Category Archives: Paul McMahon

Paul McMahon: And It All Ends With A Whimper, Not A Bang

The much ballyhooed final installment of PMac’s Big Adventure is online. If you missed the first two parts click here to read them.

Now that the PMacs have landed in Seville, I hope to hear more about their expatriate adventures. I think a periodic Letter From Seville is in order.

-Adrastos

And It All Ends With A Whimper, Not A Bang by Paul McMahon

When we last checked in on our heroes, it was shortly after their third Covid test in five days, and while they were holed up in the charming confines of the Hilton Dulles Inn. Will they make it to Seville before their 72-hour benchmark on their most recent Covid test expires? Will their already departed luggage be in Seville once/if they arrive? Will Ms. Pmac have grounds for justifiable homicide when the inevitable happens and she wrings the neck of our beloved hero? These, and more questions will be answered on the third installment of When the Yat Turns!

So, we depart the Dulles Inn and make it to the similarly named airport. The agent at the United desk takes one look at us, and proclaims, “You guys look tired as hell. What are your names, and I’ll look up your info while you sit over there”, as he points to a lounge area. Without any hesitation, we agree and sit our asses on the cushioned chairs while he reads over the narrative of Team Pmac. After about 20 minutes, he emerges with boarding passes in hand, and $40 in airport vouchers with a request that we use them for a much-deserved last drink on American soil. Ms. Pmac grabs the vouchers, looks at me and then retorts, “what about his drink?”

So, we (I mean she) get our throats sufficiently quenched, and head to the boarding gate for our flight to Frankfurt. Kinda feels like a high school reunion since we recognize several other faces from the 48 versus 72-hour Covid test debacle from the previous day. Not wanting to sit for two hours and face another bout of excruciating rejection, we decide to have our boarding documents prechecked at the gate and are even more euphoric when we are told that all is in order for our sojourn to Deutschland.

We arrive in Frankfurt, check on the status of our previously departed bags and are advised that all are found and will accompany us on the trip to Seville. We board the plane for the final leg of our odyssey and arrive in our new homeland at noon on Easter Sunday.

In keeping with the religious nature of the day, miraculously all of our bags are awaiting us in Seville. While we had braced ourselves for an elongated visit with the immigration authorities in Spain, we departed the plane, grabbed our bags, and proceeded to hail a taxi and in less than 20 minutes. So far, so good as expatriated Sevillians.

Now, one slightly overlooked aspect of this adventure is that we booked our apartment without ever having physically visited it. The intricacies of obtaining a Spanish visa include that you submit proof of a minimum, pre-paid, 6-month apartment lease. We spent hours scouring various internet-based listings before we settle on our new home, smack in the middle of the old town section, an area that we had visited and loved in the halcyon, pre-Covid days.

One thing that we failed to take into account was that many of the streets in our new neighborhood are inaccessible by today’s modern vehicles. Hell, they are inaccessible by yesterday’s older vehicles, since street widths are often no more than 3’, sidewalk included. The memories of those streets came flooding back when our cab driver announced that we were at the end of our journey but faced a seven-block walk with the familiar 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces.

Undaunted, we (I mean me) carry our freight several pieces at a time and block to block, until we reach our new home. And discover that the elevator in our new home can only fit one person, and one suitcase per trip.

Ms. Pmac readily volunteers to be on the receiving end of our newfound freight forwarding company, while I feed the bags on the ground floor. When I accompany the last bag on my maiden voyage to the apartment, it finally hits me. The front door to the apartment is open, so I can view the inside of our place and I’m met with the vision of my wife staring out onto the town square located three floors down. I quickly join her and share that same panoramic vista and am simply overcome with a sense of exhaustion and relief. It was a hell of a journey, one that neither of us could ever have predicted (and, maybe would have opted to stay state side if we could), but the pay off made it all so worthwhile. We are home, ladies and gentlemen.

Paul McMahon: Second Verse, Same As The First

If it’s Sunday, it must be part two of Pmac’s Big Adventure.  I *should* apologize to Paul for the cheesy Peter Noone/Herman featured image but sometimes I cannot help myself. This is one of those times. Hopefully, it won’t lead to High Noone…

-Adrastos

Second Verse, Same As The First by Paul McMahon

So, maybe I’m really Henry VIII?!?

