15 October, 2010

How to build a cowboy hat (and another even more important travel tip)

Waiting for my next flight in transit on Frankfurt's Int'l airport - that is after I have done possibly everything I can without spending money, and that of course is nothing - in these-we-all-are-lookalike-and-equally-expensive-and-boring-international-departure-lounges, I guess I have to divulge my greatest two travel tips with you.

The first involves the intricate construction of a cowboy hat and was developed in Chicago's mighty O'hare airport (currently the world's second most busiest airport in terms of take offs and landings), way back when in 1993, a year which I mostly spend bumming around the USA with my dear friend Lan Wyl, now an esteemed cherry farmer in the Freestate.

The reason why two 18/19 yr old poor as dirt boykies were hanging out in big American airports was simple: We were starting to experience our first taste of real traveling having left high school the year before, the ZAR was only clocking in at just north of R3/greenback, it was of course also the time before Al-quada transformed traveling and also before the current recession. The fact that Delta Airlines offered a 30-day standby travelpass for aliens of the non-resident kind like us, also helped I suppose. This pass was amazing! For something like R1200 at the time you were allowed unlimited flights for a period of 30 days in the 48 continental states. And boy did we use this. I think I managed to rack up about 28 flights during those 30 days. No wonder they stopped it. We literally criss crossed the country: San Fran to New York, Niagra Falls to Sloppy Joe's down in Key West, Las Vegas to Jackson Hole, DC to Salt Lake City, Dallas to Seattle, Omaha to Providence, Rapid City to Orlando and so on. Chicago of course was also in the mix. And thinking back now it was ridiculous how lax in comparison to current times the security regulations were. For instance, we both had these shockingly big Karrimor backpacks (remember those two compartment hiking jobbies which made it impossible to find anything inside and when you did it appeared as if you slept in it the night before?) and wanted to spend the day in NYC, but of course without the packs, so we had to find a way to get rid of them. At this stage we already knew the system so well, and since our next stop after NY was Buffalo, we simply went standby for a flight to Buffalo (via NY) and then during our connection had a "last minute change of mind", got off at La Guardia (with our packs continuing on to Buffalo) and after our day in NY, simply took the next flight to Buffalo where our packs were waiting! Being the cheapskates that we were (are), we of course also tried timing things in a way that we could have our meals on the plane and spend a fair few nights sleeping on airports.

Anyhow, the travel tip developed from all of this was how to build the perfect cowboy hat. You know, of the type that assist with the showdown at the porcelain corral? As a std 4 laaitie in boarding school in Bethlehem in the Eastern Freestate, famous for probably the country's iciest winters, we had to warm up the std 5's toilet seats for them first thing in the morning, to ensure that they had a 'nice' warm seat when they attended to disengaging their morning semi-trailer. As a result, ever since those horrible cold mornings on the throne, I have a pshycological problem with toilet seats. First of all, I prefer it to be cold. In fact, the colder the better. That way at least it could be perceived that you are the first to be on there. Which of course is a ridiculous thing to think, but it makes me feel better. Secondly, who knows what hidden ebola virus, bacteria, STD, dirt, germs and other freaky stuff is evident on top of the rim? And I am not even referring to anything VISIBLE, because that is an immediate cue to avoid that particular cubicle and wait for the next one, even if you are bursting or having the worst bout of noro virus that would even freak out a seasoned cruise ship's doctor. So this is then where the cowboy hat was first designed. Lan Wyl and I must have entered a restroom in O'Hare Airport that was perceived to be shaky, and we both sort of mentioned afterwards that we had to resort to numerous layers of toilet paper on the seat, covering every bit of visible white seat and therefore ensuring no skin contact with the contaminated area. We both mentioned that each managed to create a hygenic device sort of resembling a cowboy hat, and since then the term stuck. From there on we perfected the whole design and application procedure. Firstly you need to make sure you have enough paper on the roll to be not only sufficient in the construction of the hat, but also to apply the white gold in a form and function in accordance with its true design.
Once this is established in the affirmative, a test layer of 4 strips, 2 long ones and two slightly shorter ones need to be applied - the longs ones covering the area of the sides on your left and right as you face the bowl, and the shorter ones perpendicular with the two longer ones. Depending on the experience of the cowboy hat designer, one should be able to sufficiently cover the corral with this initial test layer to ensure that no white porcelain remains present, but this of course also greatly depends on the specific design of each individual rim. Most commonly two or even four white ugly areas in the corners where the four strips join will still present a clear and present danger to your sterilized derriere, but one can easily overcome this by utilising a block of white gold to cover these hot spots.

Depending further on the layout and air-condition functioning within the cubicle airspace (any well designed cubicle corral should be well ventilated for obvious reasons) and even though this may be a definitive plus point in the olfactory sensation department, it poses a threat to a properly functioning cowboy hat. But not to fear, should the air-condition create a flutter that keep on pushing one, two, three or even all of the strips to the floor (by the way, I omitted to also note that it is important when assessing the level of paper supplies before a final call is made on a particular cubicle, that one factor in enough paper in order to also allow one to utilise same to pick something up from the floor of the cubicle, and also to use as a protective device when operating the vertical raising and lowering of the rim. It is one thing to have a potentially exposed and therefore infected buttock as a result of contact with the porselain corral, but a completely different thing to have an exposed HAND), the easiest way to hit this ventilation curveball for a homerun, is simply to apply strategically placed saliva blops to the paper. This serves as a perfect adhesive to keep the strips stuck to the rim, and of course your buttocks remain in its needed isolation from the seat. Just make sure that the paper selected to apply expectoration too comes from deep within a new roll. I would hate to think that it could potentially be a strip that came in touch with the floor and as a result already contains adhesive. Important not to get confused.

So, there you go. A safe, hygienic way of keeping your other cheeks disease free. Nothing empirical, but I for one benefit from this, even though it may just be in some sort of pshyco-placebo way. One last word of advice. Please ensure that when leaving the cubicle after all business is completed, you make double sure that no strips (now used of course) is caught between your clothing and your body after you have pulled up your pants. Especially if these strips had adhesive applied to them, and even more so if they were wounded during the gunfight. From personal experience this is embarrasing to say the very least. In fact, I will recommend going commando without any cowboy hats if this could be a potential result.

The other, and significantly more important travel tip, is to remember to grab hold of your pants when asked by security personnel to remove your belt. Especially, if your shorts' front button is missing and your belt is the last line of defense. Unlike the cowboy hat, this empirical study clearly proved that humorless, sour faced German security personnel finds it extremely funny when a passenger attempts to cross through a scanner with his shorts halfway down his legs. I certainly won't be caught like that ever (again)!