(Noded as soon as I got back from a four-day trip from Tampa to New York to be the best man in a wedding.)
To get back to Albany from the reception, I followed the father of the bride at high speed on a wet highway. On the way back I got to talk to Adam and Chrissy's other guest for the night, Anna. She taught me a bit of Icelandic at my request, and we had a nice conversation. We shortly discovered we'd been - okay, I'd been - following the wrong car. It wasn't a disaster, though, because it turned out to be the mother of the bride driving Adam and Chrissy to the hotel. She then led us back to the apartment, where we crashed. Anna crashed, actually, having an early flight to catch; I stayed up to write this paragraph.
Brunch at the official hotel was the first breakfast buffet I've seen in a long time that lacked grits. The mother of the bride said "Of course there's grits!", but she pointed me at a cauldron of cream of wheat. Blech.
We hung around and unwrapped a few presents, including a small self-contained artificial waterfall and a beautiful vase. I got to the airport in time to put myself on the bump list for a nearly full flight to Reagan. They nearly took me up on the offer, but I ended up commiserating with my seatmates, who were also hard-pressed to get comfortable. "We've replaced the brains of our airplane designers with new Folger's crystals," I joked. "Let's see if anyone can tell the difference."
"Le Petit Snack" was replaced by a packet of peanuts. I was almost afraid to eat them lest the seat feel any smaller.
The Reagan-Tampa leg promised to be just as bad - booked perfectly full but not overbooked. We used an A320 EOW, though, a plane I'd never been on. It had armrests that folded almost completely up, so I could lean forward a bit with my seat belt off - tsk, tsk - and occasionally feel slightly comfortable.
We were served boxed meals consisting of hermetically sealed ham and cheese mini-subs, Cheez-Its, a small Butterfinger knockoff called a Cadbury Crispy Crunch, and a sugar cookie from Cheryl & Co. I'd had their cookies before, a few years ago, in a thank-you basket from friends I'd driven two hours from a party to one's home at 1 AM when they were too drunk to talk straight - one reverting to her native Southern accent only under the influence - and too sick to not be in bed at home.
There were lots of Bucs fans talking about the Jets game - it was 17-6 Tampa near halftime, and we were eager for news of a victory. A mournful-loooking woman in her forties and her cups (having at least once filled her plastic cup to the brim with Southern Comfort, some of which went onto the tray table and the carpet) declared she didn't know why the flight attendant hadn't gotten the final score from the pilot, who was supposed to have somehow procured it from the tower. I suggested she call a friend on the AirFone ($1.99/minute) if she really couldn't wait, but she appeared to be unable to figure out how to complete a call.
As the flight attendant collected our trash, she mopped up the liquor and noticed the aroma emanating from seat 13C. I heard her mutter reproachfully to nobody in particular, "You're supposed to buy it from *me*..."
The punchline came as we walked onto the extensible hallway, where 13C was engaged in an animated conversation with an airport employee. "We LOST!? 21-17?"