Following Wednesday’s airport debacle, we awoke on Friday morning with an attitude of fuck the past and let’s move on to bigger and better things. I mean, the gods can only inflict so much punishment on a man not named Job, correct?!?

Get to the airport and arrive at the United check in counter with 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces. Start to place the luggage on the scale, and the clerk utters those ominous words, “oh, oh.” Yeah, my dear wife has overloaded both of her bags a good 10 lbs each beyond the maximum capacity set by United. So, much to the chagrin of the patrons queued behind us, my beloved opens up her two pieces and quickly starts to grab and throw various items into my much lighter pieces of Samsonite. After having exposed various items of lingerie to the huddled masses at Louis Armstrong International, the bags are now all sufficiently svelte, and we proceed to our boarding gate.

Our new itinerary has us heading west to go east, with our first stop in Houston before proceeding to DC, Frankfurt and finally to Casa de Pmac in Spain. The hour-long flight to Houston goes off without a hitch, hopefully a precursor to what we know will be a long day. Board our flight to DC and despite having been told that the three seated rows will all have an empty middle seat to help enforce Coronavirus standards, we discover that there is a pre-teen boy firmly ensconced in seat B. I politely ask the young man if he would like the window seat in order for my wife and I to sit together, to which I am met with a resounding, yet simple, “No.” Fair enough. My wife climbs over this seated young Einstein, puts the dog under the seat in front, while I wedge myself into seat A, and away we go on our 3-hour journey to DC.

Since I cannot engage in any banter with my spouse during this flight, I decide to take a nap, from which I am awakened by the sounds of whimpering. Fearing that it’s our dog, I open my eyes but quickly notice that it’s my junior row companion, who is quietly whimpering to himself, with the onset of some tears streaming down his cheek. Overcoming my initial thought of the little bastard had it coming, I inquire if there’s something wrong, and now discover that junior actually is capable of more than a one-word utterance. “I don’t feel good” is quickly followed by that all too familiar yack sound and the expulsion of vomit from the kid’s mouth, onto his lap, and my pant leg. Luckily, the stewardess quickly emerges, and pulls junior off to the bathroom, and drops a few packets of wet wipes in my lap and asks if I’ll assume the role of janitor and clean up the remains. I look over at my wife, and she is laughing uncontrollably. Yeah, empathy is not her strong suit.

So, junior re-emerges and, thankfully, the rest of the flight is uneventful. We land in DC, with only a little more than an hour before our flight across the pond starts to board. On the way to the new gate, we find a pet park, allow our pup to relieve himself, and then quickly find ourselves in line for the Frankfurt flight.

I want to write that the rest of our day was joy filled and ends with us entering our new digs in Seville. I want to, but I can’t. When we get to the gate agent, and present our papers for the flight, we are summarily dismissed and refused entry since our Covid tests, while within the 72-hour mandate imposed by the Spanish authorities, are now outside of the 48-hour limit that our German friends have adopted. Despite numerous pleas/threats to various officials, we still are not allowed on the flight (a fate shared by at least 20 other ticketed customers), and instead find ourselves at the United customer service stand.

So, I am composing this missive while sitting in room 176 at the Hilton Dulles airport, having taken yet another Covid test (to those still counting, that makes three tests in the past 5 days), and awaiting our new flight on Saturday evening to Frankfurt with a final connection to Seville. And, to add further levity to the situation, all of our luggage is now in Seville, which while it does relieve me of the Herculean task of carrying again the 4 pieces of luggage, it does leave me still wearing the pants that junior soiled.

“I’m Henery the 8th I am, Henery the 8th I am…..”

Guest Post: Pmac’s Big Adventure, Part 1

I skipped the Sunday Morning Video today because we have something special for you.  Last December, I published a guest post by my friend Paul McMahon aka Paul McRambles: A Yat In Queen Isabella’s Court.

In that post, Paul described his plan to leave New Orleans and move to Seville, Spain. He is not, however, a barber or an opera singer.

