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GRANTLAND RICE'S FLIGHT IS DELAYED

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WHAT IF PAST THING WERE NOW THING

GRANTLAND RICE: Behold, groaning under a gunmetal gauze, the galumphing goliaths of the sky lay constrained, lashed to the fools' earth as once Gulliver found himself tied. What man once dreamed of piercing the heavens in a missile of tin, and what a magnificent machine to be denied the heights to which it belongs! When Orville and Wilbur strode across the foam-dappled sands that fateful Kitty Hawk morn, could one have imagined the uplift to be caught under the wings of their mad notions? Could Icarus himself have foretold a world where the flight he sought could become as mundane an occurrence as the rising and setting of that very sun which doomed his fall?

GATE AGENT: Sir, again, we do apologize for the inconvenience, but Atlanta is currently under a ground hold due to weather for at least the next hour.

RICE [turning to crowd]: And lo!, the wearied travelers, band of no nation, they find themself lashed by the irony of a terminal without end! They jostle in seek of a charge for their phones, but they shall find no outlet for the darkness they carry on! You would not ask a white rhinoceros to remove its horn, nor a Bengal tiger to lay its stripes upon the belt, nor Judas Iscariot himself to place his pieces of silver thirty in a separate bin - yet you demand belts and shoes, laptops removed, you empty the pockets of the wandering souls!

GATE AGENT, expression unchanged: I can offer you a $10 voucher to be used on any of the B concourse eateries.

RICE: What recompense shall be found for the days of glory lost, what meager consolation for the besotted soul of-

GATE AGENT: Sir, I have a number of other customers to assist at the moment

PASSENGER, whispering loudly to companion: I think that's Jay Mariotti

GATE AGENT: Sir, please step aside so I can assist the other customers.

RICE: Then so it will be. I strike forth, carrying this note of the hyperbolean hip-hopper Hamilton, the favored father-founder of our brave nation's middle youth -

AGENT: Sir, it's a voucher for $10, not a $10 bill. It has no value outside this concourse.

RICE: Who among mortal men can truly know valu-

AGENT: It's important to me that you understand this is not real money.

RICE: The honorable spirit of amateurism strives on, the pay but a noble -

AGENT [picking up phone]: Please go get a free pretzel and leave me alone.

PASSENGER, leaning in: We *love* Around The Horn

RICE: And so it would be, with a wearied head and a fire in my belly, I strike forth in Terminal B in search of that which might sate my basest need, a journey of a thousand miles if it were a single step. As Odysseus once set out for a journey which would stretch to the ages, I drift unconquered on the sea of humanity, a glinting speck in the wine-dark sea of casual dining options, my labors not yet done, my battles not yet won.

AGENT [placing hand over phone receiver]: Stay in this area so you can hear announcements, sir.

RICE [walking away, not listening]: What pleasures! What carnal delights of the palate await the gurgling gullet of the gatebound gourmand! A pretzel, or two? A pretzel for you! With cheese or with sugar, with frosting of blue?

AUNTIE ANNE'S EMPLOYEE: Hey okay I've been eavesdropping on that weird old hat guy for a while, and is it just me, or did that last part sound more like Dr. Seuss? I think someone's starting to lose the thread of this character.

RICE: A fourth wall is broken, my pretzelling friend! Broke like the bread that twists to no end!

HUDSON NEWS EMPLOYEE, overhearing: This is definitely more like a Dr. Seuss thing now. That pack of Twizzlers will be nine dollars, ma'am.

RICE: To a Starbucks I go, the Starbucks line slow, a thirst for a blonde roast and eggs, chori-zo! What wonders I sees, what wonders are these, these fruitflavor'd teas and freeze-dried Moon Cheese?

EMPLOYEE PASSING ON CART: Yo, Wright Thompson trippin'.

RICE [twirling, in wonder]: Now Quizno! Now Sbarro! Now Chili's To Go! On Pei Wei, On Popeye's! Burger King is closed! What has your fame bought you, my Nathan the Famous? I ate Five Guys, for breakfast, what man could dare blame us? To Charlotte and Detroit, to LaGuardia, too! To Northwest Arkansas from Gate Twenty-two! As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly-

GATE AGENT [over intercom, static-y]: Flight 517 to Atlanta is pushed to 11:09.

RICE: [uncovers his typewriter and just plops down in the middle of the place] This day shall not be lost to history.

ME [slumped in chair near an outlet, reading Twitter]: Oh heck yeah sportswriters talkin' about travel, people love that.