Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scent of Al Pacino

I forgot to tell my uncle my flight departs from LAX so his direction was toward Burbank airport. We had to make a drastic change of course 15 minutes on the way and he had to make extra effort to make it to LAX on time.

My pulse was racing as we approached departure 30 minutes before boarding. Time seemed to be ticking much faster and stronger I can almost hear and feel the second hand of any clock or wristwatch like it was whacking at me from all imaginable corners of my vision. Swift goodbyes were exchanged and off I was toward the airline counter. It was a relief to have made it inside the airport.

But relief was shattered when the self check-in kiosk I was using was malfunctioning. I snagged a passing airline representative and was told nothing was wrong with the machine. I'm late for check-in and the machine won't process my papers anymore! Oh my goodness! The large clock behind her beckoned at 23 minutes before boarding, its second hand going "DONG! DONG! DONG!" inside my head. She led me to a counter with a live agent and wished me "Good luck."

I could sense the immediacy in the agent's gestures and voice as she asked me questions and processed my paper. She knew time was against me. After some clickity-clacks on the keyboard, she finally stood up from her chair, handed me my boarding pass and told me to make my way to my gate - which was at the adjacent building! - and fast!

With only 18 minutes before boarding, I hurriedly checked-in my luggage, rushed through security inspection, zoomed along hallways and escalators, and darted past other passengers, flight crew members and airport staff to get to the other building where my gate is of all places! My heart was pounding and my breath was speeding. Finally, I made it to the gate with only 10 minutes before boarding. Whew!

Breathless with throat dry and warmth coming out of my face, I stood awhile to regain footing. I scanned the lounge and was relieved to see all other passengers wallowing away in their seats, sipping coffee or surfing the web. Despite the adrenaline rush my body, exhausted as it was, started to succumb to sleep. My circadian rhythmn couldn't catch up with the red eye I was chasing that night.

Just then, there was a sound of people coming in from the other end of the lounge behind me. A batch of new arrivals. They were of assorted colors, sizes and idiosyncracies, it was a rather relaxing spectacle. Later on, majority of the arriving passengers seemed to have deplaned as people coming out came fewer and with less bustle.

Suddenly, someone seeming otherworldy familiar emerged. "Wait a minute", I said to myself, "Is that Al Pacino?!" I dismissed it as too good to be true. "Naaah. Couldn't possibly be." A few more steps and..."Oh my goodness! It is him!

My heart started to go for another round of pounding as he was coming toward me. Me! Not anyone else in the lounge! Me! He seemed to know where he was going because he wasn't veering away!

With my pulse in full speed again I stood there frozen. He was coming at me right smack in my little corner of the walkway. I was slack-jawed, bug-eyed and definitely starstruck! It's Al Pacino! Although blood was again propelled to rush through my veins and go through all parts of my body, somehow my brain wasn't being perfused sufficiently because I couldn't think. I thought I should say something. But what?! "He's coming nearer! Think of something! Nooow!"

Time seemed to have shifted to slow-motion.

It was like an epiphanous moment in a movie with choirs singing an aria as he was...

right in front of me...

walking slowly toward me...

walking slowly right beside me...

and walking slowly right past my back.

All I could do was follow him with my eyes and make a 180 degree turn of the head to catch him on my other side.

Just like that and he disappeared into a First Class Lounge - right behind me.

He was like a whiff of air.

It was a fleeting moment.

He was so near yet so far.

"Ting-ding! Delta Airlines Flight blah-blah-blah bound for Orlando, Florida is now ready for boarding."

I just stood there with nary a movement. Only my respiratory muscles were at work. I looked intently at the special lounge's door that just ushered in a Hollywood celebrity as if my eyes had the power to open it. Helplessly starstruck and haplessly bewildered, I rolled my eyes in all four corners of the door, ended at the doorknob, and looked at the door again in its entirety. I gazed back at the arrival gate where he came from and imagined it all over again. It was only then I was able to comprehend what just happened.

I saw Al Pacino, the thespian.

I saw Don Michael Corleone who told me to "...keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

I saw Carlito Brigante who reasoned, "It's who I am Gail. It's what I am. Right or wrong. I can't change that."

I saw Viktor Taransky who surmised, "Our ability to manufacture fraud now exceeds our ability to detect it."

I saw Lt. Col. Frank Slade who cried, "I'm in the daaark heeere!"

And in my recollection I remembered how handsome he was, how unassuming was his bearing wearing only black shirt and trousers, a dark gray jacket and a messenger bag on his left shoulder. I realized how close I was to asking for his autograph, firmly shaking his hands and deciding not to take a bath the next day. He was so close I could have almost smelled him.

"Ting-ding! Delta Airlines flight blah-blah-blah will now continue with the boarding process."

Reality finally kicked in. I took in a deep breath and queued up. With a chuckle, my head was shaking in ecstatic disbelief as I tried to rationalize my reaction...or non-reaction. I vowed to do better next celebrity encounter even if preceded by a tension-filled incident. After that near brush with unadulterated ecstacy, I figured I'll probably dream of seeing a lot of stars during my sleep high up in the clouds.

1 comment:

  1. oh.. oh.. oh... john milton on god.. he's an absentee landlord!
    hay piet, i can't help but dribble.