Sunday, October 09, 2005

Un Otro Phutatorius

The last few days have been a whirlwind, Brother/Sister — what with the flight down, the car rental, the trip up here to the secret mountain redoubt, all these orientation meetings . . . and then there was the actual whirlwind. What a son-of-a-bitch weather condition that was!

I should say, starting off, that I don't think I'll be able to get caught up with just this one post, and so I will have to borrow against your patience over the next few days. But as you have always been a willing lender, Brother/Sister — and over the years I have given you no reason to begrudge me credit — I don't foresee a problem in making steady, periodic payment in installments, until such time as I get you entirely up to speed.

Bear in mind, while you wait, that (1) Internet access is spotty at best up here in the Andes; (2) most of my waking hours will be devoted to (a) learning the secret, ancient art of ceremonial Peruvian dance-fighting and (b) exploring the prospects for romance in the local villages; and (3) I can only use my master-trainer's super-secret satellite Internet connection when he's not in his office.

It sounds to me, Phutatorius, that you're playing fast and loose with all these "secrets" — SECRET mountain redoubt, SECRET art of dance-fighting —

Please, Brother/Sister. Did I not just spell out the terms of our agreement? Show some patience, and I promise you, I will explain to your satisfaction why I think it appropriate to reveal, here in the Great Wide Open of the blogosphere, some of the centuries-old secrets contained on pain of death within the elite membership of this heretofore underground group of Andean warrior-assassins —

but I realize I'm raising more questions than I'm answering. So let's just get on with this chronologically, starting with a rewind to Wednesday night, at around midnight, when I landed at Jorge Chavez. To this point the trip had been, for the most part, uneventful. The in-flight movie on the Houston-Lima leg was Monster-in-Law, a romantic comedy placing Jane Fonda opposite the still-ubiquitous, but somewhat less densely-positioned (these days) Jennifer Lopez. When the fasten-seatbelt sign went off, I traveled up the aisle and informally surveyed the Latin passengers on the plane. By a three-to-one margin, they hate J-Lo, too.

I promise to address this J-Lo Situation, Hermano/Hermana, after I consolidate my power.

We landed on schedule at 11:40 p.m. Lima-time. I collected my black wheelie-bag at the Reclamo de Equipaje, then proceeded through Customs (nada a declarar, Hermano) to the terminal. At this point I had no real plan as to where I would go. I figured that my resourceful sponsors would find a way to contact me — and if they didn't, I would shack up at the Aeropuerto Hiltón, or its equivalent, until they did.

But as I passed out of the terminal's secured area, I was pleased (but not surprised) to find a smartly-dressed limo driver standing at attention, with a sign in his hand bearing my name. I approached the man. He wore a pin that designated him as the property of "Lima Limo."

"That's me," I told him.

"¿Que?" The driver seemed confused.

"PHUTATORIUS. That's me." I pointed at the sign.

The driver shook his head at me.

Oh, Christ, I thought. Am I going to have to rummage in my bag for my Spanish dictionary? Now bear in mind, Brother/Sister, that when I am on the road, I am not normally averse to addressing my service-industry contacts in their native languages. I am not that Americano feo who insists that everyone in the world — including the poor limo driver who makes his living chauffeuring visiting dignitaries — speak English.

The problem was that I was tired, I'd been traveling all day, I was dehydrated from the half-bucket of fried chicken I'd eaten during the Houston layover — and I didn't think the point I had tried to make to this gentleman was quite so complicated as to get lost in translation.

I threw up my hands.

"You," the limo driver said, incredulous. "You come from Sao Paolo?"

"From Boston," I corrected. Duh. As I said, I was in a bit of a mood, so cut me some slack, Brother/Sister.

"Is possible you may be different Phutatorius? I get here Phutatorius from Sao Paolo."

"Trust me, signore. There is only one Phutatorius. So this must be some kind of mistake. Why don't you call back your Central Command Center and check on that?"

The limo driver snapped open his mobile phone. He continued to hold up his sign, while he dialed. He was on the line with his dispatcher when a third gentleman emerged from Customs to join our party.

"¿Auto para Phutatorius?," this Third Gentleman said.

"WHO ARE YOU?" I demanded. I kicked my wheelie-bag, sent it rolling off down the terminal. Again, I was tired, dehydrated, etc., etc.

I could belabor what happened next, which is best described, in terms Phutatorian, as an Incident, but I'd rather not. In brief, it turns out (1) there is more than one Phutatorius; (2) this fellow is, too, a purported Internet personality; (3) this Other Phutatorius was traveling to Peru on the same day I was, and weeks ago he had reserved a car with Lima Limo; and (4) when he can finally land it, he has a wicked left hook.

Needless to say, I was required to eat some crow from that limo driver, once I came to. When I get back to the States, I'll be contacting my trademark lawyer. And my personal injury specialist, too.

More tomorrow.

No comments: