my heart sing: Fightertown opened a store in South Pasadena, only half an hour away. This I could do, and did, and had a blast.
Following my sorties in the sim, I headed out on a Christmas shopping expedition where I found myself wishing my truck had some of the A-10's firepower. It was raining so hard I thought I was in a Phillipine monsoon, and since people in LA forget how to drive when it so much as sprinkles, traffic was in full Bonehead mode: 45 mph on the freeway, confused hesitation at stoplights, geriatric behavior even in a covered parking lot. If I'd had a nose-mounted cannon I could have breezed through it all while maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
|A short, wishful digression on LA traffic
|I've long held the impossible dream of having bulletproof insurance and driving a huge roll-cage enhanced monster truck I didn't care about. So equipped, I would become Scourge of the Highway. I would push cars in front of me through intersections when they dawdle at the green, T-bone idiots who stick their nose into traffic while waiting to exit parking lots, drive right over nimrods doing 45 in the fast lane, gleefully change lanes into people who pass on the right while my blinker is on and I'm trying to get over. Some might call this kind of behavior Road Rage. I prefer to call it Drivers Ed.
I finally reached the mall, but found the confusion on the streets onside continued into the building. I was at the Glendale Galleria, which I'm not familiar with, so I didn't know where the store I wanted was located. I went in search of a mall directory, which led me to add an entry to my list of reasons to hate the Glendale Galleria. Most malls have several directories located in logical places: near the entrances and escalators. Not so at the Galleria. The designers of this place apparently expect their shoppers to rely on the "seek and ye might find" method. I walked damn near every square inch of that place, fighting my way through sluggish and dim-witted holiday crowds, desperately searching for a directory, any directory. GG has only one, which I finally found right outside the store I was there for in the first place. I battled my way though the crowds in the store, made my purchase, fought my way back to my truck and through the rain to home.
I swear, I don't know how Santa does it...