Things You Can Do At JFK For 8 Hours

by Matthew J.X. Malady

Shit’s getting real at JFK AIRPORT. I just took off my shoes and also my hair’s all fucked up and I just smoked in the goddamn bathroom.

— lennypane (@lennypane) January 6, 2014

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, documentary filmmaker Penny Lane tells us more about a bad airport experience she recently mentioned on Twitter.

Penny! So what happened here?

I am going to Salt Lake City to show Our Nixon at the Utah Film Center. Super short trip. As usual, I get to the airport insanely early, because I am both anxious and stupid. I get to JFK at 4:00 p.m. for a 7:20 p.m. flight, and find out it’s been delayed until 11:30 p.m.

I am sanguine. I have a book to read (The Luminaries — it’s really good!), and I’ve got some flirty things and gossip things going, text-wise, so killing time is no big deal.

I tell friends I’m delayed at JFK, and they all say, “Get drunk!” This is what everyone tells you to do if you’re bored in an airport. “DEFINITELY GET DRUNK!” It’s really stupid advice.

I order a Negroni ($12) from one of those iPad things, and I drink it in like five minutes, because Negronis are delicious. So I order another one, and there’s a button you can click to “double” it for only $3 more, so I do that. And then I did that again. Because: delicious. And: “Get drunk!”

As soon as those three drinks are gone, I am too drunk to read The Luminaries, which knocks out most of the entertainment menu. I’ve only managed to fill 90 minutes of my seven-hour wait. I eat some horrible shrimp thing, and then drink more Negronis. Why did I choose to get drunk so expensively? Because no expense should be spared in alleviating my boredom. Ever.

Now 4G and Wi-Fi aren’t working, probably because of all the thousands of other people sitting at JFK because of flight delays. I can connect sporadically, but not for long.

This is the worst state of affairs. It’s better to have no internet than to have sporadic internet. Sporadic internet makes me feel that there is nothing in the entire world more important than checking my email. Also, what if someone is trying to flirt with me via text message??????

I’m too drunk to read, there’s no internet, I have no videos on my laptop for the first time in my entire life, and I have like three more hours, and my neck hurts from craning over my phone trying to CHECK MY FUCKING EMAIL. This is when I decided I should smoke in the bathroom. You want me to go on?

Yes! So were you super stealthy about smoking in the bathroom, or was it the case that you were so fed up and frazzled that you just didn’t worry about appearances at that point? And did anyone say anything to you about it?

I sat on the toilet and after much deliberation concluded that I could hide the click of the lighter with the flushing sound.

I have like three puffs and then I hear someone in the next stall saying something in Spanish, which is definitely, “I’m going to call the authorities because some asshole is smoking in here!” (I don’t speak Spanish.) I rapidly flush the cigarette and wait for my detention to commence. When she leaves, I repeat the process, but this time I only get one puff in, because there’s a little girl in here now, and you shouldn’t smoke in front of kids. Then one more time I do this, but suddenly there are a lot of people in here and this is not really fun.

I walk to another bathroom in what I think is a less-crowded terminal, but once I get settled in my stall, I notice it smells so strongly of vomit that I decide I’d better just go outside to chain smoke next to an idling bus, since going through security again will be a nice way to kill some more time.

Lesson learned (if any)?

The lesson is that “GET DRUNK!” is a dumb idea if you’re stuck in an airport. Being in an airport drunk is NOT FUN AT ALL! Plus, then you have to get on a plane dehydrated, a little sick, and having to pee all the time. A better plan would have been to just read my book and drink, like, tea.

Just one more thing….

While drunk, I spotted a vending machine with fancy travel-sized toiletries and swiped my card for a $30 Malin+Goetz kit. Every single item in that stupid kit is garbage, and the facial lotion gave me hives. Caveat emptor!!!

Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York.