Posts Tagged ‘travel’

That’s right: Pope Benedict XVI, nee Ratzinger, turns 81 today. Have a good one, dude. Someday when I rule the world you will have a show about your birthday, such as “My Super Sweet (Benedict the) Sixteenth.”

In other papal news, yesterday driving home from work I was listening to news radio, hoping they would explain what the traffic was all about, but they were talking about the pope’s visit instead. Bush is pulling out all the stops, it sounds like: inviting 9,000 people to the party, giving Benny a 21-gun salute, inviting a famous soprano to sing for him, and doing something else that Bush has never done for a foreign dignitary: meeting the Pope at the airport.

That made me really happy. First, in my mind the Pope flies in this:

Second, I love the idea of a cranky Pope getting off a long international flight and trying to find George in the madness that is Dulles International Airport, Swiss Guard in tow (and in full getup). To get from the gate to the main terminal at Dulles, one must ride one of these delightful vehicles:

I am convinced that Dulles got them for a real deal when they were auctioned off the set of Star Wars. Imagine the Pope, in his fancy vestments, big Pope hat, and diamonds-and-gold-encrusted laptop bag (what I imagine the Pope carries on flights), getting on one of these and staring out the window as it slowly crawls across the tarmac. Meanwhile, the Pope has taken out his cell phone–would the Pope have an iPhone?–and is trying to call George, but there’s no signal.

The Pope would probably have checked luggage. By that point he’s probably made contact with George, who’s waiting in the car on the downstairs level, looking at everyone coming out of the airport, thinking, Is that him? No, that’s big hair, not the Pope hat and wondering whether he should just park and get coffee inside. Meanwhile the Pope is standing at the baggage claim, directly in front of the chute from which the baggage comes, and all the people around him can’t decide whether to be annoyed that his big hat is blocking the view, or excited that the Pope is standing next to them. Someone takes a picture with a camera phone. The Swiss guard glares, but couldn’t take their fancy pikes because of airline regulations.

Their luggage finally comes, probably made out of a 13th century painting of St. Christopher, and the Pope goes outside to look for George. George has gotten impatient waiting and decides to circle around the airport once, so the Pope calls.

Finally George comes back, gets out, greets the Pope, they do a fist pound, the Swiss guard loads the luggage and they all get in the car (Pope calls shotgun. “He always calls shotgun,” one of the Swiss guard mutters).

“How was your flight?” George says.

“The usual. Heathrow was awful,” the Pope says.

“Heathrow’s always awful,” George says. “Are you hungry? There’s an IHOP on the way home.”

Picking the Pope up from the airport: five stars.

I know the Pope actually flew the Official Vatican Jet into an Air Force base, but I think my version is way better.

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