>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
March 27, 2005

Let's play a game. It's called “Where in the World is My Luggage?” It's kinda like “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?”, but I bet commercial airliners don't ever lose her luggage. So to make a long story short, my final Spring Break ever was supposed to be this whole packaged deal vacation of a lifetime on the island that's also a continent (Carmen San Diego fanatic watchers out there appreciated that one). Yes, Australia was my Spring Break destination. Operative word here being “was.” As the all supreme and powerful airline Gods would have it, my approach on flying stand-by to the land down under didn't pan out the way I had originally expected. And while I may not have made it across the big blue ocean, funnily enough my luggage did.

Now normally I just roll my little carry-on with me, but because this trip was going to an extravaganza, against my better judgment I packed two bags instead. More than that, I made a big deal at check-in at the Appleton airport because they wouldn't check my bags all the way to Australia since I didn't have my passport with me. And by big deal I mean a mini-tantrum where I violently threw my phone into the fake Louis Vuitton handbag I picked up on my last voyage to New York. Listen lady, I didn't even want to bring bags with me, but it's not socially acceptable to wear a bathing suit on the plane! Nobody likes a grown woman with a knock-off holding up the line, so the lady behind the counter kindly checked it all the way through. Looking back, this was right about where karma decided to bite me in the bum—that's Australian for ass.

“I realize it's not making much sense, but I'm still really pissed because the only baggage I have now is the emotional kind.”

I met Casey and my passport at the Chicago O'Hare airport (my Australian travel buddy) and awaited the flight to Los Angeles where I was again flying standby—and according to my mom the flight had plenty of open space for me to bum a seat. Yeah…that was before twenty-four people decided to high tail it to LA last minute. So I saw Casey off and ran to the next departing flight to LA. Didn't make it either. So United gave us an alternative route. If I flew to OC and hopped a cab to LAX, I would have exactly 20 minutes to go through security and get on the last flight for Sydney. Can't go 'til Monday because all the other flights up to then are sold out. Have a nice Spring Break. This was the only alternative they gave me—unless I wanted to purchase a 3000 dollar seat for Monday where I would arrive on Wednesday and promptly have to leave on Thursday. Sorry, I'm about 2500 short. Can you stick me in steerage with the other people that peddle on bikes to make the engine work? Is it possible to Fred Flintstone my way to Australia?

So this is right around where full-blown tantrum number two started. I totally turned into Kevin's mom from Home Alone, shrilly threatening to hitch hike my way to LA. I'm normally quite timid, but I've been saving up months for this trip. I was going to dine amongst kangaroos and wallabies, where men don't wear shirts—ever. And I'd have the upper hand in the guy department because my hair wasn't bleached out like everyone else on the island and my eyebrows were the same color as my hair—something they'd never seen before. And I heard they really like American girls. Not just like…REALLY LIKE!! Fine, no big deal. So I'm not going to Australia. Okay, this still can be the greatest Spring Break ever. It's St. Patrick's Day, half of Chicago must be out getting retarded and attempting the Irish Jig in the street. Who doesn't enjoy watching someone get hit by a cab? I called up a couple of friends, made some plans to go out, and started to forget the in-flight movie and the ocean and the surfing and the crocodile Dundee junior, and Outback Jack and….

So remember when I said I threw a tantrum back in Wisconsin? About my luggage? Well according to the law, if you're not on the flight then your luggage can't be either. Apparently the airlines are operating by their own constitution. Because my bags were sent to LA, whereas I was not. Clothless and coatless I went down to baggage claim and demanded they contact me immediately when my bags came back from LA—you know, because all my skirts and bathing suits were truly going to be useful to me here. Then I got picked up, went home, and plopped down in bed with a Chinaman—my Shitzu dog.

Next day my mom felt really bad about the whole Spring Break thing and tried to cheer me up, but even shopping had lost its luster. She took me to my favorite meat and meat restaurant downtown with the smoking hot waiters, but no girl feels hot wearing the same clothes two days in a row, including the old high school poofy jacket her mom swore she took to Goodwill but actually kept in the basement in case of an “emergency.” And then my mom took me to the optometrist where she promptly determined I needed glasses. YAY!! Got a luggage update though, it wasn't in Los Angeles like I thought. It went international. My luggage got to Sydney. It was probably just standing there trying to find a hot blonde to take it home and marry it so it could stay there because it didn't have papers. And I realize it's not making much sense, but I'm still really pissed because the only baggage I have now is the emotional kind.

So basically my week has consisted of watching the Illini kick basketball ass. And I live about 15 minutes away from where they were playing and it's been an extravaganza all over the city. I haven't seen Chicagoans bond on the streets like this since, well, since St. Patrick's Day. So funny side story, my friend Jasmine and her boyfriend Jack both go to Loyola and live downtown (city couples are so much more mature than country couples…but that's another story and solving the mystery of my luggage is much more important). So Jack's Irish and on the eighteenth of March Jasmine woke up to her still-very-much-inebriated boyfriend screaming there was a leprechaun passed out on their front porch. Thinking he was just being drunk she went back to bed. Half hour later the cops arrived and carted a passed out midget (complete with a half filled mug of green beer gripped to his hand) off to jail. God I miss living in the city.

So Wednesday, almost a week later, United finally tracked down, one, just one of my bags. It had my shoes in it. So I was happy. I had three pairs of shoes, sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and a curling iron. Just call me Misses Prepared. So mom took me shopping again where I cheered myself up in the evening gown section of Marshall Fields looking at expensive dresses, when I backed up into what I thought was my mom, but was actually three mannequins. And we're not talking the mannequins made of Styrofoam that hang out by the windows. All three of them took a nose dive into the marble tile, sending their limbs scattering wildly about. It was like Barbie grew up and got cruelly disassembled by the hands of God's child in a high class department store. Interesting fact: some department store mannequins have the plastic painted-on hair while others actually wear wigs. Guess which ones I was dealing with? My mom ran away from the scene of the accident while I just stood there nervously telling onlookers that all of them were going to be alright and not to take pictures. No one but my mom (who was halfway to the shoe floor) found it funny. Later that night they found my other bag. Yay! Now I had three bathing suits and twenty tank tops!

I'm a little bitter. So I'm going to attempt to wrap this up on a lighter note. Friday I saw Guess Who. Now normally I'm not an Ashton Kutcher fan, but his SNL gig two weeks ago was priceless and he grew on me. It's Friday night and I'm at my neighborhood theater, and basically the sold out Guess Who audience was half Latin and half black. Which in my opinion is the best audience ever because they laugh way after a punch line and, god bless 'em, they woop. Which made the funnier parts even funnier, and made me realize that maybe this Spring Break didn't turn out so bad after all. Mind you I haven't spoken to Casey whose boyfriend is studying abroad down there and probably had twenty guys for me at his disposal. Oh well, maybe my luggage got lucky.