Paul has finally gone and done it. This is the first part of a trilogy of sorts, which will grace First Draft on Sundays this month.

The first part is about Paul and Ms. Pmac’s struggle to cross the pond. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll yell at Delta. Whatever you do, don’t stay in Kenna, Brah.

-Adrastos Out. If it’s good enough for Shapiro, it’s good enough for me.

Pmac’s Big Adventure, Part 1 by Paul McMahon

So, its Thursday morning and instead of sitting on our balcony in Seville, I’m at a hotel in Kenner, La.

Back up the time machine, and here’s what has transpired over the past 48 hours.

Tuesday morning we go to a local pharmacy for a Covid test. Timing is crucial, since we need to show the authorities in Spain, a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. Told results will be emailed before our flight on 4pm Wed.

On way back from the test, get a call from the company buying the now lone car we own, my wife’s 25-year-old Mazda. They are at our house now, ready to get it. Several hours early, but other than the trip to the airport, we only need one other trip, so why not (cue the violins from the Psycho shower scene).

Get home, car transaction complete. I call an Uber and go to the internet company provider’s office to turn in the box, back home and we’ll be off to the hotel for the night (no longer have a bed, so we opted to stay at a hotel next to the airport).

Call the Uber again, start to get our small dog into his carrier. Go to pick it up with him in it, and, the bottom of the carrier and the dog stay firmly on the ground, while I am holding the rest of the dry rotted carrier.

So, cancel the Uber, call the local pet supply place, and eureka, they have a carrier. Call another Uber and get to the store to discover that the employee was mistaken – no carrier there. Redirected (with another Uber) to a store across town that actually does have one. Grab it, another Uber ride back home, and then another Uber ride to the hotel with our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces, for a restful night prior to departure.

Wednesday morning awaken to no news from the covid lab. Email them and am again assured results will be in prior to departure. Get to the airport with our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces, go to check in and am told we actually can’t even board a plane without the results. So, we cool, our heels in the lobby of the airport. One hour later, the email hits. Open it and read that no test was performed because the tech who took our samples forgot to label the specimen container. Yeah, fuck me large.

So, back to the Delta (oh, and a double fuck you to Delta as you will shortly see) counter and the friendly attendant says no problem and gives us directions to a place that will do the test and provide results within 2 hours. She also advises that she will book us on the same flights tomorrow, at no extra cost. Our guardian angel (so we thought).

 

Grab our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces and grab another Uber, to yet another hotel. Drop off the bags and the pup, and then yet another Uber to the testing company. Sure enough for $300 apiece, they will test and give results in 2 hours. And, 2 hours later, we have our written proof of being Covid free and Uber yet again to a hotel with thoughts of Seville dancing in our exhausted brains.

That night before turning off the lights we notice that we haven’t received an email confirming our new flights and log into the Delta web site. Nothing there either. Call Delta customer service, and after literally being on hold for 2.5 hours, am told that we missed our flights today (yeah, what a revelation) and that there are no other flights booked for us. And, while there are seats available for Thursday’s flight to Seville, it will cost us an extra $5k for that luxury. After an expletive filled fuck you fest of epic proportions, I was connected to the customer service supervisor, who despite not having been at the Delta counter earlier that day with us, advises that no Delta rep would have so booked us and that we were lying. Another fuck you rant ensues, with a full refund from Delta, and a promise that my sorry ass will never fill one of their seats again.

So, it’s now Thursday morning, we are still stateside, and still in a hotel room. We have a flight booked for Friday morning with United that should get us to Seville on Saturday, a scant 2 hours prior to the 72-hour expiration of our Covid test results. Yeah, it’s an adventure.

 

 

Guest Post: A Yat In Queen Isabella’s Court

Life throws you curveballs sometimes. Yesterday, I gave longtime reader and online friend Paul McMahon aka Paul McRambles a shout-out in my Trump Green Acres reboot post. We had a tweet exchange, which resulted in my offering to post some of his writing if it met my admittedly low standards. This piece passed with flying colors whatever the hell that means.

