Monday, May 30, 2005

Airport Shopping

I had to make a brief trip to Wisconsin last week, and I discovered something I hadn’t realized before: airports are fun. Usually when I fly, I am rushing from one end of the airport to the other to catch my connecting flight, but this time both my layovers, coming and going, were a nice pleasant 60-90 minutes: time enough to grab a bite (those three pretzels I was offered on the plane didn’t quite fill me up) and meander to my gate, peeking into stores along the way. It was the most fun part of the trip.

My layover was in Minneapolis on the way out, and I was ridiculously thrilled to be in the state that claims Garrison Keillor, Al Franken, James Lileks, and all those knucklenuts on MST3K. Funny people are always from Minnesota. Or Canada. I didn’t meet any comics at the airport, but the cute, slightly nerdy guy at the Starbucks stand definitely had potential. And oh, the temptation of the Minnesota-themed gift shop! I came *thisclose* to buying a Paul Bunyan shot glass, but resisted somehow. Everything was so exotic—it was from Minnesota!

Coming home, I changed planes in Detroit, which was a real big-city airport, with a soaring ceiling, expensive shops, and lots of groups of people speaking various non-English languages. Coming from the rural American boonies, I’m always slightly startled by this phenomenon—there are languages other than English? (Yes, I know I’m a rube: excited by Minnesota and amazed at hearing Japanese spoken.) I loved the shops—I can’t imagine how people keep from blowing huge chunks of money at airport shops. There’s something so devil-may-care about flying anyway, so why not go all the way and blow out on a $150 backpack? (No, I didn’t, but I came close.)

I managed to restrain myself and only bought a CD at the Motown shop: a double-disc history of the early Motown years, which I can't find in my cursory search at Amazon, or else I'd link it. It has all my faves (My Guy, Shop Around, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Dancing in the Streets, etc) interspersed with interviews with Berry Gordy and most of the early Motown artists. I've only managed to listen to a couple songs so far, on the way home from work, but it is beautifully mastered and sounds wonderful. If I wreck the car in the next few days, Smokey Robinson will be directly responsible.