So here I am at the airport, waiting for my flight to Seattle. I’m headed out there for a big health care conference sponsored by the Washington Policy Center. My boss asked me if I wanted to go, and I said “sure,” thinking I’d really like to see Seattle. Then the WPC called me and asked if I had any materials to go with the presentation I had been giving. “The WHAT?” I inquired. So it appears I will be giving a speech on health care to 300 people tomorrow, and I still have no idea what I’m going to say. I guess I’ll figure it out on the plane.

This actually is my first real “business” trip, so I’m pretty excited. I almost feel like a real businessman with a real job. From now on, when I see all those commercials meant to appeal to business travelers, I’ll feel like they’re talking to me. Then, I’ll be able to say things like “why, yes – as a business traveler, I do appreciate having that extra pillow in my hotel room,” and “how does the movie “Midget Lingerie Party” show up on my corporate card?”

Of course, I have about an hour to kill here, since I got to Mitchell Airport early enough. They say you need to be here 90 minutes ahead of time, but that’s a total airline scam. It’s just a ploy on behalf of the airlines to make sure they don’t get a last minute crush of people screaming at their employees about how they have to get on their flight or the world will end. My wife is super-cautious about getting to airports early. Anything less than four hours before departure time is unacceptable. Which is especially fun when you have kids to entertain in the airport before the flight.

I actually do like the weird vibe in airports. I especially enjoy sitting here and watching the flights arrive. People walk off the plane, all with the same completely disoriented look on their face. Before 9/11, they used to lock in on the person there to pick them up, but now they have to wait until the baggage claim to have their big reunion. I always loved seeing the pure joy in peoples’ faces as they recognized someone they hadn’t seen in a while, then rushed into their embrace. Perhaps this is because nobody is ever really all that excited to see me. Except my dentist, who knows that when he sees me, he’ll be able to afford another wing on his office.

Before I came to sit down, I ran to the bathroom. It’s always a weird sight to see pilots in the bathroom taking a whizz. You tend to put pilots up on a superhuman pedestal – almost like they’re invincible. But there they are, taking dead aim at the urinal cakes next to you. It’s unnerving to realize that pilots are just regular human beings. I mean, what if this guy just found out his 15 year-old daughter knew Roger Clemens? What if just this morning he found out his wife had been finding comfort in the arms of Charlie Villanueva during his flights? I’d feel a lot better about things if my pilot was eating gravel and urinating glass shards. I want a real bad ass flying my plane.

So now I get to sit here and wait, surveying the crowd. If there’s any inviolate rule in boarding a plane, it is this: There is always some semi-attractive member of the opposite sex waiting for the plane that you decide it wouldn’t be too bad to sit next to. Not “supermodel hot,” but “airport hot.” Of course, you are all old and gross and married, but let’s be honest – it would certainly make the flight moderately more tolerable, right? Upon surveying this crowd, it appears the only candidate happens to have a six year-old boy in tow. That immediately disqualifies her from sitting within five rows of me.

Waiting for a flight watching the people also gives me a chance to play America’s favorite new games: “Daughter or Lover,” and “Gay or European?” Of course, after I make my guess, I’ll never know the answer, so the only real prize is the giggling I get to do quietly to myself.

Well, time to board my 4-hour flight. I’m not sure if it qualifies, but maybe I’ll try to join the mile-high club while flying solo. That should kill about 30 seconds. Sadly, they make you pay 8 bucks to connect to the wireless internet here at the airport, so I’ll have to wait until I get to my hotel room to post this.