Paul is a fellow old-ish fart. He’s about to embark on a great new adventure by moving from New Orleans to Seville, Spain.

-Adrastos

 A Yat In Queen Isabella’s Court by Paul McMahon

I’m a Yat. For the uninitiated, a Yat is a New Orleans colloquialism that pokes fun at our accent, and our unique vocabulary. A common form of greeting to a neighbor in NO is to say, “Hey, where you at?”, which begs the notion that since that person is in your line of sight, you obviously know exactly where they are located. In an effort at conserving energy, this entreaty is often shortened to the monosyllabic, “Y’at”. Native New Orleanians are therefore commonly, and proudly, referred to as Yats. Future submissions by yours truly will elucidate on other quaint New Orleans’ contributions to Webster’s, such as “neutral ground” and “makin’ groceries”.

Yats are an endangered species this day. What makes New Orleans unique amongst its sister cities in the lower 48 is its fight against the tide of modernism. If nothing else, we are a homage to the art of antiquities. We relish our century plus old housing stock; our neighborhood bars and restaurants are the lynchpin of our daily lives; our favorite mode of public transportation is a streetcar. But these things are under attack in post-Katrina NO, and the rate at which they are disappearing from our lives has accelerated in the wake of Covid-19. In the aftermath of the federal flood (NO residents often refer to Katrina as being this, since it was the failure of the federally built levee system that caused the massive loss of property and lives), people from across the country came to NO in the valiant effort to help us rebuild. While their selfless acts of heroism are still wildly applauded, many have chosen to stay in this city and have also sought to change the very fiber of what they were trying to salvage. Corner bars, music clubs and restaurants are now besieged by numerous attacks from neighborhood groups, using city ordinances restricting noise, trash, and parking as their weapons. Streetcars routes are being challenged since the new New Orleanians claim that they add to traffic snarls, due to their relatively slow speed, and numerous stops. Hey, the poor who rely upon it as a form of public transit, can always walk…

Even our world-renowned cuisine is not safe. Po-Boy shops (the iconic NO gift to the sandwich world) are fewer in number and are being replaced by that paean to world dominance, the Starbucks store. Gumbo is now being “reconstructed” by the surge of nouveau chefs who have infested our area, with such novelty ingredients as kale, and environmentally sourced salmon, in lieu of okra and oysters.

Even our housing stock is under attack. Many of our venerable neighborhoods are now inhabited by a form of nouveau rich, who turn a blind eye, and a non-response, when we pass them on the sidewalks and ask, “Y’at”. Their infestation has further accelerated the rise in local property taxes, given their willingness to pay top dollar for our houses, and the domino impact that has on tax assessments on the surrounding abodes. Our own monthly housing note increased by over $600, due to such a re-assessment.

Yeah, I know, I’m the archetypical old man, sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch, and yelling at the youngsters to get the fuck off my lawn. Well, I don’t have a lawn. But I do have a sense of something that has grabbed my city by its neck and is not going to release its grip until it has strangled out all of the uniqueness of this city and resurrected it in the new version 2.0 of Portland, Austin, Aspen, or whatever other yuppie hell they can conceive.

So, what is a poor, or Yat, boy to do?!? Well, we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly………Seville, that is. Yep, we are moving to Spain. Ms. Pmac, the pups, and me have our visas, and a lease on an apartment in the heart of the city. Unlike me, Ms. Pmac managed to amass a huge savings and has gifted me with the opportunity to retire now, instead of fulfilling my life goal of still generating a W-2 by working as a greeter at Wal-Mart at the age of 85.

Why did we pick Seville to suffer from our presence? We spent a month in Spain 2019, and fell in love with the country, especially Seville. The pace of life, the friendliness, the embrace by the locals of its history all reminded us of……. New Orleans?!?

Only my wife and I would decide to start life anew in our 60s, by traveling halfway across the planet to find what we once had. But it’s an adventure. And a life of retirement that consists of slippers and a pipe are not what I have ever yearned for, even in old New Orleans.

Adios for now, amigos. I’ll keep you apprised as to what unfolds. I’m nervous and excited. And, for me, that is what life should be.